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This short essay aims to reflect on the significance of British settlement in the West Indies for the mainland colonies. Before analyzing the actual impacts of colonialism, we have to determine its notion and - in our case - it's destination. Colonialism is a process by which the world's leading countries render the less developed (less industrialized) countries dependant from them both politically and industrially. By West Indies we mean the Caribbean. The Caribbean islands consist of three major groups: the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.
The reason why English ships' captains first began to participate in smuggling in the middle of the 16th century was to supply the Spanish- American colonies. Later these voyages became ventures for raiding and commerce. After the institution of a grudging peace, the British settlements (in the Leeward Islands, Saint Christopher's, Nevis, Antigua, and Montserrat and Barbados) proved more permanent than the earlier footholds on the South American mainland (Amazon delta, the coast of Guyana).
The most significant cause of the settlement in the West Indies - in my opinion - was the intention of securing the already settled mainland colonies and creating a strategic base from where the Empire would gain new areas (for example conquering the other Leeward Islands from St. Kitts, promoting settlement in South Carolina).
The settlement was useful for another reason, too: creating new markets for the mainland areas. As the Caribbean areas were settled as plantations, they were not industrialized, so the industrial products of the English mainland colonies were marketed there.
In the colonies of the West Indies the production was solved by very cheap labor and the utilization of the natural resources of the area. The low investing sum meant cheap supply from indigo, cotton clothe, tobacco and sugar cane and the raw materials were also used for industrial production in the mainland.
To sum it up the settlement in the West Indies was of great significance for the British colonies in the mainland because they meant them secure strategic points, new markets and cheap supply of certain goods.