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Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamasmarker. The city has a population of 260,000 (2008 census), nearly 80 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas (330,000). Lynden Pindling International Airportmarker, the major airport for The Bahamas, is located about west of Nassau city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdommarker, United Statesmarker, Canadamarker and the Caribbeanmarker. The city is located on the island of New Providencemarker, which functions much like a federal district. While there is no local government, it is governed directly as an administrative division of the national government. Nassau is considered a historical stronghold of pirates.

History

Nassau was formerly known as Charles Town; it was burned to the ground by the Spanishmarker in 1684, but later rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695 in honour of Dutch King William III of England and Ireland from the Dutchmarker House of Orange-Nassau. In 1703 Spanish and French allied forces briefly occupied Nassau.

By 1713, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate rendezvous. English pirate chieftains Thomas Barrow and Benjamin Hornigold proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as governors, and were joined by Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and Edward Teach, the infamous "Blackbeard", along with women pirates such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

In 1718, the crown sought to regain control and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers General and Governor in chief in and over the Bahama islands. He ousted Blackbeard from his position as Magistrate of the "Privateers Republic", reformed the civil government and successfully expelled the pirates. Rogers cleaned up Nassau and rebuilt the fort, even going as far to use his own money to try to overcome problems.

In 1776 the Battle of Nassau resulted in occupation by the Americans: in 1778 an overnight invasion saw the Americans leaving with ships, gunpowder and military stores after remaining in Nassau for only two days. In 1782 Spain captured Nassau, for the last time when Don Juan de Cagigal, Governor General of Cuba and the Havana attacked New Providence with 5000 men. Andrew Deveaux set forth to recapture Nassau with only 220 men and 150 muskets to face a force of 600 trained soldiers. Deveaux forced the Spanish to surrender on April 17, 1783, without a single shot fired. When Deveaux took down the Spanish flag, it marked the last time that a foreign banner was to fly over the Bahamian capital Nassau as a symbol of dominion.

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre was opened in 1982 and was the first zoo in The Bahamas. It had previously been open as gardens in Nassau since 1937.

Geography

Located on New Providence Islandmarker, Nassau has an attractive harbor, a colorful blend of old world and colonial architecture and a busy port. The tropical climate and natural beauty of the Bahamas has made Nassau a popular tourist destination, with a reputation for relaxing days and an exciting nightlife.

Summertime temperatures rarely exceed 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) and the winter months have daytime temperatures between , rarely falling below .

The city's proximity to the United States (290 km east-southeast of Miami, Floridamarker) has also contributed to its popularity as a holiday resort, especially after the banning of American travel to Cubamarker. The Atlantismarker resort on nearby Paradise Islandmarker accounts for more tourist arrivals to the city than any other hotel property. The mega-resort also employs over 6,000 Bahamians, the largest outside of government.
Bahamian Parliament in Nassau.
Fort Fincastle.
Cruise Ships Docked at Nassau Harbour.


Junkanoo

The city also boasts of Junkanoo, an energetic, colourful street parade of brightly costumed people dancing to the rhythmic accompaniment of cowbells, drums and whistles. The celebration occurs on December 26 and January 1, beginning in the early hours of the morning (1:00 a.m.) and ending around 10 a.m.In addition, the city celebrates Junkanoo June, a month-long festival akin to Mardi Gras. Festivities begin at sundown.

In popular culture

Nassau has featured as an important location in numerous James Bond novels and films. The most notable of the Bond films in Nassau is Thunderball, released in 1965. Most of the movie was based in Nassau, and the Junkanoo festival also figures prominently in the film, which starred Sean Connery. Nassau was again the location for the 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again, (a remake of Thunderball) also starring Sean Connery, and it is was the setting for part of the action in the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig. Nassau was also featured in the famous Beatles movie Help!.

At least one ship and one airplane from various James Bond movies has been sunk in the waters of Nassau. Stuart Cove offers dives to these.

Nassau is also heavily featured in the novel Tobin in Paradise by Stanley Morgan. The story is centered around the visit by the main character, Russ Tobin, to Nassau and Paradise Islandmarker, and the comedic events that ensue.

Nassau has also been the setting for several other recent movies including After the Sunset, Into the Blue and Flipper.

The capital hosted the games of the 2004 World's Strongest Man contest. Atlantis Paradise Island was the venue for the 2009 Miss Universe pageant.

References



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