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The Leeward Islands are a group of islands in the West Indies. In English, the term refers to the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. As a group they start east of Puerto Rico and reach southward to Dominica. They are situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. The more southerly part of the Lesser Antilles chain are called the Windward Islands.

Origin of the Name Edit

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 the West Indies, the prevailing winds, known as the trade winds, blow from the northeast to the southwest. 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 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 "Leeward Islands". Dominica is the dividing line between the Windward and Leeward islands. Guadeloupe and the islands to the south were designated "Windward Islands". Later on, all islands north of Martinique became known as the Leeward 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 du 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.

Sovereign States Edit

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Dominica

Non-Sovereign States Edit

  • Puerto Rican Virgin Islands (Puerto Rico (United Staates))
  • US Virgin Islands (United States)
  • British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)
  • Anguilla (United Kingdom)
  • Saint Martin (France)
  • Sint Maarten (Netherlands)
  • Saint Barthélemy (France)
  • Saba (Netherlands)
  • Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)
  • Redonda (Antigua and Barbuda)
  • Montserrat (United Kingdom)
  • Guadeloupe (France)
  • la Désirade (Guadeloupe (France))
  • Îles des Saintes (Guadeloupe (France))
  • Marie-Galante (Guadeloupe (France))

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