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An archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas comprises more than 700 islands, keys, and islets north of Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic and southeast of Florida. Much of the history of the Bahamas has been determined by its location, especially its proximity to mainland North America. Its position on trade routes and easy access to other colonies made the Bahamas important, even though the colony itself was never wealthy.

The islands that make up the archipelago were settled about a thousand years before European contact by the Lucayans, a group of the Taíno who settled the northern Caribbean region. There were perhaps 40,000 people scattered throughout the archipelago in small settlements when Columbus arrived in 1492. The indigenous peoples did not ...

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