|A Spanish navigator by the name
of Juan de Bermudez discovered Bermuda in 1503. No settlement
was established in Bermuda until the 1600’s, when a party
of English colonist under the Mariner Sir George Somers sailed
for Virginia and became shipwrecked on the island. Bermuda was
then known as Somers Island. Shortly after the English settler’s
arrival on the island did Bermuda start importing black slaves.
Following the slave
importation, Portuguese laborers from the Madeira Islands were imported
to Bermuda as well. In 1615 King James granted a charter to a new
organization, known as the Bermuda Company, which ran the island until
1684. Representative government was introduced to Bermuda in 1620,
and it became a self-governing colony.
During the early colony Bermuda was divided equally into one public
territory, nowadays known as St. George. The colony at that time
only grew one crop, tobacco. More Slaves from Africa were brought
to Bermuda soon after the colony was established. Unlike the plantation-style
slavery, the slaves in Bermuda were brought in for specialized labor,
such as pearl diving and shipbuilding. The slave trade would be
outlawed in Bermuda in 1807, and all slaves were freed in 1834.
Today, about 60% of Bermudians are of African descent, and almost
all Bermudians would be able to easily find ancestors and relatives
of African descent.
During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Confederate blockade
runners were based in the Bermudas. At the close of the Civil War
some Americans, particularly Virginians, migrated here from the
United States; the islands later received Boer prisoners, sent by
the British government during the Boer War (1899-1902). During World
War II, Bermuda became important as a military base because of its
location in the Atlantic Ocean.
Bermuda during its later development stages became one of the most
popular destinations for wealthy US, Canadian, and British tourist,
as its tourism on the island began to flourish and thrive. Nowadays,
Bermuda has prospered economically since World War II, developing
into a highly successful offshore financial center. Tourism still
remains important to Bermuda's economy, and is second behind international
business in terms of economic importance to the island.
Visitors that arrive from the United States see similarities between
native Bermudians and the British customs. Some of these similarities
are playing cricket; driving on the left; and having Queen Elizabeth
II on their banknotes. For British visitors, Bermuda seems more
North American, since the currency is the dollar, television comes
from the US. The culture and history of Bermuda is reflected back
to it’s people, with a mix of heritage of African and European
decent, Bermuda is home to beautiful people and customs.