The Leeward Antilles (Dutch: Benedenwindse Eilanden) are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles (and, in turn, the Antilles and the West Indies) along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland. The Leeward Antilles, while among the Lesser Antilles, are not to be confused with the Leeward Islands (also of the Lesser Antilles) to the northeast.
Largely lacking in volcanic activity, the Leeward Antilles island arc occurs along the deformed southern edge of the Caribbean Plate and was formed by the plate's subduction under the South American Plate. Recent studies indicate that the Leeward Antilles are accreting to South America.
The Leeward Antilles comprise (roughly from west to east):
The ABC islands are the three western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea that lie north of Falcón State, Venezuela. In order alphabetically they are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao. All three islands are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, although they remain outside the European Union. Aruba and Curaçao are autonomous, self-governing constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands proper.Antilles
The Antilles (; Antilles [ɑ̃.tij] in French; Antillas in Spanish; Antillen in Dutch and Antilhas in Portuguese) is an archipelago bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the south and west, the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north and east.
The Antillean islands are divided into two smaller groupings: the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles. The Greater Antilles includes the larger islands of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (subdivided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and the Cayman Islands. The Lesser Antilles contains the northerly Leeward Islands, the southeasterly Windward Islands, and the Leeward Antilles just north of Venezuela. The Lucayan Archipelago (consisting of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands), though part of the West Indies, are generally not included among the Antillean islands.Geographically, the Antillean islands are generally considered a subregion of North America. Culturally speaking, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico – and sometimes the whole of the Antilles – are included in Latin America, although some sources avoid this socio-economic oversimplification by using the phrase "Latin America and the Caribbean" instead (see Latin America, "In Contemporary Usage"). In terms of geology, the Greater Antilles are made up of continental rock, as distinct from the Lesser Antilles, which are mostly young volcanic or coral islands.Blanquilla Island
Blanquilla is an island, one of the federal dependencies of Venezuela, located in the southeastern Caribbean Sea about 293 km (182 miles) northeast of Caracas. It is a popular location for divers, as well as famous for its white sand beaches, for which it is named. The island's wildlife include local cacti and iguanas, as well as wild donkeys and goats. Its reefs are notable for their black coral, which is used for jewelry and other crafts. The island is formed by the Aves Ridge, a seafloor feature which protrudes above water to the north, forming several other islands. Has an area of 64.53 km²Caribbean Netherlands
The Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch: Caribisch Nederland, pronounced [kaːˌribis ˈneːdərlɑnt]) are the three special municipalities of the Netherlands that are located in the Caribbean Sea. They consist of the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, although the term "Caribbean Netherlands" is sometimes used to refer to all of the islands in the Dutch Caribbean. In legislation, the three islands are also known as the BES islands (an acronym of their names). The islands are currently classified as public bodies in the Netherlands and as overseas countries and territories of the European Union; thus, EU law does not automatically apply.
Bonaire (including the islet of Klein Bonaire) is one of the Leeward Antilles and is located close to the coast of Venezuela. Sint Eustatius and Saba are in the main Lesser Antilles group and are located south of Sint Maarten and northwest of Saint Kitts and Nevis.Coche Island
Isla de Coche (Coche Island) is one of three islands forming the Nueva Esparta State of Venezuela, located in the Caribbean between Isla Margarita and the mainland. The other two islands are Isla Margarita, the main island of the state, and Cubagua, the smallest. Coche is coterminous with the municipality of Villalba, with the municipal seat at San Pedro de Coche, the largest town.Cubagua
Cubagua or Isla de Cubagua (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈizla ðe kuˈβaɣwa]) is the smallest and least populated of the three islands constituting the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta, after Isla Margarita and Coche. It is located 16 kilometres (10 mi) north of Araya Peninsula, the closest mainland area.Islas Los Frailes
The Islas Los Frailes are an archipelago of rock islets with sparse scrub vegetation belonging to the Federal dependencies of Venezuela, part of Venezuela.The flotilla of Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda sighted in 1499 the archipelago composed of ten islands:
La PecheThe largest island is called Fraile Grande or Puerto Real and is 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) long and occupies 0.75 km2 (0.29 sq mi). The southern islet has an elevation of 91 m (299 ft). About eight kilometres (5.0 mi) north of Los Failes is Roca del Norte (North Rock), which is 3 m (10 ft) high.
In 2012 the Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela named a Damen Stan Lander 5612 landing craft after the islands.La Orchila
La Orchila is an island and a military base off the coast of Venezuela, north of Caracas. It has numerous beaches, including one where the sand is markedly pink (Arena Rosada).There is a presidential retreat on this island, and the residential complex reserved for the military houses consists mainly of elevated houses made of wooden logs. There is also a court for bolas criollas. All the facilities are connected by pathways, mostly unpaved but smooth and clean.La Sola Island
La Sola Island (Spanish: Isla La Sola) is a small island in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. The island is a part of the Dependencias Federales (Federal Dependencies) of Venezuela.La Tortuga Island
La Tortuga Island (in Spanish: Isla La Tortuga ; "La Tortuga" means "the turtle") is an uninhabited island of Venezuela, the largest in the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela. It is part of a group of islands that include the Tortuguillos and Cayo Herradura. Isla La Tortuga has an area of 156 km2 (60 sq mi).Las Aves archipelago
The Las Aves Archipelago is a pristine archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, and is part of the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela. It is located north of the Venezuelan states of Aragua and Carabobo, between the Dutch island Bonaire in the west, and the Los Roques Archipelago in the east, at 12°00′N 67°40′W. The prime economic importance of the islands lies in fishing. "Las Aves" translates to "The Birds" in English.Lesser Antilles
The Lesser Antilles is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea. Most form a long, partly volcanic island arc between the Greater Antilles to the north-west and the continent of South America. The islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Together, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles compose the Antilles (or the Caribbean in its narrowest definition). When combined with the Lucayan Archipelago, all three are known as the West Indies.Los Hermanos Archipelago
The Los Hermanos Archipelago is a chain of seven rocky barren islets that is part of the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela, at 11°45′N 64°25′W.The individual islands are:
Isla La Orquilla
Islote El Rajao
Isla Los Morochos
Isla Pico (Isla Pando)
Isla ChiquitoLos Monjes Archipelago
The Los Monjes islands, a federal dependency of Venezuela, are located to the northwest of the Gulf of Venezuela, 34.8 kilometres (21.6 miles) off the coast of Guajira Peninsula, at the border between Colombia and the Venezuelan state of Zulia.The islands consist of rocks rising steeply out of the sea, without any beaches or natural landing. The Venezuelan Navy maintains a base on El Sur, where it constructed a pier. The islands have no natural resources and must be supplied from the mainland. Fishing is the main activity around the islands, usually by fishing boats making the short trip from the Paraguaná Peninsula in Venezuela.There are three islands or island groups, with a total area of 0.2 km2 (0.1 sq mi):
Monjes del Sur (12°22′N 70°54′W) consists of the two largest islands, connected by an artificial dam. The southern of the two islands reaches a height of 70 metres (230 ft) and has a lighthouse.
Monjes del Este (12°24′N 70°51′W), a small rock 5.3 km (3.3 mi) northeast of Monjes del Sur, reaches a height of 43 metres (141 ft).
Monjes del Norte (12°30′N 70°55′W), is 12.3 km (7.6 mi) NNW of Monjes del Este, and consists of five small rocks, the largest one of which reaches a height of 41 metres (135 ft).In 2012 the Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela named a Damen Stan Lander 5612 landing craft after the islands.Los Roques archipelago
Los Roques archipelago is a federal dependency of Venezuela consisting of approximately 350 islands, cays, and islets in a total area of 40.61 square kilometers. The archipelago is located 128 kilometers (80 mi) directly north of the port of La Guaira, in the Caribbean Sea.
The islands' pristine coral reef attracts many wealthy visitors, especially from Europe, some of whom come in their own yachts and anchor in the inner, protected shallow waters. Development and tourism are controlled.
Because of the wide variety of seabirds and rich aquatic life, the Venezuelan government declared Los Roques a National Park in 1972.Los Testigos Islands
Los Testigos Islands (Spanish: Islas Los Testigos, Witnesses Islands) are a group of islands in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. They are a part of the Dependencias Federales (Federal Dependencies) of Venezuela.Margarita Island
Margarita Island (Isla de Margarita, Spanish pronunciation: [maɾɣaˈɾita]) is the largest island in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta, situated off the northeastern coast of the country, in the Caribbean Sea. The capital city of Nueva Esparta, La Asunción, is located on the island. Primary industries are tourism, fishing and construction.Monjes del Sur
The Monjes del Sur, an island group of Los Monjes Archipelago of Venezuela.Paraguaná Peninsula
The Paraguaná Peninsula (Spanish pronunciation: [paɾaɣwaˈna]) is a peninsula in Venezuela, situated in the north of Falcón State, and comprises the municipalities of Carirubana, Los Taques and Falcón. The island of Aruba lies 27 km to the north. Bonaire and Curaçao are slightly further away. The Paraguaná Peninsula is connected to the rest of the state by a natural isthmus of Médanos. The Peninsula contains two oil refineries, in the West city of Punto Fijo. The output of these refinieries is shipped internationally through the ports of Amuay and Cardón. The Peninsula of Paraguana lies in the Caribbean.
The peninsula lies in the Paraguana xeric scrub ecoregion.
Because it is completely surrounded by water, the peninsula is sometimes called an island, and is sometimes considered as part of the Leeward Antilles.