The Spainish gained control of what are now The Bahamas in the early 1700s. For some time, San Salvador was the home of John Watling (alternately referred to as George Watling), who gave the island its alternative name by which it was officially known until 1925. At that time, the name "San Salvador" was transferred from another place, now called Cat Island, and given to "Watling Island" under the belief that it seemed a much more likely match for Columbus' description of Guanahani.
Today, thanks to its many sandy beaches, the island's prosperous main industry is tourism. About 500 people reside on San Salvador Island and its principal community is Cockburn Town, the seat of local government.
The Gerace Research Centre (formerly the Bahamian Field Station) is located on the north end of the island on the shores of Graham's Harbour. Over a thousand students and researchers use the station every year as a base of operations from which to study tropical marine geology, biology, and archaeology.
The island is home to many shallow-water reefs which allow snorkelers to observe hundreds of fish species without the use of SCUBA equipment. It is also known for its quick drop in the continental shelf, allowing for numerous dive sites.
The administrator is Jordan Ritchie, Sr. Dep. Administrator.