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On 12 October 1492 Columbus reached an island in the Bahamas and claimed it for Spain, an event long regarded by Europeans as the 'discovery' of America.This island was called Guanahani by the Lucayan, and San Salvador by the Spanish.Sometime between 500 and 800 AD, Taínos began crossing in dugout canoes from Hispaniola and/or Cuba to the Bahamas.Suggested routes for the earliest migrations have been from Hispaniola to the Caicos Islands, from Hispaniola or eastern Cuba to Great Inagua Island, and from central Cuba to Long Island (in the central Bahamas).From the initial colonization(s), the Lucayan expanded throughout the Bahamas in some 800 years (c. Known Lucayan settlement sites are confined to the nineteen largest islands in the archipelago, or to smaller cays located less than one km. Population density in the southern-most Bahamas remained lower, probably due to the drier climate there (less than 800 mm of rain a year on Great Inagua Island and the Turks and Caicos Islands and only slightly higher on Acklins and Crooked Islands and Mayaguana).In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain on his first voyage with three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the flagship, Santa Maria, seeking a direct route to Asia.When Europeans first landed on the islands, they reported the Bahamas were lushly forested.
The islands remained abandoned and depopulated for 130 years afterwards.
For many years, historians believed that The Bahamas was not colonized until the 17th century.
However, recent studies show that there may have been attempts of colonization by groups from Spain, France, Britain, the Netherlands, and other Amerindians.
The larger of the company's two ships, the William, wrecked on the reef at the north end of what is now called Eleuthera Island, with the loss of all provisions.
Despite the arrival of additional settlers, including Europeans, slaves and former African slaves from Bermuda and the receipt of relief supplies from Virginia and New England, the Eleuthera colony struggled for many years.
Their descendants now constitute 85% of the Bahamian population.