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The West Indies
West Indies
or the Caribbean
Caribbean
Basin is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean
Ocean
in the Caribbean
Caribbean
that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagoes: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles
Lesser Antilles
and the Lucayan Archipelago.[1] The region is known as the area running from Florida
Florida
westward along the Gulf Coast, and then south along the Mexican coast through Central America and then eastward across the northern coast of South America. Bermuda
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.[citation needed] Indigenous peoples were the first inhabitants of the West Indies. In 1492, Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
became the first European to arrive at the islands, where he is believed by historians to have first stepped foot on land in the Bahamas. After the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas, Europeans began to use the term West Indies to distinguish the region from the East Indies
East Indies
of South Asia
South Asia
and Southeast Asia.[citation needed]

Contents

1 History 2 Use of the term 3 Countries and territories by archipelago

3.1 Greater Antilles 3.2 Lesser Antilles 3.3 Lucayan Archipelago

4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading

History[edit] Main article: History of the Caribbean

Caribbean
Caribbean
Basin countries

In the late sixteenth century, French, English and Dutch merchants and privateers began their operations in the Caribbean
Caribbean
Sea, attacking Spanish and Portuguese shipping and coastal areas. They often took refuge and refitted their ships in the areas the Spanish could not conquer, including the islands of the Lesser Antilles, the northern coast of South America
South America
including the mouth of the Orinoco, and the Atlantic Coast of Central America. In the Lesser Antilles
Lesser Antilles
they managed to establish a foothold following the colonization of St Kitts
St Kitts
in 1624 and Barbados
Barbados
in 1626, and when the Sugar Revolution took off in the mid-seventeenth century, they brought in thousands of Africans to work the fields and mills as slave laborers. These Africans wrought a demographic revolution, replacing or joining with either the indigenous Caribs or the European settlers who were there as indentured servants. The struggle between the northern Europeans and the Spanish spread southward in the mid to late seventeenth century, as English, Dutch, French and Spanish colonists, and in many cases their slaves from Africa
Africa
first entered and then occupied the coast of The Guianas
The Guianas
(which fell to the French, English and Dutch) and the Orinoco valley, which fell to the Spanish. The Dutch, allied with the Caribs of the Orinoco would eventually carry the struggles deep into South America, first along the Orinoco and then along the northern reaches of the Amazon. Since no European country had occupied much of Central America, gradually the English of Jamaica
Jamaica
established alliances with the Miskito Kingdom of modern-day Nicaragua
Nicaragua
and Honduras, and then began logging on the coast of modern-day Belize. These interconnected commercial and diplomatic relations made up the Western Caribbean
Caribbean
Zone which was in place in the early eighteenth century. In the Miskito Kingdom, the rise to power of the Miskito-Zambos, who originated in the survivors of a rebellion aboard a slave ship in the 1640s and the introduction of African slaves by British settlers within the Miskito area and in Belize
Belize
British Honduras
Honduras
also transformed this area into one with a high percentage of persons of African descent as was found in most of the rest of the Caribbean. From the 17th through the 19th century, the European colonial territories of the West Indies
West Indies
were the French West Indies, British West Indies, the Danish West Indies, the Netherlands Antilles
Netherlands Antilles
(Dutch West Indies), and the Spanish West Indies. In 1916, Denmark
Denmark
sold the Danish West Indies
Danish West Indies
to the United States[2] for US$25 million in gold, per the Treaty of the Danish West Indies. The Danish West Indies
Danish West Indies
became an insular area of the US, called the United States
United States
Virgin Islands. Between 1958 and 1962, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
re-organised all their West Indies island territories (except the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
and the Bahamas) into the West Indies
West Indies
Federation. They hoped that the Federation would coalesce into a single, independent nation. However, the Federation had limited powers, numerous practical problems, and a lack of popular support; consequently, it was dissolved by the British in 1963, with nine provinces becoming independent sovereign states and four becoming British Overseas Territories. West Indies
West Indies
or West India was the namesake of several companies of the 17th and 18th centuries, including the Danish West India Company, the Dutch West India Company, the French West India Company, and the Swedish West India Company.[3] West Indian is the official term used by the U.S. government to refer to people of the West Indies[4] Use of the term[edit]

The West Indies
West Indies
in relation to continental America.

Tulane University professor Rosanne Adderly says:

[T]he phrase "West Indies" distinguished the territories encountered by Columbus or and claimed by Spain from discovery claims by other powers in [Asia's] "East Indies". … The term "West Indies" was eventually used by all European nations to describe their own acquired territories in the Americas. … considering British Caribbean colonies collectively as the "West Indies" had its greatest political importance in the 1950s with the movement to create a federation of those colonies that could ultimately become an independent nation... Despite the collapse of the Federation [in the early 1960s]… the West Indies
West Indies
continues to field a joint cricket team for international competition.[5]

The West Indies cricket team
West Indies cricket team
includes participants from Guyana, which is geographically located in South America. Countries and territories by archipelago[edit] Greater Antilles[edit]

  Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands
(United Kingdom)  Cuba  Dominican Republic  Haiti  Jamaica   Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
(United States)

Lesser Antilles[edit]

  Anguilla
Anguilla
(United Kingdom)  Antigua and Barbuda   Aruba
Aruba
(Kingdom of the Netherlands)  Barbados   Bonaire
Bonaire
(Netherlands)   British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
(United Kingdom)   Curaçao
Curaçao
(Kingdom of the Netherlands)  Dominica  Grenada   Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
(France)   Martinique
Martinique
(France)   Montserrat
Montserrat
(United Kingdom)   Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
(Venezuela)   Saba
Saba
(Netherlands)   Saint Barthélemy
Saint Barthélemy
(France)  Saint Kitts and Nevis  Saint Lucia  Saint-Martin (France)  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines   Sint Eustatius
Sint Eustatius
(Netherlands)   Sint Maarten
Sint Maarten
(Kingdom of the Netherlands)  Trinidad and Tobago   United States Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands
(United States)   Federal Dependencies of Venezuela
Federal Dependencies of Venezuela
(Venezuela)

Lucayan Archipelago[edit]

 Bahamas   Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
(United Kingdom)

See also[edit]

Geography portal

Caribbean
Caribbean
Basin Initiative Caribbean
Caribbean
Basin Trade Partnership Act History of the Caribbean History of the British West Indies Spanish colonization of the Americas West Indian

References[edit]

^ Caldecott, Alfred (1898). The Church in the West Indies. London: Frank Cass and Co.
Frank Cass and Co.
p. 11. Retrieved 12 December 2013.  ^ "Two telegrams about the sale - The Danish West-Indies". The Danish West-Indies. Retrieved 2017-10-13.  ^ Garrison, William L.; Levinson, David M. (2014). The Transportation Experience: Policy, Planning, and Deployment. OUP USA. ISBN 9780199862719.  ^ "Info Please U.S. Social Statistics". Retrieved 1 October 2015.  ^ Rosanne Adderly, "West Indies", in Encyclopedia of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean
Caribbean
Cultures, Volume 1: A-D (London and New York: Routledge, 2000): 1584.

Further reading[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Subdivisions of the Caribbean.

Cromwell, Jesse. "More than Slaves and Sugar: Recent Historiography of the Trans-imperial Caribbean
Caribbean
and Its Sinew Populations." History Compass (2014) 12#10 pp 770–783. Higman, Barry W. A Concise History of the Caribbean. (2011) Martin, Tony, Caribbean
Caribbean
History: From Pre-colonial Origins to the Present (2011)

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 246535206 LCCN: sh85146187 GND: 4079228-6 NDL: 00568542

Coordinates: 21°59′00″N 79°02′00″W / 21.9833°N 79.0333°W /

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