The Caribbean is a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts.
The largest islands in the area are Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. There are at least 28 island nations and more than 7,000 individual islands in the Caribbean.
The climate of the region is tropical, although temperatures vary depending on elevation.
Originally known as the West Indies, the area was discovered by Christopher Columbus who believed that he had reached the islands off the coast of India. At this time the islands dotted around the Caribbean Sea were inhabited by tribes. The local population were very welcoming to the explorers, which proved to be their downfall. The local population was soon decimated by the newcomers who took slaves and brought disease with them.
The major tribes of the region were the Taíno and the Kalinago. Before the arrival of the Spanish, the tribes had relatively little contact with other cultures although there were wars between rival tribes. The islands changed beyond recognition after the ships docked and the area became well known for the slave trade. Ships full of slaves from West Africa came to the island and many people who reside in the area today are descended from slaves. Another marked increase in population came in the 19th century after mass immigration from India, China and other countries. Today the population is more than 36 million.
There are many attractions which draw visitors into the region, but most people flock to the region for the amazing beaches. From the secluded Virgin Gorda to the exclusive St Barts, the Caribbean caters for every tourist. For the more adventurous the island of Saba allows you tohike the trails, meander through the rain forests and explore protected reefs. For sailing enthusiasts the Grenadines provide perfect sailing opportunities on the crystal clear blue seas. For those wishing to create a castaway scenario the island of St John is the least populated island.