Geography of CARICOMThe Caribbean Community is composed of 15 "full members". Most member countries are islands or island chains located in the Caribbean Sea, although some members are located on the mainland of Central America or South America. Members of CARICOM are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bahamas (actually located in the Atlantic Ocean)
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Montserrat (not an independent country, but a possession of the United Kingdom)
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Turks and Caicos Islands
History of CARICOMMost members of CARICOM gained their independence from the United Kingdom beginning in the 1960s. CARICOM's origins are rooted in the West Indies Federation (1958-1962) and the Caribbean Free Trade Association (1965-1972), two attempts at regional integration that failed after disagreements about financial and administrative matters. CARICOM, initially known as the Caribbean Community and Common Market, was created in 1973 by the Treaty of Chaguaramas. This treaty was revised in 2001, primarily to change the organization's focus from a common market to a single market and single economy.
Structure of CARICOMCARICOM is composed of and led by several bodies, such as The Conference of the Heads of Government, The Community Council of Ministers, The Secretariat, and other subdivisions. These groups meet periodically to discuss the priorities of CARICOM and its financial and legal concerns.
A Caribbean Court of Justice, established in 2001 and based in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, attempts to resolve conflicts between members.
Improvement of Social DevelopmentA major goal of CARICOM is to improve the living conditions of the nearly 16 million people that reside in member countries. Education, labor rights, and health are promoted and invested in. CARICOM has an important program that prevents and treats HIV and AIDS. CARICOM also works to preserve the interesting mix of cultures in the Caribbean Sea.
Goal of Economic DevelopmentEconomic growth is another crucial goal for CARICOM. Trade amongst members, and with other world regions, is promoted and made easier through the reduction of barriers like tariffs and quotas. Additionally, CARICOM tries to:
- Manage the great amount of revenue that arises through tourism
- Promote agricultural and industrial development
- Encourage international investment in the region
- Benefit from free trade agreements it has with countries such as Canada, Venezuela, and Cuba
- Control exchange rates and devise a single currency for CARICOM member countries.
Additional Concerns of CARICOMCARICOM's leaders work with other international organizations like the United Nations to research and improve numerous problems that exist due to the location and history of the Caribbean Sea. Topics include:
- Natural disasters such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions so that damage can be prevented or mitigated
- Assistance to member countries affected by natural disasters, such as Haiti's 2010 earthquake
- Climate change, because many CARICOM members are low-lying and vulnerable to sea level rises
- Management of water and energy resources
- Prevention of crime, especially drug trafficking
- Improvement of communications, technology, and transportation in member countries
- Making travel and immigration to other member countries easier through a common passport