The Caribbean or the West Indies is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. These islands curve southward from the bottom tip of Florida to the Northwest of Venezuela in South America. There are at least 7000 islands, islets, reefs and cayes in the region. They are organized into twenty-five territories including sovereign states, overseas departments and dependencies.
The name "West Indies" originates from Christopher Columbus' idea that he had landed in India when he had in fact reached the Americas. The Caribbean consists of the Greater and Lesser Antilles and is part of North America.
At one time there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of the English-speaking Caribbean islands of the region.
Most islands at some point were, or still are, colonies of European nations:
- British West Indies - Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos Islands
- Danish West Indies - present-day United States Virgin Islands
- Dutch West Indies - present-day Netherlands Antilles and Aruba
- French West Indies - the French overseas departements of Guadeloupe and Martinique
- Spain - Cuba, Hispaniola (present-day Dominican Republic and Haiti), Puerto Rico
The British West Indies, formerly united in the West Indies Federation, still make up a composite cricket team that successfully competes in test matches and one-day internationals. The West Indian cricket team also includes the South American nation of Guyana, a former British colony.
Present-day territories of the Caribbean
- Anguilla (British dependency)
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Aruba (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- British Virgin Islands (British dependency, shares the Virgin Islands with the U.S. Virgin Islands.)
- Cayman Islands (British dependency)
- Grenada (shares the Grenadines group with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)
- Guadeloupe (overseas department of France)
- Martinique (overseas department of France)
- Mexico is not a Caribbean country, but has some islands in the Caribbean sea:
- Montserrat (British dependency)
- Navassa Island (US insular area)
- Netherlands Antilles (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- Puerto Rico (commonwealth associated with US)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (shares the Grenadines group with Grenada)
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands (British dependency)
- U.S. Virgin Islands (territory of the USA, shares the Virgin Islands with the British Virgin Islands)
The nations of Belize and Guyana, although on the mainland of Central America and South America respectively, were former British colonies and maintain many cultural ties to the Caribbean and are members of CARICOM. The Turneffe islands (and many other islands and reefs) are part of Belize and lie in the Caribbean Sea.
- History of the Caribbean
- Caribbean Community and Common Market
- African diaspora
- British Afro-Caribbean community
- Music of the Caribbean
- Council on Hemispheric Affairs
- Politics of the Caribbeanda:Caribien