By Avellon Williams
The Caribbean is a chain of Islands in the Americas, bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Caribbean consists of twenty-four major Islands eighteen of which are independent and six dependencies, stretching from Jamaica in the North to Guyana in the South.
The population of the Caribbean is approximately forty-four million people with approximately thirty-three million divided among Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. The major languages spoken by the Caribbean peoples are: English, Spanish, French, and Dutch; which is representative of the European nations that colonized the Caribbean between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. Patois; or broken French is also spoken by some people in St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Caribbean is famous for its beautiful beaches and is often marketed as a destination to have fun in the sun. It is said that Antigua has three hundred and sixty-five beaches; that is a beach for every day of the year. It follows, therefore, that the economy of the Caribbean Islands is heavily dependent on tourism, with the largest chunk of tourists coming from North America and Europe.
Although Trinidad and Tobago and recently Guyana have large deposits of crude oil and natural gas, tourism is a great foreign exchange earner for these two countries.
Guyana’s rain forests is one of its major tourist attractions, while in Trinidad and Tobago, our Carnival celebrations attract a large number of foreigners to these shores to participate in the festivities, which is dubbed as the greatest show on earth. Visitors are also attracted to the Nylon Pool and Buccoo Reef in Tobago.
Carnival is one of the major attractions in the Caribbean.
Apart from the celebrations in Trinidad and Tobago, other islands such as Barbados (Crop Over) Grenada, Jamaica, and many other Caribbean islands also have celebrations of their own. However, Trinidad and Tobago is considered the mecca of Carnival. While the infectious rhythm of Soca music has its roots in Trinidad and Tobago, this genre of music is widespread throughout the Caribbean.
The same can be said of Reggae music which is indigenous to Jamaica. The steelpan is a musical instrument that was developed in Trinidad and Tobago and is associated with Carnival celebrations.
In terms of sporting activities; athletics, cricket, and soccer are the most popular sports in the Caribbean. The West Indies cricket team dominated the game between 1976 and 1995, winning two world cups during this period (1975 and 1979). Jamaica has produced some of the most dominant sprinters in the Caribbean; both men and women.
The University of the West Indies (UWI) is the major Tertiary Education institution in the English-speaking Caribbean, with campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, although some Islands have their own indigenous Universities.
The Caribbean Islands can be described as a melting pot of races. While Africans and East Indians dominate the racial landscape, Chinese, Caucasians, Spanish, the indigenous Caribs, and Arawak’s. Douglas (a mixture of African and East Indians) are among the other races.
One cannot visit the Caribbean Islands without partaking in its dishes. From ackee in Jamaica to coocoo in Barbados, to doubles and roti in Trinidad and Tobago; these savoury dishes are sure to tingle your taste buds.
This is just a snippet of the Caribbean. One can enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Islands, only by visiting for a vacation. The Caribbean; Paradise on earth.