The Bahamas, known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago in the West Indies. It is a member of the Commonwealth Realms under the monarchy of Queen Elizabeth II. The archipelagic state consists of fewer 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 US state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys. The capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. The Bahamas were inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawakan-speaking Taíno people, for many centuries. African slaves and their descendants constituted the majority of the population from [the late 18th century] on. The Bahamas gained governmental independence in 1973 led by Sir Lynden O. Pindling.