First West Indians, c. 1000

Carib Indians were some of the original inhabitants of the islands between North and South America — hence the sea named after them: the Caribbean.

Captions by Rebecca Theodore

The First Europeans, 1492

It is generally accepted that Columbus "discovered" the West Indies, although the debate still rages as to whether he was an explorer or a colonist. Here, Columbus and the Pinzón brothers step ashore in the Bahamas after sailing from the Canaries.

Wrecked Beginning, 1609

As the first British island in the New World, Bermuda witnesses the landing of castaways from an unlucky English vessel.

Jamaica Welcome, 1655

Some British West Indians have long considered Jamaica the "hub" of the Caribbean. There is no disputing that the island became the major slave market of the region after British settlement.

The Black Commander, 1793

A dynamic figure in the liberation of the Haitian people, Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave, joins a Spanish force invading the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and later emerges as the leader of Saint-Domingue, ruling without French colonial control.

Promises From Spain, 1878

With Spain's promise of extensive reforms, including the abolition of slavery, the Ten Years' War against colonial rule ends in Cuba. Twenty years later, Cuba finally breaks away with U.S. help.

A Black Dominican, 1882

The Caribbean has had its share of dictatorship, including Ulises Heureaux. It is the bullet of an assassin that forces the three-time Dominican dictator, son of a Haitian man and a woman from St. Thomas, permanently out of office in 1899.

Cuba Libre, 1902

Although there were restrictions imposed by the Platt amendment of 1901, after three years of U.S. military rule, Cuba wins its independence and has since remained a thorn in the flesh of the U.S.

Puerto Rican Americans, 1917

Thanks to the Jones Act, all Puerto Ricans are entitled to U.S. citizenship and elected representatives in the Senate and the House.

Jean Tells All, 1928

Novels have always been a part of the Caribbean experience. Dominican-born author Jean Rhys publishes her first novel, Postures, based on her affair with the writer Ford Madox Ford.

Trini Tech, c. 1930

While the melodies of the Caribbean were usually played on African skin drums or European instruments, the Trinidadian steel pans (or steel drums) redefine the sounds of West Indian music.

Emperor of Rastas, c. 1930

As religion continues to evolve in the Caribbean, the Rastafarian cult still views Ras Tafari, the emperor of Ethiopia, as the black messiah.

West Indians Abroad, 1948

Emigration out of the Caribbean in search of better living standards and development changes the look of many industrial countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S.

Here Comes Castro, 1956

Caribbean history underwent a fundamental change with the arrival of Fidel Castro. Here, he returns from Mexico to Cuba to organize guerrilla warfare against the Batista regime.

Beware the Doctor, 1957

François Duvalier, a country doctor, is elected president of Haiti by a massive popular vote. He and his son rule the poor country for more than 30 years.

Marley, Mon, 1963

Without reggae music, there is no Caribbean. Bob Marley and five others form a band, the Wailers, that gives Jamaican music a global following that continues through the release of 1980's Uprising and beyond.

Marines Redux, 1983

After occupying much of the Caribbean in the 1920s, U.S. Marines land on the Caribbean island of Grenada to liberate the island from communist ideals.

Jamaica's New York Splash, 1985

Another prominent Caribbean author, Jamaica Kincaid from Antigua, publishes her first novel, Annie John.

Meet Aristide, 1986

Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide introduces a program of reform for the Haitian people after Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier escapes Haiti in a U.S. Air Force jet and goes into exile.

A Brown Homer, 1990

The brilliance of Caribbean literature is manifested in the work of author Derek Walcott, best of all in his epic poem Omeros. Two years later he wins the Nobel Prize in literature.

Not Cricket, 1994

Who would have thought that the British would be defeated at the sport they created? Trinidadian cricketer Brian Lara sets a new world record, scoring 501 not out when playing for Warwickshire against Durham.

Lightning Bolt, 2008

Jamaican-born Usain Bolt wins Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4 x 100-meter races.

Haitian Tragedy, Jan. 12, 2010

More misery and suffering is heaped on the Haitian people as a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastates the country and causes more than 230,000 deaths.

Not Again? Jan. 16, 2011

Amid both cheers and jeers, former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier returns to Haiti.