Nassau, Bahama Islands
Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The city has a population of 260,000 (2008 census), nearly 80 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas (330,000). Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport forThe Bahamas, is located about 10 miles (16 km) west of Nassau city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a federal district. While there is no local government, it is governed directly as an administrative division of the national government.
Located on New Providence Island, Nassau has an attractive harbor, a colorful blend of old world and colonial architecture and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural beauty of The Bahamas has made Nassau a popular tourist destination, with a reputation for relaxing days and an exciting nightlife.
The city's proximity to the United States (180 miles (290 km) east-southeast of Miami, Florida) has also contributed to its popularity as a holiday destination, especially after the banning of American travel to Cuba. The world famous Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property. The mega resort also employs over 6,000 Bahamians, making it the largest employer outside of government.
Nassau was formerly known as Charles Town; it was burnt to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, but later rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695 in honour of King William III of England (from the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau). By 1713, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate rendezvous. English pirate chieftains Thomas Barrow and Benjamin Hornigold proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as governors, and were joined by Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and Edward Teach, the infamous "Blackbeard", along with women pirates such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
In 1718, the crown sought to regain control and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers General and Governor in chief in and over the Bahama islands. He ousted Blackbeard from his position as Magistrate of the "Privateers Republic", reformed the civil government and successfully expelled the pirates. Rogers cleaned up Nassau and rebuilt the fort, even going as far to use his own money to try to overcome problems.
Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre was opened in 1982 and was the first zoo in The Bahamas. It had previously been open as gardens in Nassau since 1937.