Nassau, Bahamas

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Nassau, Bahamas welcome gateway.JPG
Welcome gateway of Nassau, The Bahamas
Coat of Arms of Nassau, New Providence.jpg
Isle of June
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Location of Nassau in The Bahamas
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Nassau (Caribbean)
Coordinates: 25°4′N77°20′W / 25.067°N 77.333°W / 25.067; -77.333
Country The Bahamas
Island New Providence
Founded and Rebuilt/RenamedFounded in 1670 as Charles Town, rebuilt as Nassau in 1695 [1]
  Total207 km2 (80 sq mi)
 (2016) [2]
  Density1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Area code(s) 242

Nassau ( /ˈnæsɔː/ NASS-aw) is the capital and largest city of The Bahamas. With a population of 274,400 as of 2016, or just over 70% of the entire population of The Bahamas (≈391,000), Nassau is commonly defined as a primate city, dwarfing all other towns in the country. [3] It is the centre of commerce, education, law, administration, and media of the country.


Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for the Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of the city centre of Nassau, and has daily flights to major cities in Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and the United States. The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a business district.[ clarification needed ]

Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was considered historically to be a stronghold of pirates. [4] The city was named in honour of William III of England, Prince of Orange-Nassau.

Nassau's modern growth began in the late eighteenth century, with the influx of thousands of Loyalists and their slaves to the Bahamas following the American War of Independence. Many of them settled in Nassau (then and still the commerce capital of the Bahamas) and eventually came to outnumber the original inhabitants.

As the population of Nassau grew, so did its populated areas. Today the city dominates the entire island and its satellite, Paradise Island. However, until the post-Second World War era, the outer suburbs scarcely existed. Most of New Providence was uncultivated bush until Loyalists were resettled there following the American Revolutionary War; they established several plantations, such as Clifton and Tusculum. Slaves were imported as labour.

After the British abolished the international slave trade in 1807, they resettled thousands of Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy on New Providence (at Adelaide Village and Gambier Village), along with other islands such as Grand Bahama, Exuma, Abaco and Inagua. In addition, slaves freed from American ships, such as the Creole case in 1841, were allowed to settle there. The largest concentration of Africans historically lived in the "Over-the-Hill" suburbs of Grants Town and Bain Town to the south of the city of Nassau, while most of the inhabitants of European descent lived on the island's northern coastal ridges.


The town that would be called Nassau was founded in 1670 by British noblemen who brought British settlers with them to New Providence. They built a fort, and named it Charles Town in honour of England’s King Charles II. [5] During this time there were frequent wars with the Spanish, and Charles Town was used as a base for privateering against them. In 1684 the town was burned to the ground during the Raid on Charles Town. It was rebuilt in 1695 under Governor Nicholas Trott and renamed Nassau in honour of William of Orange. William was the Dutch Stadtholder (stadhouder in Dutch), and, from 1689, William III, the King of England, Scotland and Ireland. William belonged to a branch of the House of Nassau, from which the city takes its name. The name Nassau ultimately derives from the town of Nassau in Germany. [6]

Wesleyan Chapel and Mission Premises. In the Eastern District of New Providence, Bahamas (p.6, 1849) (Ebenezer Methodist Church, Nassau, Bahamas) Wesleyan Chapel and Mission Premises. In the Eastern District of New Providence, Bahamas (p.6, 1849) - Copy.jpg
Wesleyan Chapel and Mission Premises. In the Eastern District of New Providence, Bahamas (p.6, 1849) (Ebenezer Methodist Church, Nassau, Bahamas)

Lacking effective governors after Trott, Nassau fell on hard times. In 1703 Spanish and French allied forces briefly occupied Nassau. More so, Nassau suffered greatly during the War of Spanish Succession and had witnessed Spanish incursions during 1703, 1704 and 1706. From 1703 to 1718 there was no legitimate governor in the colony. Thomas Walker was the island's last remaining appointed official and although evidence is scarce, it appears that he was acting in the role of deputy governor upon Benjamin Hornigold's arrival in 1713. By this time, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate haven known as New Providence. The Governor of Bermuda stated that there were over 1,000 pirates in Nassau and that they outnumbered the mere hundred inhabitants of the town. They proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, recognising the island's prosperous state in which it offered fresh fruit, meat and water and plenty of protection amid its waterways. Nassau's harbour was tailor-made for defence and it could take around 500 vessels, though it was too shallow to accept large battleships. Benjamin Hornigold, along with his great rival Henry Jennings, became the unofficial overlord of a veritable pirate republic which played host to the self-styled Flying Gang. Other pirates that used Nassau as their base included Charles Vane, Thomas Barrow (who declared himself "Governor of New Providence"), [8] Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and the infamous Edward Teach, better known as "Blackbeard".

In 1718, the British sought to regain control of the islands and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers as Royal governor. He successfully clamped down on the pirates, reformed the civil administration, and restored commerce. Rogers cleaned up Nassau and rebuilt the fort, using his own wealth to try to overcome problems. In 1720, the Spanish attacked Nassau but failed to capture the town and the island. [9]

During the wars in the Thirteen Colonies, Nassau experienced an economic boom. With funds from privateering, a new fort, street lights and over 2300 sumptuous houses were built and Nassau was extended. In addition to this, mosquito breeding swamps were filled.

In 1776, the Battle of Nassau resulted in a brief occupation by American Continental Marines during the American War of Independence, where the Marines staged their first amphibious raid on Fort Montague after attempting to sneak up on Fort Nassau. In 1778 after an overnight invasion, American raiders led by Captain Rathbun, left with ships, gunpowder and military stores after stopping in Nassau for only two weeks. In 1782 Spain captured Nassau for the last time when Don Juan de Cagigal, governor-general of Cuba, attacked New Providence with 5,000 men. Andrew Deveaux, an American Loyalist who resettled on the island, set forth and recaptured the island for the British Crown with just 220 men and 150 muskets to face a force of 600 trained soldiers.

Lord Dunmore governed the colony from 1787 to 1796. He oversaw the construction of Fort Charlotte and Fort Fincastle in Nassau.

During the American Civil War, Nassau served as a port for blockade runners making their way to and from ports along the southern Atlantic Coast for continued trade with the Confederacy.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Nassau profited from Prohibition in the United States.

During the Cuban Revolution of 1959, tourism was further benefitted due to the imposed restrictions on American citizens visiting Cuba. Today Nassau lies in close location to the United States, whose ties between the U.S. and the Bahamas make it a common tourist destination.[ citation needed ]


Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbour. Ships from left to right are; Carnival Fascination, Disney Magic, Carnival Sensation, and Majesty of the Seas. Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor.jpg
Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbour. Ships from left to right are; Carnival Fascination, Disney Magic, Carnival Sensation, and Majesty of the Seas.
Satellite view of Nassau and Paradise Island Nassau, The Bahamas.jpg
Satellite view of Nassau and Paradise Island

Located on New Providence Island, Nassau's harbour has a blend of old world and colonial architecture, and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural environment of the Bahamas have made Nassau an attractive tourist destination.

Nassau developed directly behind the port area. New Providence provides 200 km2 of relatively flat and low-lying land intersected by low ridges (none of which restricted settlement). In the centre of the island there are several shallow lakes that are tidally connected.

The city's proximity to the United States (290 km east-southeast of Miami, Florida) has contributed to its popularity as a holiday resort, especially after the United States imposed a ban on travel to Cuba in 1963. The Atlantis resort on nearby Paradise Island accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property of Nassau. The mega-resort employs over 6,000 Bahamians, and is the largest employer outside government.


Nassau has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: Aw), bordering on a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen: Am), with hot wet summers, and mild dry winters. [10] [11] Temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the course of the year. During the wet season from May through October, average daytime high temperatures are 30–32 °C (86–90 °F), while during the dry season from November through April daytime temperatures are between 25 and 27 °C (77 and 81 °F), rarely falling below 15 °C (59 °F).

Climate data for Nassau (Lynden Pindling International Airport), elevation: 7 m or 23 ft, extremes 1980-2012
Record high °C (°F)32.1
Average high °C (°F)25.6
Daily mean °C (°F)21.6
Average low °C (°F)17.4
Record low °C (°F)6.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)49
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)867610151718171498135
Mean monthly sunshine hours 2262242512822822402672602222362192112,920
Source 1: Ogimet [12]
Source 2: (extremes) [13]
Climate data for Nassau (Lynden Pindling International Airport), elevation: 7 m or 23 ft, 1961-1990 normals and extremes
Record high °C (°F)30.2
Average high °C (°F)25.2
Daily mean °C (°F)21.1
Average low °C (°F)16.7
Record low °C (°F)5.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)47.2
Average rainy days866510151717171698134
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 220.1212.8257.3276.0269.7231.0272.8266.6213.0223.2222.0213.92,878.4
Mean daily sunshine hours
Source: NOAA [14]
Average sea temperature
73 °F

23 °C

73 °F

23 °C

75 °F

24 °C

79 °F

26 °C

81 °F

27 °C

82 °F

28 °C

82 °F

28 °C

82 °F

28 °C

82 °F

28 °C

81 °F

27 °C

79 °F

26 °C

75 °F

24 °C

Urban development

Nassau in the 1880s IMRAY(1884) p0210 BAHAMAS, NASSAU.jpg
Nassau in the 1880s

During the 19th century, Nassau became urbanized, attracting rural residents. Growth since the 1950s has been outwards from the town. The 1788 heart of Nassau was just a few blocks of buildings between Government House and the harbour, but the town gradually expanded east to Malcolm's Park, south to Wulff Road, and west to Nassau Street. Grants Town and Bain Town south of the city became the main residential areas for those of African descent, and until about 30 years ago was the most populous part of the city.

Those of European descent built houses along the shore, east as far as Fort Montagu, west as far as Saunders Beach, and along the ridge edging the city. During the 20th century, the city spread east to Village Road and west to Fort Charlotte and Oakes Field. This semicircle of residential development was the main area of settlement until after the Second World War, and marks a distinct phase in the city's expansion, the outer boundary to this zone being the effective limit of the continuous built-up area. The wealthier residents continued to spread east (to East End Point) and West (to Lyford Cay).

In the last 40 years, residential development has been quite different. It has consisted mainly of planned middle-income sub-divisions. Since the 1960s, government has sponsored low-cost housing developments at Yellow Elder, Elizabeth Estates, and Pinewood Gardens, in the outer ring.

City centre

The Bahamian Parliament BahamianParliamentPanorama.jpg
The Bahamian Parliament

The city centre is the hub for all activities in Nassau. Thousands of people visit daily, to shop, dine, sightsee and to enjoy the tropical climate of the city. While the busiest part of central city is the Bay Street thoroughfare and the Woodes Rogers Walk, located across the street from the port and parallel to Bay, the area extends for several blocks in each direction. It starts at West Bay, around the Junkanoo Beach area. A few hotels and restaurants are located on West Bay.

The next landmark is the British Colonial Hotel, which marks the beginning of Bay Street proper. Pirates of Nassau Museum is just across from the British Colonial Hilton. The next few blocks of Bay Street are wall-to-wall boutiques, with a few restaurants and clubs interspersed throughout the retailers.

Queen's staircase Queen's staircase, Nassau, Bahamas.jpg
Queen's staircase

Historical landmarks are also in the vicinity, including Vendue House, Christ Church Cathedral, and the Nassau Public Library. Although the tourist part of the city centre peters out after about seven blocks, smaller, more local shops are located down Bay Street. At this point, Bay Street becomes East Bay.

The Straw Market is a tourist destination in the city centre. A new market was opened in 2011 after a fire in 2001 destroyed the original Fish, Vegetable and Straw Market. The market is open on all sides, and contains a number of Bahamian craft stores. [15]

Cable Beach

Cable Beach is recognized as the hotel district of Nassau. Five hotels—two of which are all-inclusive—are located on this strip.

Aerial view of the Hilton Resort in Nassau Hilton resort Nassau.jpg
Aerial view of the Hilton Resort in Nassau

The area is also known for its dining, with most of the area's restaurants located in the hotels or across the street. There is a bit of shopping, most of it located in the Wyndham and at Baha Mar. In 2017, the development of Baha Mar, a luxury resort and casino, brought more than 2,000 hotel rooms and the largest gaming and convention facility in the Caribbean to this section of New Providence Island.


Historical population
Source: [16]

Nassau had a population of 128,420 females and 117,909 males and was home to 70,222 households with an average family size of 3.5 according to the 2010 census. [17] Nassau's large population in relation to the remainder of the Bahamas is the result of waves of immigration from the Family Islands to the capital. Consequently, this has led to the decline in the population of the lesser developed islands and the rapid growth of Nassau. [18] [19]

Public Security

In January 2018, the U.S. Department of State issued the latest in a series of travel advisories due to violent crime. [20] [21] Tourists are often targeted, and armed robbery has increased on all of New Providence. [22]



Lynden Pindling International Airport (formerly Nassau International Airport) is located on the western side of Nassau. New Providence Airport on Paradise Island was closed in 1999 with runway removed and integrated into the resort on the island.


Ferries (boats) provide water travel around Nassau to the surrounding islands, namely Paradise Island. Prince George Wharf is the main port in the city that serves cruise ships with ports of call in Nassau. Transportation and shipping around the Family Islands is primarily through mailboats based at Potters Cay. International shipping is done through the Arawak Port Department on Arawak Cay. High speed excursions to Exuma, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island are available daily.


Public jitney buses and taxis provide transport in and around Nassau. Rental cars are also available in the city and at the airport.

Major roads in Nassau include:

The major road in Nassau is Bay Street for tourists. Bay Street runs the entire length of the Island from East to West. Bay Street also provides beachfront views. The downtown area and the cruise ships are in walking distance.

The Bahamas is a left-hand traffic country, but many cars are imported from the US are left-hand drive.


UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Nassau has been recognized as a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a city of Crafts and Folk Art. It is one of only three Caribbean cities to receive this honour. [23]


Junkanoo participant in costume during the 2006 Parade JunkanooDancerPixelizedFace2006.jpg
Junkanoo participant in costume during the 2006 Parade

The city's chief festival is Junkanoo, an energetic, colourful street parade of brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic accompaniment of cowbells, drums and whistles. [24] The word 'Junkanoo' is named after the founder 'John Kanoo'. The celebration occurs on December 26, July 10 and January 1, beginning in the early hours of the morning (1:00 a.m.) and ending around 10 a.m. At the end of the Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes for the best music, costumes, and overall group presentation. These Bahamians spend all year preparing their handmade costumes by using coloured crepe paper and cardboard.

Nassau was the main location (however, the filming locations were based around South Africa) for the Starz Network show Black Sails (2014-2017).

Nassau was featured as an important location in several movies, including the Beatles film Help! and the James Bond films Thunderball , (1965) and Never Say Never Again , (a remake of Thunderball) (1983) and also for part of the action in Casino Royale (2006). In 1981, it was used as a location for the ocean scene (in the film portrayed as being in Greece) in For Your Eyes Only. [25]

Several other late-20th- and 21st-century movies have been set here, including After the Sunset , Into the Blue (2005), and Flipper (1996).

It hosted the Miss Universe 2009 pageant.

Nassau was featured as a primary location in the 2013 video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag [26] (2013).

Nassau Town is mentioned in "Sloop John B", a Bahamian folk song. Since the early 1950s there have been many recordings of the song, the best known being by The Beach Boys on their Pet Sounds album.

Nassau is the subject of "Funky Nassau," a song written by Ray Munnings and Tyrone Fitzgerald and recorded by the Nassau-based funk band The Beginning of the End in 1971 as the single from their album of the same name. The song reached #7 on the US R&B chart, #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #31 on the UK Singles Chart in 1971. [27]

Twin – sister cities

Nassau has six sister cities worldwide:

Notable residents

See also

Related Research Articles

The Bahamas Country in North America

The Bahamas, known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic. It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago's population. The archipelagic state consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and northwest of the island of Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the American state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes The Bahamas' territory as encompassing 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) of ocean space.

History of the Bahamas Aspect of history

The earliest arrival of people in the islands now known as The Bahamas was in the first millennium AD. The first inhabitants of the islands were the Lucayans, an Arawakan-speaking Taino people, who arrived between about 500 and 800 AD from other islands of the Caribbean.

This article talks about transportation in the Bahamas, a North American archipelagic state in the Atlantic Ocean.

The music of the Bahamas is associated primarily with Junkanoo, a celebration which occurs on Boxing Day and again on New Year's Day. Parades and other celebrations mark the ceremony. Groups like The Baha Men, Ronnie Butler and Kirkland Bodie have gained massive popularity in Japan, the United States and other places. Other popular Bahamian artists include Stileet and Stevie S.

New Providence Caribbean island of the Bahamas

New Providence is the most populous island in The Bahamas, containing more than 70% of the total population. It is the location of the national capital city of Nassau, whose boundaries are coincident with the island; it had a population of 246,329 at the 2010 Census; the latest estimate (2016) is 274,400.

Andros, Bahamas Archipelago of the Bahamas

Andros Island is an archipelago within the Bahamas, the largest of the Bahamian Islands. Politically considered a single island, Andros in total has an area greater than all the other 700 Bahamian islands combined. The land area of Andros consists of hundreds of small islets and cays connected by mangrove estuaries and tidal swamplands, together with three major islands: North Andros, Mangrove Cay, and South Andros. The three main islands are separated by "bights", estuaries that trifurcate the island from east to west. It is 167 kilometres (104 mi) long by 64 km (40 mi) wide at the widest point.

Abaco Islands Group of islands in the Bahamas

The Abaco Islands lie in the northern Bahamas, 180 miles off the South Florida coast. They comprise the main islands of Great Abaco and Little Abaco, along with smaller barrier cays. The northernmost are Walker's Cay, and its sister island Grand Cay. To the south, the next inhabited islands are Spanish Cay and Green Turtle Cay, with its settlement of New Plymouth, Great Guana Cay, private Scotland Cay, Man-O-War Cay, and Elbow Cay, with its settlement of Hope Town. Southernmost are Tilloo Cay and Lubbers Quarters. Another of note off Abaco's western shore is onetime Gorda Cay, now a Disney Island and cruise ship stop and renamed Castaway Cay. Also in the vicinity is Moore's Island. On the Big Island of Abaco is Marsh Harbour, the Abacos' commercial hub and the Bahamas' third largest city, plus the resort area of Treasure Cay. Both have airports. A few mainland settlements of significance are Coopers Town and Fox Town in the north and Cherokee and Sandy Point in the south. Administratively, the Abaco Islands constitute seven of the 31 Local Government Districts of the Bahamas: Grand Cay, North Abaco, Green Turtle Cay, Central Abaco, South Abaco, Moore's Island, and Hope Town.

Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the islands of the Bahamas, with the town of West End located 56 nautical miles east of Palm Beach, Florida. It is the third largest island in the Bahamas island chain of approximately 700 islands and 2,400 cays. The island is roughly 530 square miles (1,400 km2) in area and approximately 153 kilometres (95 mi) long west to east and 24 kilometres (15 mi) at its widest point north to south. Administratively, the island consists of the Freeport Bonded Area and the districts of East Grand Bahama and West Grand Bahama. Nearly half of the homes on the island were damaged or destroyed in early September 2019 by Hurricane Dorian.

Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas

Eleuthera refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Eleuthera forms a part of the Great Bahama Bank. The island of Eleuthera incorporates the smaller Harbour Island. "Eleuthera" derives from the feminine form of the Greek adjective ἐλεύθερος (eleútheros), meaning "free". Known in the 17th century as Cigateo, it lies 80 km east of Nassau. It is long and thin—180 km long and in places little more than 1.6 km wide. Its eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, and its western side faces the Great Bahama Bank. The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs, and its population is approximately 11,000. The principal economy of the island is tourism.

Freeport, Bahamas Place in Grand Bahama, The Bahamas

Freeport is a city, district and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama of the northwest Bahamas. In 1955, Wallace Groves, a Virginian financier with lumber interests in Grand Bahama, was granted 20,000 hectares of pineyard with substantial areas of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government with a mandate to economically develop the area. Freeport has grown to become the second most populous city in the Bahamas.

Exuma Place in Bahamas

Exuma is a district of The Bahamas, consisting of over 365 islands, also called cays.

Mayaguana Island and district in Bahamas

Mayaguana is the easternmost island and district of the Bahamas. Its population was 277 in the 2010 census. It has an area of about 280 km2 (110 sq mi).

Out Islands

The Out Islands are the islands that make up the Bahamas with the exception of New Providence Island, where the capital and largest city, Nassau, is located and Grand Bahama Island, where Freeport is located. The Abaco Islands and Eleuthera islands are among the Out Islands.

Bahamian culture is a hybrid of African, European, and other cultures.

Outline of the Bahamas Overview of and topical guide to The Bahamas

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to The Bahamas:

Index of the Bahamas–related articles Wikipedia list article

The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

Afro-Bahamians are an ethnicity originating in The Bahamas of predominantly or partial African descent. They are descendants of various African ethnic groups, many associated with the empires of Ghana, Songhai and Mali, the various Fula kingdoms, the Oyo Empire, and the Kingdom of Kongo. According to the 2010 Census, 92.7% of The Bahamas' population identifies as Black African descent.

Raid on Nassau

The Raid on Nassau, on the Bahamian island of New Providence, was a privately raised Franco-Spanish expedition against the English taking place in October 1703, during the War of the Spanish Succession; it was a Franco-Spanish victory, leading to Nassau's brief occupation, then its destruction. The joint Bourbon invasion was led by Blas Moreno Mondragón and Clause Le Chesnaye, with the attack focusing on Nassau, the capital of the English Bahamas, an important base of privateering for English corsairs in the Cuban and Saint Domingue's Caribbean seas. The town of Nassau was quickly taken and sacked, plundered and burnt down. The fort of Nassau was dismantled, and the English governor, with all the English soldiers were carried off prisoners. A year later, Sir Edward Birch, the new English governor, upon landing in Nassau, was so distraught at the ruin he found, that he returned to England after only a few months, without "unfurling his company-issued commission".

The Raid on Charles Town or Spanish raid on New Providence was a Spanish naval expedition on 19 January 1684 (O.S.) led by Cuban corsair Juan de Alarcón against the English privateering stronghold of Charles Town, capital of the Bahamas.

Long Island, Bahamas Place in Long Island, Bahamas

Long Island is an island in the Bahamas that is split by the Tropic of Cancer. It is one of the Districts of the Bahamas and is known as the most scenic island in the Bahamas. Its capital is Clarence Town. The population of Long Island is 3,094 inhabitants.


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  22. Crime & Travel Safety Tips for Women in The Bahamas
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Coordinates: 25°03′36″N77°20′42″W / 25.06°N 77.345°W / 25.06; -77.345