“The beauty of these islands surpasses that of any other and as much as the day surpasses the night in splendour.” — Christopher Columbus
San Salvador has been recognized with much debate amongst researchers as Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the New World in 1492. To date, four separate monuments mark the “exact” spot where he came ashore; however, it is generally recognized that the landing occurred at Long Bay, currently commemorated by a simple white stone cross.
Rum Cay, San Salvador’s smaller and more sparsely populated sister island, is located 20 miles southwest of San Salvador. It is a relatively flat island with a few rolling hills, the highest of which reaches an altitude of about 120 feet. Originally named Santa Maria de la Conception by Columbus, the present moniker of Rum Cay is said to be in memory of a wreck destroyed with a cargo of rum which foundered off the coral reefs which abound the island’s shore. In the north there is a cave containing Lucayan Indian drawings and carvings and various artifacts from the Arawak Indian period have been found by farmers in the fertile soil, which the Indians enriched with bat guano. As with other islands, Rum Cay has seen a series of economic peaks – pineapple, salt and sisal have all been important industries; however, competition and natural disasters destroyed them and today tourism is the main source of employment. Today, nearly everybody lives in Port Nelson, the main settlement, where cottages can be rented. Settlements such as Port Boyd, Black Rock and Gin Hill are now deserted and overgrown.
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