The Caribbean region is part of North America.
It occupies all islands lying between Florida and the coast of Venezuela.
The Caribbean Islands are divided into two large groups – Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles.
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All of them are of continental origin.
On the island of Hispaniola, which is the second largest island after Cuba, is located Pico Duarte – the highest peak in the entire Caribbean Region.
It is located in the central parts of the Dominican Republic and rises to 3098 m above seal level.
The Lesser Antilles form a crescent between the island of Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
Many of these small tropical islands represent volcanoes, rising above the water surface.
The Bahamas are not part of the Caribbean, but according to many natural and cultural features they have always seen as an integral part of this region.
The Caribbean is characterized by very beautiful scenery and constantly warm climate.
Most of the islands are covered with lush tropical vegetation.
Local beaches are considered among the finest in the world.
Thanks to its beauty, the Caribbean has become one of the leading tourist regions on the planet.
Tourists arrive throughout the year but especially during the winter months, when the islands are bathed in sunshine and enjoy a wonderful weather.
Pristine ocean waters and stunning coral reefs make this region a hot spot for diving enthusiasts from all around the world.
The Caribbean Region remained unknown to Europeans until the 15th century.
In 1492 the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his crew reached the shores of the Bahamas, thinking that they have achieved their goal – namely to find a shortcut to India.
For this reason they called the Caribbean Islands “West Indies”.
Nowadays, you can feel particularly the influence of Spanish culture, which is quite widespread in the larger islands such as Cuba, most of Hispaniola, Jamaica as well as the island of Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States.
British culture itself is particularly noticeable in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands and others.
French influence is most noticeable in Saint Barthelmy, Saint Martin and the tourist pearl of Martinique, which is renowned as one of the most attractive destinations in the region.
In the Southern Caribbean are located Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, which are owned by the Netherlands.
Local Dutch architecture will make you feel like on the streets of Amsterdam.
Portuguese language and culture have left their imprint on the island of Hispaniola, and in particular in Haiti that occupies the western parts of the island.
The Caribbean Region is densely populated.
It covers an area of 239.681 square kilometers (not counting the actual area of the Caribbean Sea) and has a population of approximately 42 million people.
Some countries in the region such as Barbados for example, are among the most densely populated countries in the world.
The Caribbean’s population has around or above-average living standards, but there are some exceptions.
Haiti for example is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world.
Natives of this region are Caribbean Indians.
Here live many immigrants from Africa who were brought here as slaves to work on the sugar cane plantations.
The Caribbean Region is also home to many European settlers, especially from Britain, Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Caribbean economy relies heavily on highly developed tourist industry.
Other very important sectors are agriculture and finance.
The islands are known for their production of sugar cane and a huge variety of delicious tropical fruits.
The most famous export goods are local cigars and rum, which enjoy great interest especially in developed countries.
Much of the Caribbean countries are members of CARICOM – organization whose primary objective is to achieve economic integration between the Caribbean states.
This is a stable base for future economic development of the region.
Environmental problems of the Caribbean region are associated largely with the development of tourism industry.
Some areas are overbuilt, and overpopulation creates environmental problems, especially on some of the smaller islands.
Exotic animal species go deeper and deeper into the rainforest in an effort to escape the increasingly crowded coastal areas.More from Caribbean: