Is the Caribbean part of Latin America?
According to the classifications made by the United Nations geo-scheme for the Americas, Latin America and the Caribbean are considered a composite sub-region that is further divided into –
- Central America
- South America
- The Caribbean
Going by this classification, we find a distinction between the Caribbean region and Latin America. The term Latin America refers to the countries and dependencies in the Americas where Romance Languages such as Spanish and French are widely spoken. The distinction between Latin America and the Caribbean is, however, not a formal one. In common parlance ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ is used to refer to all countries in Central America and in the South American continent.
The Caribbean region comprises the island countries and territories located in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of the United States, and to the north of Venezuela (including the Gulf of Mexico). Over 7,000 islands make up the Caribbean region. The Caribbean Sea is spread over 1,063,000 square miles (approximately 2,753,000 square kilometers). Some of these islands are independent countries, but many are dependencies.
The following are independent countries that are part of the Caribbean region:
- Antigua and Barbuda (Capital – Saint John’s)
- Barbados (Capital – Bridgetown)
- Cuba (Capital – Havana)
- Dominica (Capital – Roseau)
- Dominican Republic (Capital – Santo Domingo)
- Grenada (Capital – Saint George’s)
- Haiti (Capital – Port-au-Prince)
- Jamaica (Capital – Kingston)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis (Capital – Basseterre)
- Saint Lucia (Capital – Castries)
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Capital – Kingstown)
- The Bahamas (Capital – Nassau)
- Trinidad and Tobago (Capital – Port of Spain)
There are a number of dependencies in the region too:
- Anguilla (United Kingdom)
- Aruba (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- Bonaire (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
- Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)
- Curaçao (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- Guadeloupe (French Antilles, France)
- Martinique (French Antilles, France)
- Montserrat (United Kingdom)
- Puerto Rico (US Commonwealth)
- Saba (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- Saint Barthélemy (French Antilles, France)
- Saint Martin (French Antilles, France)
- Sint Eustatius (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- Sint Maarten (Kingdom of the Netherlands)
- Turks and Caicos Islands (United Kingdom)
- United States Virgin Islands (United States)
To understand if the Caribbean is part of Latin America, let us take the following islands – Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. Among these, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico are considered to be part of Latin America given the dominance of the Romance languages in these islands. Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the United States Virgin Islands are not counted among Latin American countries. Here we see that the distinction between the Caribbean and Latin America may depend more on convention than on any clear demarcation.
Generally speaking, the term Latin America and the Caribbean is used to refer to all the countries south of the United States extending to the end of the South American continent.