Lucayan Indians inhabited the islands when Christopher COLUMBUS first set foot in the New World on San Salvador in 1492. British settlement of the islands began in 1647; the islands became a colony in 1783. Piracy thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries because of The Bahamas close proximity to shipping lanes. Since attaining independence from the UK in 1973, The Bahamas has prospered through tourism, international banking, and investment management. Because of its location, the country is a major transshipment point for illegal drugs, particularly shipments to the US and Europe, and its territory is used for smuggling illegal migrants into the US. Current Prime Minister Hubert MINNIS is only the fourth prime minister in Bahamian history following its independence from the UK; he is also the first prime minister in 25 years besides Perry CHRISTIE and Hubert INGRAHAM, who repeatedly traded the premiership from 1992 to 2017.