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The island nation of the Bahamas, famous for its weather and miles of beaches, gained independence from the United Kingdom on this day 45 years ago.

The island archipelago was the first land Christopher Columbus came upon in the period of The New World and the beginning of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The islands were inhabited by the Taino people, who were the shipped to Hispaniola to be enslaved. Because of its destination and access, the region was a prime holding spots for pirates and merchants alike.

To curtail the piracy in the island, Britain declared the Bahamas a crown colony under its rule in 1718 and it remained as such until the ’60’s, when a desire for independence began to grow. The British House of Lords granted the island its independence by transitioning to a democratic voting process which led to a predominately white political party in control.

In 1967, Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling became the first native-born Prime Minister of the island on his platform of autonomy from the British. In 1973, Prince Charles delivered the note of independence personally to Premier Pindling on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II. However, the Bahamas is still under the British monarchy, signifying a peaceful brokering between the nations.

The Bahamas thrives today as one of the richest island nations due to its tourism and finance. Notable natives include celebrated actor Sir Sidney Poitier and Olympic medalist sprinter Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie. Descendants of the Bahamas in entertainment include Al Roker, Lenny Kravitz’s mother Roxie Roker, who is a cousin of the television weatherman, and retired NBA star Rick Fox. Mychal Thompson, a former NBA player and father of Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson, also have Bahamian roots.

 

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