Mayaguana

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Location of Mayaguana.

Mayaguana is the most easterly island and district of the Bahamas. It is one of only a few Bahamian islands which retain their Lucayan names. The population of Mayaguana in the 2000 census was 259, amounting to an estimate 312 in 2010. It has an area of about 280 km².

About 100 km north of Inagua and 560 km south of the capital Nassau, Mayaguana is considered the halfway point between South Florida and Puerto Rico and is about 450 nautical miles off Palm Beach, Florida. It is a popular stopover for yachtsmen on a direct route to the Caribbean.

History[edit]

Mayaguana was inhabited by Lucayans prior to the arrival of the Spanish following 1492. After the last of the Lucayans were carried off to Hispaniola by the Spanish early in the 16th century, the island remained uninhabited until 1812, when people began to migrate from the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are located about 100 km southeast.

The Brazilan historian Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen suggested in 1824 that Mayaguana is Guanahani, the first island visited by Christopher Columbus at his discovery of the Americas. His theory has found little support. Mayaguana apparently was the Lucayan name (meaning "Lesser Midwestern Land" ) for the island.[1]

The first steamship to circumnavigate the globe, the Royal Navy sloop HMS Driver, was wrecked on Mayaguana on 3 August 1861, 14 years after the completion of her epic voyage in 1847.

During NASA's Project Mercury and the Apollo program, the United States space program had a missile tracking station on what is now Mayaguana Airport. The station was used to help keep astronauts on course.

The Bahamian government has recently approved working with American investors MMC to turn Mayaguana into a "free trade zone," complete with tourism development of approximately 14% of the island. Actually, this is 14% of the total landmass but essentially most of the coastal region. The proposal was met with moderate resistance by Mayaguanians, who look forward to economic expansion but are unsure of what change is to come. This development is still in a planning phase and is trying to maintain the nature of the island as a quiet eco-tourist destination while still creating sustainable economic growth. [1]

People and culture[edit]

The largest settlement is Abraham's Bay on the south coast; other settlements are the neighboring towns of Betsy Bay and Pirate's Well in the northwest. The uninhabited areas of Upper Point (north shore), Northeast Point, and Southeast Point are largely inaccessible by road.

The least developed Bahamian island, Mayaguana has never seen major growth. It was settled gradually after 1812 by people from the Turks and Caicos. Most people make a living fishing and farming.

Considered the most isolated Bahamian island, Mayaguana uses the country's mail boat system as its primary form of communication. Mayaguana is visited once a week for delivery and pickup.

Environment[edit]

Mayaguana is known for its fertile soil, which is good for farming, and its woody terrain. Common Lignum-vitae (Guaiacum officinale), Holywood Lignum-vitae (G. sancutm) and other hardwoods can be found throughout the island. The island is home to several government nature reserves.

As the easternmost island in the Bahamian Commonwealth, Mayaguana is bordered to its east by deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Many underwater coral reefs are found off-shore, as well as shipwrecks.

Mayaguana is home to the Bahamian hutia, a rodent that was thought to be extinct until the mid-1960s, as well as American Flamingos, Bartsch's iguanas, plovers, terns, and osprey. Nesting sea turtles can be found throughout the undeveloped eastern part of the island. About 118 species of bird are found on the island, including two large brown booby colonies.

Tourism[edit]

As the most isolated island, Mayaguana is one of the least visited by tourists in the Bahamas. Most tourists who visit do so for the isolation, as well as scuba diving, bonefishing, snorkeling, and duck hunting. The eastern part of the island is popular with advanced off-trail bikers. Ecotourism is also a common draw.

The island is accessible by the Mayaguana Airport (MYG), which is located southeast of Abraham's Bay and is visited by Bahamasair as well as private aircraft.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Julian Granberry and Gary S. Vescelius. (2004) Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles. The University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-5123-X p. 83

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°23′N 72°57′W / 22.383°N 72.950°W / 22.383; -72.950