A chronology of key events:
1492 - Christopher Columbus makes his first landing in the Western Hemisphere in the Bahamas.
1647 - English and Bermudan religious refugees, the Eleutheran Adventurers, establish the first European settlement on the Bahamas.
1666 - Colonisation of New Providence Island begins.
1717 - Bahamas become a British crown colony.
1783 - Spain cedes the Bahamas to Britain in accordance with the Treaty of Paris after briefly occupying the islands the previous year.
1834 - Emancipation of slaves.
1940-45 - The Duke of Windsor - formerly King Edward VIII - serves as governor of the Bahamas.
1950 - Britain grants the US a military test range and tracking station for guided missiles in the Bahamas.
1955 - Free trade area established in the town of Freeport, stimulating tourism and attracting offshore banking.
1964 - Bahamas granted internal autonomy.
1967 - Lynden Pindling becomes prime minister after his centrist Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) wins the islands' first legislative elections.
1972 - Negotiations with Britain over independence begin in the wake of an overwhelming victory in the elections by the PLP, which campaigns on a platform of independence.
1973 - The Bahamas become independent.
1983 - Government ministers face allegations of drug trafficking.
1984 - Pindling is endorsed as PLP leader after denying charges of corruption and ties to drug traffickers.
1992 - Hubert Ingraham becomes prime minister after his centre-left Free National Movement (FNM) wins an absolute majority in the general elections, ending 25 years of rule by Pindling.
1996 - Ingraham reinstates the death penalty for murder.
1997 - Ingraham returns as prime minister after his party is re-elected.
1998 - Two convicted murderers are hanged despite international opposition and concern over the use of the death penalty in the Caribbean.
2000 August - "Father of independence" Sir Lynden Pindling dies. He was head of government from 1967-92.
2001 November - Dame Ivy Dumont becomes the Bahamas' first woman governor-general.
2002 May - Veteran politician Perry Christie leads his Progressive Liberal Party to a landslide victory, unseating the Free National Movement, which has been in power for 10 years.
2004 September - Hurricane Frances sweeps through, causing widespread damage. Weeks later Hurricane Jeanne batters the Bahamas.
2006 March - UK-based final appeals court rules that the mandatory death sentence for murder breaches the Bahamian constitution. It was last used in 2000.
2007 May - Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham's Free National Movement wins parliamentary elections.
2012 May - Perry Christie returns to power as the Progressive Liberal Party wins parliamentary elections. Defeated Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announces his retirement from politics.
2013 August - The Bahamas sends 24 refugees home to Cuba, prompting charges that it was putting their lives in danger.
2019 August - Hurricane Dorian causes loss of life and widespread damage to the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama.