National Geographic : 1954 Mar
332 Charles Allmon St. George's, Grenada, Sits on a Gallery of Hills Around a Volcano's Flooded Crater Cacao and nutmeg, Grenada's money crops, spice the dockside air. Bougainvillaea, hibiscus, and frangipani color streets and gardens. Brick and stone have replaced wood since fire destroyed St. George's in 1775. Capital of Britain's Windward Islands, the town owns one of the West Indies' finest harbors. for French, and orange for the Netherlands. Except for the three island republics of Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, most of the Caribbean islands are territories of foreign powers. One of the Lesser Antilles, Saint Martin, has successfully divided its loy alty between France and the Netherlands ever since 1648. Though the West Indies were originally claimed by Spain, and though the culture and traditions of some islands still are Spanish flavored, that nation no longer has a single possession here. Not a few of the West Indies, among them several of the Virgin Islands, appear almost as untouched today as they did to Columbus. In bygone times pirate captains often ban ished disobedient crewmen to these isolated spots as punishment. Once, as anyone who knows his Treasure Island recalls, there were 15 men on the Dead Man's Chest. That is land of the British Virgin group appears at the right-hand border of map inset 4. The Netherlands islands of Aruba and Curacao (insets 25 and 26) process, in their refineries, a giant share of the oil of neighbor ing Venezuela. That nation, incidentally, is the world's leading crude-petroleum exporter and the second-largest producer after the United States. Jamaica (inset 29) recently has shot into the limelight as one of the world's major suppliers of bauxite, ore of aluminum (pages 341, 346, and 347). The West Indies provide many sites for military and naval bases vital to hemisphere defense. Those noted on the map include air and naval bases on the Bermuda Islands, shown here in inset 30, although they do not fall within the main map area. To both sailor and landsman the idyllic West Indies hold one annually recurring threat-hurricane! Any time from August to November these destructive storms may whirl northward across the region. Almost a third of them originate in the western Caribbean. Constantly improving warning techniques have, however, sharply reduced loss of life and property from the storms.