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About People and Language in The Bahamas

More than estimated 340'000 live in The Bahamas. Over 80% of Bahamians live within an urban area mainly on the main island of New Providence and in Grand Bahama. The legacy of slavery in the Caribbean left a majority population of blacks which make up 85%, with whites the remaining 15%.

The language of daily life is English, although a smattering of other Caribbean languages are also spoken, including Creole among Haitian immigrants. But many Bahamians speak a variation of English which can sound like a totally different language to the unsophisticated, foreign ear.

As an example, "th" changes to "t" and "h" in particular is often dropped as in "'appy birthday". "W" become "v", and "s" sometimes becomes "z". Past and future tenses are ignored since, as it seems, Bahamians live in the present. "Vell, dey apparently tink dis a good ting."

There is an image that the foreign visitor conjures up as being typically Bahamian: not too white and not too black, just something in between. However, there is no such thing: no typical Bahamian. There have been a great interaction between social classes and between blacks and whites.

In addition, expatriates and immigrants from Haiti, West Indies, Central and South America, Greece, China and Syria have further diversified the "pot pourri" of Bahamian life.

About Religion and Beliefs in The Bahamas

Obeah Tree
The Bahamas is a very religious country. It has been suggested that the country has one of the highest number of churches per capita in the world. Baptists comprise the largest Christian denomination, followed by Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists and Seventh-Day Adventists.

In addition to established Christian denominations, a number of home-grown or "over-the-hill" churches have developed. Baptist and over-the-hill sermons are often lively, musical and interactive, with lots of hand-clapping, lively rhythms and passionate songs. It is not uncommon for some worshipers to "get the spirit", a trance-like state induced by a moving sermon and characterized by fainting, speaking in tongues or dancing uncontrollably.

In addition, the largely hidden and rarely-mentioned practice of Obeah, is still said to persist. Obeah is a type of sorcery, which is sometimes compared with Haitian Voodoo although, in practice they are different.

Obeah has African origins. Bahamian Obeah is a type of spiritualism, surrounded by many tales of unexplained phenomena and superstitions, and with a catalog of articles (fetishes), "signs" and bush medicines.

Obeah, like other similar beliefs, is a blending of African religion with those of western religion, especially Christianity. Today, there may be some Christian ministers which mixes some forms of Obeah into their beliefs.

About Arts and Crafts in The Bahamas

Bahamian Straw Market
The beautiful landscape, the colorful houses and the people of the Bahamian islands have inspired many native artists which includes names like Amos Ferguson, Eddie Minnis, Brent Malone and others.

Art exhibitions for local artists are hosted by various galleries in Nassau. Good spots to find fine local art works are Andrew Aitken Frame Art Gallery in Madeira St, Palmdale or Nassau Glass Company in Mackey St.

Local artist can also be found in the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in West Hill St. The Central Bank of the Bahamas in Market St operates a gallery and hosts frequent local cultural art exhibitions for local artists.

Traditional crafts include straw work on most islands (each one having a unique plaiting or braiding style) creating beautiful hats, baskets, bags and other household items.

Straw work and wood carvings can be purchased in Nassau's Straw market on Bay St. But smaller Straw markets can be found in most tourist areas.

About Bahamian Music

The most favorite music for the Bahamians is the Junkanoo music, but Junkanoo is much more than music. Find out more here.

Bahamian music also incorporates other Caribbean forms such as Calypso, Trinidadian Soca and Jamaican Reggae, as well as American-inspired Rap and Hip Hop.

Another typical Bahamian music is Rake 'N' Scrape which has its origin in Cat Islands but was also developed on other islands simultaneously.

Typically Rake 'N' Scrape musicians are beating the goombay drum and scraping a carpenter saw and playing tunes on the concertina.


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