The Commonwealth Caribbean islands make up a large subcomponent of the hundreds of islands in the Caribbean Sea. The population in 2009 was estimated to be around 45 million.
|Antigua and Barbuda||82,000|
|The Bahamas (officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas)||330,000|
|The British Virgin Islands||22,016|
|The Cayman Islands||51,900|
|The Republic of Cuba||11,451,652|
|Dominica (officially the Commonwealth of Dominica)||72,500|
|The Dominican Republic||10,090,000|
|The Netherlands Antilles||183,000|
|Puerto Rico (officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico)||3,994,259|
|Saint Barthélemy (officially the Collectivity of Saint Barthélemy)||8,450|
|The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis||42,696|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||120,000|
|Saint Martin (officially the Collectivity of Saint Martin)||35,263|
|The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago||1,299,953|
|The United States Virgin Islands||108,448 |
A system of free public primary education and limited secondary education is available in every territory. Based on the British system the colonial Caribbean educational system was never modified to local circumstances.
It comes not from the local government, but rather, from the religious community. Competing Protestant denominations, the Church of England, the Baptists, the Moravians, the Wesleyans, and the Presbyterians and the Jesuits operated a vast system of elementary and secondary schools. At the end of the nineteenth century, the churches monopolized elementary education in Jamaica and Barbados and ran a majority of the primary schools in Trinidad, Grenada, and Antigua.
The most outstanding secondary schools St. George's College, Kingston College, Jamaica College, Calabar High School, and the York Castle High School in Jamaica; Harrison College, Codrington College, the Lodge School, and the Queens College in Barbados; and Queen's College, St. Mary's, and Naparima in Trinidad as well as the principal grammar schools in the Bahamas, Antigua, St. Kitts, and Grenada owe their origins to the religious denominations.
Each territory had a board of education, which supervised both government and religious schools. Government assistance slowly increased until by the middle of the twentieth century the state eventually gained control over all forms of education. Although far from perfect, most colonies still spent more on prisons than on schools, public education fired the ambitions of the urban poor.
Caribbean religions have been greatly affected by the presence of Europeans, Africans, and Asian peoples. In general these religions have either an African or a Christian base, but Caribbean peoples have modified selected aspects of these traditions, added to them, and made them their own. The largest religious groups in the region are: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Rastafari, Santería, and Voodoo among others.
Rastafari is perhaps the most widely known of Caribbean religions. The religion's influence vastly exceeds its numbers in its original Jamaica or even elsewhere in the Caribbean, to include persons in Europe (particularly the United Kingdom), Latin America, and the United States. Most notably preacher-leaders Leonard Howell, Joseph Hibbert, Archibald Dunkley, Paul Earlington, Vernal Davis, Ferdinand Richetts, and Robert Hinds.
Cuban Santeria combines European and African beliefs and practices, but, unlike voodoo, Santeria is inspired mainly by one African tradition — the Yoruba. In Santeria, the Yoruba influence is marked in music, chants, foodstuffs, and by animal sacrifice.
The Spiritual Baptists are an international religious movement with congregations in St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Guyana, Venezuela, Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York City. Membership is predominantly black, but in recent years congregations in Trinidad have attracted membership among wealthy East Indians and Chinese. A central ritual among the Spiritual Baptists is the mourning rite.