Thomas-Hope, Elizabeth M.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Geology and Geogaphy
The role of the environment in Caribbean economic development
Integration and Trade
Date of Publication
Environmental factors figure prominently in the economic development of Caribbean states. Almost 400 years of European hegemony set the pattern of exploitative relations, with sugar cane production being the dominant activity. The 20th century saw the gradual contraction of sugar, leaving behind a region environmentally degraded and with poor economies. Marginal peasant farming practices led to further deforestation, depletion of soil fertility and erosion. While Haiti represents the worst example, all Caribbean eco-systems declined markedly in both the quality and variety of life they support. Natural disasters have also played their part in the on-going process of environmental change. In the latter half of the 20th century the region has harnessed new environmental resources with diversified crop production, minerals like bauxite and oil, and the exploitation of coastal amenities for tourism. The types of resources that have been used as the basis of the respective economies have played a significant part in explaining the pattern of their economic growth. In all cases the management of those resources have been critical in determining the level at which growth has been sustained and consequently, the absolute and relative economic performance of each country in the region at the end of the 20th century.....