, meaning “shallow water.” The islands occupy a position commanding the gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the entire Central American region.Their strategic location has given the history of The Bahamas a unique and often striking character.
These ranges are formed of sand washed ashore and blown inland by the trade winds.
The identity of the first American landfall by Columbus remains controversial, but many authors accept Samuel E.
Morison's identification of Columbus' San Salvador as what was later called Watling (or Watling's) Island.
Their descendants now constitute 85% of the Bahamian population.
The Bahamas gained independence from the United Kingdom on July 10, 1973.