To make that massive number of islands sound far less overwhelming, you can think of the Caribbean in terms of its three distinct regions. The Greater Antilles, the Lucayan Archipelago, and the Lesser Antilles are a way of breaking down the insanely large number of islands into a more consumable concept. For the sake of this article, we’ll touch on five of the twenty-six island countries in the Caribbean Sea.
The Bahamas is an archipelago very near to the coastline of Jamaica. Cuba lies to the opposite direction of the Bahamas, which constitutes a grand total of seven hundred individual islands. Roughly 345,736 people live within the 5,406 square miles of land that the Bahamas encompasses altogether. The capital of the Bahamas is the city of Nassau, which is situated on the New Providence Island. New Providence is the eleventh biggest island of the entire archipelago.
Most people in the Bahamas speak English, though the are three other languages commonly spoken in the Bahamas. Bahamas Creole English, and American Sign Language, or ASL. Two other languages you’ll find in the Bahamas include Haitian Creole and Mandarin Chinese, though these are more commonly spoken by people who immigrate to the area.
Cuba is the largest Caribbean country based on physical size. Encompassing a grand total of 42,804 square miles of land, Cuba is home to roughly 11,204,351 people. The country's capital is Havana. Of the most common languages in Cuba, Spanish is the most dominant.
Two other prominent languages in Cuba include Cuba Sign Language and Lucumi, which is language belonging to an ethnic population of Cuba. Although Catalan and Corsican are not named as official languages in the Caribbean country, these two languages are spoken by those who have moved to Cuba and subsequently are not native to the country.
The Caribbean country of Jamaica ranks as number three in terms of the largest countries in the Caribbean, based solely on total area. Despite being so comparably large, there is not a whole lot of space to freely roam or build on within the confines of Jamaican soil. This is due to the fact that the Caribbean country is heavily comprised of mountains.
Of the 4,244 square miles of land mass, only an estimated seven-hundred-twenty-four square miles are capable of being cultivated, farmed upon, or used as a source of produce in any way. The remaining eighty-three percent of Jamaica is too hilly and unsubstantial for sustaining crops or livestock.
The many languages of Jamaica include English as the predominant and most officially-recognized language in the country. Jamaican Creole, or Patois, follows closely behind English, as do Arawak, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic. In case you are unfamiliar with Arawak, it is a lesser-known language that is native to an Amerindian tribe of Taino people.
Trinidad and Tobago
The islands of Trinidad and Tobago should be thought of as a two-in-one package deal. Though Trinidad and Tobago are two separate islands, they are combined under one name and considered to be one country in all. Tobago is the smaller country of the two, lying just northeast of the much larger island, Trinidad. The two islands are off the coast of the South American country of Venezuela. The surrounding waters include the Gulf de Pana, the Atlantic Ocean, and, of course, the Caribbean Sea.
Trinidad and Tobago reach an impressive number of seven spoken languages, three of which are very rarely heard seeing as they are utilized by a very small percentage of the population. The four more common languages in Trinidad and Tobago are English, Chinese, North Levantine Spoken Arabic, and American Sign Language, or ASL.
The US Virgin Islands are a sprinkling of islands that make up a sole archipelago. The US Virgin Islands are not to be confused with the British Virgin Islands, though the two countries lie in very close proximity to one another.
The Virgin Islands of the United States include the islands of Saint John, Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, and Water Island. These are the four major islands that make up the US Virgin Islands, but there are an additional fifty-something smaller islands that are considered part of the USVI as well. By combining the land masses altogether, the US Virgin Islands account for about one-hundred-thirty-three square miles in total.
As you may have guessed due to the country’s affiliation with the United States, the number one language spoken by people on the US Virgin Islands is English. Other languages that you might catch wind of on the USVI are Virgin Island Creole, Spanish, Indo-European dialects, French Creole, French, and various Asian languages.