And what did they win?
Once the Spaniards showed up in the 15th Century, the Carib tribes
were decimated by disease and warfare. Add them to the list.
Nevertheless, the Carib
Indians were the dominant native group at the time Spain took over.
When the Spaniards came to the area, they were particularly taken
with the Carib's masterful farming skills.
They were master farmers who produced an excellent crop of beans
that impressed the Spanish no end.
So, technically speaking, it is the Carib Bean Sea.
I am just kidding of
course. Let me remind you that I make stuff up from time to
time. Although I try to be accurate, always keep in mind that
anything written by a guy who gets most of his wisdom from crossword
puzzles needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
What does this rhyme refer to?
"June too soon // July stand by // August
come it must // September remember // October all over."
Haiti and the Dominican Republic
back to the story of Hispaniola, the Disappearing Island.
Taino Indians (sometimes also referred to as
Arawaks) may have lost the struggle for the southern part of
the Caribbean region to the Caribs, but they were the
predominant tribe on the island that Columbus renamed "Hispaniola"
story of these people is terrible. The Taino population of the
island was rapidly decimated, owing to a combination of disease and
harsh treatment by Spanish overlords.
natives lacked immunity to smallpox. Entire tribes were
extinguished. From an estimated initial population of 250,000
in 1492, the Arawaks had dropped to 14,000 by 1517. Less than
one in ten remained. To add insult to injury, the Spanish
began to replace them. In 1501, the colony began to import
African slaves, believing them more capable of performing physical
labor. In 1574, a census taken of the Greater Antilles
reported 1,000 Spaniards and 12,000 African slaves on Hispaniola.
sad fate of "Hispaniola" can be traced to the second voyage of
Columbus. On his return the subsequent year to La
Navidad, his Christmas Fort on the western side of the
island, he found that the Taino indians had murdered all his men and
burned down the fort.
Disgusted, Columbus sailed farther east to the other end of the
island and founded a new settlement in what is now the present day
Dominican Republic. After a hurricane forced
them to relocate once more, this settlement became Santo
Domingo, now the modern day capital of the Dominican
Spain conquered far wealthier new regions on the mainland of the
Americas such as Peru and Mexico, its interest in Hispaniola waned.
Meanwhile the western part of the island remained abandoned by the
Spanish. At this point, pirates moved in.
1606, the King of Spain ordered all inhabitants of Hispaniola to
move close to Santo Domingo on the eastern side of the island to
avoid interaction with the dangerous pirates. This decision
backfired terribly. Rather than secure the island, this
resulted in French, English and Dutch pirates establishing permanent
bases on the now-abandoned north and west coasts of the island with
little fear. This amounted to letting a nest of wasps take up
residence on your front porch.
majority of the pirates were French buccaneers. They survived
by pirating Spanish ships and hunting wild cattle. Although the
Spanish destroyed the buccaneers' settlements several times, these
nomads just put to sea and returned the moment the coast was clear.
The first official settlement on Tortuga, the famous
den of thieves just off the coast of northwestern Hispaniola was
established in 1659 under the commission of French King Louis XIV.
The French now had a toehold in western Hispaniola.
one of the few areas in the New World under French control, the
French invested heavily in its new territory. The area became
known as the "Pearl of the Antilles" – one of the richest colonies
in the 18th century French empire!
By the 1780s, the area produced about 40 percent of all the sugar
and 60 percent of all the coffee consumed in Europe. This single
colony, roughly the size of Maryland or Belgium, produced more sugar
and coffee than all of Britain's West Indian colonies combined.
Unfortunately, all this wealth was created by slave labor. The
French proved no better than the Spanish. They treated their
slaves brutally. When the French Revolution began in 1789, the
slaves saw their opportunity and revolted as well. The French
were too preoccupied with their own problems to send enough soldiers
to quell the problem on their profitable island. In 1802,
Napoleon tried to recapture the island, but with limited success.
Napoleon needed money to fight his wars. So in 1803, he sold
Louisiana to Thomas Jefferson and abandoned his remaining interest
in the island. To hell with the New World.
Napoleon gone, by 1804, the slaves were now firmly in control.
They renamed their territory "Haiti", Land of the
Mountains, in honor of the ancestral Taino Indians.
1821, the eastern side of the Hispaniola declared its independence
from Spain. Their independence was short-lived. Nine weeks
later, the Haitian side of the island invaded the east and took
occupation was deeply unpopular with the people living on the
eastern side of the island. It pitted the Spanish white elite
against the iron fisted black Haitian administration. This
stimulated the emigration of many white wealthy families and created
an enormous power vacuum. The economy of the eastern side
entire island remained under Haitian rule until 1844. In the
east a nationalist group called La Trinitaria led a
bloody revolt that helped convert the country into the
didn't give up. In the next ten years, there were four new
invasions! It was as bad as Israel and its Arab enemies for a
while there. Hatred flared between the two peoples.
today, the various memories and interpretations of the occupation
and the subsequent invasions fuels animosities between Haiti and the
Dominican Republic. At this point, the island was permanently
divided - the predominantly black Haitians of French and African
descent against many white Dominicans of Spanish descent.
Haiti's recent history has been nothing but disaster. Plagued
by a succession of ruthless dictators, Haiti has descended into
complete political chaos and total poverty.
Meanwhile the Dominican Republic has enjoyed far more success.
Modeling its own government after the USA, today its citizens are
six times wealthier than those of Haiti. This has set up a
tense border situation similar to the USA and Mexico where the
Dominican Republic does everything it can to keep the Haitians out.
Meanwhile, the island is still known today as "Hispaniola".
However, the name has virtually disappeared because we don't think
of the place as an "island" any more. It is
so divided politically and economically that it has practically
become two islands in our mind. In some ways, the situation is even worse
than North and South Korea. Here on Hispaniola, the two
nations are separated by race, economic development, and heritage.
"Hispaniola" is unlikely to resume being a united island in our lifetime.
The Curse of Columbus can be thanked for that. It all started
when the Taino Indians destroyed his first settlement and forced him
to move to the other side of the island. The island has been
divided ever since.
to our seventh question:
Which is larger, the Caribbean Sea or the
If you said the "Mediterranean
Sea" was larger, you were wrong, but not by much. The two
seas are very close in size.
The Mediterranean Sea covers over
969,100 square miles. It is 2,220 miles long.
Caribbean is about 1,063,000 square miles, so it wins the size
battle. However, since it is only about 1,600 miles long, the
Mediterranean has the greater length.
What vast body of water is called a "Sea", but is not a "Sea"?
Caspian Sea is considered a Lake, not a sea. Alas,
I could not find an answer to explain this oddity.
might ask what this question has to do with our Caribbean article.
Probably not much, huh? But it was a fun question to ask.
Why is the
climate in the Caribbean
Earlier I asked what
separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea.
you said Cuba, then go to the head of the line. Cuba
practically connects Florida to the
Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Probably at some
point in the Earth's evolution, you have to wonder if it was possible to walk from Miami
are only two water entrances from the Caribbean to the Gulf of
Mexico. One is the Straits of Florida that
separate Cuba and Florida. The other is the Yucatan
Channel separating Cuba and Mexico.
curious geography plays a big part in creating a phenomenon known as
the Gulf Stream.
can on the map, in the North Atlantic, the current is redirected
south towards Africa. These waters are called the North
Equatorial Current. Once these broad, slow waters reach Africa,
they curve to the west.
current approaches the Caribbean Sea, water is funneled through the
many channels between the arc of Caribbean Islands that stretch from
Florida to South America. Now these waters flow towards Mexico
through the Caribbean Sea.
Eventually the waters of the Caribbean reach the Yucatan Channel.
This narrow channel compresses the water which now accelerates and
gains strength. Curving to the right, this accelerated water
flow into the Gulf of Mexico. This is where we can first observe an
organized water flow on satellite images.
this flow enters the Gulf of Mexico at the Yucatan Channel, the
current is commonly referred to as the Loop Current.
The Loop Current begins to curve to the right and exits the Gulf at
the Straits of Florida between Florida and Cuba. Once the
water leaves the Gulf, it becomes known as the Gulf Stream.
the Gulf Stream leaves the Florida Straits, it hugs the eastern
coastline of the United States. When it reaches Canada, the
waters curve to the right and become part of the North Atlantic
Current to begin the cycle again.
Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean Islands owe a great debt to
the Gulf Stream. It keeps sea surface temperatures warm, which
then cause the areas around it to be warm and more hospitable.
The temperatures in Florida and much of the Southeastern United
States for instance is mild all year round. No snow in the
Answer to Question
too soon // July stand by // August come it must // September
remember // October all over."
said "Hurricanes", then you are correct. The
flip side of the Gulf Stream is that it plays a major part in the
formation of Hurricanes.
well as keeping the climate mild and comfortable throughout the
Gulf Stream’s warm sea surface temperatures also aid in the
formation and strengthening of many of the hurricanes that move
through the Gulf of Mexico.
is evidence that the speed of the Gulf Stream is slowing. This
is a major problem because the Gulf Stream interacts with the cold
water of the Arctic and brings it south towards Africa. The
less cold water, the more danger of hurricanes.
flow of cooler water from the north continues to slow, the
equatorial waters will likely heat up, providing far more fuel for
storms and hurricanes than existed in the past. The slowing of
the Gulf Stream is being studied closely since it could explain the
severity of the recent hurricane cycles.
Of course nothing is certain. A contrary theory has things
much different. It is believed that the Gulf Stream could be
impacted in the future by global warming and the melting of
glaciers. Some studies suggest that with the melting of ice in
places like Greenland, cold, dense water will flow into the ocean
and disrupt the flow of the Gulf Stream and other currents that are
part of the Global Conveyor Belt.
this were to happen, weather patterns worldwide could change.
Fortunately, the cruise industry is remarkably immune to drastic
weather. Since only one hurricane hits the Caribbean at a
time, the cruise ships simply adjust their routes to avoid any
Answer to Question
Eight: The Caribbean and
Mediterranean are the second and third largest seas in the world.
you name the largest sea in the world?
South China Sea, Pacific Ocean
Estimated Area: 1,148,500 square miles or 2,974,600 square
2. Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Estimated Area: 971,400 square miles or 2,515,900 square
3. Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Estimated Area: 969,100 square miles or 2,509,960 square
got this one right, I'm impressed. I had no idea.
A Brief History of the Caribbean
First Came Spain
Columbus visited the Caribbean in 1493, Spain claimed the area, and
its ships searched for treasure. With the Spanish discovery of the
Pacific Ocean in 1513 the Caribbean became the main route of their
expeditions and, later, of convoys.
gets there first rules. Spanish domination of the Caribbean as
well as the entirety of South America was remained unchallenged
throughout the 16th century.
Then Came Britain, France, and the
beginning of the 17th Century, Spanish hegemony of the region came
under challenge from other European powers. The Caribbean Sea became
an open battlefield among European powers who wanted a slice of the
Caribbean cake. Pirates and warships of rival powers preyed
on Spanish ships in the Caribbean. Although
Spain controlled most of the sea, Britain, France, the Netherlands,
and Denmark established colonies on the islands along the eastern
over, Spain Loses its Grip
the 18th Century, two main forces emerged : France and England.
England was going after one Spanish island after another. By the 19th century, England
had become the
undisputed master of the seas. It now had near total control of the
Caribbean - Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, Caymans, Honduras, Virgin
Islands, plus an infinity number of smaller islands across the
length of the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the start of the 1800s were the beginning of the end for
the Spanish Empire. While England was busy stealing one
Spanish asset after in the Caribbean, wars of independence broke out
throughout Central and South America and the Philippines. By
1825, Spain had been evicted from South America. It was all
U.S. policy since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 has been to exclude
foreign powers from the Caribbean.
end of the 19th Century, new powers such as Germany and the United
States of America looked for a strategic foothold in the Caribbean
Sea. Finally, the USA won out.
After the Cuban-Spanish-American War
(1895-1898), which signaled the complete end of Spanish presence in the
Caribbean, the USA took advantage.
In the 20th Century, the
Caribbean Sea came under total American control.
After unsuccessful French
attempts in the late 1800s to build a canal across Panama, the
United States, in 1903, assumed control of the project. The 1914
opening of the Panama Canal paved the way for increased U.S.
interest and involvement in this strategic sea, sometimes called the
The New Sheriff in Town
Several Caribbean islands
have U.S. military bases, many of which were established during
World War II as support bases to protect the Panama Canal. The naval
base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (est. 1899) is the oldest U.S.
In 1959, Cuba became the
first country to come under strong foreign influence.
The USA moved aggressively to counteract a
growing soviet military presence.
intervention in the affairs of Caribbean countries, such as the
Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the landing of U.S. marines at Santo
Domingo in 1965 and at Grenada in 1983, and the U.S. invasion of
Panama in 1989, reflects the region's importance in U.S. eyes.
strategic point of view, today the Caribbean Sea is considered "An
American Lake", i.e. the third frontier
of the USA.
The Cruise Capital of the World
Question Eleven: What area
is the most popular Cruise destination in the world?
said "Caribbean Sea", then you would be right.
cruise industry’s growth is headlined by the Caribbean, which
continues to rank as the dominant cruise destination, accounting for
37.02% of all itineraries in 2009.
enough, this percentage has been dropping a bit. Previous
numbers were 37.25% in 2008, 41.02% in 2007 and 46.69% in 2006.
What is strange about the declining percentage is that passenger
numbers have continued to increase for the Caribbean to record
numbers. Cruise insiders explain that as new ships are built,
they are assigned to other markets that aren't quite as
"over-saturated" as the Caribbean.
example of this trend is Carnival's Magic. This
brand new ship is being assigned to Galveston in 2011 because the
Texas market is underrepresented. Galveston is extremely convenient to the Gulf of Mexico
which is considered an area ripe for expansion.
to moves like the emphasis on Galveston, 75% of all Americans are
now considered to be within "driving distance" of a cruise port.
Hmm. Interesting stat. Tell that to the people who live
in the Midwest.
Another area being developed in the cruise industry are "Riverboats"
that take passengers down the Nile, the Rhine, and the Danube.
Apparently wherever there's water, there's cruise ships.
you are curious, so here is how the cruise pie is divided based on a
Mediterranean/Greek Islands/Turkey 14%
Panama Canal 8%
Mexico (West Coast) 8%
stare at the list, I see Marla has already taken us everywhere but
Bermuda, Panama, and the West Coast of Mexico. However, there
is also Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Polynesia yet
to be seen. I think there is a cruise to Russia and a cruise to
England in the crystal ball as well. Someday. My secret wish is a
river trip down the Rhine and Danube. What do you think about
that? Maybe when we all get rich.
the present, another reason Caribbean destinations are so popular is
these trips are economical. Many
people inside the industry refer to the Caribbean as "the less
expensive Hawaii vacation." The Caribbean owes much of its
popularity to three features - price, proximity, and beauty.
Like Hawaii, the Caribbean Sea
destinations with their balmy temperatures, countless sun-blessed
beaches and warm waters perfect for scuba and snorkeling remain ever
popular. Add in rain forests on every island and you have
better, when it comes to cost and proximity, the Caribbean has
Hawaii beat hands down. A cost-conscious passenger can sail
the Caribbean for less than $1,000 while a Hawaiian trip starts at
$2,000 (that air fare to distant Hawaii costs a fortune).
of all, the islands are easy to get to and English is spoken
Like Hawaii, many of the islands
are volcanic in origin, especially most of those located in the Leeward and
Windward island chains.
include both young, steep and mountainous volcanic islands as well
as older, eroded and limestone-capped islands recently (in
geological terms) resurfaced from the deep. While some areas are
volcanically active such as Montserrat,
Pelee on Martinique and
Kick Em Jenny just north
of Grenada, most Caribbean volcanoes are
confusing term about the Caribbean are the Greater Antilles and the
islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as the West Indies,
are sorted by size and location into the Bahamas, the
Lesser Antilles, and the Greater Antilles.
The Greater Antilles refers to Cuba, Jamaica,
Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico. The
Cayman Islands are also often included in the Greater Antilles
because of their geographical proximity to Cuba. The Greater
Antilles are made up of continental rock, part of North America, as
distinct from that of the Lesser Antilles, which are mostly young
volcanic or coral islands.
refers to long stretch of volcanic islands that comprise the 2,500
miles arc from Puerto Rico to South America. These islands are
subdivided into three separate parts: the "Leeward Islands",
the "Windward Islands", and the "Netherlands
Leeward Islands are so named due to the prevailing winds
Leeward Islands are the northern islands of the Lesser
Antilles chain of islands, east of Puerto Rico and running southward
These islands are referred to as "leeward" because the prevailing
trade winds in the area blow from the east. Thus these islands
are downwind from, or leeward of, the Windward Islands, the group of
islands that first meet the trade winds. By the way, I think
you have to be a sailor to understand this.
Windward Islands are the southern islands. They are
called such because they were more windward to sailing ships
arriving in the New World than the Leeward Islands, given that the
prevailing trade winds blow east to west. The trans-Atlantic
currents and winds that provided the fastest route across the ocean
brought these ships to the rough dividing line between the Windward
and Leeward Islands.
third category which is part of the Lesser Antilles is the
Netherlands Antilles. These are islands which stretch across the north coast of
South America. These include the famous ABC islands of
Venezuela - Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.
study the map, I can't help but wonder if a land bridge once existed
in the eastern Caribbean that connected North America to South