Freeport, The Bahamas
Freeport is situated on Grand Bahama Island and is the second largest industrial city of the Bahamas. It is also the second most popular spot for visitors after Nassau. Encompassing an area of 596 km2, the city is a free trade zone.
Until the mid-twentieth century the area was covered in pine forest, swamp and scrub land, although there was a lumber industry. In the late 1940s an American financier, Wallace Groves, bought the Pine Ridge lumber business. This proved to be the making of the city. In 1955 Groves’ company, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, was granted 20,200 hectares of land to develop a free port and industrial centre.
Freeport’s first major economic activity was as a ship-bunkering terminal exporting oil. In 1961 a cement plant was built. In 1963 Groves’ negotiated the development of Lucaya as a beachside tourist resort. In 1963 the first hotel opened as well as a casino. Further businesses included a chemical factory and a bottling company.
For two decades Freeport was firmly in control of the Grand Bahama Port Authority company (GBPA), which controlled all aspects of the business, including the port traffic. When the new Progressive Liberal Party government began a ‘Bahamianisation’ programme in the early 1970s, its major target was to bring the Port Authority under government control and to restrict the influence of the GBPA. Even so, in the 1990s Freeport’s status as a free trade zone was extended until 2054.
The man made port accommodates large vessels and the city has an international airport. Industries include oil refining, cement production and pharmaceuticals. Exports include agricultural produce and fish.
Places of Interest
Port Lucaya and marina area contains an International Bazaar designed to represent different countries. The Hydraflora Gardens contain an array of native plants.