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Caribbean Overview. 25 countries and dependent territories Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico) Large mountains (DR: 10,000’; Jamaica Blue Mtns. 7000’, Cuba 6000’ (refuges for runaway slaves) Fertile farmlands, but fragile Lesser Antilles Double arc

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caribbean overview
Caribbean Overview
  • 25 countries and dependent territories
    • Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico)
      • Large mountains (DR: 10,000’; Jamaica Blue Mtns. 7000’, Cuba 6000’ (refuges for runaway slaves)
      • Fertile farmlands, but fragile
    • Lesser Antilles
      • Double arc
    • Netherlands Antilles (ABC islands)
  • Setting boundaries not easy:
    • Sometimes Belize/ Guyana\'s (Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana)
    • Sometimes the “rimlands” of Central American countries
    • Bahamas included even though they are technically in the Atlantic Ocean
why a region
Why a region?
  • Commonalities: Cultural and economic history different than Latin America
    • Diverse European influence
    • Strong African imprint and slavery
    • Virtually no indigenous legacy
    • Export plantation economy
      • Grossly uneven distribution of land and resources
      • Environmental impacts
    • Environmental/physical geographies
  • Names:
    • The Indies, the Spanish Main, Mar del Norte
    • 18th C: first use of the name Caribbean
caribbean diversity
Caribbean Diversity
  • Territorial Size:
    • Cuba:: 101,000 Km. Sq.
    • Montserrat: 100 km. Sq.
  • Population
    • Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic): 16 million
    • Turks and Caicos: 12,000 pop
  • Cultural Heritage
    • Spanish: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic
    • French: Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin
    • Dutch: ABC, St. Maartin
    • English:
    • Patois: many islands
  • Economic and social indicators
caribbean overview1
Caribbean Overview
  • Historically: “proxy” battleground for European rivalries
    • Plantation economies
      • Sugar, sugar, sugar
      • Bananas, citrus, coffee, spices
  • By 1900’s: US dominates the region politically and economically
  • Other and more recent economic development
      • timber
      • nickel and bauxite, gold
      • tourism
      • Non traditional exports
      • Off shore banking
caribbean overview2
Caribbean Overview
  • Contradictions:
    • “Island Paradise” v. impoverishment and dependency
    • “Isolated proximity”
    • Fertility washed away
    • Cyclical migration: migrants returning
environmental geographies
Environmental Geographies
  • Geologies, climate and vegetation
      • Tectonic Plates
      • Tropical, wet climate that supports forests
      • Palm savannas—best soils
      • Mangrove swamps
      • Arid zones (rain shadows)
      • Hurricanes
  • Reworked landscapes
  • Environmental degradation
    • Deforestation
      • Sugarcane fields
        • Jamaica and DR still have 30%
        • Cuba has 20% (charcoal production for energy needs)
        • Rimlands are much more intact
          • Belize and Guyana had successful environmental initiatives
    • Seas and marine resources
        • Never supported commercial fishing
plantation economies
Plantation economies
  • Spanish discoveries
      • Jumping off point for exploration and ports for trading from Mexico, CA and SA
  • Colonists demographic collapse of indigenous Arawaks and Caribs
      • Fragments survive only on the rimland
  • Competition from France, England, Holland; Pirates
  • “Plantation America” from Brazil up through SE US.
  • Mono crop system: sugar
    • Insatiable demand for sugar and rum
  • Asian migrants indentured labor
      • Suriname: 1/3 pop is of S. Asian descent, 16% Javanese
      • Guyana and Trinidad: India
      • English colonies: Chinese
  • Slave labor-Elaborate racial hierarchy
caribbean cultures
Caribbean Cultures
  • Much diversity, but also many similarities which provide glue
    • European plantation economies similar social structures (like CA)
    • African influence
    • Creolization
      • Culture, language, music
african heritages
African heritages
  • African diaspora
    • West Africa: Senegal to Angola
    • Est. 10 million crossed the Atlantic (2 million died on the way) between 16th and 19th c.
    • Intentional mixing so no one source would dominate
    • hybridity of cultures, religions, and languages
  • Maroon societies (palenques)
    • Maintenance of historical religions
      • Obi, Obeah
      • Bush Negroes
  • African religions
    • Voodoo, Santeria, Obeah
    • Extensive use
    • Diffused to the US along with migrants
african heritage and hybridity
African heritage and hybridity
  • Creolization
      • Rich forms (VS Naipal, Bob Marley)
      • Garifuna or Black Carib
        • African/Carib on St. Vincent forcibly resettled by British to Bay Islands of Honduras
          • Maintain Indian religion, eat manioc
  • Languages
      • Spanish: 24 million
      • French: 8 million
      • English: 6 million
      • Dutch: .5 million
      • Alternatives: papiamento, patois,
  • Music
      • Reggae, calypso, merengue, rumba, zouk, steel drums of Trinidad, etc.
        • Haitian ra-ra musicians have been exiled when too political
        • Reggae, esp. Bob Marley, strong political content
political histories
Political Histories
  • Independence:
    • Haiti is the first in 1804 (v. US in 1776)
      • But it was seen as a threat by other islands and shunned by the mainland CA countries
    • Dominican Republic in 1844
    • Cuba and PR in 1898 from Spain US involvement
    • British colonies: revolts starting in 1930’s but independence in 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s
present day political status
Present day political status
  • British colonies:
    • Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Montserrat—21,000 pop.
    • High standard of living: offshore banking
  • French islands:
    • some remain connected to colonial rulers and use this as an asset.
      • Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guyana are “departments” of France (900,000 pop)
  • Dutch former colonies
    • Curacao, Bonaire, St. Martin, Saba, St. Eustatius
    • “Federation of the Netherlands Antilles”
    • Autonomous, yet part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
us influence after 1898
US influence after 1898:
  • Monroe Doctrine No tolerance for European powers in the Western hemisphere
  • Spanish-American war 1898
  • “America’s Backyard”US asserts neocolonial control over persistent colonies of the English, French and Dutch
    • “Free it from European tyranny an foster democratic governance” BUT:
      • Roosevelt: Panama canal and open sea-lanes
      • Good Neighbor Policy (1930’s)
      • Alliance for Progress (1960’s)
      • Caribbean Basin Initiative (1980’s)
      • FTAA possibilities
economic development
Economic Development
  • Decline of agriculture:
    • Turbulent and declining commodity prices
    • Decline in preferential trade agreements with former colonial countries
    • Soils are overworked/No frontier
    • Mechanization of sugarless labor needed
    • Examples:
      • Haiti
        • 1955: 70% of foreign exchange through coffee
        • 1990: 11%
      • DR:
        • 1955: 60% of foreign exchange through sugar
        • 1990: 20%
economic development agriculture today
Economic DevelopmentAgriculture today
  • Exception to complete decline: Cuba
      • sugar 80% of foreign exchange 1950’s-1990’s.
      • Diversification after 1989.
      • Now Cuba grows about 30% of the world’s coffee
  • Coffee is grown by small producers
    • Interspersed with subsistence crops
  • Bananas
  • NTEX crops
economic development bananas and banana wars
Economic DevelopmentBananas and Banana wars
  • Banana production
      • Most in CA
      • Vulnerable to hurricanes,
      • Still, several states are dependent on bananas (Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia)
      • Landowners are the laborers2-4x income
  • 1996: WTO case
    • US, Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras sue EU over preferential trade agreements with Caribbean countries
    • Exacerbated by consumer preferences
  • Result: Non traditional exports:
    • Okra, tomatoes, avocados, marijuana
economic development export processing production
Economic DevelopmentExport Processing Production
  • 1950’s in Puerto Rico “Operation Bootstrap”
    • By 1970, 40% of GDP comes from manufacturing
    • Today, 50%, but competition from other islands and locations is threatening PR’s lead
  • Other EPZ’s or Free Trade Zones
    • Jamaica—15% of GDP
    • DR: “Hong Kong of the Caribbean”
    • Map
economic development offshore banking
Economic DevelopmentOffshore Banking
  • Specialized services that are confidential and tax-exempt
    • Localities make money through registration fees
  • Began in Bahamas in 1920s
  • Competition from other islands, Hong Kong and Singapore--Cayman Islands is current leader
    • 50,000 registered companies
    • Est. Cayman banks $800 billion on deposit.
    • Highest per capita PPP in region
  • Concerns about corruption and money laundering of drug fundsreforms
    • But still, drug influences=drug consumption, corruption and violence
    • US raises new concerns about privacy after 9/11
economic development tourism
Economic DevelopmentTourism
  • Began in 19th C.
  • 1930’s: Cuba is a leader
    • Bahamas distant second
  • 5 leaders:
    • Puerto Rico:
      • after commonwealth status 1952
      • Largest home port for cruise lines
    • Bahamas:
      • 30% of pop employed in tourism, mainly American
    • Dominican Republic:
      • many visitors are nationals who live overseas
      • $2.5 billion, leading foreign exchange earner
    • Jamaica
      • $1.2 billion
    • Cuba
economic development regional initiatives
Economic DevelopmentRegional Initiatives
  • Caribbean Basin Initiative
  • CARICOM
    • 1973
    • 13 member states:
        • Former English colonies
        • Haiti
        • Other associate members
    • Caribbean Development Bank
    • University of the West Indies
    • Limited success
modern demographics
Modern Demographics
  • Varied population densities
  • Demographic trends
    • Fertility decline
    • Rise of HIV/AIDS
    • Emigration “Caribbean diaspora”
      • Barbadians--England
      • Surinamese--Netherlands
      • PR—NY
      • Cubans—Miami
    • Intraregional migration
      • Haitians– DR
    • Circular migration
    • Chain migration
    • Rural-Urban migration
caribbean cities
Caribbean cities
  • Initially, just administrative centers for business of the plantations
      • Most people lived in rural areas
      • Only Havana has extensive colonial architecture and urban design (the key colonial city in the region)
      • Paramailbo (Suriname) looks like a tiny Holland
  • Recent migrations caused by
    • Mechanization of agriculture
    • Offshore industrialization
    • Rapid population growth
      • Only 4 are >1 million (Santo Domingo 2.6 m; Havana 2.2 m; Port-au-Prince 1.5m; San Juan 1m)
  • Modern cities reflect historical rural social and economic patterns:
    • “Houseyards”
      • Rural subsistence, economic survival, matriarchal social structure
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