District of Mayaguana
Island and district
|• Type||District Council|
|• Total||280 km2 (110 sq mi)|
|• Density||0.99/km2 (2.6/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
About 100 km (62 mi) north of Great Inagua and 560 km (350 mi) southeast of the capital Nassau, Mayaguana is considered the halfway point between South Florida and Puerto Rico and is about 830 km (520 mi) off Palm Beach, Florida. It is a popular stopover for boaters on a direct route to the eastern Caribbean. It also was one of the first islands that Christopher Columbus landed on during his journey to the new world.
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 (62 mi) southeast.
The Brazilian 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.
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 Mayaguana Airport was built by US Army Engineers attached to the US Air Force. The airport was built as a runway for jet planes that would follow missiles fired from Cape Canaveral. Real time sighting and photography was the best technology of the time for observing the flight of the missiles.
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.
Mayaguana is one of only the few remaining Bahamian islands which still retains their original Lucayan names. Other islands have preferred to change to non-nativist names.
The largest settlement is Abraham's Bay (pop. 143) on the south coast; other settlements are the neighboring towns of Betsy Bay (pop. 44) and Pirate's Well (pop. 90) in the northwest with the population slowly decreasing. The uninhabited areas of Upper Point (north shore), Northeast Point, and Southeast Point are largely inaccessible by road.
There are only two schools on the island. Pirates Well Primary is located in the settlement of Pirates Well. The Abraham's Bay High school is located in the capital of Abraham's Bay.
In 2016, Mayaguana held its first annual regatta festival called the All Mayaguana Regatta. The festival focuses on the sailing competition, food, arts and music. Conchfest is also held as a replacement for the Abraham's Bay Homecoming in early August.
The least developed Bahamian island, Mayaguana has never really seen major growth largely due to the government taking little interest in the economy. However, the government has provided some locals with entry level positions at various government offices. Others make a living by either fishing and farming.
Considered the most isolated Bahamian island, Mayaguana uses the country's mail boat system as its primary form of import and export. Mayaguana is visited once a week for delivery and pickup by M/V Lady Mathilda.
Mayaguana is known for fresh sea food. Sea life regularly caught for commercial purposes include conch, grouper, spiny lobster, snappers and tuna. Marlin and bone fish found in Bahamian waters are fished for sporting activities only.
Mayaguana is known for its fertile soil, which is good for farming, and its woody terrain. Bahamian dry forests' hardwoods, common lignum-vitae (Guaiacum officinale), and holywood lignum-vitae (G. sanctum) can be found throughout the island. The island is home to several government nature reserves.
As the southeasternmost 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 Bahamian flamingos, Bartsch's iguanas, plovers, terns, and osprey. Nesting sea turtles can be found throughout the undeveloped northern part of the island. About 118 species of bird are found on the island, including two large brown booby colonies.
Mayaguana remains one of the most pristine and untouched islands in the Bahamas. Yet the island – home to beautiful beaches, unique wildlife and world-class fishing – has never fully reached its development potential. Most tourists who visit, do so for the unspoiled essence of the island. Visitors can also enjoy scuba diving, bonefishing, snorkeling, white crown pigeon hunting and bird watching. The eastern part of the island is a popular area for persons who are interested in crabbing (catching local island crabs) off-trail bikers.
Ecotourism is also a growing spectrum. Booby Cay is home to hundreds of indigenous species of iguanas only to Mayaguana. There is also an interesting species of booby birds that is also found on a separate cay on the northern side of Mayaguana. Blackwood Point, located in upper Pirates Well is where one would find Bahamian flamingo feeding year round.
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. New construction is set to take place at the Mayaguana Airport before the fourth quarter of 2017.
- "Mayaguana Population By Settlement and Total Number of Occupied Dwellings: 2010 Census" (PDF). bahamas.gov.bs. Bahamas Department of Statistics.
- Granberry, Julian; Vescelius, Gary S. (2004). Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles. The University of Alabama Press. p. 83. ISBN 0-8173-5123-X.
- Huggins, C. E. (March 13, 2006). "Mayaguana, going, gone". The Nassau Guardian. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved September 26, 2017.