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Fun Facts About the Caribbean

The Caribbean is one of the most visited holiday destinations in the world, with so many different places to see and things to do. When you're there it's easy to get lost in the relaxing island mentality and let it all wash over you, but there are some things you don't see - and some things about the Caribbean that you may not believe.

We've collected together 15 fun facts about the Caribbean and its islands so that when you decide to visit Cuba or Barbados this year, you'll do so with some knowledge at hand to wow your friends abroad.

Did you know...

1. The Caribbean region is what's called an archipelago, made up of around 700 islands, islets, reefs and caves.

2. Only around 2% of the islands in the Caribbean are actually inhabited by people.

3. Parts of all four of the Pirates of the Caribbean were indeed shot in the Caribbean, as the titles suggest.

4. It's not just pirates. The Caribbean's history in film is strong, with the first James Bond film 'Dr No' having been filmed in the Caribbean islands too.

5. The Caribbean island of Saba is the home of the shortest runway in the world, measuring in at just 1,300 feet. Yikes!

6. Jamaica holds the Guinness World Record for most churches per square mile, with a total of 1,600 on the island.

7. George Washington famously only visited one foreign country, and it was Barbados. Here he discovered rum, and he demanded a tot of the drink at his inauguration in 1789. The house he stayed in with his brother Lawrence when he was ill has since been restored and is a great tourist hotspot.

8. The Caribbean is sometimes known as the West Indies, because when Columbus came across them he thought he had stumbled across the East Indies. However, when his mistake had been realised he renamed them to distinguish them from the real East Indies.

9. It's thought that real life pirates used to hide out in Anedaga's reef. We doubt any of them were as eccentric as Captain Jack Sparrow though. But the likes of Calico Jack Rackham, Stede Bonnet and Benjamin Hornigold often prove that pirates who sailed the Caribbean were far from free of the odd personality quirk or two.

10. That same reef in Anedaga is said to have caused around 300 ships to wreck, so it's no wonder it was the pirates' favourite hang out spot to evade the colonial powers of the age.

11. Dominica's Trafalgar Falls has both a hot spring and cool lake, meaning visitors can bathe in the temperature that suits them best.

12. The island of Mustique is a 1,400-acre private retreat for many celebrities. On this island there are around 100 private homes and 72 villas to rent. The likes of Princess Margaret and David Bowie have all owned glamorous manors here, surrounded by opulent restaurants and endlessly gorgeous nature.

13. About 75% of the population of the Caribbean is contained within the three islands of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. That's around 30 million people, almost the same as the population of Canada.

14. The Dominican Republic gets more visitors than any other Caribbean island, attracting around 4.3 million people every year. Tourism has helped its economy enormously, and it's today one of the wealthiest Caribbean countries as a result.

15. The Caribbean is full of rare indigenous species and incredible wildlife. This attracts millions of eco-tourists year on year, many of whom volunteer to help preserve nature's beauty. Others just come to see the wildlife, like Trinidad's exotic birds including toucans and tanagers – they're as adorable as they are colourful.

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