First inhabited in the 9th century by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawaks, The Bahamas received their name ‘Baja Mar’ (low sea) from Christopher Columbus who landed on San Salvador in 1492. Colonized by English puritans from Bermuda during the 17th century, The Bahamas were later plagued by notorious pirates such as Blackbeard, until they were driven out by Governor Woodes Rogers in 1718. The Bahamas played an important part in the American Civil War—blockaded by the Union navy in 1861, the islanders traded Confederate cotton with Britain and supplied military equipment to the Confederacy. During Prohibition The Bahamas prospered as a rum-smuggling base but experienced a severe economic downturn when the Prohibition law was repealed in 1933. An important Atlantic base during WWII, the tourist industry benefited greatly from Cuba’s closure to western visitors in the 1950s. Internal self-government with cabinet responsibility was introduced on 7 Jan. 1964 and full independence achieved on 10 July 1973.
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