Inagua: Home to the West Indian Flamingo

The third largest and the most southerly island in the Bahamas, Inagua is also the hottest and the driest. Home to a plant of the Morton Salt company it is the source of nearly a million pounds of salt annually. It is also home to one of the largest flamingo bird sanctuaries in the world.

It is the southernmost island in The Bahamas and is mostly low and flat. Inagua is also a home and refuge of one of the world’s largest colonies of flamingos. Inagua is a haven for bird-watchers and nature lovers. Inagua is a birdwatcher’s paradise with the world’s largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos (over 60,000) — that makes the ratio of flamingos to people on Great Inagua is approximately 60:1.

Inagua was permanently settled in the middle of the 19th century. Matthew Town, named for Governor George Matthew (Governor of The Bahamas, 1844-1849), was laid out during his tenure and is the chief settlement in Inagua.

Its name is a slang of its earliest designation, Heneagua, derived from a Spanish word meaning ‘water is to be found there.’ Although it is mostly low and flat, it has James Hill on the north coast rising to 90 feet, East Hill rising to 132 feet and Salt Pond Hill on the south coast rising to 102 feet. There is a natural harbor and its coast is fringed by a reef.

Salt is till the main industry on Inagua. Because of its low rainfall and tradewinds, Inagua has natural salt ponds. The Morton Salt Company is located here and produces nearly a million pounds of salt annually.

Inagua is of interest to sportsmen and naturalists. It has a large savannah (prairie) in the centre where wild cattle, donkeys and boar are said to roam. There is also a large shallow lake, formerly Lake Windsor, now known as Lake Rosa, which is about 12 miles long and serves as the breeding ground for the largest colony of West Indian flamingoes in the Caribbean. The flamingoes live in a protected 287 square mile reserve called the Inagua National Park.