Although the area may have been populated previously, the seafaring Taino people moved into the southern
Christopher Columbus's first landfall in the New World was on San Salvador Island, also known as Watling's Island, in the southern part of
Bahamian Lucayans were later taken to Hispaniola as slaves; and within two decades, Lucayan societies ceased to exist due to forced labour, warfare, disease, emigration and outmarriage. After the Lucayan population was eliminated, the Bahamian islands were virtually unoccupied until English settlers came from
The British made the islands internally self-governing in
Based on the pillars of tourism and offshore financial services, the Bahamian economy has prospered since the 1950s. Today, the country enjoys the third highest per capita income in the hemisphere, and the highest in the Caribbean, excluding the dependent territory of the Cayman Islands. Despite this, the country faces significant challenges in areas such as education, health care, international narcotics trafficking, correctional facilities and illegal immigration.
The origin of the name "
The closest island to the
To the southeast, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and three more extensive submarine features called Mouchoir Bank, Silver Bank, and Navidad Bank, are geographically a continuation of the Bahamas, but not part of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.