The Bahamas, known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic. It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago's population. The archipelagic state consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and northwest of the island of Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the American state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes The Bahamas' territory as encompassing 470,000 km² of ocean space.
The Bahama Islands were inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taíno, for many centuries. Columbus was the first European to see the islands, making his first landfall in the 'New World' in 1492. Later, the Spanish shipped the native Lucayans to and enslaved them on Hispaniola, after which the Bahama islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648, when English colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.