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Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 260,000, nearly 80 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas (330,000). Lynden Pindling International Airport, the major airport for The Bahamas, is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west of Nassau city centre, and has daily flights to major cities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a federal district. While there is no local government, it is governed directly as an administrative division of the national government. Nassau is considered a historical stronghold of pirates.

Nassau was formerly known as Charles Town; it was burned to the ground by the Spanish in 1684, but later rebuilt and renamed Nassau in 1695 in honour of Dutch King William III of England and Ireland from the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau. In 1703 Spanish and French allied forces briefly occupied Nassau.

By 1713, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate rendezvous. English pirate chieftains Thomas Barrow and Benjamin Hornigold proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as governors, and were joined by Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, and Edward Teach, the infamous "Blackbeard", along with women pirates such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

In 1718, the crown sought to regain control and appointed Captain Woodes Rogers General and Governor in chief in and over the Bahama islands. He ousted Blackbeard from his position as Magistrate of the "Privateers Republic", reformed the civil government and successfully expelled the pirates. Rogers cleaned up Nassau and rebuilt the fort, even going as far to use his own money to try to overcome problems. In 1720 the Spanish made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Nassau.

In 1776 the Battle of Nassau resulted in occupation by the Americans during the American War of Independence: in 1778 an overnight invasion saw the Americans leaving with ships, gunpowder and military stores after remaining in Nassau for only two days. In 1782 Spain captured Nassau, for the last time when Don Juan de Cagigal, Governor General of Cuba and the Havana attacked New Providence with 5000 men. Andrew Deveaux set forth to recapture Nassau with only 220 men and 150 muskets to face a force of 600 trained soldiers. Deveaux forced the Spanish to surrender on April 17, 1783, without a single shot fired. When Deveaux took down the Spanish flag, it marked the last time that a foreign banner was to fly over the Bahamian capital Nassau as a symbol of dominion.

Lord Dunmore governed the colony from 1787 to 1796 and oversaw the construction of Fort Charlotte in Nassau.

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre was opened in 1982 and was the first zoo in The Bahamas. It had previously been open as gardens in Nassau since 1937.

March 2010

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