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Facts about the Caribbean

29 June 2016 ( 20 December 2016 )

Think you know everything about the Caribbean? Think again!! 10 amazing facts you didn't know about the Caribbean


The Caribbean is known for many things – producer of world-renowned runners and cricketers, home of tax havens, and a place where you can enjoy some spectacularly good holidays.

But all that information is old hat to most. If you love a good fact (and who doesn’t?!), then get ready to have your mind blown by some extraordinarily good data on the Caribbean. See how many of the facts you know – if any!

A melting pot of cultural influences, each Caribbean island carries its own charm. Find out more here

1. The Caribbean is home to the shortest runway in the world

The Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (SAB) is on the former Netherlands Antilles island of Saba. The airport’s runway is just 1,312 feet, or 400 metres, long. That means Jamaican runner Usain Bolt could run the length of the runway in under 50 seconds!

2. Jamaica has the highest concentration of churches in the world

There are more churches per square kilometre in Jamaica than any other nation in the world. Although famously associated with Rastafarianism, Jamaica is actually 64% Christian, with rastas making up less than 10% of the population.

Expect rainforests, dormant volcanoes, exquisite beaches, colourful reefs, creole cuisine and music that'll make it hard to keep your feet still. Discover the Caribbean

3. Three million indigenous Caribbean people vanished in just 50 years

At the end of the 15th century, scholars estimate that there were three million Taino people on Haiti, then known as Hispaniola. Due to crop failures – created during forced labour – starvation, Spanish suppression of rebellions, smallpox, and inter-marriage with Spanish invaders, the native people were all but gone by 1530.

4. The region only has two seasons

There are only really two seasons in this tropical region: dry and rainy (or wet). The Caribbean dry season runs from mid-December through to mid-April, and the wet season from mid-April through to mid-December.

5. The Caribbean is home to the smallest shared landmass in the world

At just 87 square kilometres, the island of St. Maarten / St. Martin is the smallest inhabited island on Earth and it is shared by two nations. The northern half is officially the French-run Collectivité de Saint-Martin. The southern half, Sint Maarten, is one of four countries forming the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

6. Real life “Pirates of the Caribbean” could become governors

Welsh farmer’s son Henry Morgan forged a real rags-to-riches tale in the Caribbean. His status changed from Caribbean pirate in 1668 to governor of Jamaica by 1682. But his story is no Disney yarn. Once an indentured servant – or “shanghaied European slave” – Morgan became a brutal pillager who mercilessly attacked cities in Cuba and Panama.

7. Cuba is the biggest island in the Caribbean

Cuba is larger than all the other Caribbean Islands combined. 75% of the Caribbean population lives on Cuba, the Dominican Republic, or Haiti.

8. The Caribbean has a Boiling Lake

Over 2,600 feet above sea level on Dominica, you will find a seething cauldron of volcanic activity – the Boiling Lake! Actually a flooded fumarole, the body of water is hard to reach as it involves crossing fertile, muddy forests with boiling mud and the occasional blast of sulphuric gas.

9. The Caribbean has the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world

In southwest Trinidad, the Pitch Lake is the biggest natural deposit of asphalt in the world. It is believed to be 75 metres deep, with a surface area of approximately 100 acres. In 1595, Sir Walter Raleigh used the Pitch Lake to re-seal his ship and said it was: “most excellent good and melteth not with the sun as the pitch of Norway”.  High praise indeed!

10. English sailors needed butter to sail to the Caribbean

Before you start to wonder, it’s nothing to do with lonely nights at sea! An old nautical rule of thumb for navigating to the West Indies from England was, “Head south until the butter melts, then turn right”.  So butter isn’t just terrific for toast, it’s also an ancient form of GPS!

There’s no need for you to use dairy products as a navigational tool if you’re intrigued by the curiosities of the Caribbean. Just take a look at some of our cruises in the region and do some exploration of your own. 

Read more about the beautiful Caribbean and its many islands

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.