The Caribbean, also known as the Caribbean Sea, is an island group off Central America that stretches over 4,000 kilometers and separates the Atlantic from the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Geographically, the Caribbean belongs to North America, and the archipelago encompasses 15 countries and 7 territories belonging to other countries. The Caribbean consists of over 7,000 islands, rocky outcrops and inserts – some are inhabited but many lack complete settlement. Many of the islands are of volcanic origin and consist of mountainous landscapes with active or inactive volcanoes. This applies to Haiti, Saint Lucia and Puerto Rico. Others, like the Bahamas, Aruba and the Cayman Islands, are flat coral islands. The underwater life of most of the islands consists of coral reefs, fish in all colors of the rainbow as well as small and large turtles.
Area: 239,681 km²
Population: 43.5 million
Largest countries in Caribbean (by population)
- Cuba – 11 million
- Haiti – 10 million
- Dominican Republic – 9.4 million
- Puerto Rico – 3.7 million
- Jamaica – 2.7 million
Map of All Countries in Caribbean
Alphabetical List of Caribbean Countries
How many countries in Caribbean? As of 2020, there are a total of 15 countries in Caribbean. See the following for full list of Caribbean countries in alphabetical order:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Cayman Islands
- Dominican Republic
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
History of the Caribbean
The history of the Caribbean islands changed abruptly in 1492 when a sailor named Christofer Columbus added to the Bahamas island of San Salvador in the belief that he had come to India. Thereafter, a tour of the region was started, which was later named the Caribbean. Although the first Spanish explorers did not stay very long in the various islands, this still meant the beginning of the great colonial adventure of the Europeans, as well as the extinction of the islands’ original population of Arawak, Carib and Taino Indians. In the 18th century, when most of the Caribbean islands had become European colonies, virtually all arable land was covered by sugar cane, coffee, tobacco and other exotic crops. Slaves from West Africa were introduced as labor, which resulted in over half of the Caribbean population today being black or mulatto.
In the early 1800’s, a wave of independence movements began to roll in over the Caribbean. Haiti was the first colony to have its own flag and government in 1804. Then followed the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and in the 20th century many new small states were formed. However, individual islands such as Martinique and the British Virgin Islands are still subject to a government on the other side of the Atlantic.
Traveling in the Caribbean
The wonderful nature can give the most refined Caribbean visitors cautious hopes of suffering shipwreck and be forced into a life of sand, water and palm trees. A trip to the Caribbean means a relaxed life-enjoying atmosphere, spicy Creole food, lovely beaches, rum, cigars and much more. Learn more about Swedish colonial history at St. Barthelemy. Try to get a glimpse of the green shimmering monkeys in Barbados. Discover one waterfall after another in the mountainous interior of the Dominican Republic. Enjoy the reggae rhythms along with a resting safari with long, thick dreadlocks in Jamaica. Let yourself be swept by the colorful fish and coral reefs of Bonaire’s diving paradise. Rinse a baguette or croissant with exotic drinks at Martinique. Enjoy the spice fragrance in the markets of Grenada, the Caribbean’s spice center.