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What is the Caribbean?
You likely have heard of the Caribbean before. It often comes up when talking about tropical vacation destinations, hurricanes, or Disney pirates. But the Caribbean is much more. It is a region of remarkable biodiversity, with varied ecosystems on both land and sea. Equally diverse are the people, languages, and cultures of this region.
So what is the Caribbean? Where is it located, and what all does it encompass?
The Caribbean is a region that consists of the Caribbean Sea, many islands, and the surrounding coasts. On a map, you will find it southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America. Much of the Caribbean is located on the Caribbean tectonic plate, and the Caribbean islands are usually regarded as a subregion of North America.
There are more than 7,000 different Caribbean islands, islets, reefs and cays, but only about 2% of them are inhabited. Many of the Caribbean islands can be put into two larger groups – the Greater Antilles of the north, and the Lesser Antilles in the southeast. The Greater and Lesser Antilles, together with the Lucayan Archipelago, make up an island region sometimes called the West Indies.
Within the Caribbean, you will find 13 independent island countries (many of which are made up of more than one island).
These include Meanwhile,:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Dominican Republic
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Many other islands within the Caribbean are are overseas dependencies, territories, or departments of other countries. Some major ones include:
- Anguilla (Britain)
- Aruba (Netherlands)
- Bonaire (Netherlands)
- British Virgin Islands (Britain)
- Cayman Islands (Britain)
- Curaçao (Netherlands)
- Guadeloupe (France)
- Martinique (France)
- Montserrat (Britain)
- Puerto Rico (United States)
- Saba (Netherlands)
- Saint Barthélemy (France)
- Saint Martin (France)
- Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)
- Sint Maarten (Netherlands)
- Turks and Caicos Islands (Britain)
- US Virgin Islands (United States)
In addition, when looking at the Caribbean from a broader perspective, the following mainland countries are sometimes also included for their cultural and political ties:
- French Guiana (overseas department)
- 1 steel drum bands for hire
- 1.1 What is the Caribbean?
- 1.2 Location