Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles - Insight Guides (2016)
Carib tribes from South America travel north through the Lesser Antilles in dug-out canoes, displacing resident Arawak-speaking people.
A family of Carib or Kalinago people, St Vincent, 1794.
1493 and 1498
Christopher Columbus is the first European to discover the Eastern Caribbean islands.
Colonization: 16th-17th centuries
The Spanish are the first settlers, in Trinidad, building St Joseph. Three years later, Sir Walter Raleigh destroys it.
The English establish a colony on St Kitts, then Barbados (1627), Antigua (1632), Anguilla (1650), and the BVI (1680).
The French colonize Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The Dutch take the ABC Islands.
Treaty of Concordia divides St-Martin between the French (north) and Dutch (south).
Sugar and slavery: 1638-1797
Slave trade flourishes in Curaçao; slaves are sold on to the sugar-growing islands.
St Kitts and Nevis hit by earthquake; tidal wave wipes out Nevis’s capital, Jamestown.
St Thomas, St John, and St Croix become the Danish West Indies.
American Revolution causes famine in British West Indies due to trade embargoes.
Stock Exchange crash in Europe sends sugar industry further into decline.
France cedes St-Barthélemy to Sweden in exchange for trading rights.
British invade Trinidad.
Reform and rebellion: 1802-1902
Spanish Treaty of Amiens gives Trinidad to the British; Tobago finally ceded to Britain by France.
Easter Rebellion in Barbados of 5,000 slaves led by Bussa. St Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and BVI administered by British as a single colony.
Emancipation Act “frees” slaves in British West Indies. French follow in 1848 and Dutch in 1863. An “apprenticeship” system is introduced.
Thousands of East Indians arrive in Trinidad for an indentured period of five years; many remain.
Slave rebellion in St Croix precipitates their emancipation in the Danish West Indies.
La Soufrière on St Vincent erupts, killing 2,000. Two days later, Mont Pelée on Martinique erupts, destroying St-Pierre and killing 30,000.
Danish West Indies sold to US.
Oil refineries built on Curaçao and Aruba.
French islands change status to départements of France, officially becoming regions in 1974.
Universal suffrage granted to British colonies.
Dutch islands granted full autonomy in domestic affairs as part of the Netherlands; in 1986 Aruba is given separate autonomy.
Formation of Federation of the British West Indies; fails when Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago pursue independence.
Barbados granted independence.
Britain’s islands become states in voluntary association with Britain, with internal self-government. Anguilla breaks away from St Kitts.
British invasion welcomed by Anguilla; becomes a British Dependent Territory in 1980.
Foundation of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to liberalize trade.
Grenada is first of Associated States to gain independence.
Trinidad and Tobago becomes a republic within the British Commonwealth.
Dominica gains independence.
St Vincent and the Grenadines gain independence. La Soufrière erupts. Grenada experiences a bloodless coup; St Lucia gains independence.
Antigua and Barbuda granted independence.
US and Caribbean forces invade Grenada after the government is overthrown. St Kitts and Nevis gain independence.
Modern times: 1985-2010
Exxon closes oil refinery in Aruba with disastrous effects on the island’s economy.
Arms smuggling scandal in Antigua involves PM’s son Vere Bird Jr. Muslim fundamentalists attempt to overthrow government in Trinidad.
Volcanic eruptions on Montserrat. The capital, Plymouth, and the south abandoned. Population moves north or abroad.
Inauguration of Caribbean Court of Justice in Trinidad.
Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados join Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Netherlands Antilles dissolved. Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten become constituent countries of the Netherlands; Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius become special municipalities.
Barbados’ historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is added to the Unesco World Heritage List.
Bernard Whiteman becomes Curaçao’s PM. BHP Bilton is granted licence to explore for oil in waters around Barbados.