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Culture & Identity of the Bahamas

Introduction

Bahamian Culture - Fruit market
Fruit market

Unlike the stereotypical Bahamas, which is white sand beaches and paradise every moment of every day, most Bahamians life in a city. Although nearly 85% of the people live in cities in the Bahamas, life still moves at a leisurely pace and the people seem to be on island time.

A Bahamian city is like many other world cities, but the rush of people trying to get to work or home is a bit tamer and punctuality is not as important as it is elsewhere. However, it is still the cities that dictate the way of life for most Bahamians since most Bahamians live in the cities. However, due to huge tourism numbers, almost the entire economy is based on services, including tourism, which accounts for roughly half the country's jobs.

For most services jobs, both in tourism and otherwise, work tends to follow a fairly set schedule. For many people this means work begins at about 9:00 am and ends at about 5:00 pm. However, with a heavy dependence on tourism, jobs have various hours as many people work evenings, nights or weekends regularly. For others the work week runs from Monday to Friday and some jobs also require work on Saturday.

Bahamian Culture - School group
School group

However, the reliance on tourism and life on many of the less populated islands means for many people a daily or weekly routine is nonexistent. Work is done when it's needed and this may change regularly with cruise boat schedules or on some islands simply when a person is needed.

No matter the setting, the Bahamians tend to take life slowly, perhaps slowed by the intense heat. The people are relaxed and time is not meant to be rushed. While work is important, people are much more important in the Bahamas and people are not to be rushed. Family, friends, and even a conversation with the local shop clerk take time and there seems to be no rush to get from one to the next. This social aspect is what the Bahamian way of life is all about and with that comes an incredible sense of friendliness.

Identity

The people of the Bahamas identify in numerous ways, especially since there is a significant immigrant population on the islands, including people from North America and Europe. These recent immigrants, many of whom moved to the islands for the weather and lifestyle, tend to remain tied to their traditional identities, whether that is "American" or "English."

For the local population who was born and raised in the Bahamas, they tend to identify as being Bahamian and this identity is strongly tied to the history and culture of the island. As an ethnically diverse country, this identity is almost wholly cultural defined and is strongly emphasized, especially with rising immigration numbers from other countries, who tend to act as an antithesis of the local people. This Bahamian identity is tied to the food, sports, music, and even linguistic accent.

This page was last updated: May, 2014