The Lesser Antilles (Spanish: Pequeñas Antillas; French: Petites Antilles; Papiamento: Antias Menor; Dutch: Kleine Antillen) is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles (or the Caribbean in its narrowest definition). When combined with the Lucayan Archipelago, all three are known as the West Indies.
Location within the Caribbean
|Coordinates: 14°14′N 61°21′W|
|• Total||14,364 km2 (5,546 sq mi)|
|• Density||274.9/km2 (712/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−4 (AST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−3 (ADT)|
The Windward Islands are so called because they were more windward to sailing ships arriving in the New World than the Leeward Islands, given that the prevailing trade winds blow east to west. The trans-Atlantic currents and winds that provided the fastest route across the ocean brought these ships to the rough dividing line between the Windward and Leeward Islands.
The Lesser Antilles more or less coincide with the outer cliff of the Caribbean Plate. Many of the islands were formed as a result of the subduction of oceanic crust of the Atlantic Plate under the Caribbean Plate in the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. This process is ongoing and is responsible not only for many of the islands, but also for volcanic and earthquake activity in the region. The islands along the South American coast are largely the result of the interaction of the South American Plate and the Caribbean Plate which is mainly strike-slip, but includes a component of compression.
Geologically, the Lesser Antilles island arc stretches from Grenada in the south to Anguilla in the north. The Virgin Islands and Sombrero Island are geologically part of the Greater Antilles, while Trinidad is part of South America and Tobago is the remainder of a separate island arc. The Leeward Antilles are also a separate island arc, which is accreting to South America.
The Lesser Antilles are divided into eight independent nations and numerous dependent and non-sovereign states (which are politically associated with the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and the United States). Over one third of the total area and population of the Lesser Antilles lies within Trinidad and Tobago, a sovereign nation comprising the two southernmost islands of the Windward Island chain.
(1 July 2005 est.)
|Antigua and Barbuda||Parishes||440||85,632||195||St. John's|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Parishes||261||42,696||163.5||Basseterre|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Parishes||389||110,000||283||Kingstown|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Regional corporations||5,131||1,299,953||253.3||Port of Spain|
Non-sovereign states and territories
(1 July 2005 est.)
|British Virgin Islands||UK||Districts||153||27,000||260||Road Town|
|Saint Barthélemy||France||Paroisses (parishes)||21||7,448||354.6||Gustavia|
|United States Virgin Islands||United States||Districts||346||108,448||313.1||Charlotte Amalie|
|Nueva Esparta||Venezuela||Municipalities||1,150||491,610||402.15||La Asunción|
|Federal Dependencies of Venezuela||Venezuela||Federal dependencies||342||2,155||6||Gran Roque|
Several islands along the north coast of Venezuela and politically part of that country are also occasionally considered part of the Lesser Antilles. These are listed in the section below.
The main Lesser Antilles are (from north to south to west):
- Virgin Islands
- Anguilla (UK)
- Saint Martin (Fr.) / Sint Maarten (Neth.)
- Saint Barthélemy (Fr.)
- Saba (Neth.)
- Sint Eustatius (Neth.)
- Saint Kitts (St. Kitts and Nevis)
- Nevis (St. Kitts and Nevis)
- Barbuda (Antigua and Barbuda)
- Antigua (Antigua and Barbuda)
- Redonda (Antigua and Barbuda) uninhabited
- Montserrat (UK)
- Dominica (Commonwealth)
- Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre (often combined as Guadeloupe) (Fr.)
- Martinique (Fr.)
- Saint Lucia (St. Lucia)
- Barbados (Barbados is a Continental island found 100 miles (160 km) east of the Windward chain)
- Saint Vincent (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
- Grenadines (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
- Carriacou and Petite Martinique (Grenada)
- Grenada (Grenada)
- Trinidad (Sometimes considered part of the Windward Islands. They are the most southern islands of the Caribbean region. See Islands of Trinidad and Tobago.
Islands north of the Venezuelan coast (from west to east):
- Aruba (Neth.)
- Curaçao (Neth.)
- Bonaire (Neth.)
- Federal Dependencies of Venezuela (Ven)
- Nueva Esparta (Ven)
- "West Indies." Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary, 3rd ed. 2001. (ISBN 0-87779-546-0) Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc., p. 1298.
- "Windward Islands | islands, West Indies". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "The Scotland District of Barbados". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- "The Windward Islands and Barbados". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
- Cohen, Saul B., ed. "West Indies" Archived 2006-08-16 at the Wayback Machine The Columbia Gazetteer of North America. Archived 2006-08-20 at the Wayback Machine New York: Columbia University Press – Bartleby. Accessed: 19 September 2006
- ARBITRAL TRIBUNAL CONSTITUTED PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 287, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH ANNEX VII, OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION BETWEEN: BARBADOS - AND - THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Archived 2008-12-17 at the Wayback Machine - The Hague, 11 April 2006 (Pages 15-16)
- Rogonzinski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean. New York: Facts on File, 1992.
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