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The National Symbols of The Bahamas




The National Flower
The yellow elder (Tecoma stans) is a tubular yellow flower with ultra-fine red stripes on each petal.

This flower blooms between October and December on a tree that may grow as high as 20 feet. The evergreen stands out because of its clusters of brilliant yellow, bell-shaped blossoms. They are about an inch across and two inches long, with red stripes lightly etched in the corolla. The little bells are held in a five-point calyx, and there are nine to 13 leaflets composing the odd pinnate leaf. Just before the blooms flare open, bag-like buds pop noisily if squeezed.

Selection of the yellow elder over many other flowers was made through the combined popular vote of members of all four of New Providence's garden clubs of the 1970s the Nassau Garden Club, the Carver Garden Club, the International Garden Club, and the YWCA Garden Club. They reasoned that other flowers grown here such as the bougainvillea, hibiscus, and poinciana had already been chosen as the national flowers of other countries. The yellow elder, on the other hand, was unclaimed (although it is now also the national flower of the United States Virgin Islands).



The National Tree
Lignum Vitae or 'tree of life' (Guaiacum sanctum) is a very heavy wood characterized by clusters of small blue flowers at the branch tips.

     The extremely hard and heavy self-lubricating wood is especially adapted for bearings or bushings of propeller shafts on steamships, and also serves for bearings in steel mills, for bowling balls, and pulleys. For many years, dating back to World War II, shipments of the wood were made from The Bahamas to the United Kingdom and the United States by the old New Providence firm of Duncombe and Butler.

     Apart from its industrial uses, the bark of the tree is used for medicinal purposes, and many Bahamians throughout the islands steep the bark and drink it as a tonic for creating energy as an aphrodisiac.



The National Bird
Flamingo: Its pink, it has long legs and we have a lot of them.

     The scarlet, long-legged flamingoes are found in three major nesting groups in the West Indian region, Great Inagua being one of them (the others are in Yucatan, Mexico, and Bonaire Island in the Netherlands Antilles.) The more than 50,000 birds inhabiting 287 square miles of Inagua wilderness are protected by wardens employed by the Society for the Protection of the Flamingo in The Bahamas through the Bahamas National Trust, a statutory body set up in 1959.

     The Roseate or West Indian flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber) were formerly also bred in Abaco, Andros, Rum Cay, the Exuma Cays, Long Island, Ragged Cays, Acklins, Mayaguana, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, several factors, including action by man, led to a reduction in their number. Charles B. Cory, a curator of birds in the Boston Society of Natural History, wrote at the end of the19th century that great numbers of young birds were killed before they were able to fly, and many were carried away alive to be sold to passing vessels, on which they died from want of care. Nowadays, thanks largely to action by the government and the National Trust, the flamingo is making a comeback.



The Bahamian Fish

     The blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) is the majestic fish that is found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with reports of the largest sizes found in the latter. However, many persons first encounter the fish in Ernest Hemingway's book "Old Man and the Sea." Mr. Hemingway was a frequent visitor to The Bahamas, especially the island of Bimini, where the blue marlin is highly prized among the strong game-fishing community.

     The blue marlin, a relative of the sailfish and swordfish, is easily recognizable for the long "sword" or spike of its upper jaw, its high and pointed dorsal fin, and pointed anal fin. It is said that the fish uses its "sword" to club other fish on which it feeds.

     The marlin's back is cobalt blue and its flanks and underbelly are silvery white. There may be light-blue or lavender vertical stripes on the sides as well.

     A powerful and aggressive fighter, the blue marlin can run hard and long, sound or dive deep, and leap high into the air in a display of strength.



The Bahamian Flag
The colors of the Bahamian flag are black, gold and aquamarine.

The design of the Bahamian flag is a black equilateral triangle against the mast superimposed on a horizontal background made up of two colours on three equal stripes, aquamarine, gold and aquamarine.

     Black, a strong colour, represents the vigour and force of a united people; the triangle pointing represents the enterprise and determination of the Bahamian people to develop and process the rich resources of land and sea, symbolised by gold and aquamarine, respectively.



The Bahamian Pledge of Allegiance

I Pledge my allegiance to the flag and to
the Commonwealth of The Bahamas
For which it stands,
one people united in love and service.

written by Reverend Philip Rahming



The National Anthem of the Bahamas

March On Bahamaland
Bahamian National Anthem
composed by the late, Timothy Gibson (1903 - 1978)

        Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
        March on to glory your bright banners waving high.
        See how the world marks the manner of your bearing!
        Pledge to excel through love and unity.

        Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal;
        Steady sunward, tho' the weather hide the wide and treachrous shoal.

        Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland,
        'Til the road you've trod lead unto your God, March On, Bahamaland.





The Bahamian National Song

God Bless Our Sunny Clime
National Song
music by Timothy Gibson and Clement Bethel
words by Rev. Philip Rahming


God Bless our sunny clime, spur us to height sublime.
To keep men free, let brothers, sisters stand
Firm, trusting hand in hand, throughout Bahamaland
One brotherhood, one brotherhood.

Let gratefulness ascend, courageous deeds extend
From isle to isle. Long let us treasure peace,
So may our lives increase, our prayers never cease.
Let freedom ring! Let freedom ring!

The long, long night has passed, the morning breaks at last,
From shore to shore, sunrise with golden gleam
Sons n' daughters, share the dream, for one working team
One brotherhood, one brotherhood.

Not for this time nor for this chosen few alone
We pledge ourselves. Live loyal to our God.
Love country, friend and foe, oh help us by thy might!
Great God our King! Great God our King!



The Coat of Arms
The National Symbol for The Bahamas

     The Bahamas' coat of arms is a composition of things indigenous to these islands, while the motto "Forward Upward Onward Together" heralds to the direction and manner in which the Bahamian nation should move.

     The crest of the arms, a light pink conch shell, symbolises the marine life of The Bahamas. The top of the crest is composed of wavy green palm fronds, symbolic of the natural vegetation. The Santa Maria, flagship of Christopher Columbus, appears on the shield of the coat of arms. Wavy barrulets of blue symbolise the waters of The Bahamas.

     The shield is charged with a resplendent or radiant sun to signify the world-famous balmy resort climate, and it also connotes the bright future of these islands. A flamingo, the national bird, and a silvery blue marlin support the shield. The national motto is draped across the base of the coat of arms.

     There was a national competition to produce the motto for the coat of arms, and the competition was won by two 11-year-old schoolchildren Vivian F. Moultrie of Inagua Public School and Melvern B. Bowe of the Government High School in Nassau. Bahamian artist Hervis Bain prepared the preliminary design of the coat of arms.




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