By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (January 17, 2024) – Today’s edition of Fun with Maps takes us away from this cold snap and gives us the image of the tropics.

Sun, Surf, Tranquility

The islands of the Caribbean were parceled out during colonial days to the usual suspects, and they quickly developed a plantation agriculture system in most places.  Sugar cane was the most desired crop to fuel the European sweet tooth.  Tobacco plus cotton were cultivated as well.

Spain, France, Britain and Holland were the primary colonizers, but Portugal, Sweden and Denmark had holdings as well.

The U.S. “obtained” Puerto Rico via treaty from Spain, and paid $25 million to Denmark for what became the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The payment was made on January 17, 1917 and the official transfer of the Virgin Islands occurred ten weeks later.  The stated reason why the U.S. wanted these idyllic islands was because of their strategic location.  Keeping the peace on this hemisphere included controlling the Caribbean Sea. 

There are fewer than 100,000 inhabitants on the Virgin Islands. They have been U.S. Citizens since 1927.  While the U.S. Dollar is the currency, they drive on the left side, so it’s not quite just like the U.S.

This colorful map of the Caribbean with its many islands is by Ottens from 1730.

Map of the Caribbean – 1730 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.