Landforms in the Caribbean

The island is one landform that characterizes the geography of the Caribbean.
The island is one landform that characterizes the geography of the Caribbean. (Image: NA/ Images)

The Caribbean, which extends from the southern tip of Florida, past the Gulf of Mexico and down to the northeastern tip of South America, attracts numerous visitors each year, drawn by its pristine beaches, tropical climate and lively culture. The Caribbean is also home to an interesting collection of landforms.


The Caribbean may be best known for its islands, an important category of landform in the region. More than 7,000 islands make up the Caribbean, including inlets (small, rocky islands) and cays (very small islands of sand or coral). Most Caribbean islands are part of an extended chain of islands called the Antilles.


Many Caribbean islands are home to mountains and mountain ranges, but the most mountainous Caribbean areas are Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic is home to the highest mountain, Pico Duarte, with an elevation of more than 10,000 feet.


Typical of a geography dominated by clusters of islands, the Caribbean is home to volcanic landforms as well. The black sand beaches so alluring to tourists are actually deposited by volcanic activity. St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada and the tiny island of Monserrat house active volcanoes; Monserrat has the most active one in the region.

Bodies of Water

The single most definitive geologic feature of the Caribbean is the Caribbean Sea itself, also technically a landform. The sea covers more than 1 million square miles of surface area and reaches a depth of 25,000 feet between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Portions of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico also lie within the Caribbean area. The Caribbean islands contain many streams and other bodies of fresh water. The Dominican Republic is home to the largest lake; Cuba lays claim to the longest river, of which there are 400 in the whole Caribbean region.

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