Before the German successes of last spring and summer the American public was little concerned with the island and mainland possessions of Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands in the Caribbean area. Since then countless newspaper and magazine articles have stressed the vital importance of these territories in relation to the security of the Americas: their strategic positions commanding the eastern approaches to the Panama Canal; their potentialities as naval and air bases or as centers of fifthcolumn activities; their present economic plight; their possible fate in the event of an Axis victory.
This booklet seeks to provide facts concerning the European territorial possessions in the Caribbean area as a basis for an understanding of their condition today and of changes that may occur in the near future. These facts have to do with the relatively permanent elements of physical geography, resources, and population, and also with production, trade, transportation, administration, social conditions, etc. on the eve of the present war. The data have been compiled almost entirely from the reports, periodical articles, and books listed on pp. 101-106. (Mr. Fairchild's section on Martinique is also based in part on field studies carried out on the island in connection with the preparation of a doctoral dissertation for Clark University.) The time that would have been required to complete a more penetrating analysis would have defeated the main purpose, i. e., to bring together in convenient form factual information needed for following the news while the need for such information is still pressing.
The sections on the strategic importance of the Caribbean area and on the British possessions are the work of Mr. Platt, those on the French possessions were contributed by Mr. Fairchild, and those on the Dutch possessions by Dr. Wright with the collaboration of Professor William Van Royen of Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, N. Y. Mr. Weaver contributed the section on the Colombian and Venezuelan islands and collaborated in the preparation of statistical data. The booklet was edited by Dr. Wright.
Grateful acknowledgment is made of the courtesies and help rendered by the Netherlands Consulate and the Netherlands Information Bureau in New York City and especially by Mr. J. Van Stappen, of the latter.
No attempt has been made to provide the booklet with a map of sufficient detail for general reference use. The accompanying map is designed to present facts of strategic importance not found on most maps of the region. For ordinary reference purposes there are the maps of the region in numerous popular-priced atlases. None of these, however, are on a sufficiently large scale to show the islands of the Lesser Antilles in any detail. For those who desire a more detailed map the Caribbean sheets of the American Geographical Society's Map of Hispanic America on the scale of 1 : 1,000,000 are recommended. This is an up-to-date topographical-political map. Topography of the land and the sea floor is shown by con-