The archipelago consists of approximately seven hundred islands and cays, plus nearly 2,400 reefs and rock formations.
The land area is 5,382 square miles (13,940 square kilometers). The climate is subtropical, with a hurricane season from June through November.
The name Bahamas derives from the Spanish baja ("shallow") and mar ("sea").
The British claimed the islands in 1629 and started a community on Eleuthera in 1648.
The British residents were augmented by loyalists fleeing North America during and after the American Revolution and an influx of enslaved Africans.
One of the most familiar symbols is the national flag, which was introduced in 1973.
The left side consists of a black triangle with a horizontal yellow stripe flanked by two bright blue stripes.
Yellow symbolizes the sunny climate, and blue symbolizes the sea.