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A British Colony until 1969 (an independent nation since 1973), early inhabitants of The Bahamas included a mix of races and religions -- freed slaves from Bermuda and America, Asian and European immigrants, English puritans and British Loyalists. When Columbus arrived in 1492, he was greeted by the Lucayan Indians. Physical evidence that other groups existed dates back to 300 AD.

Although wealthy American tourists frequented the islands during prohibition, tourism began in a big way after 1961, when Cuba became off limits to Americans. The government subsidized the tourism industry by opening up a harbor deep and wide enough to berth six cruise ships at a time and connected the two most populated islands, Paradise Island and Nassau, with a bridge.

Currency in Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar which is at par to the U.S. dollar. Major credit cards, U.S. money and travelers checks are accepted throughout the islands, by most shops, hotels and restaurants. Bank machines are located at most casinos.

Visitors require passports, proof of return transportation and enough money for stays less than 8 months. Birth certificates and one other identification form (one with photo) are accepted from Canadian and US visitors. A visa is required for longer stays. Apply at The Bahamas Immigration department or the Bahamas Consulate nearest you for visas.

Weather is a balmy sub-tropical 70 to 80 fahrenheit year round.


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