By Jessie Williams
The Bahamas is renowned for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and low taxes, but the Caribbean archipelago is more than just a playground for the wealthy. The country consists of more than 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, one of which was the first island on which Christopher Columbus landed when he discovered the Americas in 1492.
Sunny side up
Thanks to the trade winds from the north-east, the Bahamas has a tropical climate with highs of around 28C and lows of about 20C. On average, there are 10 hours of sunshine per day in the capital Nassau during the summer months. It is warm enough to swim in the Atlantic all year round, but watch out for hurricane season (June 1 to November 30).
The Bahamas is the richest country in the Caribbean by gross domestic product per capita, thanks in part to its low taxes: it levies VAT and payroll taxes but there is no personal income tax for residents, and no capital gains or inheritance taxes.
Song and dance
Bahamian culture is a rich amalgamation of African, European and American influences. Music and dance play an important role, the most popular genres being the indigenous goombay, rake ’n’ scrape and Junkanoo. Make sure to practise those moves when there is live music at the Green Parrot bar in Nassau before taking part in the colourful Junkanoo parades on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Not only does the archipelago boast 900 square miles of coral reefs — home to endangered species such as the hawksbill sea turtle — but there is a colony of wild pigs on the aptly named Pig Beach, also known as Pig Island, south-east of the main island of New Providence. Local legend says they were destined to be eaten by sailors who left them there but never returned. Approximately 20 pigs and piglets live on the uninhabited island, swimming in the shallows and being fed by locals and tourists.
Good international schools
There is no shortage of reputable international schools in the Bahamas. At most schools children take the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE), based on the UK’s GCSE model. St Andrew’s International School, Lyford Cay International School, Windsor Preparatory School and Tambearly School excel in both academic and extracurricular activities.
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