The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere.
It is bordered by Venezuela, Colombia and Panama to the south, Central American countries (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize) on the west; with the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the east.
The Caribbean Sea is one of the largest seas and has an area of about 2,754,000 square kilometers (1,063,000 square miles).
The sea’s deepest point is the Cayman Trough, between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, at 7,686 meters (25,220 feet) below sea level. That makes this point one of the lowest points on the surface of the earth, and the Caribbean Sea is the deepest sea (excluding oceans) in the world.
The average depth is about 2,200 meters (7,220 feet) below the sea’s surface.
The Caribbean coastline has many gulfs and bays: the Gulf of Gonâve, Gulf of Venezuela, Gulf of Darién, Golfo de los Mosquitos, Gulf of Paria and Gulf of Honduras.
There are more than 7000 islands in the Caribbean, and they belong to over 28 distinct nations.
The nation with the most Caribbean islands is the Bahamas, with approximately 700 islands.
Cuba, with an area of 109,884 square kilometers (42,426 square miles), is the largest island in the
Caribbean, followed by Hispaniola and Jamaica.
In the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea the average temperature is 27°C (81°F) and it varies no more than 3°C.
The salinity of the Caribbean Sea is about 3.6%.
The Caribbean Sea is home to about 9% of the world’s coral reefs covering about 50,000 square kilometers (19,000 square miles), most of which are located off the Caribbean Islands and the Central American coast.
The Caribbean Sea has the world’s second largest barrier reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. It runs 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The coral reef in Caribbean Sea is threatened due to the increased temperature of the sea because of global warming effect.
The habitats supported by the reefs are critical to such tourist activities as fishing and diving, and
provide an annual economic value to Caribbean nations of $3.1–$4.6 billion.
In the Caribbean Sea there are around 1,000 documented species of fish, including sharks (bull shark, tiger shark, silky shark and Caribbean reef shark), flying fish, giant oceanic manta ray, angel fish, spotfin butterflyfish, parrotfish, Atlantic Goliath grouper, tarpon and moray eels.
There are 90 species of mammals in the Caribbean including sperm whales, humpback whales and dolphins. The island of Jamaica is home to seals and manatees. The Caribbean monk seal which lived in the Caribbean is considered extinct.
There are 500 species of reptiles. Islands are inhabited by some endemic species such as rock iguanas and American crocodile. The region has several types of sea turtle (loggerhead, green turtle, hawksbill, leatherback turtle, Atlantic ridley and olive ridley).
In the Caribbean 600 species of birds have been recorded of which 163 are endemic.
It is estimated that 13 thousand species of plants grow in the Caribbean of which 6.5 thousand are endemic.
The geological age of the Caribbean Sea is estimated to be between 160 and 180 million years and was formed by a horizontal fracture that split the supercontinent called Pangea in the Mesozoic Era.
The Caribbean Sea is famous around the world as a tourist destination.
The Caribbean Beaches are without a doubt among the best in the world.
Tourist attractions of the region are those generally associated with a maritime tropical climate: Scuba diving and snorkeling on coral reefs, cruises, sailing, and game fishing at sea.
The sea is one of the largest oil production areas in the world, producing approximately 170 million tons per year.
The name “Caribbean” derives from the Caribs, one of the region’s dominant Native American groups at the time of European contact during the late 15th century.
After the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Spanish term Antillas applied to the lands; stemming from this, “Sea of the Antilles” became a common alternative name for “Caribbean Sea” in various European languages.
Piracy in the Caribbean was widespread during the early colonial era, especially between 1640 and 1680.
The Caribbean is the setting for countless literary efforts often related to piracy acts and swashbuckling.
One memorable work of pulp fiction has in its title a geographic feature unique in its way to the islands:
Fear Cay, the eleventh Doc Savage adventure by Lester Dent. Many James Bond adventures were set there.
It is also well known as the location of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.