Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands /ˈliːwərd/ are a group of islands situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. Starting with the Virgin Islands east of Puerto Rico, they extend southeast to Guadeloupe and its dependencies. In English, the term Leeward Islands refers to the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. The more southerly part of this chain, starting with Dominica, is called the Windward Islands. Dominica was originally considered part of the Leeward Islands, but was transferred from the British Leeward Islands to the British Windward Islands in 1940.

Leeward Islands
English: Leeward Islands
French: Îles sous le Vent
LocationCaribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates16°N 61°W / 16°N 61°WCoordinates: 16°N 61°W / 16°N 61°W
Total islands30+
Major islandsGuadeloupe
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Martin
Virgin Islands
Highest elevation1,467 m (4,813 ft)
Highest pointLa Grande Soufrière, Guadeloupe
Largest settlementLes Abymes
Largest settlementSt. John's
Largest settlementBasseterre
Largest settlementPhilipsburg
Populationc. +700,000
Caribbean general map
The Leeward Islands are labelled on the map's middle right side.

Origin of the name

Sandy Ground Anguilla
Overlooking Sandy Ground, Anguilla

The name of this island group, Leeward Islands, dates from previous centuries, when sailing ships were the sole form of transportation across the Atlantic Ocean. In sailing terminology, "windward" means towards the source of the wind, while "leeward" is the opposite direction. In the West Indies, the prevailing winds, known as the trade winds, blow out of the northeast. Therefore, an island to the northwest, such as Puerto Rico, would typically be leeward of an island to the southeast, such as Antigua, and conversely, Antigua would typically be windward of Puerto Rico, but leeward of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The early Spanish colonizers called Puerto Rico and the islands to the west Sotavento, meaning leeward. The islands to the south and east of Puerto Rico were then called Islas de Barlovento, meaning "windward islands". When the British gained control of many of the Lesser Antilles, they designated Antigua, Montserrat and the islands to the north as the "Leeward Islands". Guadeloupe and the islands to the south were designated as the "Windward Islands". Later on, all islands north of Martinique became known as the Leeward Islands.[1] In 1940 Dominica was transferred to the British Windward Islands, and is now considered to be part of the Windward Islands.

However, even in modern usage in languages other than English, e.g., Spanish, French and Dutch, all of the Lesser Antilles from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad and Tobago are known as the Windward Islands (Iles au Vent in French, Bovenwindse Eilanden in Dutch, and Islas de Barlovento in Spanish). The islands along the Venezuelan coast, known in English as the Leeward Antilles, in languages other than English are known as the Leeward Islands.


The islands are affected by active volcanism, and notable eruptions have occurred in Montserrat in the 1990s and in 2009 to 2010. At 1467 m, the highest point is La Grande Soufrière in Guadeloupe.


The Caribs, after whom the Caribbean is named, are believed to have migrated from the Orinoco River area in Venezuela in South America to settle in the Caribbean islands about 1200 AD, according to carbon dating. Over the century leading up to Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean archipelago in 1492, the Caribs mostly displaced the Maipurean-speaking Taínos, who settled the island chains earlier in history, by warfare, extermination and assimilation.[2]

The islands were among the first parts of the Americas to fall under the control of the Spanish Empire. European contact commenced with Christopher Columbus's second voyage, and many of the islands' names originate from this period, e.g., Montserrat was named in honour of Santa Maria de Montserrat (Our Lady of Montserrat), after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat, which is located on the Mountain of Montserrat, the national shrine of Catalonia. 'Mont serrat' in Catalan means 'saw mountain', referring to the serrated appearance of the mountain range.

British colony of the Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands became a British colony in 1671. In 1699, prior to the War of the Spanish Succession, Christopher Codrington became the governor of the Leeward Islands. The war lasted from 1701 to 1714. Daniel Parke II was the British governor of the Leeward Islands from 1706 to 1710. He was assassinated during a mutiny triggered by his self-enriching enforcement of Stuart imperialism.

Although comparatively much smaller than the surrounding islands in the Caribbean, the Leeward Islands posed the most significant (though decidedly less severe in comparison to the colonies) rebellion to the British Stamp Act.[3]

In 1816 the colony was dissolved, with its last governor being James Leith.

In 1833, the colony was reformed. From 1833 until 1871, the Governor of Antigua performed the duties of the Governor of the Leeward Islands.

Today the Islands are governed by a number of national and colonial administrations.

List of the Leeward Islands

From the northwest to the southeast, the islands are:

See also


  1. ^ J. C. Hart and W. T. Stone (1982), A Cruising Guide to the Caribbean and the Bahamas, Dodd, Mead & Co., p. 601, ISBN 0-396-08023-5.
  2. ^ Sweeney, James L. (2007). "Caribs, Maroons, Jacobins, Brigands, and Sugar Barons: The Last Stand of the Black Caribs on St. Vincent", African Diaspora Archaeology Network, March 2007, retrieved 26 April 2007.
  3. ^ O'Shaughnessy, Andrew (April 1994). "The Stamp Act Crisis in the British Caribbean". The William and Mary Quarterly. 51 (2): 203–226. doi:10.2307/2946860. JSTOR 2946860.

External links


Anguilla ( ann-GWIL-ə) is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean. It is one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, lying east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and directly north of Saint Martin. The territory consists of the main island of Anguilla, approximately 16 miles (26 km) long by 3 miles (4.8 km) wide at its widest point, together with a number of much smaller islands and cays with no permanent population. The island's capital is The Valley. The total land area of the territory is 35 square miles (91 km2), with a population of approximately 14,764 (2016 estimate).

Anguilla has become a popular tax haven, having no capital gains, estate, profit, sales, or corporate taxes. In April 2011, faced with a mounting deficit, it introduced a 3% "Interim Stabilisation Levy", Anguilla's first form of income tax. Anguilla also has a 0.75% property tax.


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 and the southeasterly Windward Islands. The Leeward Antilles just north of Venezuela and 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.

British Leeward Islands

The British Leeward Islands now refers to the Leeward Islands as an English and later British colony from 1671 to 1958, except for the years from 1816 to 1833. The Leeward Islands was established as an English colony in 1671. In 1816, the islands were divided in two regions: Antigua, Barbuda, and Montserrat in one colony, and Saint Christopher, Nevis, Anguilla, and the Virgin Islands in the other.

The Leeward Islands were united again in 1833, coming together until 1871 under the administration of the Governor of Antigua. The islands then became known as the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands from 1871 to 1956, with Dominica becoming part of the colony in 1871 but leaving it again in 1940, and in 1958 the remaining islands were absorbed into the West Indies Federation.

A representative Leeward Islands cricket team continues to participate in West Indian domestic cricket.

British Virgin Islands national cricket team

The British Virgin Islands cricket team has represented the British overseas territory of the British Virgin Islands in cricket. The team is not a member of the International Cricket Council, but is a member of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association, which itself is a member association of the West Indies Cricket Board, and players from the British Virgin Islands generally represent the Leeward Islands cricket team at domestic level and the West Indies at international level. The British Virgin Islands have however played as a separate entity in matches which held Twenty20 status, but has not appeared in first-class or List A cricket.

British West Indies

The British West Indies, sometimes abbreviated to the BWI, is a collective term for the British territories established in the Anglo-Caribbean: Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize (formerly British Honduras), Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana (formerly British Guiana), Jamaica (formerly Colony of Jamaica), and Trinidad and Tobago. Before the decolonization period in the later 1950's and 1960's it included all British colonies in the region, together with two mainland colonies, as part of the British Empire.In 1912, the British government divided their territories into different colonies: The Bahamas, Barbados, Guiana, British Honduras, Jamaica (with its dependencies the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands), Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands, and the Leeward Islands.Between 1958 and 1962, all of the island territories except the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas were organised into the West Indies Federation. It was hoped that the Federation would become independent as a single nation, but it had limited powers, many practical problems. Consequently, the West Indies Federation was dissolved in 1962.

The territories, are now independent except for four of the nations which remained British territories, the remaining became separate countries and they all became apart of the Commonwealth of Nations and also established the Caribbean Community, many of the nations have joined various memberships of international bodies, such as the Organization of American States, the Association of Caribbean States, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and the Caribbean Development Bank among others.

Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands

The Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands headed the Supreme Court of the Leeward Islands.

The British Leeward Islands was a British colony existing between 1833 and 1960, and consisted of Antigua, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla and Dominica (to 1940). Prior to 1871, when the Supreme Court was established, the individual islands had their own courts.

In 1939 the Windward and Leeward Islands Supreme Court and the Windward and Leeward Islands Court of Appeal were established, which was replaced in 1967 by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court which provides both functions.

Diocese of the North East Caribbean and Aruba

The Anglican diocese of North East Caribbean and Aruba was formed in 1842 as the Diocese of Antigua and the Leeward Islands when the Anglican diocese of Barbados, then with the Diocese of Jamaica one of the two dioceses covering the Caribbean, was sub-divided. It celebrated its 175th birthday in 2017.It is now one of the 8 dioceses within the Province of the West Indies and comprises the 12 islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat, Anguilla, Aruba, Nevis, Saba, St. Barts, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and St. Martin/St. Maarten. The diocesan cathedral is St John's Cathedral in St John's Antigua.There is also a Catholic diocese covering a similar area, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint John's – Basseterre

The diocese was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury from its creation in 1842 until 1883, when the Province of the West Indies was created. Initially the Established Church of the area, and thus supported by public funds, it was disestablished in 1969.

Leeward Islands (Society Islands)

The Leeward Islands (French: Îles Sous-le-vent; Tahitian: Fenua Raro Mata’i, literally "Islands Under-the-Wind") are the western part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the South Pacific. They lie south of the Line Islands (part of Kiribati), east of the Cooks and north of the Austral Islands (also part of French Polynesia). Their area is 395 km² with a population of over 33,000. The islands to the west comprise a three atoll group: Manuae (also known as Scilly Atoll), Motu One atoll (also known as Bellinghausen), lying most northerly of the Leeward Islands, and to the southeast Maupihaa atoll (also known as Mopelia). More to the east lies a mainly high island cluster consisting of Maupiti (Tahitian name: Maurua), Tupai atoll, Bora Bora (Tahitian name: Vava'u), the most known of the Leeward Islands in the western world due to its World War II United States naval base and subsequent tourism industry, Tahaa (Tahitian name: Uporu), lying just north of the largest island of the group, Raiatea (Tahitian names: Hava'i, Ioretea) which possesses the largest city and local capital of the Leeward Islands, namely Uturoa, as well as the highest elevation, the just over 1,000 m mount Tefatua, and finally the easternmost island of the group, Huahine (Tahitian name: Mata'irea) which at high tide is divided into two: Huahine Nui ("big Huahine") to the north and Huahine Iti ("small Huahine") to the south.

Leeward Islands Championships in Athletics

The Leeward Islands Championships in Athletics is an athletics event organized by the Leeward Islands Athletics Association (LIAA) open for (but not restricted to) athletes from its member associations.

Leeward Islands Station

The Leeward Islands Station and originally known as the Barbadoes and Leeward Islands Station was a formation or command of the Kingdom of Great Britain and then the United Kingdom's Royal Navy stationed at English Harbour, Antigua, Leeward Islands from 1743 to 1821.

Leeward Islands cricket team

The Leeward Islands cricket team is a first class cricket team representing the member countries of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association, a regional association which again is part of the West Indies Cricket Board. Contrary to the normal English definition of the Leeward Islands, Dominica is not included – for cricketing purposes Dominica is a part of the Windward Islands. As such, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten are all part of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association. The team does not take part in any international competitions (although the member nation of Antigua and Barbuda took part at the 1998 Commonwealth Games), but rather in inter-regional competitions in the Caribbean, such as the West Indies' Professional Cricket League (which includes Regional Four Day Competition and the NAGICO Regional Super50), and the best players may be selected for the West Indies team, which plays international cricket. The team competes in the Professional Cricket League under the franchise name Leeward Islands Hurricanes. The Leeward Islands has won a total of ten domestic titles – four in first class cricket and six in one-day cricket, but their last title was in 1997–98 when they won the double (although the first-class title was shared with Guyana).

The Leeward Islands played their inaugural first-class game in 1958, and lost by an innings and 19 runs to Jamaica. However, their first win did not come until 1968–69, when they beat Guyana by 43 runs at the Warner Park Sporting Complex ground. From 1965–66 to 1980–81 the team competed as the Combined Islands in first-class cricket, along with the best cricketers from the Windward Islands. However, when regular one-day competitions began in 1975–76 the island groups were separate, and the Leeward Islands won on their third outing in 1977–78.

In 1981–82 the Leeward Islands made their debut in the Shell Shield with a 57-run win over the Windward Islands (the season after the Combined Islands had won the title), but it was to take eight seasons until they could lift the first-class trophy – which by then had been renamed the Red Stripe Cup. From 1989–90 to 1997–98, however, the Leeward Islands won five first-class titles (one shared) and four one-day titles (one shared), but since then they have failed to win any major trophy in the West Indies.

List of Governors of the Leeward Islands

This is a list of Governors of the Leeward Islands from the creation of the colony in 1671 until the Federation of the West Indies was formed in 1958. The Leewards Islands colony was dissolved in 1816, but reformed in 1833. Between 1833 and 1871, the Governor of Antigua performed the duties of viceroy in the Leeward Islands.

List of colonial governors and administrators of Antigua

This is a list of viceroys of Antigua and Barbuda, from its initial colonisation in 1632 until its independence in 1981. Between 1671 and 1816, Antigua was part of the British Leeward Islands and its viceroy was the Governor of the Leeward Islands. The colony of the Leeward Islands was split in two in 1816, and the Governor of Antigua became the viceroy in Antigua, Barbuda and Montserrat. In 1833 the British Leeward Islands were reformed, and the Governor of Antigua represented the monarch in all of the British Leeward Islands until 1871, when he became the Governor of the Leeward Islands again.

Lists of volcanoes

Below is a list of (almost) all volcanoes in the world.

Postage stamps and postal history of the Leeward Islands

The British Leeward Islands - Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Christopher (St. Kitts), and the Virgin Islands all used postage stamps inscribed "LEEWARD ISLANDS" between 1890 and 1 July 1956, often concurrently with stamps inscribed with the colony's name.

The issue of 1890 was a key plate stamp design with the usual profile of Queen Victoria, eight values ranging from 1/2d to 5 shillings. In 1897 they were overprinted with a logo commemorating Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and in 1902 the 4, 6, and 7d were surcharged with a value of 1d.

The 1890 issue design was also used for stamps of King Edward VII, as well as for King George V and George VI, with several changes of watermark and colors. In 1928 a large one-pound stamp was introduced, and updated for the new monarch when George VI took the throne.

The common design commemorative stamps of the Commonwealth between 1946 and 1949 included stamps inscribed "LEEWARD ISLANDS". In 1951 the West Indies University issue reflected the changeover to cents and dollars, as did the Queen Elizabeth II definitive series of 1954.

Revenue stamps of the Leeward Islands

Revenue stamps of the Leeward Islands were issued by the British Leeward Islands between 1882 and the 1930s. They were used on Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Montserrat and Saint Kitts and Nevis, all of which also issued their own revenue stamps before, during or after they used common issues for the Leeward Islands.

The Leeward Islands revenues were intended to minimize printing expenses which would be incurred by having separate issues for each island. They were all inscribed FEES, and were mainly used for land registry or judicial fees. The first set consisted of five stamps with the denominations of 6d, 1/-, 2/-, 5/- and £1, and it depicted Queen Victoria. The stamps were printed by De La Rue and were sent to Antigua in late 1881, so they were probably issued later that year or in 1882, around eight years before the first postage stamps of the Leeward Islands . The stamps continued to be reprinted until 1901, with most printings being sent to Antigua, although some were also sent to Saint Kitts-Nevis and Montserrat.Between 1902 and 1904, a new set was issued depicting the new monarch, King Edward VII. The set consisted of five denominations, the same as the previous issue, although the £1 is only known from the printers' records but not as an issued stamp. Printings of these stamps continued until 1905 and were sent to Antigua, Dominica and Saint Kitts. The 6d to 5/- values were reprinted using a new watermark and in some cases new colours between 1907 and 1913, and printings of these were sent to Antigua, Dominica and the Virgin Islands.A new set depicting King George V was introduced in 1916. Three values were initially issued: 6d, 1/- and 2/-, with a 5/- being added in 1918. Printings of these were sent to Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat and Saint Kitts, with the final reprint occurring in 1919. The George V issues were reprinted using a new watermark between 1921 and 1930, with a £1 value being added in 1929. No issued copies of the 5/- with the new watermark or the £1 have been recorded, although they are known from the printers' archives. Printings of stamps with the new watermark were sent to Saint Kitts, Dominica and Antigua.Dual-purpose postage and revenue stamps of the Leeward Islands were also valid for fiscal use on the islands from 1890 to the 1950s.The Leeward Islands also had colourless impressed duty stamps which were directly embossed onto documents. Designs inscribed LEEWARD ISLANDS FEES and depicting an Imperial Crown and flowers were prepared in 1890, and they are known used in the 1930s. Similar stamps embossed in vermilion ink might also exist.

United States Virgin Islands national cricket team

The United States Virgin Islands cricket team has represented the United States unincorporated territory of the United States Virgin Islands in cricket. The team is not a member of the International Cricket Council, but is a member of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association, which itself is a member association of the West Indies Cricket Board, and players from the United States Virgin Islands generally represent the Leeward Islands cricket team at domestic level and the West Indies at international level. The United States Virgin Islands have however played as a separate entity in matches which held Twenty20 status, but has not appeared in first-class or List A cricket.

Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands (spanish: Islas Vírgenes) are geologically and biogeographically the easternmost part of the Greater Antilles, the northern islands belonging to the Puerto Rican Bank and St. Croix being a displaced part of the same geologic structure. Politically, the British Virgin Islands have been governed as the western island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, and form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is separated from the true Lesser Antilles by the Anegada Passage and from the main island of Puerto Rico by the Virgin Passage.

The islands fall into three different political jurisdictions:

British Virgin Islands, a British overseas territory,

United States Virgin Islands, an unincorporated territory of the United States,

Spanish (or Puerto Rican) Virgin Islands, the easternmost islands of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, itself an unincorporated territory of the United States.

Windward Islands

The Windward Islands, also known as the Islands of Barlovento, are the southern, generally larger islands of the Lesser Antilles, within the West Indies. They lie south of the Leeward Islands, approximately between latitudes 10° and 16° N and longitudes 60° and 62° W. As a group they start from Dominica and reach southward to the north of Trinidad and Tobago and west of Barbados.

Greater Antilles
Leeward Antilles
Leeward Islands
Windward Islands
Other islands
Continental coasts
Caribbean articles

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