Caribbean Geography


*What exactly is the Caribbean comprised of?

*How does geography influence the culture?

*How does the geography limit their trade and economy?

*What are the major landforms or major waterways?

*How does Geography play a significant role in history?

*Why is it that the majority of the inhabitants in nations, such as Jamaica, are of African descent?



Welcome to the Caribbean!


The countries and territories that make up the Caribbean geographically are Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago. The countries and islands that make up the Caribbean, not geographically, but culturally, are Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. The Caribbean is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Because of the the Caribbean's geography, it is a large tourist attraction. Tourism alone, accounts for about 50% of Gross Domestic Product. Tourism also emplys about 40% of the work force. The Gross Domestic Product growth rate for the countries in the Caribbean are about 0.5% to 2.5%. Because the Caribbean is mainly islands and surrounded by vast amounds of water, trading is limited to mostly the seas. The Caribbean relies on tourism beacause agriculture is not very big in the Caribbean, few goods are exported, and an average of 16% of the population in each country is unemployed. Agriculture accounts for a small portion in the GDP due to the hot climate, so mainly troical fruits can be grown.

Geography plays a large role in the culture of each country in the Caribbean. Some of the culture from the first native inhabitants still thrive in the Caribbean. Only a few nations such as Jamaica and Barbados were affected by colonization and new societies of black african slaves. Since the islands are somewhat far apart, slavery did not spread as easily, and there was not much cultural diffusion between the islands in the Caribbean, so there is a different culture in each one.

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Dominican Republic


Residing on the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic takes up the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola. This island of Hispaniola consists of The Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Dominican Republic is the largest country in the Caribbean and takes up 18,815 square miles. It also has the highest and lowest points in the Caribbean. The country of The Dominican Republic has many mountain ranges, agricultural areas, deserts, and forests.
The Cordillera Central lies in the northwest through the southeast and into the center of the country. This mountain range includes Duarte Peak that is 10,417 feet above sea level. This is also the highest point in the whole Caribbean. This mountainous land is very dry. In the west part of the island there are other mountain ranges such as the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco. In between these two mountain ranges there is the lowest point in the Caribbean, Lake Enriquillo.
Also in the country of the Dominican Republic is an area of land called the Cibao. This area is north of the Cordillera Mountains. This area has many slopes covered in pine trees. The Cibao is in the center of the country and is a big farming area.


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Wikipedia Images Google Images


Cuba


Being an archipelago (large group or chain of islands {dictionary.com}) Cuba’s land area is about 42,803 square miles and it is the largest island in the Caribbean. This island lies about 90 miles south of the United States. 1,600 islands surround Cuba. More then half of Cuba consists of hills and valleys. Western Cuba contains two mountain ranges; the Sierra de los Organos and the Sierra del Rosario. In the south lies the mountain region the Sierra de Escambray. Pico Turquino is the highest point in Cuba, a mountain peek that rises to about 6,700 feet.

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Google Images Google Images

With over 200 rivers and streams, Cuba has many short and shallow waterways. Most of these waterways are narrow and cannot be mapped for any great distances. The longest river in Cuba is the Cauto River and it stretches for about 150 miles.
The geographic location of Cuba has had an influence on its history. Since Cuba lies at the intersection of the major sea routes between the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico it had become and important settlement of Spain’s empire in the New World. This had started when Columbus landed in Cuba in 1492.



Haiti


Also lying on the island of Hispaniola, Haiti is even more mountainous then the Dominican Republic on which it shares the island. Haiti takes up about 10,714 square miles and it is made up of two peninsulas. Most of the island consists of mountain ranges or elevated plateaus. In the southeast, the Morne La Selle mountain peek reaches about 8,800 feet. The Cul-de-Sac plain is a large plain that lies between the many mountain ranges in Haiti. This plain is the most productive region of Haiti and it is very well irrigated. This is also the country’s most densely populated area. Haiti is also intersected by seven great rivers, the longest being the Artibonite which is Haiti's most important river. It starts in the north and then it empties into the Gulf of Gonave.

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Google Images Google Images

Coffee and cacao (seeds used to make coca and chocolate) is grown in the mountains of Haiti. In the Aribonite Valley also where the Aritbonite River lies people grow crops such as rice and sugar cane. Since there is not a lot of good land, farmers have resorted to growing crops even on steep mountains. This has resulted in the soil erosion.


The Bahamas


The Bahamas consists of more then 700 islands spreading across more then 100,000 miles of the Western Atlantic Ocean. The actual land that the Bahamas take up is about 5,353 square miles. Of these 700 islands, only 30 of them are inhabited. This is a very popular vacation spot with many tourists flocking here to see the beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. The capital is Nassau which is where most of the country's population lives.
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Google images, Google Images
The highest point in the Bahamas is Mount Alverina on Cat Island but it is only 206 feet above sea level. The islands are very attractive with coral reefs and many types of wildlife which include flamingos, parrots, iguanas, and many underwater animals. From standing in the clear shallow water you can see the sea floor.
The climate of these islands contributes why it is such a "hot spot" for vacationing. The Bahamas experience warm temperatures all year round. The average temperature is 88 degrees from June to September. These are the hottest months in the Bahamas but even in their coldest months (January and February) the temperature is still a whopping 77 degrees. In the nation's capital of Nassau they average 7 inches of rain every summer because it is their rainy season.




Jamaica


Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean. The weather is temperate in the mountains and tropical near the coasts. There is over 200 miles of coastline in Jamaica. Jamaica's longest river is the Black River. Its tallest mountain is 7402 feet tall. Jamaica's capital is Kingston. It is slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut. There are more than 2.5 million people who live in Jamaica.

The Majority of the inhabitants in Jamaica are black Africans. The indigenous people of these islands were american Indians such as the Caribs or the Arawaks, but, were wiped out by the colonization in the 16th and 17th century. Their culture was hard to preserve orally and so there was left barely a trace of culture for the new societies of black Africans and few south-eastern Asians. These black Africans were brought to the Caribbean through slavery. Although slavery was said to have ended late in the 18th century, the oppressive nature of Colonialism led many to believe that the liberation of slaves was only an illusion. At this time, Jamaica was governed by white plantation owners and they ensured that most blacks, although free, would still be living in conditions of poverty with extremely low wages and little hope for advancement.

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Google Images



Questions From Students:



What are the main geographic features in the Caribbean?

Are there Mountains?

Are there Volcanoes?

How do land forms affect the Caribbean Culture?



Facts From Students Before Presentation:


  • The Caribbean is comprised of all islands.
  • The Caribbean is located in Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Caribbean has many ports.
  • The Caribbean has a very warm climate.
  • Many islands in the Caribbean are controlled by foreign powers.
  • The Caribbean is a popular tourist destination
  • Many people living in the Caribbean are from Africa.
  • There are many natrual disasters.
  • Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean.
  • There is a lot of poverty in the Caribbean.


Activity/Worksheet


Label Countries on this blank map: http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/images/Caribbean/caribbeanblank.gif

Caribbean Geography Worksheet (Worksheet is not accurate due to technical difficulties. Sorry for the inconvienience.)

Dominican Republic

Residing on the island of , the Dominican Republic takes up the eastern two-_ of Hispaniola. This island of Hispaniola consists of The Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Dominican Republic is the largest country in the Caribbean and takes up _ square miles. It also has the highest and lowest points in the Caribbean. The country of The Dominican Republic has many mountain ranges, areas, deserts, and forests.

Cuba

Being an
(large group or chain of islands {dictionary.com}) Cuba’s surface area is about _ square miles and it is the largest island in the Caribbean. This island lies about 90 miles south of the United States. 1,600 islands surround Cuba. More then _ of Cuba consists of hills and valleys. Western Cuba contains two mountain ranges; the _ and the Sierra del Rosario. In the south lies the mountain region the Sierra de Escambray. Pico Turquino is the highest point in Cuba, a mountain peek that rises to about feet.

Haiti

Also lying on the island of _, Haiti is even more mountainous then the Dominican Republic on which it shares the island. Haiti takes up about square miles and it is made up of two peninsulas. Most of the island consists of mountain ranges or elevated plateaus. In the southeast, the Morne La Selle mountain peek reaches about _ feet. The _ plain is a large plain that lies between the many mountain ranges in Haiti. This plain is the most productive _ of Haiti and it is very well _. This is also the country’s most densely populated area. Haiti is also intersected b y seven great rivers, the longest being the _ which is Haitis most important river. It starts in the north and then it empties into the _ of Gonave.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas consists of more then _ islands spreading across more then 100,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The actual land that the Bahamas take up is about 5,353 square miles. Of these 700 islands, only 30 of them are inhabited. This is a very popular _ spot with many tourist flocking here to see the beautiful beaches and crystal clear . The capital is which is where most of the the country's population lives.

Jamaica

Jamaica is the _ -largest island in the Caribbean. The weather is in the mountains and tropical near the coasts. There is over miles of coastline in Jamaica. Jamaica's longest is the Black River. It's tallest mountain is _feet tall. Jamaica's capital is Kingston. It is slightly smaller than the state of _. There are more than 2.5 million people who live in Jamaica.



Works Cited:


Cavendish, Marshall. "Physical Geography." Encyclopedia of World Geography . Vol. 4. New York, Toronto, Sydney: n.p., n.d. 474- 481.

Bahamas." Reviewed by William H. Kalis. Lands and Peoples. 2007. Grolier Online. 14 May 2007
< http://lp.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article? assetid=4060600 >.

"Geography and Maps."
Guide to Jamaica. 15 May 2007 < http://www.jamaicans.com/childsguide/facts.shtml >.

"Countires of the Carribean." About: Geography
. 2007. The New York Times Company. 8 May 2007
< http://geography.about.com/library/maps/blrcaribbean.htm >.

"Caribbean Climate." Adventure Smith Explorations
. 2007. AdventureSmith Explorations. 10 May 2007
<http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/climate.php/d/caribbean>.

Lichtenstein, David P. "Importance of History in Caribbean Writing."
Literature of Caribbean. 1999. Brown University. 15 May 2007
< http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/caribbean/history/whyhis.html >.

"The History of the Caribbean."
Literature of Caribbean. 1997. CIA World Fact Book. 15 May 2007 < http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/caribbean/history/historyov.html >.

Matthews, Thomas G. "Dominican Republic." Grolier Online
. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Scholastic Lib. 11 May 2007
< http://gme.grolier.com/ >.