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Caribbean History Timeline

200s - 1300s

  • Most of the Caribbean inhabited by Carib, Taino, and Arawak Indians


  • (1492 - 1493) Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the New World


  • (1500s) The Spanish Empire claimed the entire Caribbean and most of Latin America. Hispanola, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, and Trinidad were settled.
  • (1522) Taino Indian leader, Enriquillo, led a successful rebellion again the Spanish granting his people freedoms and rights
  • (1524) The Council of the Indies was created by the Spanish as a governing body over Caribbean and Latin American territories
  • (1590s) English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, waged war on Spanish ships and ports


  • (1600s) British, French and Dutch forces seized Caribbean territories from failing Spanish Empire. Illegal "piracy" and legal "privateering" began throughout the Caribbean
  • (1612) British colonized Bermuda
  • (1623) British colonized St. Kitts
  • (1627 - 1635) British colonized Barbados, Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, Anguilla, Tortola and Windward Islands
  • (1635) French contested colonization of St. Kitts. French colonized Guadeloupe and Martinique
  • (1650 - 1730) The Golden Age of Piracy began in the Caribbean
  • (1655) English conquered Jamaica
  • (1650 - 1680) Dutch colonized Saba, St. Eustatius, Saint Martin, Curacao, Bonaire, Aruba, Tobago, St. Croix, Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, Anguilla, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • (1664 - 1674) St. Eustatius changed hands ten times in British - Dutch disputes over the island
  • (1697) Spain ceded Haiti to France. France controlled Tortuga


  • (1700 - 1750s) Caribbean colonies prospered in sugar, tobacco, and rice farming. Trade between colonies and nations prevalent
  • (1750s) Turks and Caicos captured by the British
  • (1761 - 1778) British captured Dominica from France
  • (1763) Britain captured Havana during the Seven Years War. Britain traded that one city for a large area of land in Florida, including St. Augustine.
  • (1778 - 1783) French forces recaptured Dominica
  • (1762 - 1783) British and French forces contested Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • (1775 - 1783) French Caribbean naval victories over the British aided revolutionary war efforts for the Americans. American Revolutionary War weakened British power.
  • (1791) A slave rebellion against French forces, dubbed the Haitian Revolution, established Haiti as the world's oldest free, black republic. It was also the second oldest republic in the western hemisphere


  • (1821) Haitian forces conquered the rest of Hispanola
  • (1825) France recognized Haiti as a free nation
  • (1834) Slavery was abolished in the British Empire and in all of their Caribbean colonies
  • (1844) Dominican Republic declared its independence from Haiti
  • (1863) Dutch empire abolished slavery in its Caribbean colonies
  • (1896) Captain-General Valeriano Weyler forced peasants into concentration camps


  • (1906) Cuba placed under U.S. occupation
  • (1915 - 1934) U.S. occupied Haiti
  • (1916 - 1924) U.S. occupied Dominican Republic
  • (1917) Danes sold U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. for $25 million
  • (1940) General Batista elected Cuba's president
  • (1953) Fidel Castro led a revolution against General Batista in Cuba
  • (1958 - 1962) The Federation of the West Indies was created - included many Caribbean colonies
  • (1962) Dissolution of the Federation of the West Indies inspired Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to declare independence
  • (1962) U-2 spy plane discovered evidence of Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba. Cuban Missile Crisis ensued. Russians eventually dismantled Cuban missile bases
  • (1966) Barbados declared their independence from Britain
  • (1971) "Baby Doc" Jean-Claude Duvalier succeeded his father as head of Haiti
  • (1973) The Bahamas declared independence from Britain
  • (1974) Grenada declared independence from Britain
  • (1986) "Baby-Doc" and wife fled Haiti under protests over corruption


  • (2004) Excessive rain caused flooding in Haiti - claimed 3300 lives
  • (2008) Fidel Castro resigned as President of Cuba. Raul Castro became new president
  • (2008) Hurricanes killed 800 people in Haiti during a strong hurricane season
  • (2010) A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, an estimated 316,000 people died. Over 1,000,000 people made homeless
  • (2010) Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded, leaked hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Threatened Caribbean marine life and beaches
  • (2011) Rumors continued to suggest that Fidel Castro stepped down as head of the Cuban Communist Party

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This page was last updated on September 19, 2016.