Which Islands Make Up the West Indies In the Caribbean Sea and How Many People Live In the Caribbean?

The 2,000-mile-long island chain known as the West Indies is divided into three groups of islands.

Their total population is about the same as that of Central America, about 37 million.

In the following list, islands that are followed by a country name in parentheses are territories of that country; the others are independent nations.

First, starting at the northern end, are the Bahamas, consisting of about 3,000 small islands southeast of Florida.

The Turks and Caicos (United Kingdom) are an island group south of the Bahamas.

Next are the Greater Antilles, near the center of the West Indies; they include Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (which contains the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico (United States).

The Cayman Islands (United Kingdom) lie south of Cuba.

The third group is the Lesser Antilles, starting east of Puerto Rico and curving south toward Venezuela in South America.

They include, roughly from north to south, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix (United States); Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada (United Kingdom); Anguilla (United Kingdom), St. Martin/St. Maarten (France and the Netherlands), St. Barthelemy (France), Saba and St. Eustatius (the Netherlands), St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat (United Kingdom), Guadeloupe (France), Dominica, Martinique (France), St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Curving back westward above the coast of Venezuela, the Lesser Antilles continue with Bonaire, Curacao, and Aruba (Netherlands).