Antilles/Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles/Antilles Map

The Antilles are the Central American archipelago surrounded by the Caribbean Sea in the south and west, Mexico Gulf in the southwest, the Atlantic Ocean in the north and east. The Islands also separate the Atlantic Ocean from Caribbean Sea.

In some sources, the Antilles name is used for the West Indies, but the Caribbean and the Antilles, in general, are commonly used to describe the same region. The Antillean islands are divided into two groups: the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.

The Greater Antilles consists of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, and Hispaniola. Hispaniola is divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The Lesser Antilles are the Pupa Islands in the north of the Antilles and the Winward Islands in the southeast. Venezuela is located just south of the Lesser Antilles called Pupa Antilles.

While the Lucayan Archipelago of Bahamas and Turks and Caicos is part of the West Indies, they are not usually included in the Antilles.

There are also inconsistencies in the inclusion of the Bahamas in the Antilles and in the region and countries covered by the Antilles, according to the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands. But it is clear that the West Indies are clearly tropical islands on the Atlantic side of America.

In this context, it is widely believed that the Bahamas may also be included in the Antilles. The main difference to be added here is that sometimes French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname are included in the West Indies, which is not very common.

Geographically, the Antilles or Antillean Islands are considered to be a subregion of North America, while in some sources they are also called the Central American region.

In some sources, Latin America and the Caribbean are also used for the region. From the geological point of view, the Lesser Antilles consist of young volcanic rocks or coral rocks, while the Greater Antilles consist of continental rocks.

History of Antilles

A historical figure in black attire is superimposed on an old map with ships, sea creatures, and navigational tools.

The name originates from Portuguese ante-ilhas. The word means the previous island. The form we use today is derived from Antillia, a Latin word, and means the ghost island in the west of Spain.

The Antilles were the name given to mysterious lands, which were sometimes defined as islands in the ocean between the Canary Islands and India in the Middle Ages before the discovery of Europeans by the New World.

In 1778, Thomas Kitchin wrote in his book that he was told of the region as a sign of reverence in the form of Carribee Isles.

However, earlier these islands were translated from Aristotelian theories. This can also be seen in the world map of Zuane Pizzigano in 1424. In line with the story told by the Portuguese fishermen, the story of the discovery began to be investigated with the construction of the caraveline, which was the first marine model ship that was launched in 1452 by the sailor man Henrique.

Progress in maritime has motivated people to find this legend. In this way, on September 25, 1492, Christopher Columbus saw and departed San Salvador 19 days after leaving La Gomera, the last port. Columbus thought it was part of India.

Geography of Antilles

Aerial view of a tropical archipelago with lush green islands surrounded by turquoise waters.

The form of an arc, Antilles, extends over 3,500 km from Cuba to Venezuela. The Antilles were used to describe a wide geographical region. Some countries also include Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname. For this reason, the region has not been clearly defined until today.

In this respect, it can be said that the Caribbean and West Indies are also used for the Antilles. But simply, these islands and countries are shown below as the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.

Greater Antilles

A map highlights Greater Antilles: Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico in green, with labels and a scale.
Greater Antilles Map

The Antilles starts from the west with Cuba, which is the largest of the four islands of the Greater Antilles.

The Bahamas, in the north of Cuba, a long island, are not included in the Antillean Islands, because they are directly in the ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.

Haiti or Hispaniola, separated by the Windward Strait in the east of Cuba, is the second-largest island.

Jamaica is located in the south-east of Cuba and completely within the Caribbean Sea.

Puerto Rico, the fourth-largest island of Antille, is in eastern Haiti.

The chain of the Lesser Antilles begins from the southeast of Puerto Rico begins

Lesser Antilles

A map labels Caribbean islands including the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, and others.
Lesser Antilles Map

From North to South, towards the coast of Venezuela, the following islands: Virgin, St. Kitts, St. Christofer, Barbuda, Antigua, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Santa Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent, Grenada, Tobago, Trinidad. There are quite a few smaller islands.

Demographics of the Antilles

A tropical beach resort with clear blue water, palm trees, sun loungers, and thatched umbrellas along the shoreline, under a partly cloudy sky.

The total population in the Antilles, which has a terrestrial area of 235,830 km², is 41,964,775 and the population density per square kilometer is 178. The Antilles consists of 13 countries and 14 dependent regions. Its largest cities include Havana, Port-au-Prince, and Santo Domingo.

Cuba is located in the UTC-5 time zone, while Barbados is located in the UTC-4 time zone. The richness of different cultures in the Antilles was developed in the Caribbean before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

These continent civilizations had special handcrafted works of cassava in special styles and tumbaga and gold tools made of gold and copper. In some parts of Central America and the Andes, some stone pyramids are found. Arawaks, Caribbean Indians, Sibons and Tainos lived in this geography.

Languages spoken in the region are also very diverse. In the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the official language is Spanish, while in Puerto Rico the official languages are English and Spanish.

While the official language of Saint Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands is English, the official language of Saint Martin is Sabir.

Another official language of Saint Martin is French, which is the official language of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Saint Barthélemy.

Regional Integration in the Antilles

Formally dressed people posing for a photo in front of international flags, with one row seated and one standing.
On July 24, 1994, the ACS – Association of Caribbean States was established in order to harmonize the economies of the countries in the Caribbean basin and for political purposes.

The Caribbean Community – CARICOM, which was initially set up for the only market economy among the countries where only the English language was spoken, became a multilingual market with the participation of Surinam and Haiti.

In addition, organizations such as the Eastern Caribbean States and the Caribbean Development Bank contribute to regional integration for common purposes in the region. In order to create free trade between North and South America and the Caribbean countries, it is aimed to establish the FTAA Free Trade Area.

It should be noted, however, that although Guadles des Saintes, Martinique, Saint Martin (France), Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and Guadeloupe are related to the Union of Caribbean States through French diplomatic members, they are outside of regional integration due to their de facto status.