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THE WEST INDIES

Where are the East and West Indies?

The East and West Indies are separated by half the planet. The West Indies are islands in the Caribbean, including the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas; while the East Indies include islands that encompass Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. When Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492, he believed that he had actually found a shorter route to the East Indies. Thus, Columbus thought the islands he had reached made up a portion of the Indies and considered the islands' inhabitants to be "Indians."

Where is the Western Hemisphere's oldest university?

Wounded in 1538, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is the oldest university in the Western Hemisphere.

Where are the Windward Islands?

The Windward Islands are located in the Caribbean and are exposed to the northeast trade winds (northeasterlies) of the Atlantic Ocean. Because of their vulnerability to these winds, the islands were named the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands include Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, and Grenada.

Where are the Leeward Islands?

The Leeward Islands are also located in the Caribbean and are less exposed to the northeasterlies. Because these islands are "lee," or away from the wind, they were named the Leeward Islands. The Leeward Islands include Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and the Virgin Islands.

Was Cuba ever a part of the United States?

The United States went to war against Spain in 1898 to assist Cubans who were rebelling against Spanish rule. The United States took control of Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and held it until 1902, when Cuba was granted independence. The three-year military occupation by the United States ended with an agreement that the United States would be allowed to lease Guantanamo Bay, which the United States still uses as a naval base.

How did Cuba become a Communist country?

Having been an independent country for 57 years, the Cuban government, run by the dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zalvidar, fell to the Communist leader Fidel Castro in 1959. Because of Cuba's Communist government, the United States severed its relationship with Cuba, forcing the island to ally itself with the Soviet Union. In October 1962, the presence of this nearby Communist country caused extreme terror in the United States when the U.S.S.R. attempted to place nuclear missiles within Cuba. The "Cuban Missile Crisis" is thought to be the closest the Cold War ever got to a real nuclear war.

Where is the Bay of Pigs?

The Bay of Pigs is a bay in southwestern Cuba. In 1961, the bay became the location of an attempted coup against the Cuban government by revolutionaries trained and financed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. After the attempted coup failed, the United States abandoned the revolutionaries, most of whom were killed or captured in the days following the coup attempt.

Where is the oldest church in the Americas?

The oldest church, the Cathedral Basilica Menor de Santa, was built by Columbus' son Diego. The first stone was set in 1514 in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

Do things really disappear in the Bermuda Triangle?

The "Bermuda Triangle," or "Devil's Triangle," is a popular legend that suggests a supernatural or paranormal reason for a supposedly large number of missing aircraft and sea-going vessels within its area. The legend generally places the area of the Bermuda Triangle in the Atlantic Ocean, with its three corners located at Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida. But you won't be able to find the Bermuda Triangle on a map since it is not a geographically or politically defined area, and its location is solely designated by the legend.

Though the legend has circulated for at least a century, there seems to be little evidence that this area is subjected to anything but natural hazards and human error. Most of the evidence for the phenomena in the Bermuda Triangle stems from the disappearance of the five aircraft of Flight 19 in December 1945, as well as a search plane that was sent to find them. Though the popular version of the disappearance of Flight 19 assumes a mysterious end, a mixture of missing navigational apparatus, human error, low fuel, and choppy seas most likely led to the squadron's disappearance and demise.

What was the first independent country in the Caribbean?

Haiti was the first independent country in the Caribbean. In 1791, the slaves in Haiti revolted, which led to Haiti's independence from France in 1804. Though Haiti once occupied the entire island of Hispaniola, Haiti now shares the island with the Dominican Republic.

How many people visit the Caribbean each year?

Approximately 35 million people visit the Caribbean's beautiful countries and islands. Which Caribbean country leads the region in tourism?

The Dominican Republic is the Caribbean country most visited by tourists, attracting one and a half million people annually. The beautiful beaches, clear seas, and tropical climate lure tourists from around the world, but especially from Europe. Jamaica is the second-most visited Caribbean country, with 850,000 tourists annually.

 
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