The Islands Cuba, Barbados, and the Netherlands Antilles

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The three island nations of Cuba, Barbados, and the Netherlands Antilles all share a geographical proximity in or near the Caribbean Sea. Cuba, the largest island, lies the farthest north in the southern Atlantic Ocean 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The islands share a similar history but have diverged in the last century to become very different nations.


Many of the original inhabitants died from diseases that were brought to Cuba by the arriving sailors. The first Spanish settlements were established in Cuba in 1511. This corresponds closely to the first arrival of the Spanish in the Netherlands Antilles in the early 1500s. The Spanish also contacted Barbados in 1536. Spanish conquistadors seized the Caribs on Barbados to be used as plantation slaves and by the time the British settlements arrived in the 1620s, the island was uninhabited. Within 100 years of contact by Spanish explorers, all three native populations had been eradicated or enslaved.
During the 1600s, the rule of the islands changed hands from the Spanish to other European countries. Cuba remained a Spanish colony while Barbados was settled as a British colony. The Dutch captured the Netherlands Antilles in the 1600s. Under European colonial rule, all three islands experienced similar situations during the years 1600-1900. During these centuries, all three colonies exploited the sugar market. The large sugar plantations necessitated the importation of slavery. The slave labor was primarily from Africa, though Barbados imported slaves from the Celtic nations of Scotland and Ireland.
Slavery was abolished in all three colonies in the middle of the 19th century. ...
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