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Facts about The West Indies For Kids

The West Indies is a region of the Caribbean Basin and North Atlantic Ocean that includes the many islands and island nations of the Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago. After the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas, Europeans began to use the misnomer West Indies to differentiate that region from the Indies.

  • From the 17th through the 19th century, the European colonial territories of the West Indies were the French West Indies, British West Indies, the Danish West Indies, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Spanish West Indies.
  • In 1916, Denmark sold the Danish West Indies to the United States for US $25 million in gold, as per the Treaty of the Danish West Indies.
  • Between 1958 and 1962, the United Kingdom reorganized all their West Indies island territories into the West Indies Federation. However, the Federation had limited powers, numerous practical problems, and a lack of popular support; consequently, it was dissolved by the British in 1963, with nine provinces becoming independent sovereign states and four becoming British Overseas Territories.
  • West Indies or West India was the namesake of several chartered companies of the 17th and 18th centuries, including the Danish West IndiaCompany, the Dutch West India Company, the French West India Company, and the Swedish West India Company.
  • West Indian is the official term used by the U.S. government to refer to people of the West Indies Tulane University professor Rosanne Adderly says “[T]he phrase ‘West Indies’ distinguished the territories encountered by Columbus and claimed by Spain from discovery claims by other powers in [Asia’s] ‘East Indies’.
  • The member states of the West Indies cricket team also include Guyana, which is in South America.
  • In the modern day, the West Indies refers to: The islands of the Bahamas, CubaJamaicaHaiti, The Dominican RepublicPuerto Rico, The Leeward Islands, and Windward Islands.