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Why are the Caribbean Islands called the West Indies?

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Quick Answer

The Caribbean islands are called the West Indies to correct the name, Indies, mistakenly given by Christopher Columbus. Columbus thought he had reached the Indies of Asia.

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In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in the islands known as the Bahamas. He had been searching for a western route to Asia and thought he had reached the Indies off the coast of Asia. When Spain realized his mistake, the name was changed to West Indies. The West Indies are composed of the Bahamas; Greater Antilles, which is comprised of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico; and Lesser Antilles, which is comprised of many smaller islands.

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