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Not to be confused with Eleutherae.
Eleuthera map.jpg
Map showing showing the main island of Eleuthera, with Russel, Royal, Harbour, and Windermere Islands and associated Cays, other geographical features, and concentrations of population. By Joachim Greiner, 2009.
New providence eleuthera.jpg
NASA satellite image, showing New Providence Island to the west, and east of it, the long, narrow island of Eleuthera running north and south (along with its associated Harbour and other small islands), as seen from space in 1997.
Coordinates Coordinates: 25°06′N 76°08′W / 25.100°N 76.133°W / 25.100; -76.133
Archipelago Bahamas
Adjacent bodies of water Caribbean
Total islands TBD
Major islands TBD
Area 457.4 km2 (176.6 sq mi)
Length 180 km (112 mi)
Width 1.6 km (0.99 mi)
Highest elevation 61 m (200 ft)
Districts North Eleuthera, Central Eleuthera, South Eleuthera
Population 8,326 (2000)
Pop. density 18.20 /km2 (47.14 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups 85% black (esp. West African), 12% European, 3% other[not verified in body]

Eleuthera /iˈlθərə/ refers both to a single island in the modern nation of the Bahamas, and to that island and its associated group of small islands.[not verified in body] Sometimes referred to as Eleuthera and Harbour Island (adding a single large component island of the group), "Eleuthera" derives from the feminine Greek adjective ἐλεύθερος (eleutheros), meaning "free". Known in the 17th century as Cigateo, it lies 80 km (50 miles) east of Nassau. It is long and thin—180 km (110 miles) long and in places little more than 1.6 km (1.0 mile) wide. Its eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, and its western side faces the Great Bahama Bank. The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs, and per a 2000 census, its human population numbered approximately 8,300.

Geography and wildlife[edit]

The name Eleuthera refers both to a single Bahamian island, and can also be used to refer to that island and its associated group of small islands;[citation needed] it is sometimes also referred to as Eleuthera and Harbour Island, adding a single large component island of the group (for instance, in the official web materials of the Bahamas.[1]

The main island lies 80 km (50 miles) east of Nassau,[citation needed] and it is a long and thin island—180 km (110 miles) long and little more than 1.6 km (1.0 mile) wide at its narrowest.[citation needed] The island has an estimated area of 457.4 square-kilometers,[2] and presents 336 km (210 miles) of coastline.[2]

Its eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, and its western side faces the Great Bahama Bank.[citation needed] The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs.[citation needed]

The island features, among other flora and fauna, 13 catalogued species of native amphibian and reptile species, three of which were listed as endangered in 2000.[2]


Further information: Eleutheran Adventurers

The original population of Taino, or Arawaks, was mostly deported by the Spanish to work in the mines of Hispaniola, where they died out by 1550.[citation needed][3] The island—then named Cigateo—is believed to have been virtually unoccupied until the first European settlers—puritan pilgrims—arrived in 1648 from Bermuda.[citation needed] These settlers, known as the "Eleutherian Adventurers", gave the island its current name—ἐλευθερία eleutheria which derives from the feminine form of the Greek adjective ἐλεύθερος, eleutheros, meaning "free".[4] Difficulties ultimately left only a few of this original population on the island;[citation needed] had these Puritan pioneers succeeded in their aim, they would have created the first democracy in the Western Hemisphere, almost 130 years prior to the American Revolution.[5]

Some references in the account of Christopher Columbus' original voyage suggest that he may touched at Eleuthera before visiting islands in the West Indies.[citation needed]

The island was quite prosperous in the period from 1950 to 1980, attracting several prominent American industrialists such as Arthur Vining Davis, Henry J. Kaiser, and Juan Trippe.[citation needed] Frequent visitors included film stars like Robert De Niro as well as Prince Charles and a then pregnant Princess Diana.[citation needed]

When the Bahamas became independent from Britain in 1973, new laws forced all of the large resorts and agricultural businesses to sell to government-favoured Bahamian interests, repressive polices that resulted in the flight of the prominent and prosperous residents, and a resulting down-turn in the economy as businesses were closed and abandoned.[when?][citation needed] Because of the strain of a newly forming country, and unfavourable changes in US tax law, some businesses failed during the period from 1980 to 1985.[citation needed]


Per a 2000 census, its human population numbered approximately 8,336.[2] Settlements on the island include (north to south) the Bluff, Upper and Lower Bogue, Current, Gregory Town, Alice Town, James Cistern, Governor's Harbour, North and South Palmetto Point, Savannah Sound, Winding Bay, Tarpum Bay, Rock Sound, Greencastle, Deep Creek, Delancy Town, Waterford, Wemyss Bight, John Millars, Millar's and Bannerman Town.[citation needed]

As of 2000, per capita GDP for the island was: $5756 Bahamian,[verification needed] with a chief human economic activity being tourism, and 6% of population being involved in fishing, agriculture, or mining.[2]

Points of interest[edit]

The principal settlements are Governor's Harbour (the administrative capital), Rock Sound, Tarpum Bay, Harbour Island with its unusual pink sandy beaches and Spanish Wells.[citation needed] The island is particularly noted for the excellence of its pineapples and holds an annual Pineapple Festival in Gregory Town.[citation needed]

Eleuthera is a destination for those interested in Bahamian history and nature, and neighboring Harbour Island and Spanish Wells offer further unique experiences.[citation needed] Natural attractions include the Glass Window Bridge, Hatchet Bay caves and Surfer's Beach in the north, and Ocean Hole and Lighthouse Beach at the south end.[citation needed] Preacher's Cave on the north end was home to the Eleutherian Adventurers in the mid-17th century, and recent excavations have uncovered Arawak remains at the site.[citation needed]

As for recreation, Eleuthera is surrounded by warm, crystal clear water filled with fish, making water sports a most popular pursuit.[citation needed] Other entertainment included golfing, spelunking, beach combing, and nightly films.[citation needed]


Three airports serve the island: North Eleuthera Airport, Governor's Harbour Airport and Rock Sound Airport.[citation needed]

U.S. military bases[edit]

NAVFAC Eleuthera[edit]

United States Naval Facility (NAVFAC) Eleuthera, Bahamas was commissioned on 1 September 1957, with a complement of 150 officers and enlisted men, and a Western Electric engineer and 45 Bahamian employees also supported the base.[citation needed] Adjacent to the NAVFAC was the original site of the first experimental array and electronics, operated by two Western Electric engineers and a few military personnel, which continued in service as an avenue for experiments to bring about improvements in the SOSUS equipment.[clarification needed][citation needed] NAVFAC Eleuthera was decommissioned 31 March 1980 after 23 years of dedicated service.[citation needed]

Eleuthera AAFB[edit]

The US Air Force Eastern Test Range (ETR) Range Tracking Station No. 4 was sited at Eleuthera AAFB (ELU AUXILIARY AIR FORCE BASE), supported by contractor employees of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and Pan American Airways (PAA) in the 1960s and 1970s. This was used by the MISTRAM system.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

The island inspired a song of the same name, except spelt Eleutheria (1993), by Lenny Kravitz,[citation needed] which includes the lines,

What a beautiful feeling it's bringing
All the birds in the sky are singing
Eleutheria the fire is burning...[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Eleuthera & Harbour Island". bahamas.com. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Dahl, Arthur & UNEP Staff (October 21, 1990). "UNEP Island Directory : Islands of Bahamas, Eleuthera [99]". Geneva, CHE: United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  3. ^ An intact wooden duho or ritual seat that was made by the Taino people was found on the island of Eleuthera in the nineteenth century and is now in the collections of the British Museum. See BM Staff (January 6, 2017). "British Museum Online Collection: Stool". BritishMuseum.org. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  4. ^ Bethell, A. Talbot. The Early Settlers of the Bahamas and Colonists of North America. Baltimore, MD: Clearfield Co. p. 82. ISBN 0806350504. Retrieved January 6, 2017. Page number and ISBN are for the revised reprint edition from the Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009. 
  5. ^ Riley, Sandra (foreward by Thelma B. Peters) (2000). Homeward Bound: A History of the Bahama Islands to 1850 with a Definitive Study of Abaco in the American Loyalist Plantation Period. Miami, FL: Island Research. p. 28. ISBN 0966531027. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]