Caribbean Countries in French

Instructor: Emily France

Emily has experience teaching English and French and has a master's degree in International Studies

In this lesson, we'll learn French names for the countries and territories in the Caribbean. We will discuss some important information about using country names in French, such as when to include an article and which prepositions to use and when.

French newlyweds Marc and Mathilde are planning their honeymoon and trying to decide which pays (pay-ee, countries) they would like to visit. Marc wants to go somewhere sunny and warm, and Mathilde wants to visit une île (oon eel, an island) with beautiful plages (plahzh, beaches). What would be the perfect destination for them? Les Caraïbes (lay kah-rah-eeb, the Caribbean)!

There are lots of beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.

Les Caraïbes are home to 13 independent nations, as well as several dependent territoires (teh-ree-twahr, territories). Many of these countries are French-speaking, so Marc and Mathilde will have lots of choices when planning their honeymoon to les îles caribéennes (the Caribbean islands).

Francophone Countries in the Caribbean

France first initiated its presence in the Caribbean in the 1600's when it established several colonies to help secure trade routes in the area. Because of this, there are many areas in the Caribbean where French is still spoken on a widespread basis. For instance, the following independent nations contain a significant Francophone population:

English French Pronunciation
Haiti Haïti ah-ee-tee
Dominica la Dominique lah doh-mee-neek
Saint Lucia Sainte-Lucie sant-loo-see

In addition to these Francophone countries, there are a few territories in les Caraïbes under French sovereignty, commonly known as les Antilles françaises (layz ahn-teel frahn-sehz, the French Antilles/West Indies). This includes the two overseas departments of Guadeloupe (gwah-duh-loop) and Martinique (mahr-tee-neek), and the overseas collectivities of Saint Martin (san mahr-tan) and Saint Barthélemy (san bahr-tay-leh-mee). Since these pays (countries) and territoires (territories) are common destinations for French tourists, they will likely be at the top of Marc and Mathilde's list for their honeymoon.

Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthelemy (in red) are part of the French West Indies.

Other Caribbean Countries

There are several other beautiful destinations for Marc and Mathilde to consider for their honeymoon in the Caribbean that include the following:

English French Pronunciation
Cuba Cuba koo-bah
Dominican Republic la République dominique lah ray-poob-leek doh-mee-neek
Trinidad and Tobago la Trinité-et-Tobago lah tree-nee-tay-ay-toh-bah-goh
Bahamas les Bahamas (f.) lay bah-ah-mah
Barbados la Barbade lah bahr-bahd
Jamaica la Jamaïque lah zhah-mah-eek
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saint-Vincent-et-les-Grenadines san-van-sahn-ay-lay-gruh-nah-deen
Grenada la Grenade lah gruh-nahd
Antigua and Barbuda l'Antigua-et-Barbuda (f.) lahn-tee-gwah-ay-bahr-boo-dah
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint-Christophe-et-Niévès san-kree-stohf-ay-nee-ay-vehs

You'll note that some of the countries listed have articles, whereas others do not. In fact, most countries in French will be used in conjunction with a definite article, that is, le or la. However, articles are not usually used for islands, which is why many of the French names for les pays caribéens (Caribbean countries) are not accompanied by an article.

Caribbean countries are often hit by hurricanes.

Some Dependent Territories in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is also home to several other dependent territories, many of which are popular tourist destinations as well. These include:

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