Human Invaders in Bermuda

There were no native people on Bermuda so the Sea Venture marked the beginning of human colonization. However, most of the settlers left as soon as they had cobbled some new ships together (just three stayed behind). The founding of the island is commemorated in the Bermuda flag, the only one in the world to depict a sinking ship. In 1612, the founders were supplemented with a new population when a ship called The Plough arrived with the express intention of settling Bermuda.

Over time, new settlers began to trickle in, particularly the Portuguese from the Azores. African slaves came too (slavery was only outlawed in 1833) and so did a surprising number of Native Americans, exiled to Bermuda or sold as slaves. That mixture of cultures created a some deeply-rooted traditions, from the Gombeys dance troupe with their colorful costumes, to spicy ginger bread, Dark ‘n Stormies (a rum and ginger beer cocktail that packs a spicy punch) and codfish for breakfast. St. Georges remains the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas. The island is still a British colony, but it is self-governing, with its own parliament.

Life was not easy for early settlers – finding water has always been a challenge. There are no rivers and only a few wetlands and seasonal ponds. Even today, Bermudians have no municipal water systems. Instead, they collect water using the specially designed white roofs on their houses, which channel water into underground tanks. If they run out of water, or their tank gets contaminated, they pay heavily to buy water in.

 

Photo: By Sylvester Jordain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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