Spanish West Indies

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Spanish West Indies
Las Antillas Occidentales
Antillas Españolas
Colony of Spain
(Territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1492 to 1898
A map of the Spanish West Indies
Capital Santo Domingo (1511–1764)
Languages Spanish
Religion Roman Catholicism
Political structure Colony
 •  1492–1504 Ferdinand II
 •  1492–1504 Isabella I
 •  1896–1898 Alfonso XIII
Historical era Spanish colonization
 •  Established 1492
 •  Treaty of Paris 1898
Currency Spanish colonial real
Preceded by
Succeeded by
New Spain
Bay Islands
Colony of Jamaica
Cayman Islands
Dominican Republic
United States Protectorate over Cuba
Puerto Rico
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The Spanish West Indies (also known as "Las Antillas Occidentales" or simply "Antillas Españolas" in Spanish) was the contemporary name for the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. It became a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain when the viceroyalty was created in 1535.

It consisted of the present day nations of Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Guadalupe and the Lesser Antilles, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad, and the Bay Islands.

The islands that later became the Spanish West Indies were the focus of the voyages of Christopher Columbus in America. Largely due to the familiarity that Europeans gained from Columbus's voyages, the islands were also the first lands to be permanently colonized by Europeans in the Americas. The Spanish West Indies were also the most enduring part of Spain's American Empire, only being surrendered in 1898 at the end of the Spanish–American War. For over three centuries, Spain controlled a network of ports in the Caribbean including Havana (Cuba), San Juan (Puerto Rico), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), and Veracruz (Mexico) which were connected by galleon routes.

Some smaller islands were ceded to other European powers as a result of war, or diplomatic agreements during the 17th and 18th centuries. Others such as Dominican Republic gained their independence in the 19th century.

Change of sovereignty or independence

Spanish Caribbean

File:Confederacion antillana.png
Location of the Spanish Caribbean.

The Spanish Caribbean or Hispanophone Caribbean, refers to the Spanish-speaking areas in the Caribbean Sea, namely Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.[1] It includes regions where Spanish is the main language, and where a history of Spanish settlement and colonization influences culture, through religion, language, cuisine, and so on.

The term is used in contrast to Anglophone Caribbean and French Caribbean, two other cultural areas which refer to colonial heritage and language. The phrase, thus, excludes countries such as Jamaica, Haiti, and the Lesser Antilles. The Hispanophone Caribbean is a part of the wider Hispanic America, which includes all the Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas.

Historically, during the period of Spanish settlement and colonization of the New World, the Spanish West Indies referred to those settlements in islands of the Caribbean Sea under political administration of Spain, as in the phrase "a 1765 cedula authorized seven sea ports, in addition to the port of San Juan, to trade with the Spanish Caribbean."[2] Until the early 19th century these territories were part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

In addition to Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the Islands of Venezuela could be included as well, due to the fact they are in the Caribbean. The Islands of Venezuela are grouped into two divisions: the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela and the State of Nueva Esparta.


The following is a list of islands belonging geographically to the Greater and Lesser Antilles and that were under Spanish rule in various stages of history, until it became independent from Spain. Several islands which were previously largely under Spanish rule, but since they were passed into the domain of France, England or the Netherlands, are no longer considered part of the Spanish Caribbean.

West Indian islands that were under Spanish rule
Political entity Islands of the West Indies Status
 Cuba Isla de Cuba — Isla de la JuventudSabana-Camagüey ArchipelagoCayo Blanco del SurCayo LevisaCayo Los EnsenachosCayo Largo del SurJardines de la ReinaCayo GuillermoCayo CocoCayo RomanoCayo GuajabaCayo SabinalCayo Santa MaríaCayo Paredón GrandeColorados ArchipelagoCayo SaetíaCayo Blanco Independent republic from Spain since 1898.
 Dominican Republic Eastern HispaniolaSaonaBeataCatalinaAlto Velo Independent republic from Spain since 1865.
 Puerto Rico Isla de Puerto Rico — CulebraViequesMonaMonitoDesecheoCaja de MuertosIsla de CabrasCayo BatataIsla CardonaCayos de Caña GordaCulebritaIcacosCayo Luis PeñaIsla MagueyesCayo NorteIsla PalominosIsla de RatonesIsleta de San JuanCayo SantiagoSpanish Virgin Islands Commonwealth of the United States, independent from Spain since 1898.
 Venezuela Isla de MargaritaCocheCubagua (form the state of Nueva Esparta) Los MonjesLas AvesLos Roques (Gran Roque, Francisquí, Isla Larga, Nordisquí, Madrisquí, Crasquí, Cayo Espenquí, Cayo Carenero, Cayo de Agua, Dos Mosquises, Cayo Sal, Cayo Grande)Los HermanosLos FrailesAvesLa SolaLa Tortuga (Cayo HerraduraIslas Los Tortuguillos)La OrchilaLa BlanquillaLos TestigosPatos (ceded from British Trinidad in 1942,[3] form the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela) Independent republic from Spain since 1811, recognized by Spain in 1845.

See also


  2. Luis F. Pumarada O'Neill (July 31, 1994), National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation: Historic Bridges of Puerto Rico MPS (pdf), National Park Service<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. González Oropeza, Hermann. y Donis Ríos, Manuel. 1989: Historia d elas fronteras de Venezuela. Cuadernos Lagoven. Lagoven, S.A. Caracas. 180p. ISBN 980-259-257-9

External links