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Map of the Caribbean

Cruise ships in Nassau in the Bahamas, Caribbean
Cruise ships in Nassau, New Providence Island, Bahamas. Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in the Caribbean, contributing to one-third to one-half of the GDP in most of its countries. [Worldbank]
Image: Fernando Jorge


About the Caribbean

A flag map of South America
The Caribbean is a major marine region south of the eastern United States, east of Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, east of Central America, and north of the Isthmus of Panama and the land masses of northwestern South America. The region is considered to be part of North America.

The Caribbean consists of the Caribbean Sea and its islands, also known as the West Indies. Part of the region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast and east and is connected to the Gulf of Mexico to the west by the Yucatán Channel. Almost all of the more than 700 islands and islets are situated on the Caribbean Plate. Even so, many Caribbean Islands were formed by volcanoes erupting from the ocean floor; the Caribbean is not considered part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The Caribbean is divided into four major island groups: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, the Bahama Archipelago (Lucayan Archipelago), and the Leeward Antilles. The Lesser Antilles are further divided into three island groups: the Leeward Islands in the north, the Windward Islands in the south, and the Leeward Antilles, a chain of islands along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela's coast.

The largest Caribbean islands are Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, known as the Greater Antilles. Trinidad, the larger island of Trinidad and Tobago, is situated just north of the Venezuelan coast.

Map of the Caribbean

Politcal Map of West Indies in the Caribbean
Political Map of the Caribbean

The map shows the Caribbean, a region between North, Central and South America, with the Caribbean islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Major islands with their capitals and major cities, neighboring maritime regions, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Bermuda Triangle, and island groups, such as the Greater Antilles (Antillas Mayores) and the Lesser Antilles (Antillas Menores).

You are free to use the above map for educational and similar purposes; if you publish it online or in print, you need to credit the Nations Online Project as the source.

Diamond Rock and Morne Larcher mountain on the island of Martinique
A typical Caribbean landscape with tropical beaches, clear waters, lush vegetation and overgrown hills (volcanic plugs). Diamond Rock (far left) and Morne Larcher, two landmark mountains on the island of Martinique, an overseas department of France in the West Indies.
Image: Sapakagadewmoinjadiw

More about the Caribbean

Topographic map of the Caribbean
Topographic and bathymetric (submarine topography) map of the Caribbean.
Image: Natural Earth, kk -

The islands of the Caribbean were originally inhabited by Arawak and Carib Indians.

In 1492 Columbus 'found' the islands of the Bahamas; assuming that he had reached the coast of India, he called the locals Indians.

Geography of the Caribbean

With an area of 2,753,000 km² (1,063,000 sq mi), [EB] the Caribbean Sea is about five times the size of France, or four times the size of Texas.

More than 44 million people live in the Caribbean. [UN]

What languages are spoken in the Caribbean?
There are six official languages in the Caribbean, and many other unofficial languages are spoken.
The official languages are Dutch, English, French, Haitian Creole, Papiamentu and Spanish. Haitian Creole and Papiamentu are creole languages.

Time zones
UTC−5 to UTC−4

Most of the Caribbean is situated south of the Tropic of Cancer; its climate is influenced by its location near the equator, the oceans and trade winds. The whole area is under the influence of a prevailing, east-to-west, easterly trade wind, which creates the North Equatorial Current (NEC), a westward wind-driven current. The climate is tropical maritime (warm and humid) with annual average coastal temperatures of about 26 °C (80 °F). The coolest temperatures are generally in January, and the warmest in August. There is a dry (February to June) and a wet season (June to November). The entire Caribbean lies in the so-called hurricane belt. Hurricane season is from June to December.

When you're on one of the Caribbean islands, sometimes it's hard to picture how they fit with the rest, but when you see them all joined together like a necklace from space, you see the natural geographic connectedness of them all.

Chris Hadfield - Canadian astronaut

Sovereign island nations

The Caribbean is home to thirteen sovereign island nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago (on the continental shelf of South America).

Some definitions of the Caribbean include countries with Caribbean coastlines, such as Belize, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana; even so, Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana are not bordered by the Caribbean Sea.

Also sometimes included is Bermuda, a British island territory lying further to the north in the North Atlantic Ocean and the northernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle.

Dependent territories of the Caribbean
A number of islands in the Caribbean remain dependent on former colonial powers, such as France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. [1]

Anguilla (UK), Aruba (NL), British Virgin Islands (UK), Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), Cayman Islands (UK), Curaçao (NL), Guadeloupe (France), Martinique (France), Montserrat (UK), Puerto Rico (US), Saint Barthélemy (France), Saint Martin/Sint Maarten (France/NL), Turks and Caicos Islands (UK), US Virgin Islands (US).


Major geographical features of the Caribbean

Subdivisions of the Caribbean. List of the main physical regions of the Caribbean.

A KLM Asia Boeing 747-400 landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA code: SXM) in Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
A KLM Asia Boeing 747-400 over Maho Beach upon landing at Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA code: SXM) in Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
Image: Timo Breidenstein

The West Indies are several chains of islands that extends from the Florida peninsula to the coast of Venezuela between the Caribbean Sea in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the east.

The Lucayan Archipelago, also known as the Bahama Archipelago, consists of the islands of the Bahamas and the British Overseas Territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The largest islands of the Bahamas are North Andros, Great Inagua, South Andros, Great Abaco, Grand Bahama, Long Island, Eleuthera, Acklins, Cat Island, Exuma, and Mayaguana. The capital and largest city is Nassau, located on the island of New Providence. The Straits of Florida, a strait south of Florida (US), connects the Gulf of Mexico with the Atlantic Ocean.

Greater Antilles - the Greater Antilles are the large Caribbean islands of Cuba, Jamaica, the island of Hispaniola, divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico (USA).

Lesser Antilles - the Lesser Antilles is an arched chain of smaller Caribbean islands, including the Virgin Islands (with British Virgin Islands (UK), and U.S. Virgin Islands (USA)), the Leeward, and the Windward islands (see below), as well as within the Venezuelan archipelago to the north of Venezuela, sometimes referred to as the

A produce market on Grande-Terre, Guadeloupe
A produce market on Grande-Terre, Guadeloupe.
Image: Luca Moglia

Leeward Islands - are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles. The group includes Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Montserrat.

Windward Islands - a group of islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea, they constitute the southern part of the Lesser Antilles from north to south lies Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The name refers to the fact that the islands are further downwind than the Leeward Islands in terms of the prevailing southeast winds.

The Leeward Antilles are various islands in the Venezuelan Caribbean along the northern coast of Venezuela, including Aruba and the islands of Bonaire and Curaçao, formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles; those three islands are also known as the ABC islands; they are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Volcanoes and mountains
There are about 20 active volcanoes in the Caribbean region, according to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Centre. They are spread across 11 volcanically active islands: Dominica: 7, Grenada: 3, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Saba, Saint Kitts, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, Sint Eustatius: one each.

Morne Diablotins, in northern Dominica (1,430+ m) and La Grande Soufrière, a stratovolcano on Guadeloupe (1,467 m) are the highest volcanoes in the Caribbean.

The highest mountain in the Caribbean is Pico Duarte, at 3,098 m (10,164 ft) on the island of Hispaniola.

Famous Places in the Caribbean

The ruins of the Palace of Sans Souci in northern Haiti.
The ruins of the Palace of Sans Souci in northern Haiti. Henri Christophe, a former slave, began building his palace in 1810 and declared himself king a year later.
Image: Courtesy Steve Bennett/

Barbados was the location of Project HARP, a 16-inch (41 cm) HARP (High Altitude Research Project) gun, operated by the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, to shoot satellites and space probes into space in the 1960s. [WP]

The Bay of Pigs is a bay on the southwest coast of Cuba that was the scene of an unsuccessful attempt by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles to invade the country and overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro in 1961.

The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the western Atlantic Ocean between Florida, the island of Bermuda and Puerto Rico, where numerous ships and aircraft are believed to have mysteriously disappeared.

Guanahani is the name of the island in the territory of today's Bahamas, where Christopher Columbus first set foot on the soil of America on 12 October 1492. Many scholars consider San Salvador (formerly, until 1925, Watlings Island) to be the island of Guanahani.

The colonization of the Americas by the Spanish began in 1493 on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, shortly after the first voyage of the Genoese navigator Cristoforo Colombo in 1492, financed by the Spanish Queen Isabella I of Castile.

The ruins of the Palace of Sans Souci are located in northern Haiti. The site commemorates the reign of King Henri I, also known as King Henri Christophe, a former slave who was instrumental in the Haitian Revolution that brought independence from France in 1804.

During the Golden Age of Piracy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Port Royal was a stronghold for English and Dutch-sponsored privateers who were encouraged to attack Spanish vessels. The Jamaican port city, once the largest in the Caribbean, was notorious for its ostentatious display of wealth and loose morals. [JG]

Tortuga, a small island that is part of Haiti, was a stronghold of a motley band of adventurers, thieves and runaway slaves who raided Spanish treasure ships in the Caribbean and were known and feared as Buccaneers. [History]

Santo Domingo, today the capital of the Dominican Republic, was founded in 1498, shortly after the arrival of Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. The first cathedral, hospital, customs house and university built in the New World were built in the city.

World Heritage Sites in the Caribbean

There are a number of World Heritage Sites in the Caribbean. [WP]

Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, oldest church in the Americas
Catedral Primada de las Americas or Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor. The Cathedral of Santo Domingo is the oldest in America, built by mandate of Pope Julius II in 1504.
Image: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz)

Colonial City of Santo Domingo
Shortly after the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island of Hispaniola in 1492, Santo Domingo became the site of many firsts: the first cathedral, the first hospital, the first customs house and the first university in the Americas were built there. Santo Domingo, now the capital of the Dominican Republic, was founded in 1498. The city at the mouth of the Rio Ozama was laid out according to a grid that became the model for almost all urban planners in the New World.

Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison
Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is an example of British colonial architecture in Bridgetown, the capital and largest city of Barbados.

Historic Centre of Camagüey
Camagüey is one of the first seven villages founded by the Spanish in Cuba.

Old Havana and its Fortifications
Havana, the capital of Cuba, was founded by the Spanish in 1519. The old town is an interesting mixture of baroque and neoclassical buildings. Many private houses with arcades, balconies, wrought iron gates and courtyards have been preserved.

National History Park – Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers
Haitian monuments from the beginning of the 19th century, when Haiti proclaimed its independence from France.


More about the Americas:

The Americas
List of all Countries and Capitals in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Related Categories:
Flags of the Americas
Languages of the Americas

Reference maps:
General Map of Central America and the Caribbean
Political Map of North America
Political Map of South America



Maps of Caribbean Islands
Bahamas Map, Barbados Map, Cuba Map, Dominican Republic, Haiti Map, Jamaica Map, Puerto Rico Map, Saint Lucia Map

Maps of Countries in Central America:
Belize Map, Costa Rica Map, El Salvador Map, Guatemala Map, Honduras Map, Mexico Map, Nicaragua Map, Panama Map

Maps of Countries in South America:
Argentina Map, Brazil Map, Bolivia Map, Chile Map, Colombia Map, Ecuador Map, French Guiana, Guyana Map,
Paraguay Map, Peru Map, Suriname Map, Uruguay Map, Venezuela Map