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West Indies

noun
1.
Also called the Indies. an archipelago in the N Atlantic between North and South America, comprising the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas.
2.
Federation of, Also called West Indies Federation. a former federation (1958–62) of the British islands in the Caribbean, comprising Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, and the Windward and Leeward island colonies.
Related forms
West Indian, adjective, noun

East Indies

noun
1.
Also called the Indies, Indonesia. SE Asia, including India, Indonesia, and the Malay Archipelago.
2.
the Malay Archipelago.
Also called East India.
Related forms
East Indian, adjective, noun
pseudo-East Indian, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for the-indies

East Indies

plural noun the East Indies
1.
the Malay Archipelago, including or excluding the Philippines
2.
SE Asia in general

West Indies

/ˈɪndɪz/
noun (functioning as singular or pl)
1.
an archipelago off Central America, extending over 2400 km (1500 miles) in an arc from the peninsula of Florida to Venezuela, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean: consists of the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas; largest island is Cuba. Area: over 235 000 sq km (91 000 sq miles) Also called the Caribbean
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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the-indies in Culture

West Indies definition


Archipelago between North America and South America curving from southern Florida to Venezuela.

Note: It is a popular resort area.
Note: Several of the islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for the-indies

East Indies

the islands that extend in a wide belt along both sides of the Equator for more than 3,800 miles (6,100 km) between the Asian mainland to the north and west and Australia to the south. Historically, the term East Indies is loosely applied to any of three contexts. The most restrictive and best-known use is as a synonym for the islands that now constitute the Republic of Indonesia (formerly known as the Netherlands Indies, or Dutch East Indies); these include the Greater Sunda Islands (Borneo, Celebes, Java, and Sumatra), the Lesser Sunda Islands (stretching eastward from Bali to Timor), the Moluccas, and New Guinea (including Papua New Guinea on the eastern half of the island). In a second, larger sense, East Indies refers to the Malay Archipelago (including the Philippines), which now is more commonly called insular (or archipelagic) Southeast Asia. Finally, in its broadest context, the term East Indies encompasses the foregoing plus all of mainland Southeast Asia and India.

Learn more about East Indies with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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