Monday, 10 January 2011

Caribbean Geography

The Caribbean region consists chiefly of an archipelago located between North and South America and is sometimes referred to as the Antilles. The Antilles are frequently subdivided into three groups: the Bahamas; the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico) and the Lesser Antilles (Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Leeward Islands, and Windward Islands). The volcanic mountainous area is renowned for its excellent climate that is punctuated by the occasional hurricane. The area has a variety of geographical features that made it attractive to the inhabitants and the explorers of the New World. There were lush densely forested lands with plenteous rainfall, surrounded by large plains near the coasts and mountain slopes suitable for agriculture.

The islands of the Caribbean Sea had been inhabited by the Arawaks, Taino, Caribs and Ciboney for over several hundreds of years before Europeans travelled to the area. A period of genocide and violent conquests followed. The indigenous populations were physically dislocated and simultaneously damaged by epidemics; they were destroyed to the point of extinction within a century of the European explorers landing. Commencing with the mining of gold by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1600s the Caribbean landscape was exploited of its wealth for several centuries. Once all the precious metals had been extracted from the islands the invaders turned to the production of crops: tobacco, coffee, cocoa, indigo, cotton and sugar. The rich porous soil and temperate climate made the area appear suitable for large-scale crop cultivation.  

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