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An archipelago, 4,020 kilometres (2,500 mi) in length, and up to 257 kilometres (160 mi) wide; region contains more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays 25.5 million[1] African, Native American (Arawak, Caribs, Taino), White (Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Dutch), Asian (Chinese, Indian) West Indian, Caribbean 13 sovereign states; also, 2 overseas departments and 14 dependent territories, tied to the European Union or to the United States Multiple Multiple

Population (2000) Ethnic groups Demonym Government

Internet TLD Calling code

The Caribbean (pronounced /ˌkærɨˈbiːən/ or /kəˈrɪbiən/;[2] Dutch Caraïben ; French: Caraïbe or more commonly Antilles; Spanish: Caribe) is a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (most of which enclose the sea), and the surrounding coasts. The region is located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and Northern America, east of Central America, and to the north of South America. Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. These islands, called the West Indies, generally form island arcs that delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea.[3] These islands are called the West Indies because when Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492 he believed that he had reached the Indies (in Asia). The region consists of the Antilles, divided into the larger Greater Antilles which bound the sea on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the south and east (including the Leeward Antilles), and the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are in fact in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba, not in the Caribbean Sea. Geopolitically, the West Indies are usually reckoned as a subregion of Central America[4][5][6][7] and are organised into 27 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. At one time, there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then UK dependencies. The region takes its name from that of the Carib, an ethnic group present in the Lesser Antilles and parts of adjacent South America at the time of European contact.[8] In the English-speaking world, someone from the Caribbean is usually referred to as a "West Indian," although the phrase "Caribbean person" is sometimes used.

Central America and 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 slavery, colonialization and the plantation system • Physiographically, the Caribbean region is mainly a chain of islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. To the north is the Caribbean Sea bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, and the Northern Atlantic Ocean which lies to the East and Northeast;

Detail of tectonic plates from: Tectonic plates of the world


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the coastline of the continent of South America lies to the south. • Politically, "Caribbean" may be centered around socio-economic groupings found in the region. For example the bloc known as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) contains both the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Suriname found in South America, along with Belize in Central America as full members. Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands which are found in the Atlantic Ocean are Associate members of the Caribbean Community, and the same goes for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas which is a full member of the Caribbean Community.’ • Alternately the organisation known as the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) consists of almost every nation in the surrounding regions which lie on the Caribbean Sea plus El Salvador which lies solely on the Pacific Ocean. According to the ACS the total population of its member states is some 227 million people.[9].


Puerto Cruz beach in Margarita Island , Venezuela The majority of the Caribbean has populations of mainly African ancestry. In the French Caribbean, Anglophone Caribbean and Dutch Caribbean, there are minorities of mixed-race and European people of French, English, Dutch and Portuguese ancestry. Asian, especially those of Chinese and Indian descent, form a significant minority in the region and also contribute to multiracial communities. Many of their ancestors arrived in the 19th century as indentured laborers. The Spanish-speaking Caribbean have primarily Mulatto, African, or European majorities. The Dominican Republic has a Mulatto majority; Cuba and Puerto Rico have a European majority, and are primarily descended from West Africans, Native Americans, and Spaniards. Trinidad and Tobago has a multi-racial cosmopolitan society due to the arrival of the Africans, Indians, Chinese, Syrians, Lebanese and Europeans.


Geography and climate
A street in Barbados The population of the Caribbean is estimated to have been around 750,000 immediately before European contact, although lower and higher figures are given. After contact, war and disease led to a decline in the Native American population.[10][11] From 1500 to 1800 the population rose as slaves arrived from West Africa,[12] such as the Kongo, Igbo, Yoruba and Akan, and immigrants from Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark, although the mortality rate was high for both groups.[13] The population is estimated to have reached 2.2 million by 1800.[14] Immigrants from India, China, and other countries arrived in the 19th century.[15] After the ending of the Atlantic slave trade, the population increased naturally.[16] The total regional population was estimated at 37.5 million by 2000.[1]

San Juan, Puerto Rico The geography and climate in the Caribbean region varies from one place to another. Some islands in the region have relatively flat terrain of non-volcanic origin. Such islands include Aruba (possessing only minor volcanic features), Barbados, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands or


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Cuba and Haiti, and the Cuban crocodile. The hotspot is also remarkable for the decimation of its fauna.

Saona Island, Dominican Republic

Historical groupings

Ile a Vache, Haiti Antigua. Others possess rugged towering mountainranges like the islands of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad & Tobago. The climate of the region is tropical but rainfall varies with elevation, size and water currents (cool upwellings keep the ABC islands arid). Warm, moist tradewinds blow consistently from the east creating rainforest/semidesert divisions on mountainous islands. Occasional northwesterlies affect the northern islands in the winter. Winters are warm, but drier. 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.[17] Hurricanes, which at times batter the region, usually strike northwards of Grenada, and to the west of Barbados. The principal hurricane belt arcs to northwest of the island of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean. The region sits in the line of several major shipping routes with the man-made Panama Canal connecting the western Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean.

Political Evolution of Central America and the Caribbean from 1700 to present All islands at some point were, and a few still are, colonies of European nations; a few are overseas or dependent territories: • – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bay Islands, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Croix (briefly), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago (from 1797) and the Turks and Caicos Islands • – present-day United States Virgin Islands • – present-day Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, Virgin Islands, Saint Croix (briefly), Tobago and Bay Islands (briefly) • – Anguilla (briefly), Antigua and Barbuda (briefly), Dominica, Dominican Republic (briefly), Grenada, Haiti, Montserrat (briefly), Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius (briefly), St Kitts (briefly), Tobago (briefly), Saint Croix, the current French overseas départements of Martinique and Guadeloupe (including Marie-Galante, La Désirade and Les Saintes), and the current French overseas collectivities of Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin. • – present-day Barbados, known as Os Barbados in the 1500s when the Portuguese claimed the island en route to Brazil. The Portuguese left Barbados abandoned in 1533, nearly a century prior to the British arrival to the island. • – Cuba, Hispaniola (present-day Dominican Republic, and until 1609, Haiti), Puerto Rico, Jamaica (until 1655),

The Caribbean islands are classified as one of Conservation International’s biodiversity hotspots because they support exceptionally diverse ecosystems, ranging from montane cloud forests to cactus scrublands. These ecosystems have been devastated by deforestation and human encroachment. The arrival of the first humans is correlated with extinction of giant owls and dwarf ground sloths.[18] The hotspot contains dozens of highly threatened species, ranging from birds, to mammals and reptiles. Popular examples include the Puerto Rican Amazon, two species of solenodon (giant shrews) in


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the Cayman Islands, Trinidad (until 1797) and Bay Islands (until 1643) • – present-day French Saint-Barthélemy and Guadeloupe (briefly). • – Tobago (until 1691) • • • • • • • • •


• (shares the Grenadines group with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) Guadeloupe • (overseas department of France)

The mostly Spanish-controlled Caribbean in the sixteenth century 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 and One Day Internationals. The West Indian cricket team includes the South American nation of Guyana, the only former British colony on 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.

• • • • • •

Martinique • (overseas department of France) • (British overseas territory) Navassa Island • (minor outlying island of the US; also claimed by Haiti) • (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) • (commonwealth of the United States) Saint Barthélemy • (overseas collectivity of France; also Saint Barts)

• •

Saint Martin • (overseas collectivity of France; shared with the Kingdom of the Netherlands) • (shares the Grenadines group with Grenada) Sint Maarten • (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; shared with the overseas collectivity Saint-Martin of France) • (British overseas territory) • (unincorporated, organized territory of the United States)

• • •

Modern day island territories

Continental countries with Caribbean coastlines and islands
• • Ambergris Caye • Belize City • Big Creek • Caye Caulker • Glover’s Reef • Hicks Cays • Lighthouse Reef • South Water Caye • Turneffe Islands • Archipelago of San Andres and Providencia • • Quintana Roo • Cancún • Chetumal • Isla Contoy • Isla Cozumel • Isla Mujeres • Cozumel • Corn Islands • Cayos Miskitos • Pearl Cays • San Blas Islands (comprising more than 1300 islands) • Bocas del Toro (archipelago with

Islands in and near the Caribbean See also: Caribbean South America and Caribbean basin • • (British overseas territory) • • • (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) • • • • (British overseas territory) • • (British overseas territory) •





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• • • • Barranquilla Cartagena Riohacha Santa Marta approximately 300 islands) • • • • • •

has contributed to attempts to subdue current problems and avoid projected problems. From a political economic perspective, regionalism serves to make Caribbean states active participants in current international affairs through collective coalitions. In 1973, the first political regionalism in the Caribbean Basin was created by advances of the English-speaking Caribbean nations through the institution known as the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM).[20] Certain scholars have argued both for and against generalizing the political structures of the Caribbean. On the one hand the Caribbean states are politically diverse, ranging from communist systems such as Cuba toward more capitalist Westminster-style parliamentary systems as in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Other scholars argue that these differences are superficial, and that they tend to undermine commonalities in the various Caribbean states. Contemporary Caribbean systems seem to reflect a “blending of traditional and modern patterns, yielding hybrid systems that exhibit significant structural variations and divergent constitutional traditions yet ultimately appear to function in similar ways.”[21] The political systems of the Caribbean states share similar practices. The influence of regionalism in the Caribbean is often marginalized. Some scholars believe that regionalism cannot not exist in the Caribbean because each small state is unique. On the other hand, scholars also suggest that there are commonalities amongst the Caribbean nations that suggest regionalism exists. “Proximity as well as historical ties among the Caribbean nations has led to cooperation as well as a desire for collective action.”[22] These attempts at regionalization reflect the nations’ desires to compete in the international economic system.[22] Furthermore, a lack of interest from other major states promoted regionalism in the region. In recent years the Caribbean has suffered from a lack of U.S. interest. “With the end of the Cold War, U.S. security and economic interests have been focused on other areas. As a result there has been a significant reduction in U.S. aid and investment to the Caribbean.”[23] The lack of international support for these small, relatively poor states, helped regionalism prosper. Following the Cold War another issue of importance in the Caribbean has been the reduced economic growth of some Caribbean States due to the United States and European Union’s allegations of special treatment toward the region by each other.

Isla Margarita Coche Island Cubagua Island Los Monjes • Ankoko Island Archipelago • Hog Island, • Las Aves Archipelago Guyana • Isla Aves • Leguan Island • Los Hermanos • Wakenaam Archipelago • • Guanaja • Islas Los Frailes • Roatán • Los Roques • Útila Archipelago • Cayos Cochinos • La Sola Island • Swan Islands • La Tortuga Island • La Orchila • Blanquilla Island • Los Testigos Islands • Isla de Patos The nations of Belize and Guyana, although on the mainland of Central America and South America respectively, are former British colonies and maintain many cultural ties to the Caribbean. They are members of CARICOM. Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, often referred to as the Mosquito Coast, was also a former British colony. It maintains many cultural ties to the Caribbean as distinct from the Pacific coast. Guyana participates in West Indies cricket tournaments and many players from Guyana have been on the West Indies Test cricket team. The Turneffe Islands (and many other islands and reefs) are part of Belize and lie in the Caribbean Sea. The nation of Suriname, on the mainland of South America, is a former Dutch colony and also a member of CARICOM. • • • •

Indigenous tribes
• • • • • • • • • • Arawak Kalinago Ciboney Galibi Garifuna Igneri Lucayan Taino Ciguayo Macorix

Caribbean societies are very different from other western societies in terms of size, culture, and degree of mobility of their citizens.[19] The current economic and political problems which the states face individually are common to all Caribbean states. Regional development

United States effects on regionalism
The United States under President Bill Clinton launched a challenge in the World Trade Organization against the EU, over Europe’s preferential program, known as the Lomé Convention, which allowed banana exports from


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the former colonies of the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) to enter Europe cheaply.[24] The World Trade Organization sided in the United States’ favour and the beneficial elements of the convention to African, Caribbean and Pacific states has been partially dismantled and replaced by the Cotonou Agreement.[25] During the US/EU dispute the United States imposed large tariffs on European Union goods (up to 100% on some imports) from the EU in order to pressure Europe to change the agreement with the Caribbean nations in favour of the Cotonou Agreement.[26] Farmers in the Caribbean have complained of their falling profits and rising costs. Some farmers have faced increased pressure to turn towards the cultivation of illegal-drugs which has a higher profit margin and fills the sizable demand for illegal drugs in other parts of North America and Europe.[27][28]

• Association of Caribbean States (ACS), Trinidad and Tobago • Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Saint Lucia • Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Barbados • Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), Barbados • Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Barbados and Jamaica • Caribbean Programme for Economic Competitiveness (CPEC), Saint Lucia • Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Barbados • Inter-American Economic Council (IAEC), Washington, D.C. • Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), Brazil and Uruguay • United Nations - Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Chile and Trinidad and Tobago • Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC), Trinidad and Tobago[29] • Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations (CANTO), Trinidad and Tobago[30] • Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), Saint Lucia[31] • Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), Puerto Rico[32] • Caribbean Regional Environmental Programme (CREP), Barbados[33] • Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Belize[34] • Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), Barbados and Dominican Republic[35] • Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Trinidad and Tobago[36] • West Indies Cricket Board, Antigua and Barbuda[37] • University of the West Indies, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago[38] • Caribbean Educators Network, [39]

European Union effects on regionalism
The European Union has taken issue of US based taxation extended to US companies via the Caribbean countries as well. The EU instituted a broad labeling of many nations as Tax havens by the France-based OECD the United States has not been in favour of shutting off the practice yet, mainly due to the higher costs that would be passed on to US companies via taxation. Caribbean countries have largely countered the allegations of the OECD by signing more bilateral information sharing deals with OECD members, thus reducing the dangerous aspects of secrecy and they have strengthened their legislation against Money Laundering and on the conditions under which companies can be based in their nations. The Caribbean nations also have started to more closely cooperate in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and other instruments to add oversight of the offshore industry. One of the most important associations that deal with regionalism amongst the nations of the Caribbean Basin has been the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). Proposed by CARICOM in 1992, the ACS soon won the support of the other countries of the region. It was founded in July 1994. The ACS maintains regionalism within the Caribbean on issues which are unique to the Caribbean Basin. Through coalition building, like the ACS and CARICOM, regionalism has become an undeniable part of the politics and economics of the Caribbean. The successes of region-building initiatives are still debated by scholars, yet regionalism remains prevalent throughout the Caribbean.

See also
African diaspora Americas (terminology) British Afro-Caribbean community Caribbean English CONCACAF Council on Hemispheric Affairs History of the Caribbean Indo-Caribbean Islands of the Caribbean Latin American and Caribbean Congress in Solidarity with Puerto Rico’s Independence • List of Caribbean-related topics • List of Indigenous Names of Eastern Caribbean Islands • • • • • • • • • •

Regional institutions
Here are some of the bodies that several islands share in collaboration: • Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Guyana


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• • • • • • • • Middle America (Americas) Mountain peaks of the Caribbean Music of the Caribbean Piracy in the Caribbean Politics of the Caribbean Tongue of the Ocean Tourism in Caribbean West Indies Federation

[12] The Sugar Revolutions and Slavery, U.S. Library of Congress [13] pp. 488–492, Engerman. [14] Figure 11.1, Engerman. [15] pp. 501–502, Engerman. [16] pp. 504, 511, Engerman. [17] Uri ten Brink. "Puerto Rico Trench 2003: Cruise Summary Results". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. explorations/03trench/welcome.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-21. [18] North American Extinctions v. World [19] Gowricharn, Ruben. Caribbean Transnationalism: Migraton, Pluralization, and Social Cohesion, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006. pp. 5 [20] Hillman, Richard S., and Thomas J. D’agostino, eds. Understanding the Contemporary Caribbean, London: Lynne Rienner, 2003. pp. 150 [21] Hillman, Richard S., and Thomas J. D’agostino, eds. Understanding the Contemporary Caribbean, London: Lynne Rienner, 2003. pp. 165 [22] ^ Serbin, Andres. "Towards an Association of Caribbean States: Raising Some Awkward Questions", Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (2004): pp. 1 [23] Hillman, Richard S., and Thomas J. D’agostino, eds. Understanding the Contemporary Caribbean, London: Lynne Rienner, 2003. pp. 123 [24] The U.S.-EU Banana Agreement See also: "Dominica: Poverty and Potential". BBC. caribbean/news/story/2008/05/ 080516_sanders190508.shtml. Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [25] WTO rules against EU banana import practices [26] No truce in banana war [27] World: Americas St Vincent hit by banana war [28] Concern for Caribbean farmers [29] CAIC [30] "CANTO Caribbean portal". Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [31] "Carilec". Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [32] [33] "Caribbean Regional Environmental Programme". Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [34] "Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism". Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [35] "Official website of the RNM". Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [36] [37] ":West Indies Cricket Board WICB Official Website". Retrieved on 2008-12-06. [38] "University of the West Indies". Retrieved on 2008-12-06.

^ Table A.2, Database documentation, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Population Database, version 3, International Center for Tropical Agriculture et al., 2005. Accessed on line February 20, 2008. [2] Both pronunciations are equally valid; indeed, they see equal use even within areas of the Caribbean itself. Cf. Royal Caribbean, which stresses the second syllable, and Pirates of the Caribbean, which stresses the first and third. In each case, as a proper noun, those who would normally pronounce it a different way use the pronunciation associated with the noun when referring to it. More generic nouns such as the Caribbean Community are generally referred to using the speaker’s preferred pronunciation. [3] Asann, Ridvan (2007). A Brief History of the Caribbean (Revised ed.). New York: Facts on File, Inc.. pp. p. 3. ISBN 0816038112. [4] Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49), United Nations Statistics Division [5] North America AtlasNational Geographic [6] "North America" Atlas of Canada [7] "North America". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia; "... associated with the continent is Greenland, the largest island in the world, and such offshore groups as the Arctic Archipelago, the Bahamas, the Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the Aleutian Islands." [8] "Carib". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2008-07-11. 5ZDatLUlv. Retrieved on 2008-02-20. "inhabited the Lesser Antilles and parts of the neighbouring South American coast at the time of the Spanish conquest." [9] BACKGROUND OF THE BUSINESS FORUM OF THE GREATER CARIBBEAN OF THE ASSOCIATION OF CARIBBEAN STATES (ACS) [10] p. 486, A Population History of the Caribbean, Stanley L. Engerman, pp. 483–528 in A Population History of North America, edited by Michael R. Haines and Richard Hall Steckel, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0521496667. [11] Stacy Goodling, "Effects of European Diseases on the Inhabitants of the New World", Millersville University [1]


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[39] "Caribbean Educators Network". CEN. Retrieved on 2008-12-06.

• Langley, Lester D. The United States and the Caribbean in the Twentieth Century. London: University of Georgia P, 1989. • Maingot, Anthony P. The United States and the Caribbean: Challenges of an Asymmetrical Relationship. Westview P, 1994. • Ramnarine, Tina K., "Beautiful Cosmos: Performance and Belonging in the Caribbean Diaspora". London, Pluto Press, 2007 • Serbin, Andres. "Towards an Association of Caribbean States: Raising Some Awkward Questions." Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (2004): 1-19. (This scholar has many articles referencing the politics of the Caribbean)

Further reading
• de Kadt, Emanuel, (editor). Patterns of foreign influence in the Caribbean, Oxford University Press, 1972 • Develtere, Patrick. 1994. "Co-operation and development: With special reference to the experience of the Commonwealth Caribbean" ACCO, ISBN 9033431815 • Gowricharn, Ruben. Caribbean Transnationalism: Migraton, Pluralization, and Social Cohesion. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006. • Henke, Holger, and Fred Reno, eds. Modern Political Culture in the Caribbean. Kingston: University of West Indies P, 2003. • Heuman, Gad. The Caribbean: Brief Histories. London: A Hodder Arnold Publication, 2006 • Hillman, Richard S., and Thomas J. D’agostino, eds. Understanding the Contemporary Caribbean. London: Lynne Rienner, 2003. • Knight, Franklin W.. The Modern Caribbean. na: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989. • Kurlansky, Mark. 1992. A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny. Addison-Wesley Publishing. ISBN 0201523965

External links
Official Caribbean Guide The Caribbean Photo Archive Wikitravel - The Caribbean Digital Library of the Caribbean Eastern Caribbean Islands Caribbean Lifestyle and Diving Federal Research Division of the U.S. Library of Congress: Caribbean Islands (1987) Coordinates: 14°31′32″N 75°49′06″W / 14.52556°N 75.81833°W / 14.52556; -75.81833 • • • • • • •

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