Monday, 2 May 2011

CASE 275 - The History of the caribbean



The history of the Caribbean was a constant colonial struggle of power for the European powers since the 15th century. In the 20th century the Caribbean was again important during World War II, in decolonization wave in the post-war period, and in the tension between Communist Cuba and the United States (US). Genocide, slavery, immigration and rivalry between world powers have given Caribbean history an impact disproportionate to the size of this small region. There are 41 islands. HOWEVER the are around 7000 islands close to, and part of, all of these countries. The Caribbean consists of the West Indian islands. These islands are subdivided into two groups, namely the British West Indies and the French West Indies. The West Indies is made up of the following islands: the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) and the Lesser Antilles (which is further subdivided into the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands.)

The British West Indies islands are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas (New Providence), Barbados, Cozumel, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, the Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire, Curacao, Saba and St. Eustatius), Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, , St. Vincent and the Grenadines, San Andres, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands (Anegada, Tortola and Virgin Gorda) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas).

Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy (St. Barts) and St. Martin/Sint Maarten (a part of the Netherlands Antilles) are collectively called the French West Indies.



The oldest evidence of humans in the Caribbean is the Casirimoid culture in Cuba and Hispaniola which dates back to 4500 B.C. and is associated with edge grinders similar to those used in Archaic Age Central America. There is also another series of Archaic Age sites discovered by Christi Torres Trinidad at Banwari Trace where 4000-year-old remains have been found. These sites, which belong to the Archaic (pre-ceramic) age, have been termed Ortoiroid. The earliest evidence of humans in the Lesser Antilles are from 2000 BCE in Antigua. A lack of pre-ceramic sites in the Windward Islands and differences in technology suggest that these Archaic settlers may have Central American origins. Whether an Ortoiroid colonisation of the islands took place is uncertain, but there is little evidence of one. Between 400 BCE and 200 BCE the first ceramic-using agriculturalists, the Saladoid culture, entered Trinidad from South America. They expanded down the Orinoco River to Trinidad, and then spread rapidly up the islands of the Caribbean. Some time after 250 CE another group, the Barrancoid entered Trinidad. The Barancoid society collapsed along the Orinoco around 650 and another group, the Arauquinoid, expanded into these areas and up the Caribbean chain. Around 1300 a new group, the Mayoid entered Trinidad and remained the dominant culture until Spanish settlement.

At the time of the European discovery of most of the islands of the Caribbean, three major Amerindian indigenous peoples lived on the islands: the Taíno in the Greater Antilles, The Bahamas and the Leeward Islands; the Island Caribs and Galibi in the Windward Islands; and the Ciboney in western Cuba. The Taínos are subdivided into Classic Taínos, who occupied Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Western Taínos, who occupied Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamian archipelago, and the Eastern Taínos, who occupied the Leeward Islands. Trinidad was inhabited by both Carib speaking and Arawak-speaking groups.

Colonial era

Soon after the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas, both Portuguese and Spanish ships began claiming territories in Central and South America. These colonies brought in gold, and other European powers, most specifically England, the Netherlands, and France, hoped to establish profitable colonies of their own. Colonial rivalries made the Caribbean a cockpit for European wars for centuries.



Map of Antilles

Haiti the former French colony of Saint-Domingue on Hispaniola, was the first Caribbean nation to gain independence from European powers in 1804. This followed 13 years of warfare which commenced as a slave uprising in 1791 and quickly became the Haitian Revolution under the leadership of Toussaint l'Ouverture, where the former slaves defeated the French army (twice), the Spanish army, and the British army, before becoming the world's first and oldest black republic, and also the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere after the United States. This is additionally notable as being the only successful slave uprising in history. The remaining two-thirds of Hispaniola were conquered by Haitian forces in 1821. In 1844, the newly-formed Dominican Republic declared its independence from Haiti.
The nations bordering the Caribbean in Central America gained independence with the 1821 establishment of the First Mexican Empire - which at that time included the modern states of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The nations bordering the Caribbean in South America also gained independence from Spain in 1821 with the establishment of Gran Colombia - which comprised the modern states of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama.
Cuba and Puerto Rico remained a Spanish colonies until the Spanish American War in 1898, after which Cuba attained its independence in 1902, and Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the United States, being the last of the Greater Antilles under colonial control.

Between 1958 and 1962 most of the British-controlled Caribbean was integrated as the new West Indies Federation in an attempt to create a single unified future independent state - but it failed. The following former British Caribbean island colonies achieved independence in their own right; Jamaica (1962), Trinidad & Tobago (1962), Barbados (1966), Bahamas (1973), Grenada (1974), Dominica (1978), St. Lucia (1979), St. Vincent (1979), Antigua & Barbuda (1981), St. Kitts & Nevis (1983).
In addition British Honduras in Central America became independent as Belize (1981), British Guiana in South America became independent as Guyana (1966), and Dutch Guiana also in South America became independent as Suriname (1975).

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