There are over 700 Caribbean Islands consisting of 5 groups. They are The Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles, Leeward and Windward Islands and The Leeward Antilles. Located in the Caribbean sea and plate the Caribbean island region is considered part of North America or the Americas. The islands in the Caribbean have a total population of 39,169,962 as of the 2009 consensus. The Largest Caribbean island is Cuba followed by the Dominican Republic. The largest cities are Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and Havana (Cuba).
Here is a Modern Map of the Caribbean Islands
Early Inhabitants Of The Caribbean Islands
The Arawakan speaking Tianos where the first inhabitants to meet Columbus. They were an agricultural people that lived in the rain forests of Jamaica, Cuba, and other parts of the Windward Islands. The other two main indigenous people where the Caribs (where we get the name Caribbean) a sea-fearing people of the forest wetlands and the Ciboney or Stone people.
Discovery by Columbus
In the early morning hours of Oct 12, 1492, land was spotted by a crew member of the ship The Pinta. We daylight broke Columbus and members of his crew went to shore not knowing if the natives were friendly or hostile. What they found were the very friendly inhabitants. Columbus wrote in his journal “I presented them with red caps and beads and they were delighted and became very attached to us.” The new land was claimed in the name of Spain and named it San Salvador meaning Holy Savior.
Early Caribbean Islands Map
In the 1640s The Island of St Kitts began cultivating sugar. With its rapid success, the plantations needed cheap labor that could withstand the brutal heat, thus the slave trade was born in the Caribbean. In 1630, an African slave could be purchased for around $10. In ten years the price was $30, and a century later $60-$75 still much cheaper than an indentured servant from Europe. The black population grew rapidly according to a census on the island of Nevis in 1678 The white population was 3849 the black 3521. In the early 18th century when sugar production was at its peak 80% of the island’s population where black. Following 13 years of battles against many European powers, Haiti was the first Caribbean nation to be officially freed in 1804. By 1889 Cuba was the last Caribbean island to abolish slavery.
In 1751 George Washington and his brother Lawrence stayed at the Bush house in Barbados to enjoy the warm air that they believed would aid in treating tuberculosis. In 1778 the first hotel was built on the island of Nevis. By the 19th century, travelers from around the world could choose the best Caribbean islands for their language and taste. The Dutch would visit Curacao
Americans preferred the Bahamas and Cuba. With the introduction of nonstop air travel in the 1960s, the Caribbean became a much more affordable destination and tourism grew rapidly. Multinational resort chains began arriving in the 1980s and by the middle of the decade, the Caribbean recorded 10 million annual visitors. As of the 2007 consensus, 17 million people visit the islands annually.
Pro Tip: For a good map of Caribbean islands visit goggle.com/maps
Most Visited Caribbean Islands
Trying to choose the best Caribbean island is difficult so why not choose from the top 5 most visited?
#1 Dominican Republic: 4,306,000 annual visitors. Visit the first European settlement in North America in Santa Domingo.
#2 Puerto Rico: 3,048,000 annual visitors. Spanish Forts await you in San Juan.
#3 Cuba: 2,688,000 annual visitors. 1950 American cars rule the Havana streets.
#4 Jamaica: 1,952,000 annual visitors. Visit the birth and resting place of Bob Marley.
#5 The Bahamas: 1,346,000. Paradise Island hosts the mega resort Atlantis.
I have received many requests as to what my favorite Caribbean spots are, so I will break it down into most requested categories. Believe me, with so many wonderful islands it’s very difficult to choose, but here we go.
Best All-inclusive Resorts
I’m a back-to-basics guy, so I like to interact with the staff. Also, location is everything, Put the two together and I come up with Club Med, Turks and Caicos. Still the warmest, calm, water I have ever experienced. Looking for a deserted sandy beach? No problem, they are virtually all around the island, truly the most beautiful sandy beaches I have ever seen.
When it comes to, beaches, food, nightlife, and part of the USA, I like the Virgin Islands. You are on an island in the Caribbean but still feel at home. Stunning beaches, nightlife and gourmet food. and if you fall in love with the island, no problem, you can stay if you are a US citizen. If you run out of things to do, you can visit the sister islands of the British Virgin Islands. More stunning islands, beaches, food and legendary bars.
Best Scuba Diving
With the 2nd largest coral reefs in the world, I would go with Belize hands down. Visiting this country on the Caribbean coast of Central America, you feel like you are exploring diving spots never seen before and quite possibly you are. Sit on the beach at sunset and you can see the most turquoise water I have ever seen. Resorts from one to three star are available, nothing fancy, but remember you are getting a Caribbean experience not found anymore.
I hope this article has been helpful. Stay tuned for more.