One of the constituent seas of the Atlantic Ocean is the Caribbean Sea, a sea found in the northwestern section of the Atlantic. Covering an area of over 1.06 million square miles, the sea is among the largest in the world. The region in which the sea is found, the Caribbean, gets its name from the sea. A total of 11 countries have coastlines on the sea, including Jamaica, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Of these countries, only Jamaica is surrounded by the sea and therefore is the only country with the Caribbean coastline defining the whole country.
Countries with Coastlines on the Caribbean Sea
A Latin American nation which has a coastline on the Caribbean Sea is Panama. The country has two coastlines, the Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast. Unlike the Pacific coast which is largely developed, most sections of the Caribbean coast still have their natural beauty in pristine condition. More than 1,000 miles of the coastline is made up of pristine beaches which are among the best beaches not only in the country but the entire region. The presence of the white-sand beaches on the Caribbean Coast makes the coastline a prime tourist attraction with thousands of tourists visiting the coast to sample the beautiful beaches.
The coastline features one of the country’s largest cities, Colón, which is a hub for trade and commerce in Panama. Maritime commerce is another economic activity which takes place along the Caribbean coastline of the country due to the presence of the Panama Canal whose northern mouth is located on the Caribbean coast. The Port of Colon which is situated on the Caribbean coast is another critical driver of Panama’s maritime trade. Real estate is more attractive on Panama’s Caribbean coast compared to the Pacific coast due partly to favorable prices as well as the proximity to some of the world’s best beaches. The coastline is important in the nation’s history as it was where the Spaniards first settled while they colonized the island.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago are bound to the west by the Caribbean Sea, and so has a long coastline on the waterbody. Among the major cities which are situated along the coastline include Port of Spain, the island’s second-largest city. The city which is also the island nation’s capital city is the center of trade and commerce of Trinidad and Tobago and its skyscrapers house many governmental offices. Other important cities found along the Caribbean coast are Point Fortin, San Fernando, Point Lisas, and Pointe-a-Pierre. The village of Toco is situated at the periphery where the Caribbean coast meets the North Atlantic coast. The fishing village is a top tourist site in the country due to the pristine beach that sits on the Caribbean coast.
One problem that the island nation’s Caribbean coast is currently facing is the coastal erosion which has seen vast sections of the coast washed away by the currents of the Caribbean Sea. The erosion has been detrimental to the infrastructural projects along the coast such as roads which are the sole connection to the remote fishing villages found along the coast. The coastal erosion has placed the durability of the roads in jeopardy making them impassible on some sections. The erosion also has detrimental ecological effects as it puts to a great risk the nesting sites of leatherback turtles whose existence is already threatened by other human activities.
While other countries have coastlines on other water bodies, Jamaica which is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea only has the whole of its coastline defined by the Caribbean. With an area covering 4,213 square miles, the island nation is only exceeded in size by Hispaniola and Cuba in the Greater Antilles. All of the country’s 14 parishes are found along the Caribbean coast. Many of Jamaica’s major cities are found along the Caribbean coast including the nation’s largest city Kingston. Other major cities found on the coastline include Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Portmore, and Old Harbour. As a result, a significant portion of the island’s population resides along the coastline.
Some of the economic activities along the coastline include fishing and maritime commerce. The primary economic driver along Jamaica’s Caribbean coastline is tourism due to the presence of picturesque beaches found along the coastline. Like many other coastlines in the Caribbean, Jamaica’s coast is struggling with the coastal erosion being a serious threat to its existence. Coastal erosion is thought to be triggered by rising sea levels which are in turn caused by global warming. One beach where the effects of coastal erosions are most profound is Hellshire Beach which has been retreating at a rapid rate. The disappearance of large sections of the beach has hampered the commercial and recreational activities which take place on the beach.
Colombia has a long coastline along the Caribbean Sea as it bound to the north by the sea. The country also has a Pacific coastline as it bound by the ocean to the south. The two coastlines are similar but have numerous differences that set them apart. One, Colombia’s Caribbean coast is more developed with higher penetration of infrastructural projects compared to the Pacific coast. Being more developed, the Caribbean coast is better placed to receive and entertain tourists due to the readily available facilities found on the coast.
In contrast, the Pacific coast is the ideal choice for tourists who prefer the raw, unaltered coast. Another difference can be seen in the type of marine life found on the two coastlines. The Pacific coast is home to humpback whales while coral is found on the Caribbean coast.
Human Activity on the Caribbean Coast
The coastlines around the Caribbean Sea feature numerous major cities which are home to a large number of people. Examples of these cities include Kingston and Portmore (Jamaica); Colon (Panama); and Port of Spain and Point Fortin (Trinidad and Tobago). The presence of these cities makes maritime trade a key economic activity along the Caribbean coast. Due to the tropical climate experienced in the region, the coastline features tropical beaches which make the coastlines top tourist destinations attracting millions of visitors each year.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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