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C A R I B B E A N     F A C T S

Interesting and little-known facts about the Caribbean.
By Bryan Henry

Did you Know...?

After discovering a seemingly endless number of islands in the northeast Caribbean in 1493, Christopher Columbus named them after St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins--the Virgin Islands.

Panama is from the Cueva Indian language meaning "place of abundance of fish", or "place of many fish".

Bermuda is named after Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermudez, who sighted the islands in 1503. The Bermudas are a group of about 300 rocky islands, about 20 of which are inhabited.

With an area of only 37 square miles, the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is the smallest landmass in the world to be divided between two countries. Its dual owners are the Dutch and French, who have shared the island for almost 350 years.

Venezuela has 72 island possessions in the Caribbean, the largest being Margarita Island.

Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who sailed with Columbus on his second voyage, discovered the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The only foreign land George Washington ever visited was Barbados.

Until 1959, the Cayman Islands were dependencies of Jamaica.

Henry Morgan, one of the most brutal buccaneers of the 17th century, was eventually knighted by the British and made governor of Jamaica, where he died a wealthy planter.

There are about 35 species of lobster in six families that occur in the Caribbean Sea.

One large coral-munching parrotfish can produce two tons of sand a year.

While reefs in the Pacific are 60-70 million years old, reefs in the Caribbean are only 10-15 million years old.

The Barbados House of Assembly was formed in 1639 and is the only representative legislature in the Caribbean to have remained in existence for more than three centuries.

Only about 2 percent of the Caribbean's numerous islands are inhabited.

An old rule of thumb for sailing from England to the Caribbean was to sail south till the butter melted, then proceed west.

Grenada was the first country to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of Elvis Presley.

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