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Andros, Bahamas

Andros, Bahamas

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Andros Island is an archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 within the archipelago-nation of the Bahamas
The Bahamas
The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets . It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola , northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States...

, the largest of the 26 inhabited Bahamian Islands. Geo-politically considered a single island, Andros has an area greater than all the other 700 Bahamian islands combined. The land area of Andros consists of hundreds of small islets and cays connected by mangrove estuaries and tidal swamp lands, together with three major islands—North Andros
North Andros
North Andros is one of the 31 Districts of The Bahamas. It is also the largest district in the country. It has some of the largest settlements on Andros Island and many churches as well.- Churches :...

, Mangrove Cay
Mangrove Cay
Mangrove Cay is one of the districts of the Bahamas, on Andros Island....

, and South Andros
South Andros
South Andros is a district of the nation of The Bahamas. Geographically, South Andros is the southernmost third of the land mass colloquially called Andros, which includes the districts of North Andros, Central Andros and South Andros...

. The three main islands are separated by "bights", estuaries which trifurcate the island, connecting the island's east and west coasts. It is 104 miles (167 km) long by at its widest 40 miles (64 km) wide.

Noteworthy for a unique combination of marine features and ecosystems, Andros rests on the west side of the 6000 foot (3+ km) deep Tongue of the Ocean
Tongue of the Ocean
The Tongue of the Ocean is the name of a deep oceanic trench in the Bahamas separating the islands of Andros and New Providence. The depth of the water drops from roughly along Andros' east offshore barrier reef to over , and the drop is roughly long....

. The Andros Barrier Reef is the world's third longest after Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the world'slargest reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres over an area of approximately...

 and the Central American Belize Barrier Reef, runs for 142 miles (225 km) averaging a distance of only 1–2 miles from the Andros shore. The extensive flats of the Great Bahama Bank lie to the west, northwest and south of Andros. The island is home to the world's largest collection of Blue Hole
Blue Hole
Blue Hole is a diving location on east Sinai, a few kilometres north of Dahab, Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea.The Blue Hole is a submarine sinkhole , around 130 m deep. There is a shallow opening around 6 m deep, known as 'the saddle', opening out to the sea, and a 26 m long...


Geographically, North Andros is the sixth largest island in the West Indies
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, at roughly 6000 km² (2,316.6 sq mi) in area and 167 km (103.8 mi) long and 64 km (39.8 mi) wide at its widest point, and the 153rd largest island on Earth. If all three main islands are included, Andros is the fifth largest island in the Indies, after Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Although comparable in area to the state of Rhode Island (3140 km2, population 1.05 million) and Long Island, N.Y. (3600 km2, population 7.5 million) Andros is home to a population of approximately 8000, almost all of whom are settled in a thin strip near the Queen Elizabeth Highway running along the island's eastern coast. Outside Alaska, the Amazon Basin and northern Canada, it is one of the least densely populated places in the Western Hemisphere.

Thirty miles westward across the Tongue of the Ocean from the Bahamas’ national capital of Nassau
Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 248,948 , 70 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas...

 on New Providence Island, Andros’ northern tip lies 138 miles/233 km from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Geologically and geographically the Bahamas, including Andros, are not located in the Caribbean, whose northern boundary is the Windward Passage
Windward Passage
The Windward Passage is a strait in the Caribbean Sea, between the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. The strait specifically lies between the easternmost region of Cuba and the northwest of Haiti.80km wide, the Windward Passage has a threshold depth of 1,700m...

, but rather in the Atlantic Ocean. However, politically the nation was historically part of the British West Indies
British West Indies
The British West Indies was a term used to describe the islands in and around the Caribbean that were part of the British Empire The term was sometimes used to include British Honduras and British Guiana, even though these territories are not geographically part of the Caribbean...

 and is considered culturally to be part of the Caribbean. The Bahamian dialect of the English language is distinctively Caribbean in character, similar to those of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, also formerly part of the British West Indies.

The township of Fresh Creek is home to the Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center AUTEC, operated by the U.S. Navy, where the United Kingdom and the United States conduct special operations training and sonar and submarine research in the Tongue of the Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard also runs rescue and drug interdiction operations from AUTEC.

Andros is known in the Bahamas by two nicknames, "The Sleeping Giant" and "The Big Yard."


The largest employers on Andros Island are the Bahamian government and the AUTEC base at Fresh Creek.

Despite its small population, Andros Island has given rise to several ongoing commercial ventures. Western Air
Western Air
Western Air Limited is an airline with its headquarters on the grounds of San Andros Airport in Andros Island, Bahamas. It was established in 2001 by Rex and Shandrice Rolle, currently the firm's president and CEO and vice president and COO, respectively....

  maintains its headquarters in a modern facility at the San Andros airport. A Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

 mission-run commercial farm was founded near Blanket Sound in 1983, which grows everything from habanera peppers to sorghum and potatoes, and has numerous fruit orchards. The Mennonites also run the largest car repair shop on the island. Androsia
Androsia is a type of textiles produced by the Androsia Batik Factory on Andros Island, Bahamas. It is hand made and has been manufactured on Andros since 1973 by Bahamians...

, a hand-crafted batik
Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.Javanese traditional batik, especially from...

 factory founded at Fresh Creek in 1972 produces a vibrant, colorful fabric which has become part of the national dress and identity of the Bahamas. GreenLife Growers, a Bahamian native tree nursery at Young Sound, provides landscaping material to real estate developers and government projects throughout the Bahamas.

Commercial fishing remains a mainstay of the island's economy—conch, lobster, snapper and grouper are all commercially harvested for sale locally and in Nassau's fish markets. Seasonal crabbing—catching crabs and fattening them in pens for sale in Nassau—provides a cash crop for locals to supplement their income.

Local handicrafts in the Black Seminole style—particularly wood carvings and woven baskets—are a cottage industry in the settlement of Red Bays. A sample of Red Bays baskets is in the Smithsonian Institution.

There is a fledgling conservation industry on Andros, dedicated to preserving the island's unique ecosystems, working in partnership with both the Bahamian government (Bahamas National Trust
Bahamas National Trust
The Bahamas National Trust is a non-profit organisation in the Bahamas that manages the country's twenty-five national parks. Its headquarters is at the located in New Providence at The Retreat Gardens on Village Road...

) and such varied non-governmental organizations as The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a US charitable environmental organization that works to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive....

 and Project AWARE
Project AWARE
Project AWARE is a non-profit, worldwide, organization dedicated to "Conserving underwater environments through education, advocacy and action."...

 of the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI
Padi or PADI may refer to:* Padi, Chennai, India* Padi , a musical group* Paddy field, a type of cultivated land * Professional Association of Diving Instructors, a scuba organization...

). These efforts resulted in the creation of the Central Andros National Park in 2002. Most of the island's conservation efforts funnel through the non-profit nongovernmental organization Andros Conservancy & Trust Bahamas
Andros Conservancy & Trust Bahamas
ANCAT isan environmental nonprofit non-governmental organization dedicated to preserving the natural resources of Andros Island, the Bahamas...

. ANCAT's efforts are closely tied to efforts to encourage eco-tourism, preserving the existing varied habitats of the island.


Tourism is Andros Island's largest industry, and the largest private employer. Bahamian tourism efforts refer to it as the least-explored island in the chain. There are from Nicholls Town in the north to Little Creek in the south 35-40 hotels, motels, resorts, guest houses and lodges (the number varies with properties going out of business and new ones opening) with a total of approximately 400 rooms. Most of Andros's tourism comes from SCUBA divers—looking to dive the barrier reef, Tongue of the Ocean and the Blue Holes—and bonefisherman, and those looking for relaxation off the beaten path with easy air connections.

Andros Island was the site of two of the first dive-dedicated resorts in the world, and the first in the Bahamas, both founded by Canadians—Small Hope Bay Lodge near Fresh Creek, founded by Dick Birch (1960) and Forfar's at North Blanket Sound founded by Archie Forfar (1962). After Forfar's death in a diving accident in 1971, his property was taken over by International Field Studies, Inc. of Ohio in 1972 and re-named Forfar Field Station
For Far Field Station, Bahamas
Forfar Field Station is a research facility located in North Blanket Sound, Andros Island in the Bahamas. Forfar allows students of middle school, high school, college , as well as teachers and adults to experience the cultural and geographical wonders of Andros Island...

, IFS today runs week-long, month-long and semester-long science, sailing,diving and cultural programs mostly for American high school students. Small Hope Bay Lodge continues to operate as a dive resort under the ownership and management of Dick Birch's children.

Andros Island is surrounded by hundreds of square miles of fishable flats, home to permit, tarpon and especially bonefish
The bonefish is the type species of the Albulidae family, or bonefishes in order Albuliformes. It is amphidromous, living in inshore tropical waters, moving onto shallow mudflats to feed with the incoming tide, and retreating to deeper water as the tide ebbs...

. The island is known as the bonefish capital of the world. Bonefish are considered among the world's premiere gamefish for anglers. Both predator and prey they are faster and more wary than fresh water game fish. "A voracious predator…it accelerates faster and swims farther than any other fish you take on light tackle It fights more doggedly than most fish twice its size...you must see it before you can cast to it. You stalk it like a predator. You track it down, take your aim and cast with precision…The ruthless, primitive instincts of this skittish creature leave no room for error." Other varieties of fishing are available on Andros. Deep sea fishing beyond the reef in the Tongue of the Ocean offers among others dorado, tuna, sailfish, wahoo, and jacks. Locals fish regularly on the reef for abundant snapper and grouper.

Andros is home to a number of festivals: Crabfest at Fresh Creek each June, the annual regatta at Morgan's Bluff, Conch Festival, a local Junkanoo
Junkanoo is a street parade with music, which occurs in many towns across The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands every Boxing Day , New Year's Day and, more recently, in the summer on the island of Grand Bahama. The largest Junkanoo parade happens in Nassau, the capital...

 and Goombay
Goombay is a form of Bahamian music and a drum used to create it. The goombay drum is a membranophone with one goat skin head held between the legs and played with the hands or sticks....

 festival between Christmas and New Year's, the Pirate's Festival and the Annual Seafood Splash & Chickcharnie Festival. In addition ANCAT sponsors numerous ecologically oriented events for tourists and locals.

Flora and fauna

"As the largest island in the Bahamas, Andros exhibits greater botanical diversity than any other island. The presence of Andros’ barrier reef and the Tongue of the Ocean give the island a great zoological diversity." Among the various land eco-systems are hardwood coppice, pineyard, scrub, saltwater marsh, rocky and sandy beaches, palm savannas and mangroves. Non-coastal areas on Andros are referred to generically as ‘the bush.’ Coastal mangrove flats and estuaries are referred to as ‘the swash,’ or salt water marsh.
In the 1960s and 1970s the Owens Lumber company, a US-owned company which bought out a number of Bahamian lumber interests, deforested much of the indigenous pineyards that grew on North Andros. "Much of the pineland of western Andros is on hummocks of high ground…this isolation of pines by wetlands has severely limited their commercial potential and therefore they are among the largest pines remaining in the Bahamas." What is found on the North Andros landmass today are over-crowded forests of mainly young trees.
Andros has the Bahamas’ only fresh water river, contributing to its biodiversity. Thousands of kilometres of underground water from rainwater collect in aquifer
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using a water well. The study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology...

s below the island's surface. Nineteen million litres of freshwater are shipped to Nassau daily by barge through the pumping station located in Morgan's Bluff.

Marine life

The most significant factors in marine life of Andros are the barrier reef and the Tongue of the Ocean, together with mangrove swamps, rocky tidal pools and estuaries which provide breeding and growing habitats for young marine life.
Andros has a variety of close-to-shore and on-shore ecosystems that may be unique on Earth: tidal inland and ocean blue holes, shallow sand and mud flats, tidal estuaries, mangrove swamps, the pelagic eco-zone of the 6000 foot drop-off only a mile from shore, the world's third largest barrier reef, and huge freshwater aquifers. The marine biosphere is fed by both the teeming life of the mangrove marshes and estuaries on the mainland and the upwelling of cool water from the Tongue of the Ocean, resulting in an unparalleled variety of sea life.
Humpback whales, which are found in all the world's oceans, follow a regular migration route, summering in temperate and polar waters for feeding, and wintering in tropical waters for mating and calving. Humpbacks used to be common in the Tongue of the Ocean off Andros, and are still seen infrequently. Pilot whales are also seen off the coast of Andros.
Inside the Andros Barrier Reef staghorn, elkhorn and other corals are found in shallows 10–20 feet deep. Beyond the shallow reefs are tiny cays and islets from which the sea bottom gradually deepens until at a depth of between 70 feet and 120 feet comes "The Wall", with its plunge 6000 feet into the abyss of the Tongue of the Ocean.
There are four species of turtles found in Andros’ waters—loggerhead, green, hawksbill and rarely the leatherback.


Most resident bird species of the Bahamas are believed to have come northward from the West Indies rather than North America, because winds and sea currents favor immigration from the south and southeast. Some 225 species are known in the islands. Andros, with its vast undeveloped land, is home to many of them.
The Bahama Oriole is only found on Andros Island. The Oriole is critically endangered, with an estimated remaining population of fewer than 250. The Giant Lizard Cuckoo, is found only on New Providence, Eleuthera and Andros. The rare Kirtland's Warbler—an estimated 600 remain—was first seen on the island in 1879 and winters on Andros. The endangered migratory Atlantic subspecies of the Piping Plover favors the rocky shores and sandy beaches of Andros. Other rare and uncommon birds found in the Andros environ include the Bahama Yellowthroat, Bahama Woodstar, Bahama Swallow, West Indian Whistling Duck and Key West Quail Dove.
Other birds found on Andros include the West Indian Woodpecker, the Loggerhead kingbird, LaSagre's Flycatcher, the Great Antillean Pewee, the Bahama Mockingbird, The Red-legged Thrush, the Thick-billed Vireo, the Black-whiskered Vireo, the Olive-capped Warbler, the Black-cowled Oriole, the Great Antillean Bullfinch, the Black-faced Grassquit, the Melodious Grassquit, the Least Grebe, Olivaceous Cormorant, the Flamingo, the Bahama Pintail, Osprey, Kestel, Sooty Tern, Roseate Tern, Noddy Tern, White Crowned Pigeon, Zenaida Dove, White-bellied Dove, the Smooth-billed Ani and the Cuban Emerald Hummingbird.


There are more than 104 km² (40.2 sq mi) of subtropical forests and the swamps are inhabited by more than 50 species of wild orchids on Andros, many of which are endemic, including three native species of the climbing orchid vanilla. Commercial flower collectors have been known to set fire to the pineland coppices to collect purple flowered orchids (Bletia puperea) that flourish in ashy soil. The orchid genus epidendrum
Epidendrum , abbreviated Epi in horticultural trade, is a large neotropical genus of the orchid family. With more than 1,100 species, some authors describe it as a mega-genus. The genus name refers to its epiphytic growth habit...

 has nine species endemic to the Bahamas, all of which can be found on Andros.

Legendary Creatures

According to local lore, two mythical creatures are endemic to Andros: the Lusca
The lusca is a name given to a sea monster reported from the Caribbean. It has been suggested by cryptozoologists that the lusca is a gigantic octopus, far larger than the known giant octopuses of the genus Enteroctopus.-Sightings:...

 and The Chickcharney (also spelled Chickcharnie.) The Lusca, half-octopus, half-shark and gigantic, supposedly swallows whole boats. The Chickcharney, furry and feathered and three foot tall has one red eye and three-toed claws. Some ornithologists believe that the legend of the chickcharney is based on the flightless, 1 metre tall barn-owl, Tyto pollens
Tyto pollens
Tyto pollens, also known as Andros Island Barn Owl, Bahamian Barn Owl, Bahamian Great Owl, or "Chickcharnie," was a , flightless barn owl that lived in the old-growth pineyards of Andros Island...

, whose remains have been found on Andros.

Blue holes

The island's blue hole
Blue hole
A blue hole is a cave or underwater sinkhole. They are also called vertical caves. There are many different blue holes located around the world, typically in low-lying coastal regions...

s are water filled cave systems, which attract divers from all over the world. "All the main islands of the Bahamas have blue holes, but those of Andros are the best known. Andros has 178 on land with at least 50 in the sea. Blue holes can best be described as entrances to the intricate cave systems which run underneath the island and sea floor." "Their openings can be found among the shallow creeks, inland lakes, and the shallow banks of the Bahamas. The caves, which have developed within the Bahamian carbonate platforms, can be laterally and vertically very extensive. Lateral cave passages can extend to several kilometres and vertically may range in depth from ten to several hundred metres."

Noted oceanographer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau visited Andros Island in 1970 to explore and film the Andros Blue Holes. The video of this expedition, called "The Secret of the Sunken Caves", is included in the 2005 Cousteau video collection "The Jacques Cousteau Oddyssey: The Complete Collection." Cousteau explored several ocean blue holes, and the inland blue holes known as Uncle Charlie's Blue Hole, Church's Blue Hole and the Guardian Blue Hole.

National Geographic has featured the Andros Blue Holes several times over the past thirty years, most recently in August, 2010.


Andros Island has four airports with paved runways: San Andros Airport
San Andros Airport
San Andros Airport is an airport near Nicholls Town on Andros Island in The Bahamas.-Facilities:The airport resides at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 at Nicholls Town, Andros Town International Airport
Andros Town International Airport
Andros Town Airport or Andros Town International Airport is an airport serving Andros Town on Andros Island in the Bahamas. It is also known as Fresh Creek Airport....

 located at Fresh Creek, the Clarence A. Bain Airport
Clarence A. Bain Airport
Clarence A. Bain Airport is an airport serving Mangrove Cay, part of Andros Island in The Bahamas.-Facilities:The airport resides at an elevation of above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 09/27 with a asphalt surface measuring ....

 at Mangrove Cay and Congo Town Airport
Congo Town Airport
Congo Town Airport is an airport near Congo Town in South Andros, part of Andros Island in The Bahamas. It is also known as South Andros Airport .-Facilities:...

 in South Andros. Andros Town International is an international port of entry for private pilots.
The island is served by multiple daily flights from Nassau by BahamasAir
Bahamasair Holdings Limited, operating as Bahamasair, is an airline based in the Bahamasair House in Nassau, Bahamas. It is the national airline and operates domestic scheduled services to 15 destinations and regional scheduled services to Havana and four cities in Florida. Its main base is Lynden...

, Western Air
Western Air
Western Air Limited is an airline with its headquarters on the grounds of San Andros Airport in Andros Island, Bahamas. It was established in 2001 by Rex and Shandrice Rolle, currently the firm's president and CEO and vice president and COO, respectively....

, and LeAir—the flight to any of the four airports is 15–25 minutes. Daily scheduled flights to Nassau from London, Paris, New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Orlando and other major cities provide easy connection from Andros to the rest of the world.
Regularly scheduled charters provide direct service to Andros Town from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, mostly offered by Gulfstream International Airlines
Gulfstream International Airlines
Gulfstream International Group, Inc., operating as Gulfstream International Airlines , is a United States airline based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It operates scheduled and charter services to Florida and Bahamas and the Caribbean. It operates as a United Express carrier for United Airlines...

. Continental Connection
Continental Connection
Continental Connection is a brand name under which several commuter airline carriers and their holding companies operate services marketed exclusively by Continental Airlines...

 offers seasonal scheduled flights from Fort Lauderdale, operated by Gulfstream for Continental under contract.
Andros is connected to Nassau by Sea-Link ferry which runs daily to Morgan's Bluff on the north end of the island and Fresh Creek in central Andros. It is also reachable by mailboat from Nassau and for inter-island travel with stops at numerous Andros settlements.

There is no public transport on Andros Island, but a private shuttle bus service on North Andros connects Nicholls Town with Behring Point. Taxi service is available at all four airports.


Andros lies just north of the Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Cancer
The Tropic of Cancer, also referred to as the Northern tropic, is the circle of latitude on the Earth that marks the most northerly position at which the Sun may appear directly overhead at its zenith...

, with moderate temperature range affected by its relative proximity to the Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream
The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean...

 to the west. The island has a semitropical climate with only two seasons, summer (May–November) and winter (December–April). Midsummer temperatures range from 27C-29 C/80F-85F with a relative humidity of 60 to 100 percent. Winter temperatures range from 21C-24C/70-75F and can drop to 5C/41F after dark. Andros Island is hit by a Bahamas hurricane an average of every 2.5 years. The Great Florida Hurricane of 1929 is known in the Bahamas as The Great Andros Hurricane. Notable strikes in the modern era have included Hurricanes Betsy (1965), David (1979), Arlene (1987), Andrew (1992), Lili (1996), Floyd (1999), Michelle (2001), and Wilma (2005)

Pre-Columbian & Spanish eras

Artifacts and remains of Lucayans, a subgroup of the Taíno people
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 indigenous to the Bahamas at the time of European discovery have been found in both Morgan's Cave on North Andros, and in the Stargate Blue Hole on South Andros.
The population of the Bahamas is estimated to have been approximately 40,000 Lucayan-Taínos at the time of the arrival of the Spanish. Prized for their free-diving capabilities used in fishing conch, they were enslaved by the Spanish and mostly sent to Cubagua as pearl divers. An expedition by the Spanish in 1520 to round up all remaining Lucayans discovered only 11 people—the Lucayans were effectively extinct. After the extermination of the Lucayans, there were no known permanent settlements in the Bahamas—including Andros Island—for approximately 130 years.
Spain laid claim to the Bahamas including Andros Island after Columbus’ discovery of the islands—his first landfall in the Western Hemisphere was on the Bahamian island of San Salvador. The Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.-Expeditions:...

, for whom the Americas are named, on a Spanish charter spent four months exploring the Bahamas in 1499–1500, and mapped a portion of the eastern shore of Andros Island. Ponce de Leon
Ponce de León
-People:* Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer of the Americas and first Governor of Puerto Rico* Juan Ponce de León y Loayza, the son of Juan Ponce de León II, and early settler of Ponce, Puerto Rico...

 sailed by Andros on his journey from Cuba to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth in 1513.
The Bahamas passed back and forth from ownership by Spain and Great Britain for 150 years, with final ownership by Britain established by treaty in 1783, when Great Britain exchanged East Florida to Spain, receiving the Bahamas in return.

British colonial era 1648–1973

In 1648 British settlers from Bermuda established a colony on Eleuthera and in 1666 Charles Town—later renamed Nassau—was founded on New Providence.

During the late 1600s and 1700s various pirates and buccaneers frequented Andros Island. In 1713 the Bahama Islands were declared a Pirate's Republic. Morgan's Bluff and Morgan's Cave on North Andros are named after the famous privateer-pirate, Henry Morgan
Henry Morgan
Admiral Sir Henry Morgan was an Admiral of the Royal Navy, a privateer, and a pirate who made a name for himself during activities in the Caribbean, primarily raiding Spanish settlements...

, for whom Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum is named. It is said that the Andros settlement of Small Hope Bay was so named because Morgan claimed there would be "small hope" of anybody finding the treasure he had hidden there. Pirates raiding the Spanish treasure galleons out of Cuba maintained a settlement on South Andros.

Loyalists fleeing Mainland America after the American Revolution settled on various Bahama Islands including Andros, bringing their slaves with them. By 1788 the islands of New Providence, Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Long Island, Cat Island, Turks Island and Andros were inhabited by a reported population of three thousand whites and 8000 blacks. The 1788 census reported 22 white heads of families with 132 slaves on Andros, cultivating 813 acres of land.

In 1821 Seminoles and black slaves fleeing Florida were brought to the west coast of Andros by the wrecking vessel ‘Steerwater,’ where they established the settlement of Red Bays. Additional Black Seminoles
Black Seminoles
The Black Seminoles is a term used by modern historians for the descendants of free blacks and some runaway slaves , mostly Gullahs who escaped from coastal South Carolina and Georgia rice plantations into the Spanish Florida wilderness beginning as early as the late 17th century...

 traveling by canoe across the Gulf Stream joined them over the next several decades.

In 1807, the British Empire outlawed the slave trade with the Slave Trade Act
Slave Trade Act
The Slave Trade Act was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed on 25 March 1807, with the long title "An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade". The original act is in the Parliamentary Archives...

, and ended slavery of blacks altogehter with emancipation in 1834. African immigration to the Bahamas continued through the raiding of passing slave ships by Bahamian mariners. Slaves freed in this manner entered a system of apprenticeship or indentured servitude. Many of these freed Africans and their offspring immigrated to the Out Islands including Andros, resulting in an indigenous culture that is closer to African than most other black cultures in the Western Hemisphere.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries (1841–1938) Greek spongers immigrated to Andros for the rich sponge fishing on the Great Bahama Bank off Andros’ west coast. For a period of years Andros sponging was the Bahamas’ largest industry. The sponges were wiped out by Red Tide
Red tide
Red tide is a common name for a phenomenon also known as an algal bloom , an event in which estuarine, marine, or fresh water algae accumulate rapidly in the water column and results in discoloration of the surface water. It is usually found in coastal areas...

 algae in the 1930s, and the sponging industry died and the spongers left the island for Key West
Key West
Key West is an island in the Straits of Florida on the North American continent at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys. Key West is home to the southernmost point in the Continental United States; the island is about from Cuba....

,and Tarpon Springs, Florida, and thousands of unemployed Bahamians moved to the village of Coconut Grove near Miami.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the Owens Lumber company, a US-owned company, deforested much of the indigenous pineyards that grew on North Andros. As a result of poor planning for re-growth, what is found on the island today are over-crowded forests of mainly young trees.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Bahamas led by Sir Lynden Pindling
Lynden Pindling
Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling KCMG, OM, JP , is generally regarded as the "Father of the Nation" of the Bahamas, having led it to Majority Rule on 10 January 1967 and then to independence on 10 July 1973. He served as the first black premier of the Colony of the Bahama Islands from 1967 to 1969 and as...

, the Member of Parliament for Kemps Bay on South Andros, negotiated independence from the British. Self-rule was granted in 1964 and one-man one-vote Majority Rule in 1967. The Bahamas achieved Independence July 10, 1973. One of the final acts of the British rulership of the Bahamas was to grant AUTEC a long-term lease for land on Andros, not unlike the lease of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Pindling became the first Prime Minister of the Bahamas, and served until 1992, when his party lost control of Parliament, but he retained his seat representing South Andros.

Etymology of the island's name

Originally named Espiritu Santu by the Spanish, Andros Island took its present name sometime early during the period of British colonial dominion over the Bahamas. Several eighteenth century British documents refer to it as Andrews Island. A 1782 map refers to the island as San Andreas. The modern name is believed to be in honor of Sir Edmund Andros
Edmund Andros
Sir Edmund Andros was an English colonial administrator in North America. Andros was known most notably for his governorship of the Dominion of New England during most of its three-year existence. He also governed at various times the provinces of New York, East and West Jersey, Virginia, and...

, Commander of Her Majesty's Forces in Barbados in 1672 and governor successively of New York, Massachusetts, and New England.

Secondary and tertiary sources indicate that the island may have been named after the inhabitants of St Andro Island ( aka St Andrew or San Andrés) off the Mosquito Coast
Mosquito Coast
The Caribbean Mosquito Coast historically consisted of an area along the Atlantic coast of present-day Nicaragua and Honduras, and part of the Western Caribbean Zone. It was named after the local Miskito Indians and long dominated by British interests...

 of Honduras, because 1,400 of them reportedly settled in Andros in 1787. However contemporary records indicate that the number of inhabitants of Andros in that period was many fewer than 1,400, and the original source of this report remains obscure.

Another theory suggests that the island was named after the Greek isle of Andros
Andros, or Andro is the northernmost island of the Greek Cyclades archipelago, approximately south east of Euboea, and about north of Tinos. It is nearly long, and its greatest breadth is . Its surface is for the most part mountainous, with many fruitful and well-watered valleys. The area is...

, by Greek sponge fishermen, however this is unlikely as Greek spongers did not arrive on Andros until the mid-19th century.

The theory that the island was named for Sir Edmund Andros remains the most widely accepted.

Significant dates in history of Andros island

  • 1520+/- Lucayans exterminated by Spanish
  • 1650—1750+/- Pirate Era
  • 1725 British naturalist Mark Catesby
    Mark Catesby
    Mark Catesby was an English naturalist. Between 1731 and 1743 Catesby published his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America...

     visits Andros
  • 1783 British Loyalist settlers arrive
  • 1807–1865 Africans freed from slave ships after passage of Great Britain's Slave Trade Act settle on Andros
  • 1821–1840 Black Seminoles emigrate from Florida
  • 1841 Commercial sponging era begins in the flats of west Andros
  • 1892 Andros Fibre (sisal plantation) founded
  • 1938 Red Tide wipes out sponge industry
  • 1950–1975 Deforestation of North Andros Pineyards
  • 1960 Small Hope Bay Lodge, Bahamas’ first dive resort, opens near Fresh Creek
  • 1964 Construction of AUTEC Base begins
  • 1965 The U.S. submersible DSV Alvin
    DSV Alvin
    Alvin is a manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The vehicle was built by General Mills' Electronics Group in the same factory used to manufacture breakfast cereal-producing...

     begins career off Andros
  • 1968 Bridges built across Fresh Creek and Stafford Creek, unifying North Andros
  • 1970 Jacques-Yves Cousteau with his research vessel RV Calypso explores Blue Holes and Tongue of the Ocean.
  • 1972 Androsia Batik Factory opens
  • 1972 International Field Studies at Forfar Field Station opens
  • 1973 Lyndon Pyndling, Member of Parliament for Kemps Bay on South Andros, becomes first Prime Minister of independent Bahamas
  • 1974 Bahamas Agricultural Research, Training and Development project initiated, fostering agriculture on Andros
  • 1983 Mennonite Farm established near Blanket Sound
  • 1984 Queen Elizabeth II visits Andros to dedicate Queen's Park
  • 1997 Andros Conservancy and Trust (ANCAT), dedicated to the ecological preservation of Andros, founded
  • 2002 Creation of first National Parks and Marine Protected Areas on Andros

Famous visitors to Andros

Besides the pirate Morgan, Jacques Cousteau and Queen Elizabeth II, Andros has seen other famous visitors. Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, who later became British Prime Minister famous for declaring "Peace in our Time" after meeting with Adolph Hitler at Munich, managed a sisal
Sisal is an agave that yields a stiff fibre traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards. The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context...

 plantation near Mastic Point on North Andros in the late 19th century. The Lighthouse Club at the port of Fresh Creek was a popular hangout for the "Rat Pack", including Sammy Davis, Jr. 41st U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and baseball great Ted Williams
Ted Williams
Theodore Samuel "Ted" Williams was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played his entire 21-year Major League Baseball career as the left fielder for the Boston Red Sox...

 frequented South Andros for its bonefishing. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

 and U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers
William Rogers
-Politics:*William P. Rogers , U.S. Attorney General under Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of State under Richard Nixon*Will Rogers, Jr. , congressman from California from 1943 to 1944 and the son of the noted humorist by the same name*Will Rogers , congressman from Oklahoma, 1933–1942*William D...

 were regular visitors to Small Hope Bay Lodge for SCUBA diving, where National Geographic's premiere underwater photographer, David Doubilet
David Doubilet
David Doubilet is a well known underwater photographer known primarily for his work published in National Geographic Magazine. He was born in New York and started taking photos underwater at the young age of 12. He started with a Brownie Hawkeye in a rubber anesthesiologist's bag to keep the water...

, began his career working as a divemaster/guide in the 1960s.

Political Organization

Andros is politically divided into four Districts
Districts of the Bahamas
Local government in the Bahamas exists in two forms, namely second-schedule and third-schedule district councils. There are a total of 32 local government districts: 13 second-schedule districts, which are further sub-divided into town areas, and 19 third-schedule districts, which are all unitary...

 (North Andros, Central Andros, South Andros and Mangrove Cay) and ten Township
The word township is used to refer to different kinds of settlements in different countries. Township is generally associated with an urban area. However there are many exceptions to this rule. In Australia, the United States, and Canada, they may be settlements too small to be considered urban...

s. (Mastic Point, Lowe Sound, Nicholls Town, Staniard Creek, Fresh Creek, Cargill Creek, The Bluff, Long Bay Cays, Kemps Bay, Deep Creek). It is represented in the national parliament by two seats—North Andros and South Andros. There are dozens of tiny named settlements along the island's east coast, (i.e. Blanket Sound, Love Hill, Davis Creek, Small Hope Bay, Calabash Bay, Bowen Sound, Behring Point, Little Creek), and one settlement on the west coast—the Black Seminole village of Red Bays at the island's northwestern tip.
Districts of Andros Island Chief Councillor Establishment Seat of Local Government
Districts of the Bahamas
Local government in the Bahamas exists in two forms, namely second-schedule and third-schedule district councils. There are a total of 32 local government districts: 13 second-schedule districts, which are further sub-divided into town areas, and 19 third-schedule districts, which are all unitary...

Townships Map
North Andros District
North Andros
North Andros is one of the 31 Districts of The Bahamas. It is also the largest district in the country. It has some of the largest settlements on Andros Island and many churches as well.- Churches :...

> Brian O’Neal Cleare
1999 Nicholls Town
Nicholls Town
Nicholls Town is a town located in North Andros, part of Andros island in the Bahamas.-See also:* Districts of the Bahamas* Islands of the Bahamas* List of cities in the Bahamas...

Mastic Point, Lowe Sound, Nicholl's Town
Central Andros District
Central Andros
Central Andros is one of the districts of the Bahamas, on Andros Island. Its current Chief Councillor is Mr. Deon Sweeting. The Member of Parliament for this District is Minister Picewell Forbes.Central Andros is known for its large concentration of blue holes and wide area of bone fishing flats....

Clyde Duncombe 1999 Fresh Creek
Fresh Creek
Fresh Creek was a district of the Bahamas before 1996.It consisted of the central portion of the island of Andros. The population was 2,576.New districts were created on Andros in 1996. Fresh Creek district was roughly replaced by Central Andros....

Staniard Creek, Fresh Creek
Fresh Creek
Fresh Creek was a district of the Bahamas before 1996.It consisted of the central portion of the island of Andros. The population was 2,576.New districts were created on Andros in 1996. Fresh Creek district was roughly replaced by Central Andros....

, Cargill Creek
Mangrove Cay District
Mangrove Cay
Mangrove Cay is one of the districts of the Bahamas, on Andros Island....

Brian Moxey 1999 Mangrove Cay (Settlement)
Mangrove Cay
Mangrove Cay is one of the districts of the Bahamas, on Andros Island....

South Andros District
South Andros
South Andros is a district of the nation of The Bahamas. Geographically, South Andros is the southernmost third of the land mass colloquially called Andros, which includes the districts of North Andros, Central Andros and South Andros...

Zebedee Rolle 1999 Kemps Bay
Kemps Bay
Kemps Bay is a town on the island of Andros in the Bahamas and, before 1996, was also a district of the Bahamas.The district consisted of the southern portion of the island. Its population in 2000 was 1,666 – the census recorded exactly equal numbers of males and females.New districts were created...

The Bluff
The Bluff
The Bluff can mean::Australia*The name of a hill in Victor Harbour, South Australia. This spot offers a good vantage point for enthusiastic photographers. Whale sightings from this point are also common.Cayman Islands...

, Long Bay Cays, Kemps Bay
Kemps Bay
Kemps Bay is a town on the island of Andros in the Bahamas and, before 1996, was also a district of the Bahamas.The district consisted of the southern portion of the island. Its population in 2000 was 1,666 – the census recorded exactly equal numbers of males and females.New districts were created...

, Deep Creek
Deep Creek
-Communities:*Deep Creek, California, former name of Cedarville, California*Deep Creek, Florida, an unincorporated community in Charlotte County*Deep Creek, Nevada*Deep Creek, Virginia, a former unincorporated town of the former Norfolk County...


There are a number of church denominations represented within Andros. In North Andros, the Anglican Episcopal Church has a presence through St Margaret's Parish. This parish consists of two churches, St Margaret's located in the settlement of Nicholls Town
Nicholls Town
Nicholls Town is a town located in North Andros, part of Andros island in the Bahamas.-See also:* Districts of the Bahamas* Islands of the Bahamas* List of cities in the Bahamas...

 and St Mary Magdalene located in the settlement of Mastic Point.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Nassau provides clergy for parishes throughout Andros. On South Andros Sacred Heart parish is in Little Creek and St. Robert Bellarmine parish is in High Rock. Mangrove Cay is served by St. Benedict's parish and Central Andros is served by St. John Chrysostom parish in Fresh Creek and Christ the King parish in Cargill Creek. Catholic services are also provided on Saturday evening at the AUTEC Navy Base chapel.

External links