is difficult to describe the Caribbean islands in geographic terms.
What we now call the Caribbean (West Indies) is a region comprised of
many island countries, dependencies and territories.
starts just south and east of the Gulf of Mexico (below the Straits of
Florida - USA), extends west to the Atlantic Ocean.
Click here to view a map of the Caribbean (West Indies). (For reference, note the tip of Miami, Florida in the upper left corner.)
The Caribbean Sea is bound on the east and south by the land mass of Mexico, Central and South America.
The Caribbean islands are separated from the Atlantic Ocean by three main island groups:
- Bahamas (to the north)
Greater Antilles (centrally)
- The Bahamas consist of over 3,000 individual islands and reefs.
- The most popular of these islands are Nassau and Freeport.
- Puerto Rico
- Haiti (occupies roughly 1/3 of the island)
- Dominican Republic (occupies the balance)
Lesser Antilles (southeast) – divided into two groups
- Leeward Island
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- British Virgin Islands – about 50 (mostly uninhabited)
- Virgin Gorda
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Click here to view a map.
British Virgin Islands
Netherlands Antilles – part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Bonaire – located off the coast of South America
- Curacao – located off the coast of South America
- Saba and St. Eustatius – in the northeastern Caribbean, below Anguilla
Maarten – in the northeastern Caribbean, below Anguilla – on the
opposite side of island (south) from St. Martin. The French and the
Dutch peacefully share this 37 square mile island.
Aruba – an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba is located off the coast of South America.
French West Indies
- Martinique – south of Dominica and a French overseas department.
- Guadeloupe – north of Dominica and a French overseas department.
- St. Barthelemy (St. Barts)
- St. Martin – on opposite side of island (north) from Saint Maarten.
The French and the Dutch peacefully share this 37 square mile island.
British West Indies
- Cayman Islands – south of Cuba
- the Turks and Caicos – north of Haiti, approx. 600 miles southeast of Miami
- Also in this group are the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and Montserrat - listed above under Leeward Islands.
US Virgin Islands
- St. Croix
- St. John
- St. Thomas
San Andres – off the coast of Nicaragua, but belongs to Colombia
Mexico – Cozumel, Cancun, Playa del Carmen
Belize - Central America
Bermuda – approx. 900 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina
Click here to view a map.
Other Destinations of the Caribbean Islands
(In the southeastern Caribbean)
Martinique – a French overseas department
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
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