The Islands of the Caribbean
The Caribbean Sea is the large body of water that lies north of the northern tip of South America. Within the Caribbean sea are many islands that have played an important role in the history and culture of the Western hemisphere.
By far the largest island in the Caribbean is Cuba. Cuba was formerly a colony of Spain, but became independent in 1902. Cuba became a Communist country in 1959, when a revolution overthrew an unpopular government. After the revolution, many Cubans fled to the United States. Today, the American city of Miami, in the state of Florida, has been greatly influenced by Cuban culture. Tobacco is widely grown in Cuba, and the country is famous for the cigars that are produced in the capital city, Havana.
The island of Hispaniola is located just east of Cuba. This island is divided into two countries. In the west is Haiti, where the people speak a variety of the French language that has been influenced by African languages. In the east is the Dominican Republic, where the people speak Spanish.
Another important Caribbean island is Puerto Rico. This was previously a Spanish colony, but it is now governed by the United States. Many people from Puerto Rico have moved to the mainland United States, especially the New York area.
In many other islands in the Caribbean, English is the main language. The largest of these islands is Jamaica, which is located just south of Cuba. Most Jamaicans are the descendants of African people who were brought to work as slaves on sugar plantations. Jamaica is famous as the birthplace of the style of music called “reggae,” which was popularized in other countries by Bob Marley, a famous Jamaican musician.
Another important English-speaking Caribbean island is Trinidad. This island is located just north of South America. The population of Trinidad is very diverse. The largest groups of people are descended from people who came from Africa and India, but there are many other nationalities also. Trinidad is famous for a style of music known as “calypso,” and for musicians who produce pleasant sounds by playing steel drums.
There are also many other, smaller islands in the Caribbean, each with its own unique features. Many of these islands possess fine beaches, and are popular tourist destinations. The warm weather of the Caribbean makes it a popular place for North Americans who must live through cold winters!