Lesser Antilles

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Region of the Caribbean
Location within the Caribbean.
Location within the Caribbean.
RegionCaribbean
Island States
Area
 • Total13,012 km2 (5,024 sq mi)
Population (2009)
 • Total3,735,636
 • Density287.09/km2 (743.6/sq mi)
DemonymLesser Antillean
Time zoneAST (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST)ADT (UTC−3)
 
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Region of the Caribbean
Location within the Caribbean.
Location within the Caribbean.
RegionCaribbean
Island States
Area
 • Total13,012 km2 (5,024 sq mi)
Population (2009)
 • Total3,735,636
 • Density287.09/km2 (743.6/sq mi)
DemonymLesser Antillean
Time zoneAST (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST)ADT (UTC−3)

The Lesser Antilles (also known as the Caribbees) are a long, partly volcanic island arc in the Caribbean Sea.[1] Most of its islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, with the remainder located in the southern Caribbean just north of South America. The Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles (or the Caribbean in its narrowest definition), which together with the Lucayan Archipelago comprise the West Indies.

Geography[edit]

The islands of the Lesser Antilles are divided into three groups. The two main groups are the Windward Islands in the south and the Leeward Islands in the north. 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 third group is the Leeward Antilles in the west. These consist of the Dutch ABC islands just off the coast of Venezuela, plus a group of Venezuelan islands.

Geological formation[edit]

The Lesser Antilles more or less coincide with the outer edge of the Caribbean Plate. Many of the islands were formed as a result of the subduction of oceanic crust of the South American 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.

Political divisions[edit]

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.

Sovereign states[edit]

NameSubdivisionsArea
(km²)
Population
(1 July 2005 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Capital
 Antigua and BarbudaParishes44085,632195St. John's
Barbuda1611,3709.65Codrington
Redonda200n/a
 BarbadosParishes431284,589660Bridgetown
 DominicaParishes75472,66096.3Roseau
 GrenadaParishes344110,000319.8St. George’s
 Saint Kitts and NevisParishes26142,696163.5Basseterre
 Nevis9312,106130.1Charlestown
 Saint LuciaQuarters616173,765282Castries
 Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesParishes389120,000308.4Kingstown
 Trinidad and TobagoRegional corporations5,1311,299,953253.3Port of Spain
Tobago30054,000180Scarborough

Non-sovereign states/countries and territories[edit]

NameSovereign StateSubdivisionsArea
(km²)
Population
(1 July 2005 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Capital
 ArubaNetherlands193103,065534Oranjestad
 AnguillaUK9113,600132The Valley
 BonaireNetherlands28814,006246.3Kralendijk
 British Virgin IslandsUKDistricts15327,000260Road Town
 CuraçaoNetherlands444180,592406.7Willemstad
 GuadeloupeFranceArrondissements1,780440,000249.1Basse-Terre
 MartiniqueFranceArrondissements1,128400,000340Fort-de-France
 MontserratUK1204,65538.8Brades
 SabaNetherlands131,424109.5The Bottom
 Saint BarthélemyFrance217,448354.6Gustavia
 Saint MartinFrance5335,000675Marigot
 Sint EustatiusNetherlands343,100147.6Oranjestad
 Sint MaartenNetherlands3440,9171,704Philipsburg
 United States Virgin IslandsUSADistricts346108,448313.1Charlotte Amalie
 Nueva EspartaVenezuela1,150491,610402.15La Asunción
 Federal Dependencies of VenezuelaVenezuela3422,1556Gran 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.

Islands[edit]

The main Lesser Antilles are (from north to south to west):

Leeward Islands:

Windward Islands:

Map of the Leeward Antilles

Leeward Antilles – islands north of the Venezuelan coast (from west to east):

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of Lesser Antilles at Wiktionary

Coordinates: 14°14′N 61°21′W / 14.233°N 61.350°W / 14.233; -61.350