Originally known as Charles Town, NASSAU is the modern-day face of the Bahamas. Though dingy in parts, enough historical flavour has been preserved to make a stop worthwhile. Much of this atmosphere comes from its development during the so-called Loyalist period from 1787 to 1834, when many of the city's finest colonial buildings were built. Before this build-up, Nassau had largely been a rustic haven for pirates, privateers and wreckers.
After alternating periods of decline and prosperity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the spike in trade and construction that followed World War II led directly to Nassau's emergence as a global centre for tourism and finance. By the mid-1950s, with the dredging of the harbour and the construction of the international airport, Nassau began to host more than a million visitors a year. A decade later, after the construction of the Paradise Island Bridge and the development of Cable Beach, the city was receiving twice as many.