West Indies Showing Sovereignty of the Various Islands


This undated map of the West Indies from the first half of the 20th century was produced by the Military Intelligence Division of the General Staff of the U.S. Department of the Army. It shows U.S., British, French, and Dutch possessions in the region, along with principal trade routes, undersea telegraph cables owned by Britain and the United States, and the location of government and privately owned radio stations. Defense of the Caribbean against possible incursions by hostile European powers was a major concern of U.S. military planners from the late 1800s onward. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 and its development as a major route for ocean-going traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States increased the strategic importance of the region. During World War II, the United States took diplomatic and military steps to prevent the Caribbean colonies of France and the Netherlands from falling into German hands after these countries were overrun by Nazi Germany in May–June 1940.

Last updated: September 2, 2015