A scattered group of some 700 islands and 2,000 islets in the Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida. One of the Bahamian islands, San Salvador (Watling Island) was the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World. After Columbus, the Bahamas were largely bypassed by Europeans until British settlement began in 1647. In 1783, the Bahamas became a British colony. The Bahamas became self-governing in 1964 and fully independent in 1973. International banking and tourism are the country's major industries.