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The History of Long Island

The History of Long Island, Bahamas
Long Island is often described as one of the prettiest islands in the Bahamas.  Sitting southeast of Nassau, south of Cat Island, it is crossed by the Tropic of Cancer.  Its Atlantic north coast is dramatic, while its southern coast consists of soft sand beaches.  In fact, Cape Santa Maria Beach is often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches on earth.  Populated by more than 3,000 people, Long Island draws many visitors to its lush tropical paradise from the world over.

The land’s varied geography has played a key role in the history of Long Island.  The ancient limestone caves that dot the island were home to the very first settlers.  Substantial archaeological evidence has been discovered confirming that tribes of Lucayan, Taino and Arawak established themselves in Long Island’s caves.  The island was called Yuma at the time, which is an Arawak name. 

Visit from Columbus
Long Island, BahamasChristopher Columbus features in the history of Long Island as it is believed he landed on its north coast on his first visit to the Caribbean in 1492, renaming it ‘Fernandina’.  Supposedly, the island was later dubbed its current name by a sailor who felt it took forever to sail past this lovely, but lengthy island.

Today, at the very northern point of Long Island, in the community of Seymour, Columbus Point and the Columbus Monument, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, are said to mark the spot of the brave explorer’s third stop in the Bahamas.

Family Settlements and Plantations
Long Island’s native settlements came to an end in the 16th century, when its inhabitants were taken to be slaves in Cuba and Haiti.  British Loyalists, fleeing New England during the American Revolution, were next to settle on Long Island.  They carved farms out of the marshes and tropical forests, taming the land to raise sheep and cattle.  In the 1800s, cotton ranchers from the Carolinas joined them and set up cotton plantations, which thrived but for a few years as slavery was abolished in 1834.
The history of Long Island plays out in its current landmarks.  The little towns and villages of Long Island are named after the families who first settled there, such as the town of Gray, Buckley, and Hamilton, just to name a few.

Clarence Town is the biggest community on Long island, home to about 350 people.  Deadman’s Cay in the center of the island, and Hamilton close to the ancient cave system, have become popular with visitors. There is one main road on the island, which was originally built for carriage traffic; it runs from the northern tip of the island to the south, which is about 50 miles. 

Tourist Sites
Today, tourism opportunities abound, from swimming and sailing, to snorkeling and scuba diving.  Long Island is a popular spot for free diving enthusiasts.  Dean’s Blue Hole, located in a bay west of Clarence Town, is the world’s deepest under-sea sinkhole (650 feet) and the site of several world record free dives.

Overcome with curiosity in the history of Long Island, visitors flock to see the ruins of the once-flourishing 19th century plantations.  Although many are collapsed and overgrown, they nevertheless contribute to the mystery and appeal of the island.

From mangrove forests to spectacular beaches, Long Island has lured people to its haven in search of refuge and a new life under the beautiful Caribbean sky.

 


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