The Caribbean is of the American regions bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It is well known for its economic diversities and growth opportunities. It boasts of cultural vibrancy and stunning scenery. As one of the world’s top tourist destinations, the Caribbean is popular for its sustainable use of ocean resources, tagged “blue economy,” which offers great economic growth potential, as well as the development of the region’s agricultural services, creative sectors, and logistics.
The Caribbean region can be found on the south-east of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north and south of America. Occupying major part of Caribbean Plate, the region accommodates over 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. These islands form the island arcs that describe the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean Sea is a body of water adjoining the Atlantic Ocean, located in the southeast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The sea covers an area of approximately 2,754,000 km2 (1,063,000 square miles). The Cayman Trench between Cuba and Jamaica has a depth of 7500m below the surface, although the average depth is 2200m.The Wider Caribbean completes the area of The Caribbean Sea, including its numerous islands.
The Wider Caribbean Region comprises of 35 states and territories that border the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It includes transnational countries, provincial nations, and contingent territories. On the eastern side of the region’s perimeter is the provincial Caribbean: islands of the Greater and The Lesser Antilles and the confederation of islands in the Bahamas to the north.
The United States territories around the Gulf of Mexico, the offshore zone of Mexico, Central America, the northern states of South America complement the terrestrial perimeter that demarcates the two main watersheds of the region. Simply put, the broader Caribbean includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and adjoining zones of the Atlantic Ocean south of the 30° northern latitude and within 200 miles of the Atlantic coasts.
The nations within the Caribbean Sea borderlines are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, United States, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and the overseas territories of France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Considering its physical-chemical conditions, The Caribbean Sea has an expansive area of coral reef and seagrass pasture; according to Spalding et al. 2001. 14% of the world’s coral reefs are derived here.
The average temperature is 27°C in the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea and it varies no more than 3°C. The Salinity is at its highest from January to May and quite low from June to December. Due to discharges from the Orinoco and Amazon River watersheds, Salinity drops in the southeastern end of the Caribbean Sea towards fall in the northern hemisphere.
There is a major ocean current that passes through the Lesser Antilles past southern Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic toward the channel between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba to enter the Gulf of Mexico. Other important currents are the vortex between Nicaragua and Colombia, the tide in The Gulf of Mexico and the current that exits the Gulf passing through Florida Strait.
The Caribbean islands share a boundary with Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama on the south, Central American countries (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize) to the west; with the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico) on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the east.
In a broad sense, the mainland countries of Belize and Guyana may be included historically, culturally and geopolitically to British West Indies. The Caribbean islands are usually treated as a sub-region of North America and are classified into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies.
The name Caribbean
The Caribbean originated from the Caribs in island Carib also known as Kalinago, a dominant ethnic group that can be found in the Lesser Antilles and parts adjoining South America during the Conquest by the Spanish people.
The term “Caribbean” has a versatile application, basically geographical and political. The Caribbean can also be linked with slavery considering its history and culture, European colonization, and plantation practices. The United Nations geoscheme for the Americas recognized the Caribbean as a distinguished region within The Americas. The Caribbean region consists of a chain of islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the north, the Straits of Florida, and the Northern Atlantic Ocean, towards the east and northeast. South America lies on its southern coastline.
The Caribbean may be centered on socio-economic groupings found in the region. Examples of such are the Republic of Suriname in South America and Belize in Central America the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which contains the Co-operative the Republic of Guyana. Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean, are associate members of the Caribbean Community—as is the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, which is a full member of the Caribbean Community.
Association of Caribbean States (ACS) as Alternative to the Caribbean, The community consists of almost every nation in the surrounding regions that lie on The Caribbean, including El Salvador, on the Pacific Ocean. The ACS gave a census of 227 million people representing its member states.
Caribbean region’s climate varies: notable islands in the region have flat terrain of non-volcanic origin. Some of the islands are Aruba (known for minor volcanic features), Barbados, Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Saint Croix, and Antigua. Others like the islands of Cuba have rugged towering mountain-ranges, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Dominica, Montserrat, Saint Vincent, Saba, Saint Thomas, Saint Kitts, Martinique, Saint John, Guadeloupe, Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Tortola.
The Virgin Islands as part of the Puerto Rican bank are sometimes included with the Greater Antilles. An island arc that includes Grenada exempting Trinidad and Tobago and the Leeward are sometimes referred to as the Lesser Antilles.
The area is known for its tropical climate; though the rainfall varies in size, elevation, and water currents. There is a notable warm, moist trade wind consistently blowing from the east creating rainforest/semidesert divisions on mountainous islands. Occasional prevailing wind affects the northern islands in the winter. The province enjoys entire year sunshine, segregated into ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ seasons; the last six months of the year are mostly wetter than the first half.
The Caribbean Sea houses a vast, diadromous shoal of fish, turtles, and coral reef collections. The Puerto Rico channel, located on the edge of The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea just to the north of the island of Puerto Rico, is the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes that sometimes hit the area always strike northwards of Grenada to the west of Barbados. The key hurricane belt arcs to northwest of the island of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean.
Panama Canal connects the western Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean, while the region sits in the line of several major shipping routes.
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