The Caribbean, or West Indies, is a region of the Americas that consists of several groups of islands within or bordering the Caribbean Sea, plus The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, which are in the Atlantic Ocean. The region includes over 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays.
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Ecoregions of the Caribbean
The Greater Antilles mangrove ecoregion comprises various coastal areas in Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. These mangroves support relatively high levels of endemic flora and fauna and are often part of complex assemblages of habitats.
The Hispaniolan dry forests are located throughout the southern and western two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. The natural vegetation consists primarily of species belonging to the cactus family and shrubs and trees adapted to the limited water availability.
The Hispaniolan moist forests ecoregion is a tropical broadleaf forest on the island of Hispaniola. These wet forests maintain distinct flora and fauna, with many unique species. Initially, these forests covered about 60% of the original vegetation on the island.
The Hispaniolan pine forests are found on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles. This ecoregion is today mainly in mountainous areas of the Cordillera Central and the Sierra de Bahoruco, as well as other small patches in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The Leeward Islands dry forests ecoregion covers small areas of the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, characterized by moderate relief and rainfall. Unfortunately, much of this ecoregion has been drastically reduced due to deforestation.
The Leeward Islands moist forests ecoregion covers the specific areas of those islands, situated within the Leeward Islands chain in the eastern Caribbean, characterized by rugged, volcanic mountains covered in a moist tropical forest.
The Leeward Islands xeric scrub ecoregion covers the dry non-forested areas of the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. The ecoregion is present mainly on the low elevations of the peripheries of the islands.
The Lesser Antilles mangroves comprise coastal margins of islands at the southeastern edge of the Caribbean Sea from Anguilla in the north to Grenada in the south. The most significant mangrove areas are in Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and the US Virgin Islands.
The Trinidad and Tobago dry forests cover a small portion of northwest Trinidad and the far northern end of the island of Tobago as well as some of the smaller offshore islands. However, this ecoregion comprises only about 5% of the island nation.
The Trinidad and Tobago moist forests cover most of the land area of Trinidad and Tobago, the most southerly of the Lesser Antilles. However, small portions of the islands around river estuaries and coastal lowlands are mangroves or dry forests. As a result, species diversity is very high.