The Caribbean archipelago is made up of more than 7,000 islands. However, only a tiny percentage of the islands are inhabited, and now independent countries or dependent territories aligned with France, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, or the United States.
The legacy of European colonizers and the descendants of enslaved Africans have heavily influenced everything about the Caribbean region, including history, architecture, culture, languages, and food scene. All of this makes the Caribbean so much more than sun, sand, and sea typically used for marketing the region.
So what is the population of the Caribbean? Well, the Caribbean region has an estimated 45 million people, most of whom are the descendants of enslaved Africans. Below is a highlight of the population for each Caribbean island starting with the 13 independent countries and then the 17 dependent territories.
Independent Caribbean Countries by Population
Three Cuban women in traditional dresses in Havana, Cuba. Photo Credit: © Macmonican via 123RF.com
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and it is similarly the Caribbean’s most populous country. Cuba has a land area of around 42,426 square miles with over 130 populated cities.
The population of Cuba stands at an estimated 11.3 million people, which is made up of several ethnicities. The population is concentrated in the bigger cities and towns such as Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Holguín, Camagüey, Santa Clara, and Guantánamo.
The majority of Cubans self-identify as white, with others identifying as Black or mixed. Most Cubans have European and African ancestors due to colonial history, and a small percentage of them are indigenous people.
Haiti falls just short of Cuba for the mantle of being the most populated country in the Caribbean. It is also the third-largest country in the Caribbean, just behind the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic and has a land area of 10,710 square miles.
Haiti’s growing population currently stands at an estimated 11.2 million and will most likely soon surpass Cuba. Haiti’s French & Creole-speaking society is mainly Black, with 95% of Haitians identifying as Black and the rest as white or mixed.
Dominican Republic Population
The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean island and is the third most populous country in the region. It shares the island of Hispaniola with its western neighbor, Haiti, and has a land area of 18,792 square miles.
The population in the Dominican Republic stands at an estimated 10.7 million people, all of whom speak the country’s official language, Spanish. Many in the Dominican Republican identify as white, Black, and mixed, being descendants of European colonizers and enslaved Africans.
Jamaica is the fourth most populated Caribbean island. Jamaica is also the fifth-largest island in the region, with a land area of 4,244 square miles.
Jamaica is home to an estimated 2.9 million people, with the majority the descendants of enslaved Africans. It’s common to hear Jamaicans speak rapidly in Jamaican/English patois and then switch to perfect English, the country’s official language.
Trinidad and Tobago Population
Trinidad and Tobago is a country made up of two islands. Together, they have a 1,956 square miles land area, with Trinidad at 1,841 square miles and Tobago at 115 square miles.
Around 1.3 million people call Trinidad and Tobago home, with 96% of them living in Trinidad. The majority of the population are also the descendants of enslaved Africans and indentured laborers from India.
As a reflection of its ethnic diversity, several languages are spoken in Trinidad and Tobago. This includes the official language English along with Trinidadian and Tobagonian Creole French, Caribbean Hindustani, and Spanish.
The Bahamas Population
The Bahamas is one of the region’s renowned tourist destinations, despite not being directly in the Caribbean sea. It has 5,358 square miles of land area, making it one of the largest Caribbean islands. The Bahamas is not just one island; it includes over 700 islands, cays, and islets.
The Bahamas has just under 390 000 people, most of whom are Black, with a small percentage being white, mixed, and other ethnicities. Bahamians speak English, the official language of the country, and some speak English creole.
Barbados, popular with tourists from North America and Europe, is located on the Eastern side of the Caribbean, and the island is just 169 square miles.
Barbados has an estimated population that’s just shy of 290,000, with over 90% of the population identifying as Black. The remaining 10% are a mix of white, East Indian, and other ethnicities. English is the country’s official language, but most Barbadians, aka Bajans, also speak Bajan creole.
School children walking down a street in Bridgetown, Barbados. Photo Credit: © Marina113 via 123RF.com.
Saint Lucia Population
The volcanic island of Saint Lucia is located in the Eastern Caribbean and is one of the more mountainous ones in the region. A major landmark and tourist attraction are The Pitons, two mountainous volcanic plugs, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The nation’s land area stands at 238 square miles.
Saint Lucia’s population is approximately 182,000, with most people living in and near Castries, the nation’s capital is a favorite among tourists. Saint Lucians are mostly the descendants of enslaved Africans, with Afro-Europeans and East Indians making up the rest of the population. They speak English, the official language, as well as French Creole, aka Kwéyòl.
Grenada is a Caribbean nation affectionately known as “the Island of Spice” due to having a wealth of spices, including nutmeg referred locally as black gold. The country encompasses the larger island of Grenada itself, plus two smaller islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Grenada spans just 134.6 square miles in terms of land area.
The Caribbean island of Grenada has an estimated population of 112,000 people. Most Grenadians are the descendants of enslaved Africans. A small portion of Grenadians identifies as mixed, East Indian, or another ethnicity. While English is the official language, many Grenadians speak Grenadian English Creole and Grenadian French Creole.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Population
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is made up of mainland Saint Vincent and about 32 islands and cays in The Grenadines. Not all the islands in The Grenadines are inhabited. The main ones include Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Petit Saint Vincent, Palm Island, Mayreau, and Union Island.
Saint Vincent is 142 square miles, and The Grenadines spans a land area size of 150 square miles on which an estimated 110,000 population. Most Vincentians are Black, and a small percentage are mixed, with indigenous (Carib), East Indian, and European ethnicities. English is also the official language but most also Vincentian Creole.
Antigua and Barbuda Population
Antigua and Barbuda, also located in the Eastern Caribbean, is made up of two islands. The islands have a combined land area of 170 square miles, with Antigua being much larger than Barbuda.
With just an estimated 97,000 people, Antigua & Barbuda is one of the least populated countries in the Caribbean. Antiguans and Barbudans are primarily Black, with a small percentage identifying as mixed, Hispanic, white, and other ethnic groups. The official language is English, although a number of the citizens also speak Antiguan creole.
Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean island of Dominica has a land area of 290 square miles. Part of the Windward Islands chain in the Lesser Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, Dominica is known as the nature island.
Dominica has an estimated population of 71,000 people, with most identifying as Black and a small percentage being mixed and indigenous. Dominicans speak English officially as well as French patois.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Population
Saint Kitts and Nevis comprise two islands, part of the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles. The country is both the smallest and least populous independent country in the Caribbean. It has a land area of just 101 square miles, with a population of 52,000 people.
The majority of Kittitians and Nevisians are Black, with a small percentage being mixed, white, East Indians, and other ethnicities. The official language for Saint Kitts and Nevis is English.
Caribbean political map with capitals, national borders, important cities rivers, and lakes. English labeling and scaling. Photo Credit: © Peter Hermes Furian via 123RF.com.
Dependent Caribbean Countries by Population
There are seventeen islands known as dependent territories within the Caribbean region with ties to former colonial powers in Europe and the United States of America. They make up the rest of the leading Caribbean islands where people live and work.
The United States has Puerto Rico, the Caribbean’s largest and most populated (3.1 million people) dependency. Connected to the United States is also the United States Virgin Islands, which has approximately 106,000 people.
Overseas Territories for the United Kingdom include the British Virgin Islands (30 000 people), Cayman Islands (64,000 people), Turks & Caicos Islands (38,000 people), Anguilla (18,000 people), and Montserrat (5,000 people).
France has sovereignty over Martinique (400,000 people), Guadeloupe (451 000 people), Saint Martin (32,000 people), and Saint Barthélemy (7,000 people).
The Netherlands controls the rest of the Caribbean’s territories, including Aruba (120,000 people), Bonaire (20,000 people), Curaçao (157,000 people), Saba (1,900 people), Sint Maarten (44 000 people), and Sint Eustatius (3,100 people).
Population for Caribbean Countries beyond Geography
The Caribbean region extends beyond geography as Bermuda, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, is closely aligned due to shared history, culture, and heritage. Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory.
Also, closely aligned with the Caribbean is Belize which does have Caribbean Sea shorelines but is located on the northeastern coast of Central America. The only Central American country where English is the official language, Belize a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization is closely aligned with the Caribbean as it is a former colony of the United Kingdom.
Two more countries closely aligned with the Caribbean are Guyana and Suriname that are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) with the primary objectives to promote economic integration and cooperation. This is why I often include them when doing rankings such as Caribbean Olympic athletes, even though I get grief from people who continually tell me I don’t know geography.
That said, the population of Bermuda is 64,000 people and the population of Belize is 420,000 people. Guyana has a population of 783,000 people, and Suriname has a population of 582,000 people.