Region to the center-east of America composed of many islands / coastal regions surrounding the Caribbean Sea
Top 10 Caribbean related articles
- 1 Etymology and pronunciation
- 2 Definition
- 3 Countries and territories
- 4 History
- 5 Geography and geology
- 6 Climate
- 7 Biodiversity
- 8 Demographics
- 9 Politics
- 10 Regional institutions
- 11 Cuisine
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 Bibliography
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
The Caribbean (/ /,, locally //; Spanish: Caribe; French: Caraïbes; Haitian Creole: Karayib; also Antillean Creole: Kawayib; Dutch: Caraïben; Papiamento: Karibe) is a region of the Americas that comprises the Caribbean Sea, its surrounding coasts, and its islands (some of which lie within the Caribbean Sea and some of which lie on the edge of the Caribbean Sea where it borders the North Atlantic Ocean). The region lies southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and of the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.
The region, situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, has more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays (see the list of Caribbean islands). Three island arcs delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea: The Greater Antilles to the north, and the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Antilles to the south and east. Together with the nearby Lucayan Archipelago, these island arcs make up the West Indies. The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are sometimes considered to be a part of the Caribbean, even though they are neither within the Caribbean Sea nor on its border. However, the Bahamas is a full member state of the Caribbean Community and the Turks and Caicos Islands are an associate member. Belize, Guyana, and Suriname are also considered part of the Caribbean despite being mainland countries and they are full member states of the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States. Several regions of mainland South and Central America are also often seen as part of the Caribbean because of their political and cultural ties with the region. These include: Belize, the Caribbean region of Colombia, the Venezuelan Caribbean, Quintana Roo in Mexico (consisting of Cozumel and the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula), and The Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Guayana Region in Venezuela, and Amapá in Brazil).
A mostly tropical geography, the climates are greatly shaped by sea temperatures and precipitation, with the hurricane season regularly leading to natural disasters. Because of its tropical climate and low-lying island geography, the Caribbean is vulnerable to a number of climate change effects, including increased storm intensity, saltwater intrusion, sea level rise and coastal erosion, and precipitation variability. These weather changes will greatly change the economies of the islands, and especially the major industries of agricultural and tourism.
The Caribbean was occupied by indigenous people since at least 6000 BC. When European colonization followed the arrival of Columbus, the population was quickly decimated by brutal labour practices, enslavement and disease and on many islands, Europeans supplanted the native populations with enslaved Africans. Following the independence of Haiti from France in the early 19th century and the decline of slavery in the 19th century, island nations in the Caribbean gradually gained independence, with a wave of new states during the 1950s and 60s. Because of the proximity to the United States, there is also a long history of United States intervention in the region.
The islands of the Caribbean (the West Indies) are often regarded as a subregion of North America, though sometimes they are included in Middle America or then left as a subregion of their own 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. 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.
Caribbean Intro articles: 50
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. The term was popularized by British cartographer Thomas Jefferys who used it in his The West-India Atlas (1773).
The two most prevalent pronunciations of "Caribbean" outside the Caribbean are // (KARR-ə-BEE-ən), with the primary stress on the third syllable, and // (kə-RIB-ee-ən), with the stress on the second. Most authorities of the last century preferred the stress on the third syllable. This is the older of the two pronunciations, but the stressed-second-syllable variant has been established for over 75 years. It has been suggested that speakers of British English prefer // (KARR-ə-BEE-ən) while North American speakers more typically use // (kə-RIB-ee-ən), but major American dictionaries and other sources list the stress on the third syllable as more common in American English too. 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".
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, // (KARR-ih-bee-an). The word Caribbean consistently ranks as one of the most misspelled words in the English language.
Caribbean Etymology and pronunciation articles: 7
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.
- The United Nations geoscheme for the Americas presents the Caribbean as a distinct region within the Americas.
- Physiographically, the Caribbean region is mainly a chain of islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. To the north, the region is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida and the Northern Atlantic Ocean, which lies to the east and northeast. To the south lies the coastline of the continent of South America.
- Politically, the "Caribbean" may be centred by considering narrower and wider socio-economic groupings:
- At its core is the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), whose full members include the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in the Atlantic, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Suriname in South America, and Belize in Central America; its associate members include Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Most expansive is the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), which includes almost every nation in the region surrounding the Caribbean and also El Salvador on the Pacific Ocean. According to the ACS, the total population of its member states is 227 million people.
Caribbean Definition articles: 10
Countries and territories
|Flag||Country or territory||Flag||Sovereignty||Status||Area
(people per km2)
||Antigua and Barbuda||
||Independent||Parliamentary Democracy||442||96,286||199.1||St. John's|
||Kingdom of the Netherlands||Constituent country||180||105,845||594.4||Oranjestad|
||Kingdom of the Netherlands||Special municipality of the Netherlands||294||12,093||41.1||Kralendijk|
||Kingdom of the Netherlands||Special municipality of the Netherlands||21||2,739||130.4||Oranjestad|
||Kingdom of the Netherlands||Special municipality of the Netherlands||13||1,537||118.2||The Bottom|
||Kingdom of the Netherlands||Constituent country||444||162,752||317.1||Willemstad|
||Kingdom of the Netherlands||Constituent country||34||41,940||1176.7||Philipsburg|
||France||Overseas department and region of France||1,628||399,848||246.7||Basse-Terre|
|Navassa Island||Haiti / United States||Territory (uninhabited)||5||0||0.0||n/a|
||United States||Commonwealth||8,870||3,039,596||448.9||San Juan|
||United States Virgin Islands||
||United States||Territory||347||104,680||317.0||Charlotte Amalie|
||British Virgin Islands||
||United Kingdom||British overseas territory||151||29,802||152.3||Road Town|
||United Kingdom||British overseas territory||91||14,731||164.8||The Valley|
||United Kingdom||British overseas territory||264||64,174||212.1||George Town|
||United Kingdom||British overseas territory||102||4,993||58.8||Plymouth (Brades)|
||Turks and Caicos Islands||
||United Kingdom||British overseas territory||948||37,665||34.8||Cockburn Town|
||Independent||Parliamentary Republic Democracy||751||71,625||89.2||Roseau|
||Independent||Parliamentary Democracy||344||111,454||302.3||St. George's|
||San Andrés and Providencia||
||Federal Dependencies of Venezuela||
||Trinidad and Tobago||
||Independent||Parliamentary Republic Democracy||5,130||1,389,843||261.0||Port of Spain|
||Saint Kitts and Nevis||
||Independent||Federal parliamentary democracy||261||52,441||199.2||Basseterre|
||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||
The oldest evidence of humans in the Caribbean is in southern Trinidad at Banwari Trace, where remains have been found from seven thousand years ago. These pre-ceramic sites, which belong to the Archaic (pre-ceramic) age, have been termed Ortoiroid. The earliest archaeological evidence of human settlement in Hispaniola dates to about 3600 BC, but the reliability of these finds is questioned. Consistent dates of 3100 BC appear in Cuba. The earliest dates in the Lesser Antilles are from 2000 BC in Antigua. A lack of pre-ceramic sites in the Windward Islands and differences in technology suggest that these Archaic settlers may have Central American origins. Whether an Ortoiroid colonization of the islands took place is uncertain, but there is little evidence of one.
Between 400 BC and 200 BC the first ceramic-using agriculturalists, the Saladoid culture, entered Trinidad from South America. They expanded up the Orinoco River to Trinidad and then spread rapidly up the islands of the Caribbean. Some time after 250 AD another group, the Barancoid, entered Trinidad. The Barancoid society collapsed along the Orinoco around 650 AD and another group, the Arauquinoid, expanded into these areas and up the Caribbean chain. Around 1300 AD a new group, the Mayoid, entered Trinidad and remained the dominant culture until Spanish settlement.
At the time of the European discovery of most of the islands of the Caribbean, three major Amerindian indigenous peoples lived on the islands: the Taíno in the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas and the Leeward Islands, the Island Caribs and Galibi in the Windward Islands, and the Ciboney in western Cuba. The Taínos are subdivided into Classic Taínos, who occupied Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Western Taínos, who occupied Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamian archipelago, and the Eastern Taínos, who occupied the Leeward Islands. Trinidad was inhabited by both Carib speaking and Arawak-speaking groups.
Soon after Christopher Columbus came to the Caribbean, both Portuguese and Spanish explorers began claiming territories in Central and South America. These early colonies brought gold to Europe; most specifically England, the Netherlands, and France. These nations hoped to establish profitable colonies in the Caribbean. Colonial rivalries made the Caribbean a cockpit for European wars for centuries.
The Caribbean was known for pirates, especially between 1640 and 1680. The term "buccaneer" is often used to describe a pirate operating in this region. The Caribbean region was war-torn throughout much of its colonial history, but the wars were often based in Europe, with only minor battles fought in the Caribbean. Some wars, however, were born of political turmoil in the Caribbean itself.
Haiti was the first Caribbean nation to gain independence from European powers (see Haitian Revolution). Some Caribbean nations gained independence from European powers in the 19th century. Some smaller states are still dependencies of European powers today. Cuba remained a Spanish colony until the Spanish–American War. Between 1958 and 1962, most of the British-controlled Caribbean became the West Indies Federation before they separated into many separate nations.
Foreign interventions by the United States
The United States has conducted military operations in the Caribbean and Latin America regions for at least 100 years. Successive administrations of the Caribbean region have regularly maintained that the Caribbean must remain a zone of peace and have sought declarations at the United Nations to declare the region as such.
Since the Monroe Doctrine, the United States gained a major influence on most Caribbean nations. In the early part of the 20th century, this influence was extended by participation in the Banana Wars. Victory in the Spanish–American War and the signing of the Platt Amendment in 1901 ensured that the United States would have the right to interfere in Cuban political and economic affairs, militarily if necessary. With the Treaty of Paris, Spain ceded control of Cuba and Puerto Rico to the United States. Thereafter, the United States conducted military interventions in Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. The series of conflicts ended with the withdrawal of troops from Haiti in 1934 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, relations deteriorated rapidly leading to the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and successive US attempts to destabilize the island, based upon Cold War fears of the Soviet threat. The U.S. invaded and occupied Haiti for 19 years (1915–34), subsequently dominating the Haitian economy through aid and loan repayments. The U.S. invaded Haiti again in 1994 and in 2004 were accused by CARICOM of arranging a coup d'état to remove elected Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In 1965, 23,000 US troops were sent to the Dominican Republic to quash a local uprising against military rule (see Dominican Civil War). President Lyndon Johnson had ordered the invasion to stem what he deemed to be a "Communist threat." However, the mission appeared ambiguous and was roundly condemned throughout the hemisphere as a return to gunboat diplomacy. In 1983, the US invaded Grenada to remove populist left-wing leader Maurice Bishop. The US maintains a naval military base in Cuba at Guantanamo Bay. The base is one of five unified commands whose "area of responsibility" is Latin America and the Caribbean. The command is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
A Marine heavy machine gunner monitors a position along the international neutral corridor in Santo Domingo, 1965.
Foreign interventions by Cuba
From 1966 until the late 1980s, the Soviet government upgraded Cuba's military capabilities, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro saw to it that Cuba assisted with the independence struggles of several countries across the world, most notably Angola and Mozambique in southern Africa, and the anti-imperialist struggles of countries such as Syria, Algeria, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Vietnam. Its Angolan involvement was particularly intense and noteworthy with heavy assistance given to the Marxist–Leninist MPLA in the Angolan Civil War. Cuba sent 380,000 troops to Angola and 70,000 additional civilian technicians and volunteers. (The Cuban forces possessed 1,000 tanks, 600 armoured vehicles and 1,600 artillery pieces.)
Cuba's involvement in the Angolan Civil War began in the 1960s when relations were established with the leftist Movement for the Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA). The MPLA was one of three organizations struggling to gain Angola's independence from Portugal, the other two being UNITA and the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA). In August and October 1975, the South African Defence Force (SADF) intervened in Angola in support of the UNITA and FNLA. On 14 October 1975, the SADF commenced Operation Savannah in an effort to capture Luanda from the south. On 5 November 1975, without consulting Moscow, the Cuban government opted for direct intervention with combat troops (Operation Carlota) in support of the MPLA and the combined MPLA-Cuban armies managed to stop the South African advance by 26 November.
During the Ogaden War (1977–78) in which Somalia attempted to invade an Ethiopia affected by civil war, Cuba deployed 18,000 troops along with armoured vehicles, artillery, T-62 tanks, and MiGs to assist the Derg. Ethiopia and Cuba defeated Somalia on 9 March 1978.
In 1987–88, South Africa again sent military forces to Angola to stop an advance of MPLA forces (FAPLA) against UNITA, leading to the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, where the SADF was unable to defeat the FAPLA and Cuban forces. Cuba also directly participated in the negotiations between Angola and South Africa, again without consulting Moscow. Within two years, the Cold War was over and Cuba's foreign policy shifted away from military intervention.
Caribbean Countries and territories articles: 73
Geography and geology
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.
The region sits in the line of several major shipping routes with the Panama Canal connecting the western Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean.
Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)
- Hispaniola, politically divided between:
Puerto Rico (United States)
- Leeward Islands
United States Virgin Islands (United States)
British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
Anguilla (United Kingdom)
Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Martin, politically divided between
Saba (Caribbean Netherlands, Netherlands)
Sint Eustatius (Caribbean Netherlands, Netherlands)
Saint Barthélemy (French Antilles, France)
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Montserrat (United Kingdom)
Guadeloupe (French Antilles, France) including
- Windward Islands
Trinidad and Tobago
- Leeward Antilles
- British West Indies/Anglophone Caribbean – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bay Islands, Guyana, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Croix (briefly), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago (from 1797) and the Turks and Caicos Islands
- Danish West Indies – Possession of Denmark-Norway before 1814, then Denmark, present-day United States Virgin Islands
- Dutch West Indies – Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Bay Islands (briefly), Saint Croix (briefly), Tobago, Surinam and Virgin Islands
- French West Indies – Anguilla (briefly), Antigua and Barbuda (briefly), Dominica, Dominican Republic (briefly), Grenada, Haiti (formerly Saint-Domingue), Montserrat (briefly), Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius (briefly), Sint Maarten, Saint Kitts (briefly), Tobago (briefly), Saint Croix, the current French overseas départements of French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe (including Marie-Galante, La Désirade and Les Saintes), the current French overseas collectivities of Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin
- Portuguese West Indies – present-day Barbados, known as Os Barbados in the 16th century when the Portuguese claimed the island en route to Brazil. The Portuguese left Barbados abandoned years before the British arrived.
- Spanish West Indies – Cuba, Hispaniola (present-day Dominican Republic, Haiti (until 1659, lost to France)), Puerto Rico, Jamaica (until 1655, lost to Great Britain), the Cayman Islands (until 1670 to Great Britain) Trinidad (until 1797, lost to Great Britain) and Bay Islands (until 1643, lost to Great Britain), coastal islands of Central America (except Belize), and some Caribbean coastal islands of Panama, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela.
- Swedish West Indies – present-day French Saint-Barthélemy, Guadeloupe (briefly) and Tobago (briefly).
- Courlander West Indies – Tobago (until 1691)
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.
Continental countries with Caribbean coastlines and islands