Caribbean Islands – West Indies

West | Indian Islands, West | India , Caribbean Islands, the island world of Central America, which stretches in a loose 4,000 km arc between the continents of North and South America and separates the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic. The West Indies cover 221 993 km 2 with (2013) 42.2 million inhabitants.

Be divided, the West Indies into three groups: Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, and Bahama Islands ( Bahamas ). According to countryaah, the Greater Antilles comprise the islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, which are essentially arranged in a west-east direction. In the Lesser Antilles, the leeward islands stretching in a north-east convex arc (from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad ; 800 km) are replaced by the leeward islands stretching west-east off the Venezuelan coast (from Arubaup to the Islas Los Testigos). In English usage, the northern group of the Leeward Islands, from the Virgin Islands to Marie-Galante, is called Leeward Islands, the southern group, from Dominica to Grenada, Windward Islands ( Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are not included).

Structure: The mountains in the Antilles are predominantly broken fold mountains that continue the North and South American Cordillera into the island world. The chain of Leeward Islands, from Saba to Grenada, consists of an inner arc of volcanic islands; the outer arch, from Anguilla to Barbados, consists of low slabs of limestone. Large parts of the plains of Cuba, v. a. but the Bahama Islands are also made up of limestone.

Climate: Common to all West Indies is their location in the marginal tropics dominated by the northeast trade winds. The trade wind brings humid-labile air masses from the Atlantic. The entire island world is therefore more or less humid, with the exception of the arid leeward islands off the South American coast. The individual differences in humidity are determined by the relief (height, windward or leeward). With an even annual temperature change (with an amplitude of the monthly mean of 6 ° C on the Bahama Islands and 2 ° C on the Leeward Islands), the mean annual temperature at sea level is anywhere between 24 ° C and 27 ° C. All islands except Trinidad and the Leeward Islands get into the precipitation field of tropical cyclones between June and November (Hurricanes ).

Plant world: According to the gradation of the climates from aridity to full humidity, there is often a short distance changing sequence of climatic plant formations from thorn and succulent forest to rain-green dry forest and rain-green damp forest to evergreen rainforest. This turns into evergreen mountain forest with increasing altitude. Above that, the evergreen cloud forest sets in. However, the natural vegetation has been severely decimated by human interference.

Population: The descendants of the African blacks and the mulattos, who were introduced as slaves for plantation work since the beginning of the 16th century, have the largest share of the population, v. a. in the former British and French areas of influence. Whites are most strongly represented in the former Spanish colonial area, which includes Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, about 72% of the area and about 63% of the population. After slavery was abolished, Asians and Arabs also immigrated.

West Indies: Climate
city Air temperature (in ° C) 1) Rainfall
January July mm 2)
Bridgetown 25.5 27.2 1 152
Havana 21.5 26.9 1 220
Nassau 21.0 27.9 1 386
Santo Domingo 24.8 27.6 1 165
1) Monthly mean.2) annual mean.

Prehistory, ancient Indian cultures: The long -established population, the West Indian Indians, have died out as independent cultural units; few are living in Dominica and Saint Vincent (Yellow Caribs, Caribbean ). At the time of discovery by Christopher Columbus, their number was estimated at 250 000. At that time lived on the Bahama Islands and the Greater Antilles to the Aruak counting Taino. The Tagetsa (Makorí, Ciboney) and Guanahatabey, fishermen and gatherers whose ancestors around 3000 BC BC the West Indies from South America first colonized and later even advanced to Florida. The Aruak-speaking Eyerí originally settled in the Lesser Antilles; even before the arrival of the Spaniards, however, they were almost completely wiped out by the invaded Kali’na (coastal Caribs) from Venezuela. Only the language of the Eyerí has ​​survived in the Black Carib idiom.

History: In 1492 Columbus discovered the Antilles on his supposed voyage west to India (hence the name West Indies); first Spanish branches emerged on Hispaniola 1494–96. After the conquest of Mexico and Peru, the Spaniards migrated there from the Antilles. In the 17th century the Dutch, French and British invaded, initially as privateers ( Flibustier ); The Dutch West India Company was founded in 1621 and the French West India Company was founded in 1664. The English took possession of Barbados in 1652, Jamaica in 1655/60, the Bahama Islands in 1718 and Trinidad in 1797, the French in 1635 Guadeloupe, Martiniqueand the western half of Hispaniola (permanently in 1697; they received the east in 1795), the Dutch in 1634 Curaçao, the Danes in 1672 Saint Thomas. In 1763 France ceded Dominica, Saint Vincent, Grenada, 1814 Saint Lucia and finally Tobago to Great Britain. In 1804 Haiti gained independence.

Under President F. D. Roosevelt, the United States moved from the policy of intervening in Central America and the West Indies (1898 in Cuba, 1915 in the Republic of Haiti, 1916 in the Dominican Republic ) to the “policy of good neighbors”. Thanks to their economic and military strength, however, their supremacy was preserved. In treaties with Great Britain, the USA has been able to expand its military base system since 1941. In 1952 Puerto Rico received the status of a state associated with the United States. The transformation of Cuba into a communist state (since 1959) and the Soviet attempt to station long-range missiles there led to a global political crisis ( Cuban Crisis ) in 1962.

In 1958 the British territories (Barbados, Windward Islands and Leeward Islands, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago) merged to form the West Indian Federation. It broke up in 1961 when Jamaica left, as did Trinidad and Tobago, which became independent in 1962. In 1966 Barbados gained independence. In 1967 the West Indian Associated States came into being. The Bahamas became independent in 1973, Grenada in 1974, and Saint Kitts and Nevis in September 1983. British colonies remained Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat. The French possessions of Martinique and Guadeloupe were declared French overseas departments in 1946, which are on an equal footing with the (former) metropolitan area. The Netherlands Antilles have enjoyed autonomy within the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1954. The political dominance of the USA has been confirmed again and again in the past decades by military actions (1965 in the Dominican Republic, 1983 in Grenada). US soldiers were also mostly involved in the multinational reaction force in Haiti. ( Latin America ) – Up to the present day, the small island states have repeatedly been restructured through splits and association agreements. One overarching organization is the Caribbean Community.

Caribbean Islands

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