Over the course of the twentieth century, the thousands of islands that make up the Caribbean have changed in numerous ways. Although some of these changes had less influence than others, such as the Battle of the Caribbean, others encouraged things like tourism, therefore boosting the economy. In addition to tourism, the Sugar Industry also played a major role in the brief uprise of the economy, increasing the population as a result. Although this was later replaced by tourism and manufacturing, the
Sugar Industry once dominated the islands. Not only did a change in the economy affect the Caribbean islands, but invasions, especially by the United States, did as well. Specifically, this can be seen in the invasion of Panama in 1989 as well as in the occupation of Haiti starting in 1915. However, some of these aspects affected some countries more than others.
The Caribbean is generally separated into three main island groups. The first, centrally located, is known as the Greater Antilles. It consists of some of the more well known countries, such as: Cuba,
Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. To the north of this group is the Bahamas, which is made up of over 3,000 individual islands. The final grouping of islands, located towards the southeastern part of the Caribbean, is the Lesser Antilles. The Lesser Antilles are divided into three groups: the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, and Leeward Antilles. In total, the Lesser and
Greater Antilles come to form the Antilles, which are a part of the West Indies. Most of the islands that form the Lesser Antilles also form an eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean.
The remainder of the islands are located to the north of South America, in the southern Caribbean.
Although the various countries that form the Caribbean Islands are all geographically similar and a part of the same classification, many of them differ from one another. This is especially true in both political status and population. While countries that make up the Greater Antilles are mostly independent, except for a few that are British Associated Territories (such as the Cayman Islands), the
Lesser Antilles show little similarities in comparison. The only exception in the Greater Antilles is Puerto
Rico, which has been a commonwealth associated with the United States since 1952 (Rogozinski, 285).
In the Lesser Antilles, however, while some of these countries are independent, many are members of the Netherlands Antilles. The rest are either British associated territories, French territories, or have a
less common political status. Many differences are also seen when comparing the varying populations.
The three countries with the highest population are Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, all of which are located in the Greater Antilles. According to a 2012 census, Cuba has a population of
11,249,000 people. The other two countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, have similar but slightly lower populations. As for the countries that form the Lesser Antilles, many of them have relatively small populations, and nothing similar to that of the Greater Antilles (Rogozinski, 4).
Towards the very beginning of the twentieth century, the population in the Caribbean was similar to how it is today, high and growing. As the population grew quickly, it was clear that the amount of money coming into the islands would have to increase as well. By the time World War II began, the
Sugar Industry dominated parts of the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico. Sugar imports were free of
American tariffs and protected by government quotas. In addition, many of Puerto Rico’s farmlands were bought by American corporations; this is where large and modern sugar mills were then constructed. Before 1925, sugar was the island’s main product and because of this, coffee, which was produced on smaller farms,