Geography played a crucial role in Bahamian history. In 1492, Christopher Columbus (the first European visitor) made his first landfall in the New World on the island of San Salvador in the eastern Bahamas (called Guanahani by the Lucayan Indians).
After observing the shallow sea around the islands, he said “baja mar” (shallow water or sea), and effectively named the area The Bahamas, or The Islands of the Shallow Sea.
Since it was located close to Florida and well-travelled shipping channels, The Islands Of The Bahamas caught the attention of explorers, settlers, invaders and traders. These people shaped the colourful history of The Bahamas and made the country what it is today.
For more than 300 years, the islands were a colony of Great Britain. In 1964, Great Britain granted The Islands Of The Bahamas limited self-government, and in 1969 the colony of The Bahamas became a Commonwealth. The Bahamas became the free and sovereign Commonwealth of The Bahamas on July 10, 1973. July 10th is celebrated today as Bahamian Independence Day.