Come Visit the Caribbean, Mon!
The islands of the Caribbean are part of North America as well. There are more than 7,000 islands in this region of the world! The islands are part of an archipelago that forms a boundary around the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean Islands are known for their tropical waters and beaches, but there is much more to know. So pack your bags for a visit to three of the Caribbean Islands!
Cuba: The Largest Caribbean Island
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean; it is the seventeenth-largest island in the world. What we think of as Cuba is actually several islands together. Cuba is located between the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean. The island is about 90 miles from the tip of Florida.
Cuba has it all! There are flat rolling plains on the island as well as high peaks. The mountains in the southern part of the island are steep. The highest peak in this chain of mountains is Pico Real del Turquino, about 6,476 feet high. This mountain, as well as others in the area, has many mineral deposits — copper and iron, among others, are mined here.
Cuba has what many people would call the perfect climate — if you like warm days with a tropical breeze all year long. The average temperature in January is 70 degrees. In July the average temperature is 80 degrees.
Cuba has a rainy season lasting from May to October and a dry season from November to April. This is related to hurricane season. Cuba is in the path of many of the hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean. It is often hit by these fierce storms, which bring heavy rains and strong winds to the island.
LL A BOUT
Capital and largest city: Havana
Area: 44,200 square miles
Population: 11.2 million
Motto: “Fatherland or Death”
All about Jamaica
Capital and largest city: Kingston
Area: 4,244 square miles
Population: 2.67 million (2006 estimate)
Motto: “Out of Many, One People”
Jamaica: Ready for Some Reggae?
Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean, but it has the most people of any island in the area. Every year, many people from the United States and the rest of the world head to Jamaica for vacation.
Most of the island is covered in mountains, but the small flat area around the coast boasts some beautiful beaches. Jamaica's Blue Mountains have very good soil for growing crops. Coffee from the Blue Mountains is quite famous and can be found for sale in many places — maybe even in your local grocery store!
Jamaica is famous for its botanical gardens. Much of the island has been set aside for national parks or preserved areas. The Royal Botanical Gardens were originally donated by one family in celebration of the abolition of slavery; they're “royal” because Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed her visit in 1953 so much that they were renamed in her honor.
Jamaica is often hit by hurricanes. One of the worst hurricanes to hit Jamaica was Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988. More than 27 inches of rain fell on Jamaica during the storm and nearly fifty people were killed when it hit Jamaica. Countless homes, crops, and businesses were destroyed.
BOTANICAL GARDEN: A botanical garden is a special type of garden. Many different types of plants and flowers are grown here. Botanical gardens are often used to teach people. These places are usually open for visitors so that people may come and enjoy nature.
There is a nutmeg on Grenada's flag. This is because it is the island's most important export. In fact, Grenada supplies approximately 20 percent of the world's supply of nutmeg. Think of this tiny island nation the next time you have a piece of pumpkin pie or a gingerbread cookie!
The country of Grenada, located in the southern part of the Caribbean, is made up of three main islands. The largest island is called Grenada, and this is where most of the population lives. This part of the Caribbean is not hit by hurricanes as often as some of the other islands. Hurricanes do move over the island, but it is not a yearly event as it is in some places.
Grenada was formed by volcanoes. This makes the soil very fertile and good for growing crops. Grenada is known for its sugar crops. It is sometimes called “Spice Island.” Many spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, are grown on the island. These are the main exports for the country.
Grenada is divided by a mountain range. Mount St. Catherine is the highest peak, reaching more than a mile and a half into the air. Many rivers and waterfalls cover the area, and there are also deep gorges and some of the best beaches in the world.