THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ANTILLES, a term of somewhat doubtful origin, now generally used, especially by foreign writers, as synonymous with the expression “West India Islands.” Like “Brazil,” it dates from a period anterior to the discovery of the New World, “Antilia,” as stated above, being one of those mysterious lands, which figured on the medieval charts sometimes as an archipelago, sometimes as continuous land of greater or lesser extent, constantly fluctuating in mid-ocean between the Canaries and East India. But it came at last to be identified with the land discovered by Columbus. Later, when this was found to consist of a vast archipelago enclosing the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, Antilia assumed its present plural form, Antilles, which was collectively applied to the whole of this archipelago.

A distinction is made between the Greater Antilles, including Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and Porto Riro; and the Lesser Antilles, covering the remainder of the islands.


Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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