West Indies Federation

(redirected from British West Indies Federation)
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West Indies Federation,

former federation of 10 British West Indian territories formed in 1958. Trinidad and TobagoTrinidad and Tobago
, officially Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,088,000), 1,980 sq mi (5,129 sq km), West Indies. The capital is Port of Spain.
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, JamaicaJamaica
, independent state within the Commonwealth (2005 est. pop. 2,732,000), 4,232 sq mi (10,962 sq km), coextensive with the island of Jamaica, West Indies, S of Cuba and W of Haiti. Jamaica is the largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba and Hispaniola.
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, and BarbadosBarbados
, island state (2005 est. pop. 279,300), 166 sq mi (430 sq km), in the West Indies. The capital and largest city is Bridgetown. Land, People, and Economy

The island, E of St. Vincent, in the Windward Islands, is the easternmost of the Caribbean islands.
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 were the principal members, but the federation included most of the Leeward and Windward islands, then under British control. The seat of government was Port of SpainPort of Spain,
city (1990 pop. 50,878), capital of Trinidad and Tobago, on the Gulf of Paria. It is the industrial and commercial center of the country. From 1958 to 1962, Port of Spain was the capital of the dissolved Federation of the West Indies; in 2005 it became the seat of
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, Trinidad. Slated for independence in 1962, the federation did not survive its troubled infancy. Jamaica, the most populous and prosperous member, voted (1961) to leave the federation, fearing that it would have to shoulder the burdens of the economically underdeveloped members; Trinidad and Tobago followed suit, and the federation was dissolved in May, 1962.

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago became independent members of the Commonwealth of NationsCommonwealth of Nations,
voluntary association of Great Britain and its dependencies, certain former British dependencies that are now sovereign states and their dependencies, and the associated states (states with full internal government but whose external relations are
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 in 1962, as did Barbados in 1966 and the Bahamas in 1973. In 1967 the West Indies Associated States were created, made up of Antigua (now Antigua and Barbuda), St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent (now St. Vincent and the Grenadines). Each of the states was voluntarily associated with Great Britain and fully self-governing in its internal affairs. Over the next two decades, all gained full independence, the last being St. Kitts and Nevis in 1983.

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), whose founding dates to 1981, is the successor in many ways to the West Indies Associated States. The OECS promotes cooperation and economic integration among its members, who consist of the six former associated states and Montserrat; Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and Martinique are associate members. Its institutions include a regional central bank and supreme court. In 2009 a treaty to establish an economic union among OECS members was signed, and citizens of OECS independent nations were allowed full freedom of movement among those countries in 2011.

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