Commonwealth Caribbean

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The term Commonwealth Caribbean is used to refer to the independent English-speaking countries of the Caribbean region. Upon a country's full independence from the United Kingdom, Anglophone Caribbean or Commonwealth Caribbean traditionally becomes the preferred sub-regional term as a replacement to British West Indies.[1]

Territories included[edit]

The independent island-nations that are considered as Commonwealth Caribbean include:

Commonwealth Caribbean also refers to the independent English-speaking countries known as the "Mainland Caribbean". These include:

Sometimes, it also includes the current Caribbean British overseas territories, although they are usually just referred to as the "British West Indies," and they include:

Because there are non-Commonwealth Caribbean islands in which English is the primary or secondary language, the term Commonwealth Caribbean is not necessarily inclusive of all islands that encompass the English-speaking Caribbean. Accordingly, the term Anglophone Caribbean, English-speaking Caribbean, or English-speaking West Indies is also used.

In the present-day U.S. Virgin Islands (formerly Danish West Indies), the Danish never imposed their language on their Caribbean colonies to the extent of Great Britain, France and Spain. The Dutch adopted a similar policy toward their colonies of St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius, and as a result, English is predominant and an official language (along with Dutch).

On the northern French half of the island of Saint Martin, French historical influence was also minimal, so English continues to be predominant, although French remains the sole official language.

Although the island of Saint Barthelemy is French speaking, its capital, Gustavia, is predominantly English-speaking, as the town's native inhabitants are mainly descendants of persons from the surrounding English speaking islands.

Although English is one of two official languages of Puerto Rico, Spanish is the primary language, due to the island's four centuries of Spanish colonial rule. However, English is taught in all Puerto Rico schools and is the primary language of all U.S. federal agencies in Puerto Rico.

At one point in time, there was a short-lived federation between several Anglophone Caribbean countries, called the West Indies Federation.

The Anglophone Caribbean makes up a composite cricket team. The West Indies cricket team also includes Guyana, as another former British colony. Bermuda, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the English-speaking Dutch West Indies also participate in Anglophone Caribbean-related sports activities such as 20/20 Cricket.

Informal Anglophone communities in Central America[edit]

In addition to these formally recognized countries, there are substantial communities of Anglo-Caribbean origin along the Atlantic or Caribbean coast of Central America, as a part of the Western Caribbean Zone. These communities, which began forming in the seventeenth century, include areas of Nicaragua and Honduras that made up the Miskito Kingdom which was under British protection after 1740, the Garifuna community which was deported to the coast in 1797 and took up English as its language, and the many and numerous Anglophone Caribbean people who were brought to Central America by the canal companies (the French and American Panama canal efforts), railroad companies, and particularly the fruit companies, such as United Fruit after the 1870s and particularly in the first decades of the twentieth century. Many have never fully integrated into the otherwise Spanish-speaking communities in which they reside, such as the Caracoles of Honduras.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Staff writer (1989). "The Commonwealth Caribbean". Library of Congress, USA. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 

Further reading[edit]