Animals and Plants
What is growing in the Bahamas?
The Bahamas Islands are very flat. Low shrubs mainly grow on the ground. Palm trees thrive on the banks and there are also mangroves. Pine forests can be found on the four northern islands of Grand Bahama, Great Abaco, New Providence and Andros. In addition to several types of pine, such as the Caribbean pine, ferns, grasses and other plants also grow in the undergrowth here.
Which animals live in the Bahamas?
Few animal species live in the Bahamas. There are iguanas, lizards, snakes and frogs. One of these is the Cuban tree frog. There are only a few species of native mammals, besides bats there is also a species of tree rat. Most of the animal species are birds, around 230. A large flamingo colony lives on the island of Inagua. Other bird species are the Bahamian woodpecker, the Bahama hummingbird or the Bahamian yellow throat. On the other hand, the underwater world around the islands is particularly rich in species.
Why do pigs swim in the Bahamas?
The Bahamas has a small, uninhabited coral island called Big Major Cay. There is a beach there where pigs actually swim. There are several legends as to why the pigs live there. One says that sailors abandoned the pigs to later slaughter them. But then they never came back and the pigs ate food that passing ships threw into the water. To get there, they had to swim… Or the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck. Or maybe they were abandoned to attract tourists. In any case, it worked, the pigs are an attraction today. They are fed by locals and tourists and the island is also called “pig beach”.
The economy of the Bahamas
Among the Caribbean countries, the Bahamas is one of the richest countries. Most of the money is made by tourism. Around half of the working population is employed in the tourism sector, i.e. in hotels, restaurants or souvenir shops. One problem, however, is that more huge hotel complexes are being planned, for example on Bimini Island, the construction of which is a disaster for the beautiful nature. Two million people come to the Bahamas as tourists every year, most of them from the USA.
The second most important area of the economy is financial services. Companies pay only a few taxes here (tax haven) and that led to the settlement of many banks.
Agriculture hardly plays a role in the Bahamas. There are hardly any ways to irrigate fields. Transportation from island to island is also difficult. Pineapples, citrus fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, okra pods and onions are grown. The harvest is intended for the residents themselves and is therefore not exported. On the contrary: a lot of food has to be bought from other countries. Fishing is also for personal use.
Even industry hardly exists. Most companies are small. Ships are built and you win sea salt. Pharmaceuticals and electrical engineering goods are manufactured in Freeport.
Land with downsides
Those who come to the Bahamas will find dream beaches and huge hotel complexes for tourists here. Economically, the Bahamas is doing quite well thanks to tourism. But that doesn’t mean that all residents are doing well. Especially on the many small islands, on which hardly any tourists get lost, you can also see hunger, poverty and decay.
Unemployment is high. There are many men who are violent. Many women raise their children alone. Some have two or more jobs in order to survive. The families live in small houses or huts. There is no trace of luxury with them.
In addition, there is the fear of one of the tropical cyclones. Every few years such a hurricane sweeps across the Bahamas. The simple wooden houses are then quickly destroyed. All belongings may be broken. The houses have to be laboriously rebuilt.
Eating in Bahamas
The Bahamians like this: giant winged snail
Giant wing snail meat is considered the national dish of the Bahamas. It is called here Conch (pronounced: Konk). Divers bring the snails up from the sea floor. You can prepare your meat in many ways. You can eat it raw in lemon juice, as a soup, in salads or by making a batter with the meat and then deep-frying it.
The snail meat is not only eaten in the Bahamas itself, but is also widely sold in the USA. But because so many snails are being taken out of the sea, the population of the giant winged snail is now endangered.
And what else is there in the Bahamas?
Bahamians not only like to eat snails, but also everything that comes out of the sea, such as fish, lobsters or crabs. Meat comes from chickens, pigs and goats, but iguanas are also hunted and eaten.
Rice and potatoes are popular side dishes, but Johnny Cake is especially popular. It is more like a bread than a cake and is baked in the pan.
Callaloo and other soups
Soups are very popular in the Bahamas. They include callaloo. Slaves brought the recipe for this to the Caribbean from West Africa, where they then looked for ingredients that were suitable for the preparation. It is always a green leafy vegetable, also called callaloo, but from island to island something different is used, for example leaves of amaranth or taro. Other ingredients are added, for example okra pods, coconut milk, pumpkin or the meat of lobsters, crabs or sea snails. Other popular soups are made from fish or peas. Souse is the name of a chicken soup.
Tropical fruits grow in the Bahamas and are eaten fresh from the belly or bush, but are also used for dessert. In addition to mangoes, papayas are particularly popular. With pineapple and green ginger, they are made into jam. Guavas are made into duff, a dessert. The guavas are cooked in a batter and served with sauce. This is usually accompanied by switcha, a homemade lemonade.
Children and School
School in the Bahamas
In the Bahamas, children start school at the age of five. They then go to primary school for six years. The secondary school is called Junior High School and lasts three years. Then compulsory schooling ends. Students who want to study have to go to school for another three years. To get more information on Bahamas and Central America, check petsinclude.
At the end of grades 3, 6 and 9, students must take a test in order to progress. And at the end they acquire the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education, abbreviated BGCSE.
In the Bahamas, all students wear a school uniform. You don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning!
Three quarters of the students attend a public school that does not require paying school fees. A quarter goes to a private school. Primary schools and secondary schools are usually also housed in different buildings. But on the small islands of the Bahamas there are also “all-age” schools that all children attend together. In the photo on the left you can see such a school.
Traditions and Festivals
Junkanoo is the name of the typical music and dance from the Bahamas. Junkanoo is shown in a parade at Carnival. The participants dress up colorfully and splendidly. Drums and cow bells are important tools.
The origin of the Junkanoo lies in Africa, from where it was once brought with them by the slaves who were abducted to the Bahamas. The parades take place on December 26th and January 1st. The troupe with the best costumes, the best music performance and the best dancers wins a competition in the end. Junkanoo is also performed at festivals or on Independence Day.
All sorts of straw
Many Bahamian women use dried palm and sisal leaves to make handicrafts and souvenirs such as bags, baskets, hats and dolls.
The traditional music of the Bahamas is the Goombay. It too has its origin in Africa. Only men play and dance the Goombay. The fathers teach the sons to play the Goombay drum.