African traditions infuse everything from the cuisine and the music to the great national celebrations in Nassau. The most colourful of these is Junkanoo.
Today, Junkanoo parades wind through Nassau in the early hours of December 26 and New Year's Day. Thousands of men and women in extravagant costumes dance rhythmically to the sound of bells, whistles, drums and clanging cowbells. Want to give it a try? Stop by the Educulture Bahamas Centre, where you can bang a drum, clank a cowbell and try making your own Junkanoo costume.
You can also discover the African influences in the braided baskets, carved wooden masks and other crafts at the Straw Market as well as in the poignant artwork at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas.
You can taste the cultural influences at local fish fries like the one at Arawak Cay. Here, you can rub shoulders with locals enjoying conch fritters and fried grouper. Then, wash down the local food with a cool, refreshing, Nassau-brewed Kalik beer.
Nassau also has a rich and fascinating pirate history. By 1713, some 1,000 pirates were said to be living in the city. The "pirate republic" ended a few years later when the English installed a governor who restored law to the crown colony.
Today, get your yo-ho-ho-hos out at the Pirate Museum in downtown Nassau or at a former pirate mansion, like the imposing Graycliff mansion (now the Graycliff Hotel), built in 1740 by the swashbuckling Captain John Howard Graysmith.
Nassau's protected waters and convenient location just off the US coast made this a key destination during the 18th and 19th centuries, right up until Prohibition in the 1920s, when many bootleggers made their fortunes here.
But the most important event in Nassau's history was a battle that happened in another country – the American War of Independence. After the war ended in 1776, thousands of British loyalists from America immigrated to the Bahamas. They brought with them an English culture that lives on, not just in government, but also in the way Bahamians drive (on the left side of the road) and take tea in the afternoon.
Since independence in 1973, the Bahamas has been a Commonwealth country and a parliamentary democracy.