Demographic diversity, not sugar, describes the Caribbean. Discuss.

Topics: Caribbean, Plantation, Ethnic group Pages: 9 (2897 words) Published: October 27, 2014
The Caribbean and its people lack definition but bear a common historic background. Quite often in geographical sense the Caribbean is defined as a group of islands in an archipelago stretching from the peninsular of Florida to the coast of South America. The geographical definition however is vain when the composition of the Caribbean is considered as it neglects the characteristics of the people and focuses on the makeup of countries. However, we are all aware the Caribbean is not just countries that lacks civilisation, thus is void but it is a contingent of islands and peoples that have undefinable traits. The historian acknowledges the fact that the definition of the Caribbean is non-existent.1 It is also true that no single island or country is known as the Caribbean and even the geographical definition is confusing. Some would, in their definition, include the peninsula of Florida and Central and South American Countries while others would ignore these countries in their definition of the geographical Caribbean. What then makes the Caribbean?

In 1492, the Caribbean as we it know became undefinable geographically and historically. This was the year Columbus received funding from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain to embark on the trip to the Indies. Originally the intention was to travel west to get to the east. Columbus received three ships and sailors and set sail towards the Indies. In august of 1492 he left Europe and was on the way to a discovery. In October of the aforesaid year, Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor aboard the Pinta (one of Columbus’ three ships) sighted land. Upon landing Colombus called the island San Salvador. This was the first of Columbus’ new discoveries and the beginning of the end of the old Caribbean. Large scale exploration and colonisation began.2 Columbus in his colonisation changed the definition of the Caribbean. One would agree, that prior to Columbus’s intrusion the definition of the Caribbean would have been 1


Premdas, Ralph R. "Ethnicity and Identity in the Caribbean: Decentering a Myth." Http:// The Hellen Kellog Institute for International Studies, n.d. Web. 1 July 2013 2, Greenwood Robert. Haber Shirley. “Amerindians to Africans” Edition 2. Macmillian Publishers Limited. 2003. Print

much simpler as the diversities attached to the colonisation and destruction of the neo-Indians. Subsequent to Columbus’ intrusion and the colonisation of Caribbean islands for Spain, other European countries began exploration. Eventually each Caribbean country was governed by a European power. The caciques of the neo-Indians were no longer the chief leaders of the islands. The major reason for extensive European exploration was the quest of gold and as gold was not found there was need for alternative wealth on the islands.

The Europeans quickly realized that the new world (as it was through the eyes of the European) possessed potential of a different sort: the production of sugar cane. Consequently, the plantation system and the sugar refining industry, rather than the harvesting of spices and silk production, were destined to shape the economy and society of Brazil and the West Indies (Mark Johnston, Large scale sugar planting began in Brazil as early as 1516. The demand for sugar grew and prices increase. The increase in market size and price became an incentive for other countries to enter; Caribbean countries like Barbados. By 1660 it had reached to many Caribbean countries.3 With the increase in demand and the increase in prices, more was expected to be produced as supply and price have a positive relationship. In order for supply to increase, labour must increase as the industry was primarily labour intensive. This increase in labour and the reason for its increase is what drive us to Statement of discussion: “Demographic diversity, not sugar, describes the Caribbean.” By definition the word demographic is a section of the population sharing...

Bibliography: "Trinidad and Tobago - Ethnic Groups." N.p., 2013. Web. 05 July
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