HOME
        TheInfoList






The Caribbean (/ˌkærɪˈbən, kəˈrɪbiən/, locally /ˈkærɪbiæn/;[4] Spanish: El Caribe; French: les Caraïbes; Haitian Creole: Karayib; Dutch: De Caraïben; Papiamento: Karibe) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea[5] and some bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean)[6] 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.

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:[7] the Greater Antilles on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the south and east (which includes the Leeward Antilles). They form the West Indies with the nearby Lucayan Archipelago (The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands), which are sometimes considered to be a part of the Caribbean despite not bordering the Caribbean Sea. On the mainland, Belize, Nicaragua, the Caribbean region of Colombia, Cozumel, the Yucatán Peninsula, Margarita Island, and The Guianas (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.[8]

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.[9] These weather changes will greatly change the economies of the islands, and especially the major industries of agricultural and tourism.[9]

The Caribbean was occupied by indigenous people since at least 3600 BC. When European colonization followed the arrival of Columbus, the population was quickly decimated by brutal labor 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[10][11] 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.[12] 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.

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.[13] The term was popularized by British cartographer Thomas Jefferys who used it in his The West-India Atlas (1773).[14]

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.[15] This is the older of the two pronunciations, but the stressed-second-syllable variant has been established for over 75 years.[16] 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),[17] but major American dictionaries and other sources list the stress on the third syllable as more common in American English too.[18][19][20][21] 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".[22]

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).[4][22]

Definition

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.

  • A Marine heavy machine gunner monitors a position along the international neutral corridor in Santo Domingo, 1965.

    A Marine heavy machine gunner monitors a position along the international neutral corridor in Santo Domingo, 1965.

  • A Soviet-made BTR-60 armored personnel carrier seized by US forces during Operation Urgent Fury (1983)

  • Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, Bell AH-1 Cobra and Bell OH-58 Kiowa helicopters on the deck of the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) off Haiti, 1994.

  • 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.[33][34] 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 armored 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 armored vehicles, artillery, T-62 tanks, and MiGs to assist the Derg. Ethiopia an

    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 armored vehicles, artillery, T-62 tanks, and MiGs to assist the Derg. Ethiopia and Cuba defeated Somalia on 9 March 1978.[35]

    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.

    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.[36]

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

    Island groups

    Lucayan Archipelago[b]

    • 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.[36]

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

      Lucayan Archipelago[b]

      • Greater Antilles

        •  Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)
        •  Cuba
        • Hispaniola, politically divided between:
          • Lesser Antilles

            • Leeward Islands
              •  United States Virgin Islands (U.S.)
              •  British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
              •  Anguilla (United Kingdom)
              •  Antigua and Barbuda
              • Saint Martin, politically divided between

                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.

                Continental countries with Caribbean coastlines and islands

                * Disputed territories administered by Colombia.

                Climate

                Tropical monsoon climate in San Andrés island, Caribbean, Colombia.
                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 northernmost 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 the 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.

                Dominican Republic: Latitude 18°N

                * Disputed territories administered by Colombia.

                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 northernmost 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 Caribbe

                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 northernmost 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 the 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.

                Dominican Republic: Latitude 18°N

                Aruba: Latitude 12°N

                Climate data for Oranjestad, Aruba (1981–2010, extremes 1951–2010)
                Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
                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,[38] (extremes)[39]

                Puerto Rico: Latitude 18°N

                Climate data for San Juan, Puerto Rico
                Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
                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)
                Climate data for San Juan, Puerto Rico
                Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
                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[40]

                Cuba: at Latitude 22°N

                Climate data for Havana
                Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
                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)
                Climate data for Havana
                Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
                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)
                Climate change could pose major risks to the islands in the Caribbean. The main environmental changes expected to affect the Caribbean are a rise in sea level, stronger hurricanes, longer dry seasons and shorter wet seasons.[43][44]

                As a result, climate change is expected to lead to changes in the economy, environment and population of the Caribbean.[45][46][47][48][49]
                A field in Pinar del Rio planted with Cuban tobacco
                Puerto Rico's south shore, from the mountains of Jayuya
                Grand Anse beach, St. George's, Grenada
                A church cemetery perched in the mountains of Guadeloupe
                A view of Nevis island from the southeastern peninsula of Saint Kitts
                Cayo de Agua, Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela
                Palancar Beach in Cozumel Island, Mexico
                Guanaja Island, Bay Islands, Honduras

                Biodiversity

                The Caribbean islands have some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. The animals, fungi, and plants 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 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[50] along with extensive seagrass meadows,[51] 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.[52] 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.[53] 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;[54] for Puerto Rico, the number is 789 species;[55] for the Dominican Republic, the number is 699 species;[56] for Trinidad and Tobago, the number is 407 species.[57]

                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.[58] 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 Hispaniola, and the Cuban crocodile.

                Saona Island, Dominican Republic

                The region's coral reefs, which contain about 70 species of hard corals and between 500 and 700 species of reef-associated fishes[59] have undergone rapid decline in ecosystem integrity in recent years, and are considered particularly vulnerable to global warming and ocean acidification.[60] 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.[61]

                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. Seawater was pumped into shallow ponds, producing coarse salt when the water evaporated.[62]

                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.[63]

                Plants and animals

                Demographics

                Indigenous peoples