Following the arrival of the white man, numerous African black people were shipped over to work as slaves on sugar plantations on the islands and now make up a large proportion of the population.
It is estimated that there are about 36 million people living in the West Indies today, most of African heritage. This is impacted by lower infant mortality rates with increased access to health care and other services. It is also estimated that millions of people have moved from the West Indies to the United States and other parts of the world. According to the article “West Indies” (2008), at least one million Cubans have moved into the United States with equally high numbers of Puerto Ricans and other West Indians also pursuing greater job opportunities and educations for their children. Most of these people speak Spanish, but this is not the only language spoken. Other languages spoken in high density include French and English, including a creole version of these languages. Dutch is spoken on some of the islands and Hindi and Urdu can still be heard on Trinidad and Tobago (West Indies, 2008).
More than half of the West Indian peoples live in urban areas and live lives that are relatively comparable to the lives of people living in urbanized areas anywhere. However, the islands are not overly abundant in their own resources, so farming plays a large role in their economy. The climate is very warm for most of the year, so clothing is generally light and loose with hats, with wide shade-giving brims, playing a significant role in fashion. Perhaps because of the heavy slave-influenced past, their attitudes toward marriage, family structure and religion are somewhat different from what is found in the Protestant-influenced United States to the north.
There are four types of family organization within West Indian families, each of which is centered around different religious ideals. The Christian family follows the