Colonial Explorer

Florida beckoned. And Ponce de Leon negotiated with the Spanish Crown to take personal control of any lands he found on his explorations. Yet he apparently needed work on his diplomatic skills. In 1521, a Calusa Indian shot him with a poisoned arrow in Southwest Florida. He died in retreat at Havana.

We offer commercial perspective on Florida and the Caribbean. In homage to Ponce de Leon, we entitle our regional blog Beyond Caparra. By most accounts, he made his real fortune in the New World selling food, medicine, and other provisions to sailors and stalworts heading back home to Europe. His station at Caparra, Puerto Rico is now a protected historical site.

We define the region broadly. Puerto Rico and Cuba are the largest island economies, but we extend our reach to Central America and the northern coast of South America. The economy of Florida anchors the region; Miami is the dominant commercial center.

Learn more about Ponce at

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Beyond Caparra

Turn Right for Roseau

To the uninitiated, the Caribbean can be a mind-boggling array of small islands, with a few large ones in the mix.

Eyeglasses on Map

Become a geographer. Florida and the Caribbean have the same economic heft as Brazil. Our regional set includes the perimeter economies of Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, as well as the Guiana Highlands.

Relative Economic Size

Comments on this blog focus on Florida and neighboring trade partners. By output, we rank the major islands:

1. Puerto Rico ($103 billion)

2. Cuba ($78 billion)

3. Dominican Republic ($64 billion)

4. Trinidad and Tobago ($29 billion)

5. Jamaica ($14 billion)

Florida dominates the region with state-wide GDP of about $770 billion. The largest perimeter economy is Colombia at $378 billion, followed by Venezuela.

Note: Ranking is based on GDP data for 2014 at market prices.

Source: World Bank, US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico, Cranganore.