The Bahamas , known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago, in the West Indies. The archipelagic state consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and Hispaniola Island (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, southeast of the U.S. state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force describes The Bahamas' territory as encompassing of ocean space. The Bahamas were inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taíno people, for many centuries. Columbus was the first European to see the islands, making his first landfall in the 'New World' in 1492. Later, the Spanish shipped the native Lucayans to slavery on Hispaniola, after which The Bahama islands were mostly deserted from 1513 until 1648, when English colonists from Bermuda settled on the island of Eleuthera. The Bahamas became a British crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. After the American Revolutionary War, the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists to the Bahamas; they took their slaves with them and established plantations on land grants. African slaves and their descendants constituted the majority of the population from this period on. The slave trade was abolished by the British in 1807; slavery in the Bahamas was abolished in 1834. Subsequently, the Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves. Africans liberated from illegal slave ships were resettled on the islands by the Royal Navy, while some North American slaves and Seminoles escaped to the Bahamas from Florida. Bahamians were even known to recognize the freedom of slaves carried by the ships of other nations which reached the Bahamas. Today Afro-Bahamians make up 90% of the population of 332,634.