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Bahamas Hotels

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The Bahamas is a coral archipelago consisting of some 700 low-lying islands, and over 2,000 cays (pronounced “keys”). The highest hills, on Cat Island, are less than 400 feet and most islands have a maximum height of 100 feet. The total area of the islands is about 5,400 square miles, roughly the same as Jamaica. The whole archipelago extends for about 600 miles southeast from the Mantanilla shoal off the coast of Florida to 50 miles north of Haiti. Some of the smaller cays are privately owned but most of them are uninhabited. Nassau, the capital, on New Providence Island, is 184 miles by air from Miami. Freeport, on Grand Bahama island is 60 miles from Florida. The other islands, known as the “Family Islands”, or “Out Islands”, include Bimini, the Berry Islands, Abaco, Eleuthera (these two are particularly attractive), the Exumas, Andros, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Inagua, Acklins and Crooked Island.

The islands are made up of limestone over 5,000 meters deep, most of it Oolite, laid down for more than 150 million years on a gradually sinking sea bed. New material accumulated constantly and the seas of the Bahamas Platform remained remarkably shallow, often only a few meters deep. From the air, the different shades of turquoise, ultramarine and blue in these shallow waters are spectacular. On land, the soil is thin and infertile except for a few pockets of fertile soil. In many places, bare limestone rock is exposed at the surface while much land is swampy, impenetrable and uninhabitable. There are many large cave systems, including the impressive blue holes, formed when sea levels were lower and since flooded. There are no rivers or streams on any of the islands, but there is some freshwater, found close to the surface but resting on underlying saltwater. If wells are drilled too deep, they produce brackish or saltwater. Andros has a surplus of freshwater, which is barged to Nassau. Most people drink bottled water. Desalination plants are being built. About 15 island areas have been developed. They have a total population of about 287,000; about two thirds live in New Providence and 16% in Grand Bahama. The weather can be pleasant in the winter season although cold fronts from the North American continent can bring strong north winds, heavy rain and surprisingly low temperatures. The summer months are hot, humid and often windless, with frequent thunderstorms. In August 1992 Hurricane Andrew hit the Bahamas, making over 1,200 homeless, killing four people and causing damage of over US$250mn. North Eleuthera was badly damaged. In October 1996 Hurricane Lili destroyed houses and crops and cut power lines in Exuma, Long Island and other islands after passing over Cuba. In June 1997 unprecedented rainfall and a spring tide caused flooding in New Providence while a tornado struck Hope Town, damaging boats and power supplies. Businesses soon got back to normal, however, and there is little evidence of storm damage now. Click here to go to Bahamas web site.



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