Commonwealth Caribbean

The Commonwealth Caribbean is the region of the Caribbean with English-speaking countries and territories, which once constituted the Caribbean portion of the British Empire and are now part of the Commonwealth of Nations. The term includes many independent island nations, British Overseas Territories and some mainland nations.

Commonwealth Caribbean
Map of the Commonwealth Caribbean
  Independent countries
  British Overseas Territories
  Other English-speaking territories
  Other Caribbean countries

Commonwealth Caribbean is now used in preference over the older term British West Indies, which was used to describe the British colonies in the West Indies during decolonisation.[1] It is also known as the English-speaking Caribbean, Anglophone Caribbean, Anglo-Caribbean, or English-speaking West Indies. Although these terms are used to refer to the Commonwealth Caribbean, they typically do not include Anglophone communities that are not a part of the Commonwealth, like the insular areas of the United States.

Countries and territories edit

The Commonwealth Caribbean consists of countries and territories, which include Caribbean islands or parts of mainland North and South America surrounding the Caribbean Sea.

Sovereign states edit

Island countries edit

There are ten independent island countries within the Commonwealth Caribbean:

Mainland countries edit

There are two independent mainland countries within the Commonwealth Caribbean:

British Overseas Territories edit

The term may also be applied to British Overseas Territories (BOTs) in the Caribbean, as they are also English-speaking and the United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth. However, other terms may also be used to specifically refer to these territories, such as "British overseas territories in the Caribbean",[2] "British Caribbean territories"[3] or the older term "British West Indies".

There are five territories which are described as a part of the Commonwealth Caribbean:

The British territory of Bermuda is sometimes considered a part of the Commonwealth Caribbean due to its geographic proximity to the Caribbean. However, the island is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1,400 kilometres (900 mi) north of the Caribbean Sea.[4]

Intergovernmental organizations and unions edit

West Indies Federation (1958–62) edit

The Caribbean with West Indies Federation members in red. The short-lived federation was made up of British West Indies colonies from 1958–62.

Between 1958 and 1962, there was a short-lived federation between several English-speaking Caribbean countries, called the West Indies Federation, which consisted of all the island nations (except the Bahamas), and the territories (excluding Bermuda and British Virgin Islands). British Guiana (Guyana) and British Honduras (Belize) held observer status within the federation.

The Commonwealth Caribbean makes up a composite cricket team. The West Indies cricket team also includes Guyana, as another former British colony, although it is located on the South American mainland. Bermuda, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the Dutch Caribbean also participate in Anglophone Caribbean-related sports activities such as Twenty20 cricket.

Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965–1973) edit

The Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) was established on 15 December 1965, with Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago as its founding members. The organisation aimed to integrate the economies of the newly formed sovereign states of the British West Indies by providing an agreement for free trade and encouraging "balanced development" in the region. Seven additional members were added to CARIFTA in 1968, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. In 1971, British Honduras joined the organisation. In 1973, CARIFTA was replaced by the Caribbean Community.[5]

Caribbean Community (1973–present) edit

Caribbean Community participants, with full members in dark green. Full members include all Caribbean Commonwealth sovereign states, Montserrat, Haiti, and Suriname.

The English-speaking parts of the Caribbean established the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in 1973, and it currently includes all the independent English-speaking island countries plus Belize, Guyana and Montserrat, as well as all other British Caribbean territories and Bermuda as associate members. English was its sole official language until 1995, following the addition of Dutch-speaking Suriname.

Wider Anglophone communities in the region edit

Since there are other 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, such as being a former or current British colony in the Caribbean. Accordingly, the terms Anglophone Caribbean, English-speaking Caribbean, Anglo-Caribbean, or English-speaking West Indies are also used.[citation needed]

In addition to these formally recognised countries, there are substantial communities of Commonwealth 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), the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (Colombia), 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.[citation needed]

Non-Commonwealth Anglophone territories Notes
  Honduras Bay Islands The Bay Islands are one of the 18 departments of Honduras, consisting primarily of the islands of Guanaja, Roatán, and Útila, along with a number of smaller islands. Historically settled by people from the United Kingdom (mainly England), the territory has remained primarily English-speaking, even though the islands were annexed by Honduras in the 1860s, largely due to their relative isolation from the rest of Honduras and due to immigration from other English-speaking areas of the Caribbean. Spanish remains the official language, and is the second-most spoken language, on the islands, and many people are bilingual in both English and Spanish.
  Puerto Rico English has been one of the two official languages of Puerto Rico alongside Spanish as its predominant and primary language since 1902, this is due to the fact that Puerto Rico had remained under Spanish rule for more than 400 years from 1493 to 1898 and has remained an American Commonwealth since 1898. Because of this, English is taught in all Puerto Rican schools and is the primary language of all of the U.S. federal agencies in Puerto Rico. Its status as an official language however was briefly removed in 1991 but was brought back in 1993 and English has remained the co-official language of the Commonwealth since then.[6][7][8][9][10]
  U.S. Virgin Islands The U.S. Virgin Islands is another English-speaking territory in the Caribbean that is under the administration of the United States. English has been the predominant and official language since 1917 when the islands were transferred from Denmark to the United States. Under Danish rule, the official language was Danish, but it was solely the language of administration and was only spoken by Danish people, a tiny minority of the overall population that primarily occupied administrative roles in colonial Danish West Indian society. Since both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are owned by the United States, it is not considered to be a part of the Commonwealth. Virgin Islands Creole English, which is an English-based creole locally known as "dialect", is spoken in informal situations. The form of Virgin Islands Creole spoken on Saint Croix, known as Crucian, is slightly different from the ones that are spoken on Saint Thomas and Saint John.[11][12]
  Sint Maarten Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is also a majority English-speaking territory in the Caribbean. However, as with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, it isn't a part of the Commonwealth. English is the day-to-day administrative language and language of communication in Sint Maarten, and the first language of the majority (67.5%) of the population. A local variety of Virgin Islands Creole is spoken in informal situations by Sint Maarteners between themselves. Local signage uses both Dutch and English. The main languages are English and Dutch. There were English-medium and Dutch-medium schools in Sint Maarten, and the Dutch government policy towards St. Maarten and other SSS islands promoted English-medium education.[13][14]
  Saba Both English and Dutch are spoken and understood on the island and taught in schools, and both languages are official. Despite the island's Dutch affiliation, English is the principal language spoken on the island and has been used in its school system since the 19th century. Dutch is only spoken by 32% of the population. English is the sole medium of instruction in Saba schools. Dutch government policy towards Saba and other SSS islands promotes English-medium education.[15][16]
  Sint Eustatius The official language is Dutch, but English is the "language of everyday life" on the island and education is solely in English.[17] A local English-based creole language is also spoken informally, locally known as the Netherlands Antilles Creole English. More than 52% of the population speaks more than one language.
  Saint Martin Although French is the sole official language of the territory, English can also be spoken and understood to some extent. A local English-based creole language is spoken in informal situations on both the French and Dutch sides of the island, it is known locally as Saint Martin English.[18][19]

See also edit

Other parts of the Caribbean edit

References edit

  1. ^ Staff writer (1989). "The Commonwealth Caribbean". Library of Congress, USA. Archived from the original on 8 December 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  2. ^ Tossini, J. Vitor (6 October 2017). "A Guide to British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean". Archived from the original on 30 June 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  3. ^ "British Caribbean Territories (WMO Territory)". World Meteorological Organization. Archived from the original on 30 June 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Where is Bermuda Located?". 2022. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  5. ^ "Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA)". Caribbean Community Secretariat. 2023. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  6. ^ "English in Puerto Rico". Puerto Rico Report. Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  7. ^ "Puerto Rico makes Spanish official language". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2 May 2020. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  8. ^ Valle, Sandra Del (1 January 2003). Language Rights and the Law in the United States: Finding Our Voices. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 978-1-85359-658-2. Archived from the original on 18 November 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  9. ^ Johannessen, B. Gloria Guzmán (14 January 2019). Bilingualism and Bilingual Education: Politics, Policies and Practices in a Globalized Society. Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-05496-0. Archived from the original on 18 November 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  10. ^ "P. Rico Senate declares Spanish over English as first official language". News Report. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Agencia EFE. 4 September 2015. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  11. ^ Plata Monllor, Miriam R. 2008. Phonological features of Crucian Creole. Doctoral Dissertation Archived 17 January 2023 at the Wayback Machine. Doctoral dissertation, University of Puerto Rico. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  12. ^ Vergne Vargas, Aida M. 2017. A Comparative Study of the Grammatical Structures of Crucian Creole and West African Languages Archived 17 January 2023 at the Wayback Machine. Doctoral dissertation, University of Puerto Rico. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  13. ^ "CIA World Factbook – Sint Maarten". The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 3 November 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  14. ^ Klomp, Ank. "Saint Martin: Communal Identities on a Divided Caribbean Island." In: Niedermüller, Peter and Bjarne Stoklund (editors). Journal of European Ethnology Volume 30:2, 2000: Borders and Borderlands: An Anthropological Perspective. Museum Tusculanum Press, 2000. ISBN 8772896779, 9788772896779. Start: p. 73. CITED: p. 80.
  15. ^ English can be used in relations with the government. "Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 17 January 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  16. ^ "Trends in the Caribbean Netherlands 2017" (PDF). Tourism Bonaire. 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 April 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  17. ^ "English to Be Sole Language of Instruction in St Eustatian Schools". Government of the Netherlands. 19 June 2014. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  18. ^ "CIA World Factbook – Saint Martin". Archived from the original on 3 November 2021. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  19. ^ Holm (1989) Pidgins and Creoles, vol. 2

Further reading edit