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District of Exuma
Exuma and Cays in Bahamas (zoom).svg
Coordinates: 25°4′N 77°20′W / 25.067°N 77.333°W / 25.067; -77.333
Country (some privatization)  Bahamas
Island Exuma
Established 1999
 • Type District Council
 • Chief Councillor Franklyn McKenzie
 • Deputy Chief Councillor Raymond Carrol
 • Total 250 km2 (100 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 7,314 (Bahamas Dept. of Statistics)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
Area code(s) 242
For the musician Exuma, see Exuma (musician).

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 365 islands, also called cays. The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi (60 km) in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma by a small bridge. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town (permanent population 1,000), founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs across a beach close to the city. The entire island chain is 130 mi (209 km) long and 72 sq. mi (187 km²) in area.[1][2] Great Exuma island has an area of 61 sq. mi (158 km²) while Little Exuma has an area of 11 sq. mi (29 km²).[3]

Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Exuma more than doubled, reflecting the construction of large and small resort properties and the related direct air traffic to Great Exuma from locations as distant as Toronto, Canada.


Exuma was settled in or around 1783 by American loyalists fleeing the Revolutionary War. The expatriates brought a cotton plantation economy to the islands. George Town was named in honour of George III, to whom the settlers maintained their loyalty. A few smaller cays still remain partially or wholly privately owned, albeit they are still referred to as part of the Exuma–Bahamas Cays. They are distinguished by a three-digit suffix number. The best known ones are adjoined cays Exuma 642 and 643, whose lifespan has been shortened in the recent years by the receding shorelines.

John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle, a major Loyalist settler of the Exumas, is a major figure in the islands' heritage. Upon his death in 1842, he bestowed all of his significant Exuma land holdings to his slaves. As a result, a number of towns on Great Exuma have been named after him (such as Rolleville and Rolletown).

The islands are a popular spot for yachting, sailing, diving, and coral reef and cave exploring.[4] Many of the unnamed beaches and coves of the islands, including extensive offshore reef areas, are included in the protected Exuma National Land and Sea Park of the Bahamas National Trust. Some of the islands on which there are permanent residents and resorts include Staniel Cay (home of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, a fixture in the Exumas), Fowl Cay, Musha Cay and Iguana Cay.[5] Thunderball Grotto, located just a few hundred yards off Staniel Cay, is one location where the James Bond film Thunderball was filmed. Sandy Cay, just a short boat ride from Little Exuma was the location used for filming the Pirates of the Caribbean beach scenes and one Shell commercial. The novel Wind from the Carolinas was set in Great Exuma.[6]

The Exumas are the historic home of the Lucayan Natives, who were wholly enslaved in the 16th century, leaving the islands uninhabited until the 18th century. In the intervening period, the Exumas provided many hideouts and stashes for pirates. Elizabeth Harbor was a favorite lair of Captain Kidd.


Exuma International Airport serves the city of George Town directly from Nassau, Miami, Atlanta and Toronto. Staniel Cay also has a small airstrip.

Notable residents[edit]

The main island has been a haven for celebrities for years. Until recently, the tourist population on the island was extremely minimal, allowing anonymity for anyone escaping the spotlight. Frequent visitors included Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, who stayed at Goat Cay (the home of Babbie Holt), Jackie Onassis, and Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn; the married couple spent a lot of time on the island also at Goat Cay for many years. Sigourney Weaver vacationed there as well with her family.

In light of the relatively low cost of purchasing islands and the relatively low Bahamian tax regime for non-locals, a number of celebrities own islands in the Exumas. These include Aga Khan, Nicolas Cage, David Copperfield, Ali Daei, Johnny Depp,[7] Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Ali Karimi, Eddie Murphy, Eddie Irvine and Tyler Perry.


  1. ^ Exuma Cays, Texas A&M University, retrieved October 11, 2013 
  2. ^ Exuma, The Government of The Bahamas 
  3. ^ Exuma Cays, britannica, retrieved October 11, 2013 
  4. ^ Discover more about The Exumas, Bahamas.com, retrieved October 11, 2013 
  5. ^ Beaches on Exuma Bahamas, The Bahamas., retrieved October 11, 2013 
  6. ^ Wilder, Robert. Wind From the Carolinas. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1964. Back panel.
  7. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (July 2009). "Johnny Depp’s Great Escape". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 23°32′N 75°50′W / 23.533°N 75.833°W / 23.533; -75.833