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Fertile Soil (Sugar)
West End, Grand Bahama Island's earliest known inhabitants were the Stone Age hunter-gatherer Siboney Indians, of whom little evidence remains apart from artifacts such as ornamental shells or jewellery. These primitive people eventually disappeared to be replaced by the Taino Arawaks from South America, who travelling in dugout canoes eventually colonized most of the Caribbean. The Arawak communities on Grand Bahama, who became known as Lucayans (a name that lives on in the popular tourist town of Port Lucaya) were believed to have advanced and well-organized social and political structures, and there were estimated to be approximately 4,000 on Grand Bahama at the time of the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in 1492. This arrival, and the subsequent claim of the island by Spain shortly after, eventually caused the Lucayans to disappear from Grand Bahama entirely, whether dying through the spreading of European diseases, through the frequent European genocides, or being captured as slaves (usually to mine for gold in the larger Caribbean islands of Hispaniola or Cuba, or to dive for pearls in Trinidad). The disappearance of the Lucayans was rapid, and it is probably for this reason little is known beyond rough estimates about their society. However, in sites such as the Lucayan National Park and Dead Man's Reef there have been numerous artifacts discovered including animal bones, pottery shards, shell beads and evidence of a complex burial system.
The Spanish gave the island the name Gran Bajamar, meaning "Great Shallows", and what the eventual name of the Bahamas islands as a whole is derived from. Grand Bahama's existence for almost two centuries was largely governed by the nature of these "great shallows" - the coral reefs surrounding the island were treacherous, and repelled its Spanish owners (who largely left it alone apart from for infrequent en-route stops by ships for provisions) while attracting pirates, who would lure ships onto the reefs where they would run aground and be plundered. The Spaniards took little interest in the island after enslaving the native Lucayan inhabitants.
West End is officially the capital of Grand Bahama, though Freeport is believed by many to be. It's the oldest city and western most settlement on the island. Grand Bahama was to remain relatively quiet until the mid-nineteenth century, with only around 200-400 regular inhabitants in the capital, West End. West End achieved notoriety as a Rum-running port during Prohibition.