Are you tired of winter yet? How about a vacation to some warm tropical island with outstanding golf and scuba (excellent winter sports)? If we suggest the Lesser Antilles (also know as the Caribbees), you might immediately agree; a second later, you might realize the shortcomings of your geography training and wonder where on Earth you are going for this vacation.
As seen in the map below (Figure 1), the “Lesser Antilles” include islands that wrap around the eastern end and southern fringe of the Caribbean Sea. The names of the subgroups include the Leeward Islands in the north, Windward Islands to the south, and the Leeward Antilles north of Venezuela. You will find names like the Netherlands Antilles and the Greater Antilles – you will immediately get the “Antilles willies” trying to figure out what names correspond to the various islands! Columbus arrived in these parts in 1492 and thought he was close to India, and the term “West Indies” was the popular as well. Various European languages still refer to the Caribbean Sea as the “Sea of Antilles.” The origin of the word “Antilles” is still debated with some who believe it is related to “Atlantis” while others think it came from the Latin ante-ilha (i.e. “the island out before” or “the island in front of”). You decide!