Originally inhabited by Arawakan Taino people, The Bahamas were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492. Although the Spanish never colonised The Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans (as the Bahamian Taino settlers referred to themselves) to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1650, when British colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera.
The Bahamas became a Crown Colony in 1718 when the British clamped down on piracy. Following the American War of Independence, thousands of pro-British loyalists and enslaved Africans moved to The Bahamas and set up a plantation economy. The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807 and many Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled in The Bahamas during the 19th century. Slavery itself was abolished in 1834 and the descendants of enslaved and liberated Africans form the bulk of The Bahamas's population today.