Freeport,Bahamas

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Freeport is the main city on Grand Bahama, an island in the northwest Bahamas off the Florida coast. It's best known for the oceanfront Lucaya district, with beaches, resorts and shopping. Nearby, Deadman's Reef is popular for snorkeling, and the surrounding offshore waters host many dive sites. Up the coast, Lucayan National Park features extensive underwater caves, plus kayaking and nature trails.

Freeport is a city, district and free trade zone on the island of Grand Bahama of the northwest Bahamas. In 1955, Wallace Groves, a Virginian financier with lumber interests in Grand Bahama, was granted 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) of pineyard with substantial areas of swamp and scrubland by the Bahamian government with a mandate to economically develop the area. Freeport has grown to become the second most populous city in the Bahamas.

The main airport serving the city is the Grand Bahama International Airport, which receives domestic flights from various islands of the Bahamas as well as several international flights from the United States and Canada. Freeport is also served by domestic Bahamian ferry services to other islands and by a regular international service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA operated by Baleària Bahamas Express.

The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) operates the free trade zone, under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement signed in August 1955 whereby the Bahamian government agreed that businesses in the Freeport area would pay no taxes before 1980, later extended to 2054. The area of the land grants within which the Hawksbill Creek Agreement applies has been increased to 138,000 acres (55,847 ha).

National parks

Parks include the Rand Nature Centre, named after its founder James Rand; Petersons Cay, a small isle about 300 yards off the shore of Grand Bahama; and the Lucayan National Park founded by Peter Barratt, a former architect and town planner of Freeport. The Lucayan National Park is 40 acres (0.16 km2) in extent and includes five ecological zones stretching from the south shore to the pineyard.There is an extensive underwater cave system beneath the park. One cave entrance is accessible by stairs at the national park. Other caves are accessible for certified scubas.

Climate

Freeport features a tropical rainforest climate according to Köppen Climate Classification (Af), more specifically with mild winters and hot, humid summers. Seldom do temperatures drop below 60 °F (16 °C). Average temperatures range in the low to upper 80s, with water temperature varying between 72 to 78 °F (22 to 26 °C). The winters are usually mild (mid-60s to 70s) and dry (with the exception of some rainfall due to cold fronts), while the summers are usually hot and wet. Although a freeze has never been reported in the Bahamas, snow was reported to have mixed with rain in Freeport in January 1977, the same time that it snowed in the Miami area. The temperature was about 4.5 °C (40.1 °F) at the time.

Economy

Tourism, which topped over a million visitors a year, has considerably diminished since 2004, when two major hurricanes, Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne, and in 2016, Hurricane Matthew, hit the island. Several cruise ships stop weekly at the island. Much of the tourist industry is centered on the seaside suburb of Lucaya, owing its name to the pre-Columbian Lucayan inhabitants of the island evidence of whom has been found on the island. Freeport features at least two Junkanoo festivals near New Year’s.

The city is often promoted as Freeport/Lucaya. Most hotels on the island are located along the southern shore facing the Northwest Providence Channel. Primary shopping venues for tourists include the International Bazaar near downtown Freeport and the Port Lucaya Market Place in Lucaya. Recovery from the 2004 hurricanes took nearly a decade.


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