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The British West Indies (BWI) were colonised British territories in the West Indies: Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Guiana (now Guyana) and Trinidad and Tobago.Other territories include Bermuda, and the former British Honduras (now Belize).
The Kingdom of England first pursued the establishment of the colonies in its 16th-17th century competition with the Spanish Empire. Initially, financed by valuable extractive commodities such as sugar production, the colonies were also at the centre of the transatlantic slave trade, around 2.3 million slaves were brought to the British Caribbean.The colonies served as bases to project the power of the British Empire through the Royal Navy and the merchant marine, and to further and protect the empire's trade. Before the decolonisation period in the later 1950s and 1960s, "British West Indies" was regularly used to include all British colonies in the region as part of the British Empire. Following the independence of most of the territories from the United Kingdom, the term Commonwealth Caribbean is now used.
In 1912, the British government divided their territories into different colonies: The Bahamas, Barbados, British Guiana, British Honduras, Jamaica (with its dependencies the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands), Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands, and the Leeward Islands.Between 1958 and 1962, all of the island territories except the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas and Bermuda were organised into the West Indies Federation. It was hoped that the Federation would become independent as a single nation, but it had limited powers and faced many practical problems. Consequently, the West Indies Federation was dissolved in 1962.
The territories are now fully independent sovereign states, except for five – Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands – which remain British Overseas Territories, as does Bermuda. All remain within the Commonwealth of Nations. They also established the Caribbean Community, and many of the nations have joined various international bodies, such as the Organization of American States, the Association of Caribbean States, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and the Caribbean Development Bank among others.
The territories that were part of the British West Indies are (date of independence, where applicable, in brackets):
The origins of the British West Indies lie in outposts established to support English pirates and privateers who were involved in raiding Spanish treasure fleets, and merchants interested in trade. : 70 The first permanent settlement was established in St. Christopher (St. Kitts) by Thomas Warner. This was followed by settlements in Barbados in 1627, Nevis in 1628, and Montserrat and Antigua in 1632. Providence Island was colonised by English Puritans in 1630, but the colony was destroyed by the Spanish in 1641. The capture of Jamaica in 1655 expanded British control beyond these small islands in the Lesser Antilles. : 221Charles Leigh, an English merchant, established a short-lived settlement on the Wiapoco River in 1604 (now the Oyapock, which forms the border between French Guiana and Brazil). This was followed by failed attempts to established settlements in Saint Lucia in 1605 and Grenada in 1609.
Sir William Stapleton established the first federation in the British West Indies in 1674. He set up a General Assembly of the Leeward Islands in St. Kitts. Stapleton's federation was active between 1674 and 1685, during his term as governor, and the General Assembly met regularly until 1711.
By the 18th century, each island had kept its own Assembly and made its own laws. The islands continued to share one Governor and one Attorney-General. Although unpopular, Stapleton's federation was never really dissolved but simply replaced by other arrangements.
Between 1816 and 1833, the Leewards were divided into two groups: St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla and Antigua-Barbuda-Montserrat, each with its own Governor. In 1833, all the Leeward Islands were brought together, and Dominica was added, remaining as part of the group until 1940.
In 1869, Governor Benjamin Pine was assigned to organise a federation of Antigua-Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. St. Kitts and Nevis opposed sharing their government funds with Antigua and Montserrat, which were bankrupt. Governor Pine told the Colonial Office that the scheme had failed due to "local prejudice and self-interest". His only achievement was to give the Leewards a single Governor. All laws and ordinances, however, had to be approved by each island council.
In 1871, the British government passed the Leeward Islands Act, by which all the islands were under one Governor and one set of laws. The Federal Colony was composed of all islands organised under Governor Pine's previous attempt. Each island was called a "Presidency" under its own Administrator or Commissioner. Like earlier groupings, this federation was unpopular but it continued until 1956, when it was redefined as the Territory of the Leeward Islands. In 1958, the Federation of the West Indies was organised, of which the Leeward Islands became a part.
In 1833, the Windward Islands became a formal union called the Windward Islands Colony. In 1838, Trinidad (acquired in 1802) and St. Lucia (acquired in 1814) were brought into the Windward Islands Colony, but were not given their own assemblies (having previously been Crown Colonies). In 1840 Trinidad left the Colony. Barbados wished to retain its separate identity and ancient institutions, and the other colonies did not want to associate with it. The individual islands resisted British attempts at closer union. Barbados in particular fought to retain its own Assembly and left the union in 1884. Power for the union was then transferred to Grenada as overseer of the bloc.
From 1885 to 1958, the Windward Islands Colony included Grenada and the Grenadines, St. Vincent and St. Lucia during the entire period. Tobago left in 1889, forming a union with Trinidad. Dominica joined the Windward Islands Colony in 1940, after having been transferred from the Leewards, and remained in the Colony until 1958. After 1885 the Windward Islands Colony was under one Governor-General in Grenada, and each island had its own Lieutenant-Governor and its own assembly (as before). Attempts to create a Federal Colony, as in the Leewards, were always resisted. The Windward Islands Colony broke up in 1958 when each island chose to join the new Federation of the West Indies as a separate unit.
The Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands were grouped under Jamaica out of convenience and sometimes for historical and/or geographical reasons. British Honduras (later Belize) was surrounded by hostile Spanish colonies and needed the protection afforded by the Jamaican Army and Navy. In addition, British Honduras had been founded by loggers. It increased in population partly by the settlement of Englishmen migrating from Jamaica in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (settlers also immigrated directly from England; others were born in the colony.) From 1742, British Honduras was a dependency directly under the Governor of Jamaica. In 1749 the Governors of Jamaica appointed Administrators for British Honduras.
In 1862, British Honduras became a Crown Colony; it was placed under the Governor of Jamaica with its own Lieutenant-Governor. In 1884 it finally broke all administrative ties with Jamaica and wanted self governance, as did Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The West Indies Federation was a short-lived federation that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. It consisted of several Caribbean colonies of the United Kingdom. The Federation's purpose was to create a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single state, similar to the Federation of Australia or Canadian Confederation. However, the Federation collapsed due to internal political conflicts over how it would be governed before that could develop.
In 1967, following the termination of the West Indies Federation, a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association form of government along with the United Kingdom called the West Indies Associated States. The arrangement was created through the British House of Commons passing the West Indies Act (1967) (also known as the Associated States Act). As part of the arrangement more sovereignty was granted to the bloc of West Indies countries with the United Kingdom maintaining responsibility for defence and external affairs only.
Although most of the British West Indies seceded from British rule and were granted independence, several opted to remain British territories. Those territories include:
Cricket has traditionally been the main sport in the British West Indies (though others sports such as football have challenged its dominance since the 1990s). Most of the countries and territories listed above field a combined cricket team called the West Indies, which is one of the twelve elite international teams that play at Test match level. The West Indies hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup of ODI Cricket and the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar is the currency of all seven full members and one associate member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The successor to the British West Indies dollar, it has existed since 1965, and it is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $ or, alternatively, EC$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies. The EC$ is subdivided into 100 cents. It has been pegged to the United States dollar since 7 July 1976, at the exchange rate of US$1 = EC$2.70.
The Lesser Antilles are a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most of them are part of a long, partially volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands of the Lesser Antilles form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles make up the Antilles. The Lesser and Greater Antilles, together with the Lucayan Archipelago, are collectively known as the West Indies.
The West Indies Federation, also known as the West Indies, the Federation of the West Indies or the West Indian Federation, was a short-lived political union that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. Various islands in the Caribbean that were part of the British Empire, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and those on the Leeward and Windward Islands, came together to form the Federation, with its capital in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The expressed intention of the Federation was to create a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single state — possibly similar to Canada, the Federation of Australia, or the Central African Federation. Before that could happen, the Federation collapsed due to internal political conflicts over how it would be governed or function viably. The formation of a West Indian Federation was encouraged by the United Kingdom, but also requested by West Indian nationalists.
The Antilles is an archipelago bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the south and west, the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north and east.
The British West Indies dollar (BWI$) was the currency of British Guiana and the Eastern Caribbean territories of the British West Indies from 1949 to 1965, when it was largely replaced by the East Caribbean dollar, and was one of the currencies used in Jamaica from 1954 to 1964. The monetary policy of the currency was overseen by the British Caribbean Currency Board (BCCB). It was the official currency used by the West Indies Federation The British West Indies dollar was never used in British Honduras, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, or Bermuda.
The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology was established in 1967 by the member states, all current and ex-British colonies, of the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation (CMO). It was amalgamated with the Caribbean Operational Hydrological Institute (COHI) in the mid-1980s to form the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), but the name was only officially changed in September 1999 to reflect the dual role of the institute. Responsibility for the operation of the institute, which is located in Barbados, rests with the sixteen Commonwealth governments which comprise the CMO.
The term British West Indies refers to the former English and British colonies and the present-day overseas territories of the United Kingdom in the Caribbean.
The governor-general of the West Indies Federation was a post in the government of the West Indies. The federation, also known as the British Caribbean Federation, consisted of Antigua, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks & Caicos Islands. The federation was formed on 3 January 1958, and was formally dissolved on 31 May 1962.
The British Windward Islands was an administrative grouping of British colonies in the Windward Islands of the West Indies, existing from 1833 until 31 December 1959 and consisting of the islands of Grenada, St Lucia, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Barbados, Tobago, and Dominica, previously included in the British Leeward Islands.
The following is an alphabetical list of countries in the United Nations geoscheme for the Americas grouped by subregion and intermediate region. The continent of North America comprises the intermediate regions of the Caribbean, Central America, and Northern America.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) is the governing body for cricket in the West Indies. It was originally formed in the early 1920s as the West Indies Cricket Board of Control, but changed its name to West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) in 1996. In November 2015, the Board resolved to rename itself as Cricket West Indies as part of a restructuring exercise that would also see the creation of a separate commercial body. This rebranding formally occurred in May 2017.
The British Leeward Islands was a British colony from 1671 to 1958, consisting of the English overseas possessions in the Leeward Islands. It ceased to exist from 1816 to 1833, during which time it was split into two separate colonies. It was dissolved in 1958 after the separation of the British Virgin Islands, and the remaining islands became parts of the West Indies Federation.
The Caribbean bioregion is a biogeographic region that includes the islands of the Caribbean Sea and nearby Atlantic islands, which share a fauna, flora and mycobiota distinct from surrounding bioregions.
In the sport of cricket, the West Indies is a sporting confederation of fifteen mainly English-speaking Caribbean countries and territories, many of which historically formed the British West Indies. It consists of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States Virgin Islands. The governing body for the confederation is Cricket West Indies (CWI), which is a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC); beneath the CWI are six territorial governing bodies covering different nations and regions of the confederation. The CWI organises the West Indies cricket team, which represents the confederation in international cricket, as well as administering domestic cricket competitions across the West Indies.
This is a timeline of the territorial evolution of the Caribbean and nearby areas of North, Central, and South America, listing each change to the internal and external borders of the various countries that make up the region.
The prime minister of the West Indies Federation was the head of government of the short lived West Indies Federation, which consisted of ten provinces: Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. The federation was formed on 3 January 1958, and was formally dissolved on 31 May 1962.
The flag of the West Indies Federation was used between 1958 and 1962. It bore four equally spaced narrow white stripes with a large orange-gold disc over the middle two lines in the center of the flag, undulating horizontally across a blue field representing the Caribbean Sea and the sun shining upon the waves. The flag was originally designed by Edna Manley. The flag is shown as 1:2; the upper two white stripes reflect the lower ones.
The Caribbean Link for Guiding is a consortium of 21 Girl Guide Associations from throughout the Caribbean. These include associations from independent countries as well as from British Overseas Territories, coordinated by Girlguiding UK. It was created in 1958.
The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas is a Methodist denomination in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, the British & the US Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Connexion is divided into eight districts:
The University of the West Indies Open Campus (UWIOC) is a public and distance only, research university headquartered Cave Hill, Barbados. It is one of 5 general autonomous units of the University of the West Indies system. Its main campus is located inside the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, but remains a distinct and separate institution.