The Caribbean, as a region, is made up of the Caribbean Sea and numerous islands, each with a rich and diverse history. These islands are split into three larger groups, with the Bahamas to the north of the chain, the Greater Antilles roughly in the middle, and the Lesser Antilles to the south.
The first documented inhabitants of the region were the Carribeans—comprised mostly of the Taínos, or Arawaks, in the Greater Antilles, and the Caribs, or Callinagoes, of the Lesser Antilles.1 In 1492, it was the former which Columbus met, on a Bahamian island, and was then convinced he had reached the East Indies, which explains the derivation of “West Indies” associated with the region.2
In the period covered by the Colonial Despatches collection, the Caribbean was a tangle of colonial rule and Triangular Trade, largely at the hands of Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, and France. Several of the letters mention Jamaica and Saint Vincent, among other Caribbean islands, subject to a variety of Colonial interests.
  • 1. Janice McLean, Caribbean, The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Thought.
  • 2. Ibid.
Mentions of this place in the documents