Lesser Antilles, also known as the
Caribbees, are part of the Antilles, which together with the Bahamas, the
Turks and Caicos Islands,
and Greater Antilles form the
Indies. The islands are a long partly volcanic island arc,
most of which wrap around the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea on the western boundary with the Atlantic Ocean, and some of which lie on the southern fringe of
the sea just north of South
Location of the Lesser Antilles
(green) in relation to the rest of the Caribbean
The Lesser Antilles more or less coincide with
the outer edge of the Caribbean
, and many of the islands were formed as a result of
when one or more Atlantic
plates slipped under the Caribbean Plate.
The two main groups of the Lesser Antilles are the Windward Islands
in the south and the
in the north. The
Windward Islands are called such because they were more windward to
sailing ships arriving in the New World than the Leeward Islands,
given that the prevailing trade winds blow east to west. The
trans-Atlantic currents and winds that provided the fastest route
across the ocean brought these ships to the rough dividing line
between the Windward and Leeward Islands.
category which is part of the Lesser Antilles is the Netherland
Antilles. The Netherlands Antilles consist of two
groups of islands, one in the southwest (the Leeward Antilles or
islands) just off the coast of Venezuela, plus several others in the northeast (several of
the Leeward Islands).
The main Lesser Antilles are (from north to south to west):
Antilles – islands north of the Venezuelan coast (from west to east):
- Rogonzinski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean.
New York: Facts on File, 1992.