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Situation and Extent.] The Bahama islands lie directly north of the Greater Antille-,and are separated from Cuba by the Old Bahama channel, and from Florida by the New Bahama channel or Gulf of Florida. They lie between lat. 20° and 28" N. and between Ion. 69° and 30° W.
Banks and Keys.] There are two noted banks in these seas; the Great and Little Bahama banks. The Great Bahama hank lies between lat. 21° 40' and 26° N. and between Ion. 74° 50 and 80° 20' W. Its length, from Verde key in the S. E. to Isaacs* key in the N. W. is 450 miles. Its breadth in the south is about 140 miles. A little north of the tropic it is divided by an arm of deep watercalled Providence bay.which is 100 miles leng from S. E. to N.W. and about 30 broad, aqd opens on the N.W. side of New Providence into the N. E. channel. The Old Bahama channel separates this bank from Cuba, and the New Bahama channel from Florida; the N. W. channel on the N. divides it from the Little Bank; Rock sound and Exuma round on the N. E. separate it from Eleuthera and Guanahani. Little Bank is bounded by the New Bahama channel on the W.; by the N. \V. channel oo the S.; by the N. E. channel on the S. E. and the Atlantic ocean on the N. E. Its length, from the Hole in the Wall in the S. E to Maranilla Reef in the N. W. is about 180 miles. The depth of water on the Great Bank varies from one to seven fathoms; en the Little Bank from three to twelve.
The Keys or Kay* are rocks or sand islands scattered in great profusion over this part of the ocean. Their number has been computed at 700. The larger and more remarkable have received appropriate names; the rest are known only by the generic name of Keys.
Island*. | Besides the Keys already mentioned, the Bahamas consists of 14 islands or groupes of islands. The following are their names arranged in geographical order, beginning in the S. E. 1. Turks islands. 8. Watling's island.
5. Caicos. 0. Guanahani or St. Salvador, p. The Inaguas. • 10. Eleuthera and Harbor inlands 4. Mayaguana. II. New Providence.
6. Crooked island groupe 12 Andros. f>. Long island. 13. Abaco.
7. F.tuma. 1 I. Great Bahama.
Turks islands are famous fur their salt ponds, which in some years have yielded more than 30,000 tons of salt for exportation Guanahani, called by Columbus St. Salvador, and by the Eiu;lUU »ail<>r* Cat island, i« celebrated as the spot where Columbus firvt lauded in the new world.
Face of the Country, Soil, $-c.] These islands are heaps of iime»toneand shells, covered with vegetable mould. The Keys are chiefly rocky and sandy: on some of them a few trees are found. All the large islands that front directly upon the Atlantic stretch from S. E. to N. \V. and the ridge of each is in the same direction. The soil of all the islands is a thin but rich vegetable mould. It yields for a few years luxuriantly, but is soon exhausted. The chief production is cotton.
Navigation.] Owing to the immensp number of sand banks, rocks, and breakers, everywhere dispersed over these seas, the navigation is extremely dangerous, and thousands of vessels have been wrecked here. Vessels bound to New Orleans from the United States first make for the Hole in the Wall, the southern point of Abaco. Proceeding through the N. E. channel, they enter on the Great Bank S. of Herry islands, and leave it S. of the Cat Keys, whence they make for the Havana. Those bound to Jamaica pass to the leeward of Crooked island, between it and the Great Bank, and leaving the Inaguas on the left make for the Windward channel between Cuba and Hispanioja.
Population and Occupation:.] In 1803 the population consisted of 3,923 whites and 11,395 blacks; in all, 14,318. The inhabitants are divided according to their occupations into two classes, residents and -ereckers. The residents arc chiefly loyalists and their descendants, who emigrated from Carolina and Georgia at the close of the American war. The wreckers are constantly employed in the business of rescuing shipwrecked vessels with their crews and cargoes from the waves. They sail in small flat bottomed sloops, just fitted for the seas which they navigate. They nre excellent sailors, are familiar ivith all the Keys, shoals and breakers; and with alacrity and courage encounter any danger or hardship. They are licensed by the governor* and receive salvage on all property rescued from the waves. The number of these vessels is very great, 4(Lsail being sometimes seen iu one inlet. By day they are always cruising, at night they usually put into the nearest harbor. Their great places of rendezvous are the Florida Gulf, the Hole in the Wall, and the Hogsties. The Hogsties are small keys, with reefs of rocks on each side in the form of a horse-shoe, which form a harbor, in Ion. 74° W. about half way between Grand Inagua and South Crooked island.
III. CARIBBEAN ISLANDS.
A. LEEWARD ISLANDS.
1. St. Thomas, about 12 leagues E. of Porto Kico. is 0 mile? long and contains about 40 square miles. The soil is well watered and fruitful. The number of plantations is 74, of which 40 ire devoted to the cultivation of sugar, and 34 to that of cotton. The population in 1815 was estimated at 5,050, or" which number 550 were whites, 1500 free negroes and 3,0()0slaves. St Thomas, the chief town, is on the S. E. side of the island, and has a safe and commodious port in which 200 ships can be accommodated.
2. St. Johns. 6 miles S. E. of St. Thomas, contains about 40 square miles. The soil produces sugar, cofl'ee. tobacco and cotton. The population is 2430, of which number 130 are whites, 50 mulattoes and 2200 negroes.
. 3. Santa Cruz or St. Croix lies south of St. Johns, and contains about 100 square miles. The soil is tolerably fruitful and is divided into 346 plantations. The principal productions are sugar and cotton. The population in 1813 was 31,387 of whom 2,223 weie Danes, 1,164 mulattoes and free blacks, and 28,000 slaves. Christianstadt, the chief town, and capital of all the Danish Wert India islands, is on the north coast. It has a harbor, a fort, G60 houses and 6,000 inhabitants.
Thp value of all the property, pu'dic and private, in the three Danish islands, is estimated at £5,014,440, viz. Santa Crux £3,728,640; St. Thomas £747,800; and St. John £538,000
4. Torlola lies N. E. of St. Johns, and is 15 miles long bv 6 broad. It is well cultivated, and is one of the healthiest islands in thq West Indies, it has a large and safe harbor on the S. E. side. The productions are sugar and cotton. Population about 10,000.
5. Virgin Gorda is 8 miles E. of Tortola. It is 15 miles long and produces sugar and cotton. The population is staled at 8,000. Jlnegada, the largest of its dependencies, is low and almost covered by water at high tides.
The five preceding islands are called The Virgin islands.
6. Jlnguilla otSnake island, so called from its winding tortuous figure, is about 30 miles long. It produces sugar, cotton, tobacco and maize, and has about COO inhabitants. It belongs to the British.
7. St Martin, 5 miles south of Anguilla, is 15 miles long and contains about 90 square miles, it produces *ugar, cotton, and tobacco, but is principally valuable for its salt pits. The island was formerly divided between the Dutch and French, i.od afterward.- between the Dutch and EnglMi, but it now belong* wholly to the king of the Netherlands. The population, amounting to 6,100, consists partly of Dutch and French, partly of mulattoes and negroes.
8. St. Bartholomew is a small island, 15 miles S. F. of St- Martin, containing about 00 square miles. It was first settled oy Lbe French in 1648, but in 1785 nn* ceded to Swedeu, to whom it still belongs. It produces sugar, cotton, cacao, tobacco and muu:oc, nl«o iron wood, and lignuuivitac. Tbrre is no lake or spring on the island. The inhabitants depend on the skies for water, which they ke?ji in cisterns, and when they fail, it is procured from St
Christopher. The shores are dangerous and cannot be approached without a good pilot. The only port is Le Carenage, on the west side, near which stands Gustavia the principal town. Gustavia is inhabited by Swedes, English, French, Americans and Jews. The planters are chiefly French The population 19 about 8,000, two thirds of whom are negro slaves.
9. Saia, a small island, 12 miles in circumti rence, lying 30 miles S.VV. of St. Bartholomew, belongs to Netherlands, and is dependent on the neighboring island, St. Eusiatius. It consists of a delightful valley which produces the necessaries of life, and the materials for several manufactures, but being destitute of any port, its commerce is very inconsiderable. The sea is shallow and full of rocks for some distance from the coait, and none but small vessels can approach very near. The access to the interior of the island is by a difficult road cut out of the rock, by which onlv one person can ascend at a time. The population is estimated at 1,600.
10. ilarbwla, belonging to the English, is 20 miles E. S. E. of St. Bartholomew, and is 21 miles long The land is low butfertile, and produces cotton, pepper, indigo, tobacco and especially cocoa trees, which are here extremely fine. There is no harbor, but a well sheltered road on the west side. It belongs to the Codrington family, by one of whomthft revenue arising from this island, and from several other plantations, was bequeathed to the society for propagating the Gospel. The population is estimated at 1500.
11. St. £i«tarit«t 12 miles S. E. of Saba, and 9 N. W. of St. Christopher, is a huge rock rising out of the waves in the form of a pyramid. 29 miles in circumference. Susfar, cotton and m-M/.c are raised here, but the principal production is tobacco, which is cultivated on the side9 of the pyramid to its very top. There is bill one landing place, and that ihougflKfhcull ot access, is strongly fortified. The number of inhabitants 1^0,000. of whom. 5,000 are whites, chiefly Dutch, and 15,000 negroes. The island was taken by the F.nglish in 1801 but in 1814 was restored to the king of the Netherlands.
12. St. Christopher, called by sailors St. Kitu, is 9 miles S. E. of .St. Eusiatius, and contains 43,276 acres, or almost 70 square miles. The interior of the island consists of many rugged precipices and barren mountains. Mount Misery, the loftiest summit, rises 3,711 feet above the level of the sea. It is evidently a decayed volcano. Near the shore, the country is level and the, soil extremely fertile, no part of the West Indies being so well (suited to the production of sugar. Particular spots have been known to yield 5 hhd?. of 16 cwt. each 10 the acre, and a whole plantation has yielded 4 hhds. to the acre. Of the 43,726 acres which the island contains, 17,000 are devoted to sugar, 4,000 to pasturage and perhaps 2 or 3,000 to cotton^indigo and provisions; the rest is unfit for cultivation. The population in 1794 was 25.000, of whom 4,000 were whites, and 21,000 negroes. Basseterre, the capital, is on the S.W. coast, at the ruouth of a rivet opening into a bay called Basseterre road. It contain* 800 house?, and is defended by three batteries. The island was formerly divided between the English and the French, but after much contention, the whole, in 1713, was finally ceded to the English, by whom it is still retained.
13. Nevis. This beautiful little spot is nothing more than a single mountain, rising like a cone in an easy ascent fiom the sea, 3 miles S. E. of St. Christopher. The circumference of its base docs not exceed 24 miles. It is well watered and the land in general is fertile. About 8000 acres are devoted to the cultivation of sugar, Mid the annua! crop is 4,000 hhds. The island was undoubtedly produced by a volcano, for there is a crater near the summit still visible. The population consists of about 1,000 whiles and 10,000 negroes. Charlestown, the capital, is on the west side of the island, and is defended by a fort. The island belongs to Great Britain.
14. Mtigua, 16 leagues E. of Nevis, and 18 E. by S. of St. Christopher, is 50 miles in circumference and contains 9iJ square milns or 59,838 acres, of which 34,000 are appropriated to sugnr, a small part is unimprovable, and the rest is devoted to cotton, tobacco and pasture. The population in 1817 according to official returns was 35,739, of whom 2,102 were whites, 2,185 free blacks and people of color, and 31,452 slaves. St. Johns, the capital, is built on the west shore on an excellent harbor, the entrance to which is defended by a fort.
Antigua constitutes along with St. Christopher. Nevis, Montserrat, and those of the Virgin islands which belong to the English, a separate government. The governor, who is styled captain general of the leeward Caribbean islands,generally resides at Antigua, and occasionally visits the other islands.
16. Montserrctf, 7 leagues S. E. of NeTis and 8 S.W. by W. of Antigua, is 9 niiA long-, and contains about ;5U,00U acres or nearly 47 square miTM, almost two thirds of which are mountainous or barren. Of the cultivated land, about G,000 acres arc appropriated to sugar, 2,000 to cotton, 2,000 to provisions, and 2,000 to pasturaee. The population in 1805 was 10,750, of whom 1,000 were whites, 250 people of color, and 9,500 slaves.
16. Guadaloupe consists really of two islands nearly equal ia size, divided by a short and narrow channel called the Salt nver. That part of the island which lies N. E. of this channel is callOtGrtind Torre; that on the S. W. Basse Terre. The channel which separates them is more than 6 miles long, and in »otne places not more than 90 feet broad. It runs north and south, and communicates with the sea at each end by a large bay. Both divisions of the island are of volcanic origin, and covered with ru£> ged mountains, particularly Basse Terre, in which the volcano La Souflriere or the brimstone mountain rises to a great height, and continually throws out thick black smoke mingled with fire. Basse Terre is much the most fertile part, being well supplied with water which fail'' in Grand Terre. The produce is the same with that of the other West India islands. In 1810 the ex