|Diagnostic Study for the DIPECHO Action Plan for Central America and the Caribbean (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters - DIPECHO - ECHO Programme for Disaster Preparedness, Mitigation and Prevention, 1997, 184 p.)|
Figure 1 indicates the general characteristics (population, area, population density, urban population rates and political status) of the 27 countries or territories of Central America and the Caribbean which come under the DIPECHO programme. To complete the regional context, and by way of comparison, French and American overseas territories have also been included. Figures 2 and 3 show the location of all these countries.
The region as a whole has a population of nearly 70 million (65 million if Porto Rico, the American Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique are not included) and an area of approximately 750,000 square kilometres.
The population is more or less equally divided between the Caribbean islands and Central America, but the latter has a larger area (69% of the whole). Population densities are thus higher in the Caribbean, especially in the Lesser Antilles (4.7% of the population in only 1.7% of the area).
Except for some countries (the Bahamas, Cuba and Trinidad...), urban population rates are relatively low compared with those found in industrialised countries or even in most Latin American States. However, as we will see in the analysis of vulnerability criteria, urbanisation rates are on the whole very high.
The political status of the countries displays great regional heterogeneity, especially in the Caribbean. This is an important aspect for DIPECHO to consider and will be analysed in this diagnostic study.