Bermuda’s history is the story of unlikely survival—and remarkable economic success—against daunting odds. Geography was the first immense hurdle for this tiny speck of land isolated from the rest of the world by 600 miles of ocean. Perhaps as a result of such distance from the North American mainland, Bermuda had no indigenous people; its first inhabitants were shipwrecked English colonists of the early 17th century. Although Spanish mariners discovered Bermuda more than a century before the English ever set foot on the island, it was the English who eventually claimed the island. Bermuda’s destiny and heritage could have been far different, had the Spanish considered the island useful enough to colonize.
How did Bermuda evolve from such a miniscule mid-Atlantic outpost into one of the world’s wealthiest countries? A mixture of very good luck and islanders’ ability to take advantage of any and all opportunities. Living by their wits, Bermudians dabbled in piracy and pirateering, benefited from the conflicts of larger warring nations, developed successful export farming, and later traded on their small landmass’s natural beauty and offshore tax laws. Bermuda’s course through 500-plus years of history, from discovery through the first decade of the 21st century, was not without failures, periods of pestilence, or turbulent growing pains. But the society, economy, and standard of living that resulted are today one of the globe’s most envied. Bermudians are well aware of their collective serendipity and unique identity.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition