CAR'IBBE'AN SEA. A portion of the North Atlantic, bordered on the south by Central America. Colombia, and Venezuela, on the west by Central America and Yucatan, and partially inelosed from the ocean on the north and east by the island loop of the Greater and Lesser An tilles. It communicates at its northwestern ex tremity with the Gulf of Mexico by the Yucatan Channel—a passage 120 miles wide between Cuba and the Peninsula of Yucgtan. The South American coast of the Caribbean Sea is diversi fied by the gulfs of I'aria, Cariaco, Trite, Vene zuela, and Darien. while on the western coast there are the larger embayments of the Mosquito Gulf and the Gulf of Honduras. The Gulf of Venezuela, between the Goajira Peninsula in Colombia and the Paraguana Peninsula in Vene zuela. connects by means of a shallow channel with the lake of Maracaibo, the basin of which is the most prominent indentation on the northern coast of South America. Although the Caribbean is a partially inclosed sea. and lies on the bor der of a great land mass, it occupies a very deep depression. With the exception of a narrow shelf along the Venezuelan coast and a bank tbat reaches from Jamaica to Honduras and Nica ragua, the entire basin exceeds 6000 feet in depth and a large portion is more than 12,000 feet.
Extreme depths exceeding 16.000 feet have been found off the south coast of Cuba, and between Haiti and Venezuela. The waters of the Carib bean Sea are influenced in their circulation by oceanic currents, and particularly by the north equatorial current, which enters the sea from the southeast. There is also a marked current in the northern part, which passes through the Yucatan Channel into the Gulf of Mexico. The Caribbean :sea receives the drainage of a great portion of Central America, but only an incon siderable portion of South America, a; the An dean Cordillera of Colombia and Venezuela turns the drainage of these countries toward the Ori noco, which enters the Atlantic. The islands of the Caribbean are grouped along the South American coast and along the bank from Jamaica to Honduras. They are small and unimportant.