By the Caribbean Journal staff
How many people live in the Caribbean?
It’s a question we’re often asked. And the answer is, well, complicated.
That’s because it depends on what geographical area you define as the Caribbean.
We culled data from a range of sources, using the most recent estimates from 2012 across the region, breaking it up into different sub-regions and then applying it to the various definitions of the Caribbean.
We start with the Caribbean Community, the political bloc of largely English-speaking countries, along with Haiti and Suriname, joined by Guyana, but not by Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
Traditionally, the Caribbean has been considered the island countries within the Caribbean sea, with Cuba to the north and Trinidad and Tobago to the south.
That has come to include the Bahamas, though it is not geographically within the Caribbean, along with Belize, Suriname and Guyana, which are part of the CARICOM economic and political bloc. (This also tends to include French Guyana, a department of France on the northern coast of South America).
The population of that area is just around 44 million people.
When you consider the Caribbean to be all the countries that have any coastline on the Caribbean basin, the definition includes even more countries in South America and Central America, including Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela.
The population of that area is about 159.22 million people.
Of course, Mexico also has a Caribbean coast, and is geographically part of the region. It also has almost 121 million people.
With Mexico, the number rises to just over 280 million.
As you can see, the answer is a complicated one. But any way you slice it, the Caribbean is a far larger place than people tend to realize.
If you want to define it another way, simply look below for the full data table of regional populations:
Sources: UN and government data. All data as of 2012, excepting St Barth (2011).