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Bahamian Culture

Image: Bahamas Ministry of TourismThe Bahamas has a distinctive culture which has evolved over generations, from a mixture of mostly African, combined with some British colonial and American influences, to a unique and colourful style of Bahamian self-expression.

Bahamians are best described as an easy-going, friendly and hospitable people. The adult literacy rate is over 90% with a rapidly growing professional class and university educated workforce. English is the official language of The Bahamas.

Bahamians are very religious as a people and Christianity is the predominant religion practised in the country. The Bahamian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression.

Nothing is more indigenous and unique to Bahamian culture than Junkanoo. It is a music and dance form that originated in The Bahamas during the days of slavery. A festive parade complete with colourful costumes, goatskin drums, clanging cowbells, whistles and horns, it has remained remarkably unchanged over the years. The parade progresses in a low, rhythmic dance called 'rushing'. Traditionally, the festival is held in the early hours of Boxing Day (26 December) and on New Year's Day, winding up at sunrise. The paraders 'rush' in organised groups and are judged on costume theme and performance in a keen competition which captures the spirit of all Bahamians at this very special time of the year.

Image: Bahamas Ministry of TourismRegional Caribbean music has a strong influence in The Bahamas. Reggae, Calypso, Merengue and Socca are widely enjoyed in the country, alongside 'Goombay', which is known as the official music and dance of The Bahamas. Also, the makeshift sound of 'Rake and Scrape' is very popular among Family Islanders. In recent years, American soul, rhythm and blues, pop and rock music have had a strong impact on the younger generation of Bahamians as well.

Art is also an important part of Bahamian cultural life. The vibrant colours and dramatic themes of Junkanoo form the basis of this artistic expression but the lifestyle, social struggles, strong religious influences and the breathtaking beauty of the natural surroundings have a clear influence as well. The work of several Bahamian artists has attracted international attention.

The Bahamas has also been extremely successful in the international sporting world, winning medals/awards at the Olympics and other international sporting events, in athletics, yachting, boxing, tennis and swimming.

Various Fact Sheets on Bahamian History, Culture, Geography, Fauna and Flora, and Education may be downloaded here:

For further information, please visit the following websites:

National Archives

Ministry of Education

College of The Bahamas

National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

Bahamas Film Commission

Bahamas International Film Festival

Bahamas National Trust

Bahamas Olympic Association

Bahamas Amateur Athletics Association

Tennis Association

Football Association