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San Salvador


San Salvador is one of the smallest inhabited islands in The Bahamas. It is where Christopher Columbus set foot the first time he landed in The Bahamas and America. A modest white stone cross commemorates his first landfall. In all, several monuments stand in memory of the first encounter between the Europeans and the island, including one under the sea, marking where he dropped anchor. Life on San Salvador exists on the exposed peak of a mountain: most of the mountain mass is submerged 4,600 metres (15,000 feet) below the ocean’s surface. Steep drop-offs along the western coast create popular wall reefs. In the north, memory of the Lucayan population is preserved in cave drawings and carvings. The principal community is Cockburn Town, and Tourism is the main industry for the residents. San Salvador is the only island in the Bahamas where European visitors outnumber those from North America.

This simple white cross at 'Long Bay' commemorates the point where Christopher Columbus is believed to have come ashore, after anchoring his long boat. – Alex Mustard

Quick Facts

Area: 63 sq. miles
Population: 989 persons
Highest Point: 123 feet
Location: approximately 300 miles southeast of New Providence and 22 miles northeast of Rum Cay
Origin of the Name: Christopher Columbus also named this island "San Salvador," meaning "Christ the Savior." It was subsequently named Watlings Island, after John Watling settled here during the 17th century.

Nearby Places