In order to understand where Caribbean English comes from we must first examine the geography, history and social development of the Caribbean. All of these have had a significant impact on whether English is spoken and what varieties of the language have developed.
LOCATING AND DEFINING THE CARIBBEAN
Geography means more than simple location. Even the names of countries go beyond historical factors and associations. In the Caribbean, geography is extremely intricate because of European colonialism. It created links and barriers between the islands without regard for their actual distances from each other, and left the region split into Spanish, British, French and Dutch entities.
The Caribbean islands curve southward from the bottom tip of Florida to the northwest corner of Venezuela in South America. There are at least 7,000 islands, islets, reefs and cays in the region. For example, 700 islands and 2,000 cays make up what we now call The Bahamas. For the purposes of this manual, however, we will concentrate on the countries themselves; that is, we will refer to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and not name the Grenadine islands (such as Bequia) individually.
In defining the Caribbean it is important to combine historical, cultural, linguistic and geographical features. The term most widely used today to define the region is Caribbean Basin, which includes:
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