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What Is Caribbean Studies and Why Is It Important to Study It?

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Caribbean studies is a very fascinating subject for anyone to study but in order for one to know what exactly Caribbean Studies entails, we must know what is the basis of its existence, the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, the islands (most of which enclose the sea) and the surrounding coasts. The region is located east of Central America, the southeast of North America and north of South America. This region comprises more than 7000 islands, islets, reefs and cays. The ‘West Indies’, the name used very regular today was given to it by Christopher Columbus when landing in Hispaniola in 1492, believed he had reached the Indies (in Asia). This arrival shaped the very existence of the Caribbean and most particular its people today. Knowing the history of the Caribbean region goes a long way toward understanding its people. Each island has a unique cultural identity shaped by the European colonialists, the African heritage of slaves, and the enduring legacies of the native Indian tribes. This rich history and its lasting influence is set against a backdrop of crystal clear waters and perpetual sunshine. Just knowing the history is just the tip of the iceberg. To understand the diversity of each island, their distinctive physical, political and socioeconomic challenges must be examined as well as their geography, common historical experiences, participation in the global community, not forgetting the diverse ethnic and racial groups and the continuing struggle for survival and sovereignty. This is why Caribbean Studies is important. Almost all the islands except for the very small ones are self-governed so they all exist on their own ,so why do we study them all? According to the geographical arrangement and most importantly, the settlements that were made after Columbus, the Caribbean islands were seen as one big unit that would provide liquidity for Europe. Each island shares a commonness of how they were colonized, how they fought to become independent and how they are sustaining themselves to compete with the international market. For a people to know where they are going, they must know where they came from, who they are now in order to shape their future. Many different events took place in the islands that changed the islands and their people. It is seen throughout history that the Caribbean people fought for whatever the wanted from the Indigenous people to African slaves for freedom to the Black citizens for independence of colonial rule. The independence of Haiti in 1804, mobilized the other countries in and around the Caribbean to fight for freedom. In Grenada, through Sir Eric Matthew Gary, she got her independence after long debates. Independence enabled the islands to be self-relying to make decisions on their owns so that the people today can choose what they do on a daily basis. Because of what happened many years ago, we can enjoy these benefits. This is why Caribbean Studies is important.

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