Cat Island is in the central Bahamas, and one of its districts, and has the nation's highest point. Its Mount Alvernia rises to 206 ft (63 m) and is topped by a monastery called The Hermitage. This assembly of buildings was erected by the Franciscan "Brother Jerome" (John Hawes).
The first European settlers were Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, who arrived in 1783. The island may have been named after Arthur Catt, a pirate, or the name may refer to its one-time large population of feral cats.
Historically, the island gained wealth from cotton plantations, but slash and burn farming is now the main way of life for Cat Islanders. An economic crop is cascarilla bark, which is gathered and shipped to Italy where it becomes a main ingredient in medicines, scents and Campari.