The Bahamas was once a British colony, but today is a fully independent nation in the Caribbean Sea. There are 29 separate islands making up the Bahamas, along with hundreds of cays and thousands of islets. The chain is located off the east coast of Florida.
Bimini is the closest island to the U.S. mainland, but the largest island in the chain is Andros Island. The capital city of the Bahamas is Nassau, which is located on the island called New Providence. Visitors books into Bahamas vacation homes on any of the islands are likely to see yellow elder flowers. These are the national flower and bloom during every season of the year.
The Bahamas present tourists with a fascinating mix of cultures. Approximately 85% of the nation's inhabitants descend from immigrants who arrived from West Africa, many of them as freed slaves in search of a better life. The remaining population is of European descent; most of them can trace their origins to the arrival of the British Puritans in 1649 or the American Loyalists in 1783. During the 20th century there was also significant Greek immigration into the Bahamas; to this day, a distinct Greek culture can be seen as part of the national ethnic fabric.
The official language of the Bahamas in English, making travel here easy for visitors from the United States. The currency is the Bahamian dollar, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted. The Bahamas are on Eastern Standard Time, which means a minimum of jet lag even for tourists from the West Coast of the U.S.