Caribbean

Last updated
Caribbean
Antillas (orthographic projection).svg
Area2,754,000 km2 (1,063,000 sq mi)
Population43,601,839 [1]
Population density151.5/km2 (392/sq mi)
Ethnic groups Afro-Caribbean, European, Indo-Caribbean, Latino or Hispanic (Spanish, Portuguese, Mestizo, Mulatto, Pardo, and Zambo), Chinese Caribbean, Jewish, Arab, Amerindian, Javanese, [2] Hmong, Multiracial
Religions Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Rastafarianism, Native American religion, Bahá'í Faith, Chinese folk religion (including Taoism and Confucianism), Kebatinan, Afro-American religion, Traditional African religion, and others
Demonym Caribbean, West Indian
Countries13 sovereign states
Dependencies17 dependent territories
Languages Spanish, English, French, Dutch, French Creoles, English Creoles, Caribbean Hindustani, among others
Time zones UTC−5 to UTC−4
Internet TLD Multiple
Calling code Multiple
Largest cities List of metropolitan areas in the Caribbean
Santo Domingo
Havana
Port-au-Prince
San Juan
Kingston
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de los Caballeros
Nassau
Camagüey
Cap-Haïtien
Spanish Town
Chaguanas
Georgetown
Paramaribo
UN M49 code 029 – Caribbean
419Latin America
019Americas
001World

The Caribbean ( /ˌkærɪˈbən, kəˈrɪbiən/ , locally /ˈkærɪbiæn/ ) [3] is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea [4] and some bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean) [5] and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Caribbean Sea A sea of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North, Central, and South America

The Caribbean Sea is an American Mediterranean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

Gulf of Mexico An Atlantic Ocean basin extending into southern North America

The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. The U.S. states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the "Third Coast", in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Central America central geographic region of the Americas

Central America is a region found in the southern tip of North America and is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas. This region is bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The combined population of Central America is estimated to be between 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.

Contents

Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region has more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays (see the list of Caribbean islands). Island arcs delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea: [6] The Greater Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago on the north and the Lesser Antilles and the on the south and east (which includes the Leeward Antilles). The Lucayan Archipelago (the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands), do not border the Caribbean Sea, but are still within the boundaries of the Caribbean region. On the mainland, Belize, Nicaragua, the Caribbean region of Colombia, Cozumel, the Yucatán Peninsula, Margarita Island, and the Guyanas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Guayana Region in Venezuela, and Amapá in Brazil) are often included due to their political and cultural ties with the region. [7]

Caribbean Plate A mostly oceanic tectonic plate including part of Central America and the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean Plate is a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America.

Islet Very small island

An islet is a very small island.

Reef A bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water

A reef is a bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water. Many reefs result from natural, abiotic processes—deposition of sand, wave erosion planing down rock outcrops, etc.—but the best known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and coralline algae.

Geopolitically, the islands of the Caribbean (the West Indies) are often regarded as a region of North America, though sometimes they are included in Central America or left as a region of their own. [8] [9] and are organized into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. From December 15, 1954, to October 10, 2010, there was a country known as the Netherlands Antilles composed of five states, all of which were Dutch dependencies. [10] From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was also a short-lived political union called the West Indies Federation composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then British dependencies. The West Indies cricket team continues to represent many of those nations.

Geopolitics is the study of the effects of Earth's geography on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usually refers to countries and relations between them, it may also focus on two other kinds of states: de facto independent states with limited international recognition and; relations between sub-national geopolitical entities, such as the federated states that make up a federation, confederation or a quasi-federal system.

West Indies Island region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean

The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Lucayan Archipelago.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Etymology and pronunciation

The region takes its name from that of the Caribs, an ethnic group present in the Lesser Antilles and parts of adjacent South America at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. [11]

Island Caribs group of people who live in Venezuela and the Lesser Antilles islands

Island Caribs, also known as the Kalinago or simply Caribs, are an indigenous people of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. They have descended from the Mainland Caribs (Kalina) of South America. The people spoke a carib pidgin language of Karina origins.

Lesser Antilles Archipelago in the Southeast Caribbean

The Lesser Antilles is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles. When combined with the Lucayan Archipelago, all three are known as the West Indies.

Spanish colonization of the Americas Overseas expansion under the Crown of Castile

The overseas expansion under the Crown of Castile was initiated under the royal authority and first accomplished by the Spanish conquistadors. The Americas were invaded and incorporated into the Spanish Empire, with the exception of Brazil, Canada, the north-eastern United States and several other small countries in South America and The Caribbean. The crown created civil and religious structures to administer the region. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Catholic faith through indigenous forced conversions.

The two most prevalent pronunciations of "Caribbean" outside the Caribbean are /ˌkærɪˈbən/ (KARR-ə-BEE-ən), with the primary stress on the third syllable, and /kəˈrɪbiən/ (kə-RIB-ee-ən), with the stress on the second. Most authorities of the last century preferred the stress on the third syllable. [12] This is the older of the two pronunciations, but the stressed-second-syllable variant has been established for over 75 years. [13] It has been suggested that speakers of British English prefer /ˌkærɪˈbən/ (KARR-ə-BEE-ən) while North American speakers more typically use /kəˈrɪbiən/ (kə-RIB-ee-ən), [14] but major American dictionaries and other sources list the stress on the third syllable as more common in American English too. [15] [16] [17] [18] According to the American version of Oxford Online Dictionaries, the stress on the second syllable is becoming more common in UK English and is increasingly considered "by some" to be more up to date and more "correct". [19]

British English is the standard dialect of the English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. American English is considered one of the most influential dialects of English globally, including on other varieties of English.

The Oxford Online Dictionaries claim that the stress on the second syllable is the most common pronunciation in the Caribbean itself, but according to the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage, the most common pronunciation in Caribbean English stresses the first syllable instead, /ˈkærɪbiæn/ (KARR-ih-bee-an). [3] [19]

Caribbean English dialects of the English language are spoken in the Caribbean and Liberia, most countries on the Caribbean coast of Central America, and Guyana and Suriname on the coast of South America. Caribbean English is influenced by the English-based Creole varieties spoken in the region, but they are not the same. In the Caribbean, there is a great deal of variation in the way English is spoken. Scholars generally agree that although the dialects themselves vary significantly in each of these countries, they primarily have roots in British English and West African languages. Caribbean English in countries with a majority Indian population, such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana, has been influenced by Hindustani and other South Asian languages in addition to British English and West African languages.

Definition

Map of the Caribbean CIA map of the Caribbean.png
Map of the Caribbean

The word "Caribbean" has multiple uses. Its principal ones are geographical and political. The Caribbean can also be expanded to include territories with strong cultural and historical connections to Africa, slavery, European colonisation and the plantation system.

Geography and geology

The Caribbean Plate Tectonic plates Caribbean.png

The geography and climate in the Caribbean region varies: Some islands in the region have relatively flat terrain of non-volcanic origin. These islands include Aruba (possessing only minor volcanic features), Curaçao, Barbados, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Saint Croix, the Bahamas, and Antigua. Others possess rugged towering mountain-ranges like the islands of Saint Martin, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominica, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Thomas, Saint John, Tortola, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago.

Definitions of the terms Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles often vary. The Virgin Islands as part of the Puerto Rican bank are sometimes included with the Greater Antilles. The term Lesser Antilles is often used to define an island arc that includes Grenada but excludes Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward Antilles.

The waters of the Caribbean Sea host large, migratory schools of fish, turtles, and coral reef formations. The Puerto Rico Trench, located on the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea just to the north of the island of Puerto Rico, is the deepest point in all of the Atlantic Ocean. [21]

The region sits in the line of several major shipping routes with the Panama Canal connecting the western Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean.

Climate

Tropical monsoon climate in San Andres island, Caribbean, Colombia. Johny Cay.jpg
Tropical monsoon climate in San Andrés island, Caribbean, Colombia.
Koppen climate map of the islands of the Caribbean. Koppen-Geiger Map Caribbean present.svg
Köppen climate map of the islands of the Caribbean.

The climate of the area is tropical, varying from tropical rainforest in some areas to tropical monsoon and tropical savanna in others. There are also some locations that are arid climates with considerable drought in some years, and the peaks of mountains tend to have cooler temperate climates.

Rainfall varies with elevation, size and water currents, such as the cool upwellings that keep the ABC islands arid. Warm, moist trade winds blow consistently from the east, creating both rain forest and semi arid climates across the region. The tropical rainforest climates include lowland areas near the Caribbean Sea from Costa Rica north to Belize, as well as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, while the more seasonal dry tropical savanna climates are found in Cuba, northern Colombia and Venezuela, and southern Yucatán, Mexico. Arid climates are found along the extreme northern coast of Venezuela out to the islands including Aruba and Curacao, as well as the northwestern tip of Yucatán.

While the region generally is sunny much of the year, the wet season from May through November sees more frequent cloud cover (both broken and overcast), while the dry season from December through April is more often clear to mostly sunny. Seasonal rainfall is divided into 'dry' and 'wet' seasons, with the latter six months of the year being wetter than the first half. The air temperature is hot much of the year, varying from 25 to 33 C (77 F to 90 F) between the wet and dry seasons. Seasonally, monthly mean temperatures vary from only about 5 C (7 F) in the northern most regions, to less than 3 C in the southernmost areas of the Caribbean.

Hurricane season is from June to November, but they occur more frequently in August and September and more common in the northern islands of the Caribbean. Hurricanes that sometimes batter the region usually strike northwards of Grenada and to the west of Barbados. The principal hurricane belt arcs to northwest of the island of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean. A great example being recent events of Hurricane Irma devastating the island of Saint Martin during the 2017 hurricane season.

Sea surface temperatures change little annually, normally running from 30 °C (87 °F) in the warmest months to 26 °C (76 °F) in the coolest months. The air temperature is warm year round, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, and only varies from winter to summer about 2–5 degrees on the southern islands and about a 10–20 degrees difference on the northern islands of the Caribbean. The northern islands, like the Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, may be influenced by continental masses during winter months, such as cold fronts.

Aruba: Latitude 12°N

Climate data for Oranjestad, Aruba (1981–2010, extremes 1951–2010)
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)32.5
(90.5)
33.0
(91.4)
33.9
(93.0)
34.4
(93.9)
34.9
(94.8)
35.2
(95.4)
35.3
(95.5)
36.1
(97.0)
36.5
(97.7)
35.4
(95.7)
35.0
(95.0)
34.8
(94.6)
36.5
(97.7)
Average high °C (°F)30.0
(86.0)
30.4
(86.7)
30.9
(87.6)
31.5
(88.7)
32.0
(89.6)
32.2
(90.0)
32.0
(89.6)
32.6
(90.7)
32.7
(90.9)
32.1
(89.8)
31.3
(88.3)
30.4
(86.7)
31.5
(88.7)
Daily mean °C (°F)26.7
(80.1)
26.8
(80.2)
27.2
(81.0)
27.9
(82.2)
28.5
(83.3)
28.7
(83.7)
28.6
(83.5)
29.1
(84.4)
29.2
(84.6)
28.7
(83.7)
28.1
(82.6)
27.2
(81.0)
28.1
(82.6)
Average low °C (°F)24.5
(76.1)
24.7
(76.5)
25.0
(77.0)
25.8
(78.4)
26.5
(79.7)
26.7
(80.1)
26.4
(79.5)
26.8
(80.2)
26.9
(80.4)
26.4
(79.5)
25.8
(78.4)
25.0
(77.0)
25.9
(78.6)
Record low °C (°F)21.3
(70.3)
20.6
(69.1)
21.4
(70.5)
21.5
(70.7)
21.8
(71.2)
22.7
(72.9)
21.2
(70.2)
21.3
(70.3)
22.1
(71.8)
21.9
(71.4)
22.0
(71.6)
20.5
(68.9)
20.5
(68.9)
Average precipitation mm (inches)39.3
(1.55)
20.6
(0.81)
8.7
(0.34)
11.6
(0.46)
16.3
(0.64)
18.7
(0.74)
31.7
(1.25)
25.8
(1.02)
45.5
(1.79)
77.8
(3.06)
94.0
(3.70)
81.8
(3.22)
471.8
(18.58)
Source: DEPARTAMENTO METEOROLOGICO ARUBA, [22] (extremes) [23]

Puerto Rico: Latitude 18°N

Climate data for San Juan, Puerto Rico
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)33
(92)
36
(96)
36
(96)
36
(97)
36
(96)
36
(97)
35
(95)
35
(95)
36
(97)
36
(97)
37
(98)
36
(96)
34
(94)
Average high °C (°F)28
(83)
29
(84)
29
(85)
30
(86)
31
(87)
32
(89)
31
(88)
31
(88)
32
(89)
31
(88)
30
(86)
29
(84)
30
(86)
Average low °C (°F)22
(72)
22
(72)
23
(73)
23
(74)
24
(76)
26
(78)
26
(78)
26
(78)
26
(78)
25
(77)
24
(75)
23
(73)
24
(75)
Record low °C (°F)16
(61)
17
(62)
16
(60)
18
(64)
18
(64)
19
(66)
21
(69)
20
(68)
21
(69)
19
(67)
18
(65)
17
(62)
16
(61)
Average precipitation mm (inches)95
(3.7)
60
(2.4)
49
(1.9)
118
(4.6)
150
(5.9)
112
(4.4)
128
(5.0)
138
(5.4)
146
(5.7)
142
(5.6)
161
(6.3)
126
(5.0)
1,431
(56.3)
Source: The National Weather Service [24]

Cuba: at Latitude 22°N

Climate data for Havana
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)32.5
(90.5)
33.0
(91.4)
35.9
(96.6)
36.4
(97.5)
36.9
(98.4)
37.2
(99.0)
38.0
(100.4)
36.1
(97.0)
37.5
(99.5)
35.4
(95.7)
35.0
(95.0)
34.8
(94.6)
38.0
(100.4)
Average high °C (°F)25.8
(78.4)
26.1
(79.0)
27.6
(81.7)
28.6
(83.5)
29.8
(85.6)
30.5
(86.9)
31.3
(88.3)
31.6
(88.9)
31.0
(87.8)
29.2
(84.6)
27.7
(81.9)
26.5
(79.7)
28.8
(83.8)
Daily mean °C (°F)22.2
(72.0)
22.4
(72.3)
23.7
(74.7)
24.8
(76.6)
26.1
(79.0)
27.0
(80.6)
27.6
(81.7)
27.9
(82.2)
27.4
(81.3)
26.1
(79.0)
24.5
(76.1)
23.0
(73.4)
25.2
(77.4)
Average low °C (°F)18.6
(65.5)
18.6
(65.5)
19.7
(67.5)
20.9
(69.6)
22.4
(72.3)
23.4
(74.1)
23.8
(74.8)
24.1
(75.4)
23.8
(74.8)
23.0
(73.4)
21.3
(70.3)
19.5
(67.1)
21.6
(70.9)
Record low °C (°F)5.1
(41.2)
5.6
(42.1)
5.4
(41.7)
11.5
(52.7)
16.8
(62.2)
19.7
(67.5)
18.2
(64.8)
19.3
(66.7)
19.1
(66.4)
11.9
(53.4)
10.0
(50.0)
7.5
(45.5)
5.1
(41.2)
Average rainfall mm (inches)64.4
(2.54)
68.6
(2.70)
46.2
(1.82)
53.7
(2.11)
98.0
(3.86)
182.3
(7.18)
105.6
(4.16)
99.6
(3.92)
144.4
(5.69)
180.5
(7.11)
88.3
(3.48)
57.6
(2.27)
1,189.2
(46.84)
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN), [25] Climate-Charts.com [26]
A field in Pinar del Rio planted with Cuban tobacco Tobacco field cuba1.jpg
A field in Pinar del Rio planted with Cuban tobacco
Puerto Rico's south shore, from the mountains of Jayuya Jayuya.jpg
Puerto Rico's south shore, from the mountains of Jayuya
Grand Anse beach, St. George's, Grenada Grand Anse Beach Grenada.jpg
Grand Anse beach, St. George's, Grenada
A church cemetery perched in the mountains of Guadeloupe Guadeloupe (Le cimetiere de Gourbeyre).jpg
A church cemetery perched in the mountains of Guadeloupe
A view of Nevis island from the southeastern peninsula of Saint Kitts Stkitts-view-lookingatsea.jpg
A view of Nevis island from the southeastern peninsula of Saint Kitts

Island groups

Lucayan Archipelago [lower-alpha 1]

Greater Antilles

Lesser Antilles

Historical groupings

Spanish Caribbean Islands in the American Viceroyalties 1600 Spanish Caribbean Islands in the American Viceroyalties 1600.png
Spanish Caribbean Islands in the American Viceroyalties 1600
Political evolution of Central America and the Caribbean from 1700 to present Political Evolution of Central America and the Caribbean 1700 and on.gif
Political evolution of Central America and the Caribbean from 1700 to present
The mostly Spanish-controlled Caribbean in the 16th century Caribbean spanish names.PNG
The mostly Spanish-controlled Caribbean in the 16th century

All islands at some point were, and a few still are, colonies of European nations; a few are overseas or dependent territories:

The British West Indies were united by the United Kingdom into a West Indies Federation between 1958 and 1962. The independent countries formerly part of the B.W.I. still have a joint cricket team that competes in Test matches, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals. The West Indian cricket team includes the South American nation of Guyana, the only former British colony on the mainland of that continent.

In addition, these countries share the University of the West Indies as a regional entity. The university consists of three main campuses in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, a smaller campus in the Bahamas and Resident Tutors in other contributing territories such as Trinidad.

Countries and territories of the Caribbean today

Caribbean general map.png
Islands in and near the Caribbean
Caribbean maritime boundaries map.svg
Maritime boundaries between the Caribbean (island) nations
Flag Country or territory [27] [28] [29] Sovereignty Status Area
(km2) [30]
Population
(2016 est.) [1]
Density
(people per km2)
Capital
Flag of Anguilla.svg Anguilla United Kingdom British overseas territory 9114,764164.8 The Valley
Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg Antigua and Barbuda Independent Constitutional monarchy 442100,963199.1 St. John's
Flag of Aruba.svg Aruba Kingdom of the Netherlands Constituent kingdom180104,822594.4 Oranjestad
Flag of the Bahamas.svg The Bahamas [31] Independent Constitutional monarchy 13,943391,23224.5 Nassau
Flag of Barbados.svg Barbados Independent Constitutional monarchy 430284,996595.3 Bridgetown
Flag of Bonaire.svg Bonaire Kingdom of the Netherlands Special Municipality29412,093 [32] 41.1 Kralendijk
Flag of the British Virgin Islands.svg British Virgin Islands United Kingdom British overseas territory 15130,661152.3 Road Town
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg Cayman Islands United Kingdom British overseas territory 26460,765212.1 George Town
Flag of Cuba.svg Cuba IndependentRepublic109,88611,475,982102.0 Havana
Flag of Curacao.svg Curaçao Kingdom of the Netherlands Constituent kingdom444159,371317.1 Willemstad
Flag of Dominica.svg Dominica IndependentRepublic75173,54389.2 Roseau
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg Dominican Republic IndependentRepublic48,67110,648,791207.3 Santo Domingo
Federal dependencies of Venezuela's Flag.svg Federal Dependencies of Venezuela Venezuela Territories3422,1556.3 Gran Roque
Flag of Grenada.svg Grenada Independent Constitutional monarchy 344107,317302.3 St. George's
Flag of France.svg Guadeloupe France Overseas department1,628449,975246.7 Basse-Terre
Flag of Haiti.svg Haiti IndependentRepublic27,75010,847,334361.5 Port-au-Prince
Flag of Jamaica.svg Jamaica Independent Constitutional monarchy 10,9912,881,355247.4 Kingston
Flag of France.svg Martinique France Overseas department1,128385,103352.6 Fort-de-France
Flag of Montserrat.svg Montserrat United Kingdom British overseas territory 1025,15258.8 Plymouth (Brades) [33]
Flag of the United States.svg Navassa Island United States Territory (uninhabited)500.0
Flag of Nueva Esparta.svg Nueva Esparta Venezuela State1,151491,610 La Asunción
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg Puerto Rico United States Commonwealth8,8703,667,903448.9 San Juan
Flag of Saba.svg Saba Kingdom of the Netherlands Special municipality131,537 [32] 118.2 The Bottom
Flag of San Andres y Providencia.svg San Andrés and Providencia Colombia Department52.575,1671431 San Andrés
Flag of France.svg Saint Barthélemy France Overseas collectivity217,448354.7 Gustavia
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg Saint Kitts and Nevis Independent Constitutional monarchy 26154,821199.2 Basseterre
Flag of Saint Lucia.svg Saint Lucia Independent Constitutional monarchy 539178,015319.1 Castries
Flag of France.svg Saint Martin France Overseas collectivity5429,820552.2 Marigot
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Independent Constitutional monarchy 389109,643280.2 Kingstown
Flag of Sint Eustatius.svg Sint Eustatius Kingdom of the Netherlands Special municipality212,739 [32] 130.4 Oranjestad
Flag of Sint Maarten.svg Sint Maarten Kingdom of the Netherlands Constituent kingdom3439,5371176.7 Philipsburg
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg Trinidad and Tobago IndependentRepublic5,1301,364,962261.0 Port of Spain
Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg Turks and Caicos Islands [34] United Kingdom British overseas territory 94834,90034.8 Cockburn Town
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg United States Virgin Islands United States Territory347104,913317.0 Charlotte Amalie
Total235,66744,199,389187.6

Continental countries with Caribbean coastlines and islands

Biodiversity

The Caribbean islands have one of the most diverse eco systems in the world. The animals, fungi and plants, and have been classified as one of Conservation International's biodiversity hotspots because of their exceptionally diverse terrestrial and marine ecosystems, ranging from montane cloud forests, to tropical rainforest, to cactus scrublands. The region also contains about 8% (by surface area) of the world's coral reefs [35] along with extensive seagrass meadows, [36] both of which are frequently found in the shallow marine waters bordering the island and continental coasts of the region.

For the fungi, there is a modern checklist based on nearly 90,000 records derived from specimens in reference collections, published accounts and field observations. [37] That checklist includes more than 11,250 species of fungi recorded from the region. As its authors note, the work is far from exhaustive, and it is likely that the true total number of fungal species already known from the Caribbean is higher. The true total number of fungal species occurring in the Caribbean, including species not yet recorded, is likely far higher given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have been discovered. [38] Though the amount of available information is still small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to some Caribbean islands. For Cuba, 2200 species of fungi have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the island; [39] for Puerto Rico, the number is 789 species; [40] for the Dominican Republic, the number is 699 species; [41] for Trinidad and Tobago, the number is 407 species. [42]

Many of the ecosystems of the Caribbean islands have been devastated by deforestation, pollution, and human encroachment. The arrival of the first humans is correlated with extinction of giant owls and dwarf ground sloths. [43] The hotspot contains dozens of highly threatened animals (ranging from birds, to mammals and reptiles), fungi and plants. Examples of threatened animals include the Puerto Rican amazon, two species of solenodon (giant shrews) in Cuba and the Hispaniola island, and the Cuban crocodile.

Isla Saona.jpg
Saona Island, Dominican Republic

The region's coral reefs, which contain about 70 species of hard corals and between 500–700 species of reef-associated fishes [44] have undergone rapid decline in ecosystem integrity in recent years, and are considered particularly vulnerable to global warming and ocean acidification. [45] According to a UNEP report, the Caribbean coral reefs might get extinct in next 20 years due to population explosion along the coast lines, overfishing, the pollution of coastal areas and global warming. [46]

Some Caribbean islands have terrain that Europeans found suitable for cultivation for agriculture. Tobacco was an important early crop during the colonial era, but was eventually overtaken by sugarcane production as the region's staple crop. Sugar was produced from sugarcane for export to Europe. Cuba and Barbados were historically the largest producers of sugar. The tropical plantation system thus came to dominate Caribbean settlement. Other islands were found to have terrain unsuited for agriculture, for example Dominica, which remains heavily forested. The islands in the southern Lesser Antilles, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, are extremely arid, making them unsuitable for agriculture. However, they have salt pans that were exploited by the Dutch. Sea water was pumped into shallow ponds, producing coarse salt when the water evaporated. [47]

The natural environmental diversity of the Caribbean islands has led to recent growth in eco-tourism. This type of tourism is growing on islands lacking sandy beaches and dense human populations. [48]

Plants and animals

Demographics

Indigenous groups

A linen market in Dominica in the 1770s Agostino Brunias - Linen Market, Dominica - Google Art Project.jpg
A linen market in Dominica in the 1770s
Agostino Brunias. Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape Brooklyn Museum Agostino Brunias. Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape, ca. 1770-1796.jpg
Agostino Brunias. Free Women of Color with Their Children and Servants in a Landscape Brooklyn Museum
Asian Indians in the late nineteenth century singing and dancing in Trinidad and Tobago East Indian Coolies in Trinidad - Project Gutenberg eText 16035.jpg
Asian Indians in the late nineteenth century singing and dancing in Trinidad and Tobago
Street scene, Matanzas, Cuba Scenes of Cuba (K5 02567) (5981599576).jpg
Street scene, Matanzas, Cuba

At the time of European contact, the dominant ethnic groups in the Caribbean included the Taíno of the Greater Antilles and northern Lesser Antilles, the Island Caribs of the southern Lesser Antilles, and smaller distinct groups such as the Guanajatabey of western Cuba and the Ciguayo of eastern Hispaniola. The population of the Caribbean is estimated to have been around 750,000 immediately before European contact, although lower and higher figures are given. After contact, social disruption and epidemic diseases such as smallpox and measles (to which they had no natural immunity) [49] led to a decline in the Amerindian population. [50] From 1500 to 1800 the population rose as slaves arrived from West Africa [51] such as the Kongo, Igbo, Akan, Fon and Yoruba as well as military prisoners from Ireland, who were deported during the Cromwellian reign in England.[ citation needed ] Immigrants from Britain, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark also arrived, although the mortality rate was high for both groups. [52]

The population is estimated to have reached 2.2 million by 1800. [53] Immigrants from India, China, Indonesia, and other countries arrived in the mid-19th century as indentured servants. [54] After the ending of the Atlantic slave trade, the population increased naturally. [55] The total regional population was estimated at 37.5 million by 2000. [56]

In Haiti and most of the French, Anglophone and Dutch Caribbean, the population is predominantly of African origin; on many islands there are also significant populations of mixed racial origin (including Mulatto-Creole, Dougla, Mestizo, Quadroon, Cholo, Castizo, Criollo, Zambo, Pardo, Asian Latin Americans, Chindian, Cocoa panyols, and Eurasian), as well as populations of European ancestry: Dutch, English, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish ancestry. Asians, especially those of Chinese, Indian descent, and Javanese Indonesians, form a significant minority in parts of the region. Indians form a plurality of the population in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. Most of their ancestors arrived in the 19th century as indentured laborers.

The Spanish-speaking Caribbean populations are primarily of European, African, or racially mixed origins. Puerto Rico has a European majority with a mixture of European-African-Native American (tri-racial), and a large Mulatto (European-West African) and West African minority. Cuba also has a European majority, along with a significant population of African ancestry. The Dominican Republic has the largest mixed-race population, primarily descended from Europeans, West Africans, and Amerindians.

Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago Revellers Wine at Trinidad Carnival.jpg
Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago

Jamaica has a large African majority, in addition to a significant population of mixed racial background, and has minorities of Chinese, Europeans, Indians, Latinos, Jews, and Arabs. This is a result of years of importation of slaves and indentured laborers, and migration. Most multi-racial Jamaicans refer to themselves as either mixed race or brown. Similar populations can be found in the Caricom states of Belize, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago has a multi-racial cosmopolitan society due to the arrivals of Africans, Indians, Chinese, Arabs, Jews, Spanish, Portuguese, and Europeans along with the Native Amerindians population. This multi-racial mix has created sub-ethnicities that often straddle the boundaries of major ethnicities and include Dougla, Chindian, Mulatto-Creole, Afro-Asians, Eurasian, Cocoa panyols, and Asian Latin Americans

Language

Spanish (64%), French (25%), English (14%), Dutch, Haitian Creole, and Papiamento are the predominant official languages of various countries in the region, although a handful of unique creole languages or dialects can also be found in virtually every Caribbean country. Other languages such as Caribbean Hindustani, Chinese, Indonesian, Amerindian languages, other African languages, other European languages, other Indian languages, and other Indonesian languages can also be found.

Religion

Havana Cathedral (Catholic) in Cuba completed in 1777 Kathedrale Havanna 001.jpg
Havana Cathedral (Catholic) in Cuba completed in 1777
Holy Trinity Cathedral, an Anglican Christian cathedral in Trinidad and Tobago TnT PoS Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (back view).jpg
Holy Trinity Cathedral, an Anglican Christian cathedral in Trinidad and Tobago
Muhammad Ali Jinnah Memorial Masjid, a Muslim masjid in Trinidad and Tobago TnT St. Joseph Mohammed Ali Jinnah Memorial Mosque.jpg
Muhammad Ali Jinnah Memorial Masjid, a Muslim masjid in Trinidad and Tobago
A Jewish synagogue in Suriname KITLV - 12680 - Dutch Israelite synagogue in Paramaribo - circa 1890.tif
A Jewish synagogue in Suriname
A Haitian Vodou alter Haitian vodou altar to Petwo, Rada, and Gede spirits; November 5, 2010..jpg
A Haitian Vodou alter

Christianity is the predominant religion in the Caribbean (84.7%). [57] Other religious groups in the region are Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Rastafarianism, Buddhism, Chinese folk religion (Taoism and Confucianism), Bahá'í, Jainism, Sikhism, Zorastrianism, Kebatinan, Traditional African religions, Afro-American religions, Yoruba (Santería, Trinidad Orisha, Palo, Umbanda, Brujería, Hoodoo, Candomblé, Quimbanda, Orisha, Xangô de Recife, Xangô do Nordeste, Comfa, Espiritismo, Santo Daime, Obeah, Candomblé, Abakuá, Kumina, Winti, Sanse, Cuban Vodú, Dominican Vudú, Louisiana Voodoo, Haitian Vodou, and Vodun).

Politics

Regionalism

Flag of the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) Flag of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).svg
Flag of the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM)

Caribbean societies are very different from other Western societies in terms of size, culture, and degree of mobility of their citizens. [58] The current economic and political problems the states face individually are common to all Caribbean states. Regional development has contributed to attempts to subdue current problems and avoid projected problems. From a political and economic perspective, regionalism serves to make Caribbean states active participants in current international affairs through collective coalitions. In 1973, the first political regionalism in the Caribbean Basin was created by advances of the English-speaking Caribbean nations through the institution known as the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) [59] which is located in Guyana.

Certain scholars have argued both for and against generalizing the political structures of the Caribbean. On the one hand the Caribbean states are politically diverse, ranging from communist systems such as Cuba toward more capitalist Westminster-style parliamentary systems as in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Other scholars argue that these differences are superficial, and that they tend to undermine commonalities in the various Caribbean states. Contemporary Caribbean systems seem to reflect a "blending of traditional and modern patterns, yielding hybrid systems that exhibit significant structural variations and divergent constitutional traditions yet ultimately appear to function in similar ways." [60] The political systems of the Caribbean states share similar practices.

The influence of regionalism in the Caribbean is often marginalized. Some scholars believe that regionalism cannot exist in the Caribbean because each small state is unique. On the other hand, scholars also suggest that there are commonalities amongst the Caribbean nations that suggest regionalism exists. "Proximity as well as historical ties among the Caribbean nations has led to cooperation as well as a desire for collective action." [61] These attempts at regionalization reflect the nations' desires to compete in the international economic system. [61]

Furthermore, a lack of interest from other major states promoted regionalism in the region. In recent years the Caribbean has suffered from a lack of U.S. interest. "With the end of the Cold War, U.S. security and economic interests have been focused on other areas. As a result there has been a significant reduction in U.S. aid and investment to the Caribbean." [62] The lack of international support for these small, relatively poor states, helped regionalism prosper.

Following the Cold War another issue of importance in the Caribbean has been the reduced economic growth of some Caribbean States due to the United States and European Union's allegations of special treatment toward the region by each other. [ clarification needed ]

United States-EU trade dispute

The United States under President Bill Clinton launched a challenge in the World Trade Organization against the EU over Europe's preferential program, known as the Lomé Convention, which allowed banana exports from the former colonies of the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) to enter Europe cheaply. [63] The World Trade Organization sided in the United States' favour and the beneficial elements of the convention to African, Caribbean and Pacific states has been partially dismantled and replaced by the Cotonou Agreement. [64]

During the US/EU dispute, the United States imposed large tariffs on European Union goods (up to 100%) to pressure Europe to change the agreement with the Caribbean nations in favour of the Cotonou Agreement. [65]

Farmers in the Caribbean have complained of falling profits and rising costs as the Lomé Convention weakens. Some farmers have faced increased pressure to turn towards the cultivation of illegal drugs, which has a higher profit margin and fills the sizable demand for these illegal drugs in North America and Europe. [66] [67]

Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and Association of Caribbean States

Caribbean nations have also started to more closely cooperate in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and other instruments to add oversight of the offshore industry. One of the most important associations that deal with regionalism amongst the nations of the Caribbean Basin has been the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Proposed by CARICOM in 1992, the ACS soon won the support of the other countries of the region. It was founded in July 1994. The ACS maintains regionalism within the Caribbean on issues unique to the Caribbean Basin. Through coalition building, like the ACS and CARICOM, regionalism has become an undeniable part of the politics and economics of the Caribbean. The successes of region-building initiatives are still debated by scholars, yet regionalism remains prevalent throughout the Caribbean.

Bolivarian Alliance

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez launched an economic group called the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), which several eastern Caribbean islands joined. In 2012, the nation of Haiti, with 9 million people, became the largest CARICOM nation that sought to join the union. [68]

Regional institutions

Here are some of the bodies that several islands share in collaboration:

Cuisine

Favorite or national dishes

Doubles, one of the national dishes of Trinidad and Tobago FOOD Doubles 2.jpg
Doubles, one of the national dishes of Trinidad and Tobago
Arroz con gandules, one of the national dishes of Puerto Rico Arroz con gandules.jpg
Arroz con gandules, one of the national dishes of Puerto Rico

See also

Geography:

Notes

  1. The Lucayan Archipelago is excluded from some definitions of "Caribbean" and instead classified as Atlantic; this is primarily a geological rather than cultural or environmental distinction.

Related Research Articles

History of the Caribbean aspect of history

The history of the Caribbean reveals the significant role the region played in the colonial struggles of the European powers since the 15th century. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean and claimed the region for Spain. The First Spanish settlements were established in the Caribbean starting in 1493. Although the Spanish conquests of the Aztec empire and the Inca empire in the early sixteenth century made Mexico and Peru more desirable places for Spanish exploration and settlement, the Caribbean remained strategically important.

Caribbean Community Organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies

The Caribbean Community is an organisation of fifteen Caribbean nations and dependencies having primary objectives to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy. The organisation was established in 1973. Its major activities involve coordinating economic policies and development planning; devising and instituting special projects for the less-developed countries within its jurisdiction; operating as a regional single market for many of its members ; and handling regional trade disputes. The secretariat headquarters is in Georgetown, Guyana. CARICOM is an official United Nations Observer.

West Indies Federation former federation of British colonies

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 colonies of the United Kingdom, 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 the Canadian Confederation, Australian Commonwealth, or Central African Federation; however, before that could happen, the Federation collapsed due to internal political conflicts over how the Federation itself would be governed or how it would viably function. The territories that would have become part of the Federation eventually became the nine contemporary sovereign states of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago; with Anguilla, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands becoming British overseas territories. British Guiana (Guyana) and British Honduras (Belize) held observer status within the West Indies Federation.

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.

Greater Antilles Region of the Caribbean

The Greater Antilles is a grouping of the larger islands in the Caribbean Sea, including Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. Six island states share the region of the Greater Antilles in total, with Haiti and the Dominican Republic sharing the island of Hispaniola. Geologically, the Virgin Islands and Sombrero Island are also part of the Greater Antilles, though politically they are considered part of the Lesser Antilles. At an area of 207,411 square kilometres (80,082 sq mi), not counting the Virgin Islands, The Greater Antilles constitute nearly 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies, as well as over 90% of its population. The remainder of the land belongs to the archipelago of the Lesser Antilles, which is a chain of islands to the east, running north-south and encompassing the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, as well as to the south, running east-west off the northern coast of South America. The Lucayan Archipelago is not considered to be a part of the Antilles archipelagos but rather of the North Atlantic.

Caribbean Basin

The Caribbean Basin is generally defined as the area running from Florida westward along the Gulf coast, then south along the Mexican coast through Central America and then eastward across the northern coast of South America. This region includes the islands of the archipelago of the West Indies. Bermuda is also included within the region even though it is in the west-central Atlantic, due to its common cultural history created by European colonization of the region, and in most of the region by the presence of a significant group of African descent.

The West Indies rugby league team represented the Caribbean and West Indies region in the sport of rugby league football. Governed by the West Indies Rugby League Federation, the team played their only international against South Africa in 2004.

The Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT) was a commercial bank based in Trinidad and Tobago and one of the largest commercial banking corporations in the Caribbean region. As of 2008 RBTT Holdings had a group asset base of over US$6.2 billion dollars. The RBTT group of companies operated several commercial banking businesses in other neighbouring islands, as well as various investment holdings in various parts of the Trinidad and Tobago economy. On 26 March 2008, RBTT Shareholders voted 98.18 percent in favour of selling the bank to the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), who previously had divested the bank in 1987. On 16 June 2008, RBC completed the acquisition. RBTT Financial Holdings Limited and RBC Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of RBC, will amalgamate and continue as a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of RBC. The head office of the Caribbean operations for RBC will be located at Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, and the site of RBTT's headquarters.

Spanish West Indies Spanish possession in the Caribbean between 1492-1898

The Spanish West Indies or the Spanish Antilles was the former name of the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. In terms of governance of the Spanish Empire, The Indies was the designation for all its overseas territories and was overseen by the Council of the Indies, founded in 1524 and based in Spain. When the crown established the Viceroyalty of New Spain in 1535, the islands of the Caribbean came under its jurisdiction.

The law of North America is diverse and influential. The law of the United States has worldwide renown, in its codified constitution, and bill of rights, while the law of Cuba differs vastly in its regulation of private property. The first court of justice was established in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in 1615 by Sir Richard Whitbourne as a court of admiralty at the future site of Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Southern Caribbean is a group of islands that neighbor mainland South America in the West Indies. St. Lucia lies to the north of the region, Barbados in the east, Trinidad & Tobago at its southernmost point, and Aruba at the most westerly section.

The 2007 CFU Club Championship was the annual international football club competition held in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) region. Nineteen teams were to compete in the tournament, from November 4 to November 16 in six venues in Trinidad & Tobago. The first round consisted of five groups played in a round-robin format. The first round group winners along with the three best second-place teams advanced to the quarterfinals. The Caribbean Tournament Champion qualified to the 2008 CONCACAF Champions Cup.

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.

Languages of the Caribbean Languages of the region

The languages of the Caribbean reflect the region's diverse history and culture. There are six official languages spoken in the Caribbean. The six languages are:

Member states of the Caribbean Community

A member state of the Caribbean Community is a state that has been specified as a member state within the Treaty of Chaguaramas or any other Caribbean state that is in the opinion of the Conference, able and willing to exercise the rights and assume the obligations of membership in accordance with article 29 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas. Member states are designated as either More economically developed country (MDCs) or Less economically developed countries (LDCs). These designations are not intended to create disparity among member states. The Community was established by mainly English- speaking Caribbean countries, but has since become a multilingual organisation in practice with the addition of Dutch-speaking Suriname on 4 July 1995 and French and Haitian Creole speaking Haiti on 2 July 2002. As of 4 July 2002 there are fifteen full members of the Caribbean Community, four of which are founding members.

Athletics at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games

The athletics competition at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games was held in Barranquilla, Colombia from 29 July to 3 August at the Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Meléndez.

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Bibliography

Further reading

Coordinates: 14°31′32″N75°49′06″W / 14.52556°N 75.81833°W / 14.52556; -75.81833