Leeward Islands

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Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands is a group of islands situated where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. On a map, they begin at the Virgin Islands east of Puerto Rico and stretch west to Dominica. The southerly part of the chain is called the Windward Islands.

What is Leeward?

The name of the Leeward Islands dates back centuries to when sailing ships (without engines) were the only way to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In sailing terminology, “windward” means ¨travel into the wind¨, while “leeward” means ¨away from the wind¨. In the West Indies, the prevailing Trade Winds blow out of the southeast.

British control

Over the centuries, some of the islands were included in different groups.  For example; the early Spanish colonisers named Puerto Rico and the other islands to the west, ¨The Leeward Islands¨. The group of islands to the south and east of Puerto Rico were thus called ¨The Windward Islands¨.

The British took control of almost all of the Lesser Antilles, and designated Antigua, Montserrat and the group of islands to the north, as “The Leeward Islands”. Guadeloupe and the southern islands were named as “The Windward Islands”. Sometime later, all islands north of Martinique became known as The Leeward Islands. Therefore, Dominica is the southernmost Leeward island.

Islands in this information page that are to be considered as more significant Leeward Islands are as follows; The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Dominica.

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