The largest island in the Bahamas, Andros actually comprises three contiguous islands. North Andros and Central Andros occupy the largest, northernmost island. Mangrove Cay and South Andros, plus hundreds of other smaller islets, comprise the rest of the island group, which lies southwest of New Providence Island and is some 105 mi/170 km long by 40 mi/65 km wide.
Andros is one of the least populated and most rugged in the Bahamas chain. Only the eastern seaboard is populated, as the interior comprises flooded ironshore (rugged limestone) smothered with scrub, mangrove swamp and lakes.
Originally named la Isla del Espiritu Santo—The Island of the Holy Spirit—Andros has the largest supply of fresh water in the Bahamas.
The forest and the mangrove swamp in the south support many species of native wildlife, including nonvenomous Bahamian boa constrictors (locally called "fowl snakes"), Bahama parrots, herons and large iguanas.
There are three main towns on Andros: Nicholl's Town to the north, Fresh Creek in the center of the island and Kemp's Bay to the south. All three are accessible by boat and by plane from Miami and Nassau.
The inhabitants of Red Bays in North Andros are purported to be descendants of Seminoles and black slaves who escaped to the island. Today, they live much as their ancestors did in the 19th century, in thatch huts and with few amenities. Some weave unusual straw handicrafts brightened with bits of Androsia batik for a living.
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