Petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, sugar, coffee, and bananas are the main local products traded on the sea. Economically, the region is dependent on U.S. and European patronage and a large tourism industry. The Caribbean Sea has also acted as a barrier, isolating the islands and preventing the mingling of peoples on the scale characteristic of Latin America. In the 1990s, however, the increased need for labor due to the growth of tourism attracted immigrants to some of the islands.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.