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Diversity in the Dutch Caribbean

Michiel Oversteegen and Gerard van Buurt and Marion Haarsma

Geography of the Dutch Caribbean

The Dutch Caribbean Species Register covers the biodiversity of the six islands in the Caribbean that are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. These six islands comprise Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten. The ABC islands are located off the coast of Venezuela in the souther Caribbean, and the SSS islands are located in the northeastern part of the Caribbean, part of the Lesser Antilles islands chain.

Map by TUBS, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA)

Besides the terrestrial areas of these six islands, the following marine areas are included: the Economic Excluse Zones and the Saba Bank.

We use the following definitions of geographical areas throughout this database in line with the publication on endemic species of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Martin of 2018.

West Indies: Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles (in the broad sense), Lucayan Archipelago (Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands). In broadest sense sometimes includes coastal areas of Belize, Colombia, Venezuela, and the Guianas.

Caribbean: Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles, sometimes including Lucayan Archipelago.

Antilles: Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles (Caribbean in its narrowest definition)

Greater Antilles: Grouping of the larger islands in the Caribbean: Cuba, Hispaniola (containing Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands

Lesser Antilles s.l.: Leeward Islands and Windward Islands (Lesser Antilles in the strict sense), plus Trinidad and Tobago, Leeward Antilles (Lesser Antilles in the broad sense).

Lesser Antilles s.s.: Leeward Islands and Windward Islands only.  Axelrod’s vademecum of plants on Statia uses this definition, but excludes The Virgin Islands.

Lesser Antilles: Northern and Southern Lesser Antilles. 

Northern Lesser Antilles: All islands from the Virgin Islands, southwards up to and including Montserrat. 

Southern Lesser Antilles: All islands after Montserrat up to Tobago. 

Leeward Islands: Most northern island chain of the Lesser Antilles: Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Sint Maarten (Saint Martin), Saint Barthélemy, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Antigua, Redonda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, La Désirade, Îles des Saintes, Marie-Galante.

Windward Islands: Southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles: Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada.

Leeward Antilles: Southwestern island chain of the Lesser Antilles, sometimes also referred to as southern Caribbean Islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and the Venezuelean islands Los Monjes Archipelago, La Tortuga, La Sola, Los Testigos, Los Frailes, Patos, Los Roques Archipelago, La Blanquilla, Los Hermanos, La Orchilla, Las Aves Archipelago, Isla Margarita, Coche, Cubagua.

Anguilla Bank: Anguilla, St. Maarten, St. Barthélemy.

St. Kitts Bank: St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, Nevis. 

Dutch Caribbean: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao (part of Leeward Antilles) and Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten (part of Leeward Islands).

Caribbean Netherlands: Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius. Also called BES islands.  They are special muncipalities of The Netherlands.

ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao (part of Leeward Antilles).

SSS islands and surrounding islands: Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten (part of Leeward islands) and surrounding islands of Anguilla, St. Barthélemy, St. Kitts and Nevis. 

SSS islands: Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten (part of Leeward Islands).

Saba Bank: A submarine atoll part of Caribbean Netherlands. About one third of the Saba Bank lies within Saba’s territorial waters.