Golden Age of Piracy > West Indies

West Indies

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

The West Indies is a region of the world that contains all of the various islands and chains of the Caribbean Sea which are divided into the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles which are further themselves subdivided. The West Indies was a term given to the region following the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in order to differentiate it from the Old World Indies or the East Indies.

From the 15th to the 19th centuries the imperial powers of the world all competed for influence and territory in the West Indies in order to secure viable trade routes. In fact many of the various trade companies often called themselves the West Indies Trading Company which helped popularize and cement the term in popular culture.

Bahama Archipelago

Greater Antilles

The Greater Antilles islands include the larger islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico and represent the most significant landmass of the West Indies. Most of these islands were claimed by the Spanish Empire with the exception of the Colony of Santiago otherwise known as Spanish Jamaica which was seized by the British in 1654-55 and led to the onset of the Anglo-Spanish War (1654-1660).

Lesser Antilles

The Lesser Antilles are the smaller islands of the West Indies and are subdivided into the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands. The Lesser Antilles starts in the Virgin Islands and forms the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea before wrapping around to the Leeward Antilles along the coast of mainland South America.

Windward Islands

The Windward Islands include the islands of Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines along with Trinidad and Tobago.

Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands are the northwestern islands of the Lesser Antilles and are named such as they are away from the wind, a term known as "lee" in sailing. These islands include the Virgin Islands which includes the British Virgin Islands of Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Tortola along with the Danish West Indies which includes Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas and Water Island. After the Virgin Islands the next major islands in the chain are Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis and finally Anguilla.

Leeward Antilles

Golden Age of Piracy

Periods

Geography

West Indies

East Indies

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources