Geography of the Caribbean

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Geography of the Caribbean

The Caribbean Sea lies in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean and stretches from the southeastern tip of Florida to the northern coast of South America. Within this region are a cluster of islands, islets, and coastal areas known for their natural beauty and sandy beaches.

The region’s tropical climate draws many tourists but also results in tropical storms, and hurricanes that play a crucial role in shaping the environment and ecosystems of the region.

The Caribbean includes over 700 islands and archipelagos, with larger islands such as Cuba and Hispaniola, and smaller ones like St. Lucia and Barbados. The islands primarily formed from volcanic and tectonic activity. 

Environmental Issues in Central America

The region’s topography varies from mountainous terrains to low-lying coastal plains. The Caribbean is also home to coral reefs, which are essential for marine biodiversity.

Cuba has a diverse topography. The western part features the low mountains of the Sierra de los Organos, and the rugged Sierra Maestra Mountains in the east. The rich soil of the Cauto Valley, carved by the Caribbean’s longest river, the Rio Cauto, is known for its agriculture.

Jamaica, home of the Blue Mountains, is also a mountainous island with interior plateaus and coastal plains. It is also known for Cockpit Country, its unique karst landscape, where dissolving limestone bedrock creates sinkholes, sinking rivers and streams, caves, and springs.

Hispaniola, the island that is home to the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is mountainous with the Massif du Nord in Haiti and the highest mountain in the West Indies, the Pico Duatre, found in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is also home to Cibao Valley where cash crops such as coffee and cacao are grown.

Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States, is home to the tropical rainforest El Yanque National Forest. Puerto Rico is also home to Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay. During nights of very little moonlight, the water is lit up with bioluminescence created by a dinoflagellate in the water that glows blue when agitated.

The Bahamas is an archipelago made up of over 3,000 coral islands, islets. and cays. The land is low-lying, with the highest point only a few yards above sea level, making it susceptible to hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season which lasts from from June through November.

Environmental Issues in Central America

The twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago has vast geographic differences. Trinidad is mostly flat with hills in the northern and central regions. On the other hand, Tobago is more mountainous, featuring the Main Ridge mountain range. Although the climate of this nation is tropical with a wet season from June to December, it is situated outside of the primary hurricane belt.

Urbanization and tourism have had negative impacts on the geography in the Caribbean region. Agriculture, including sugarcane and banana plantations, have led to deforestation and soil erosion. Tourism has caused ecological stress to reef systems, fisheries, and coastal areas.

Major urban centers like Havana, Cuba, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, have grown rapidly due to economic opportunities and employment, but have also brought pollution and land use issues.


World Geography Textbook