Surrounded by the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America, the Caribbean region has a beautiful climate, rich culture and heritage, and is one of the world’s finest biodiversity hotspots. The region is renowned for its pristine beaches, vibrant cultures, and tropical paradise allure, and is also home to some of the world’s wealthiest nations that boast excellent healthcare and educational infrastructure.
Yes, beyond its picturesque landscapes and crystal-clear waters, the Caribbean boasts a collection of countries that have flourished economically and established themselves as formidable players on the global stage. Now, you may be asking yourself, What is the richest Caribbean country? or Which Caribbean country is the most developed? Fortunately, in this article, we delve into the fascinating world of the richest Caribbean countries, uncovering the factors that have propelled them to economic prosperity and examining what sets them apart from their Caribbean counterparts.
Which Caribbean island has the highest standard of living?
The Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) takes into account numerous factors like life expectancy at birth, years of schooling, gross national income per capita, and more. The Bahamas ranked 55th in the world in the Human Development Report 2021/2022, followed closely by Trinidad and Tobago in 57th position, making them the only Caribbean nations to fall under the “very high human development” category of countries.
The rest of the countries in the Caribbean, such as Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and Cuba, were all recognized under the “high human development” category, excluding Haiti, which fell under the “low human development” category.
In addition, Trinidad and Tobago is among the most developed nations in the Caribbean and has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Which Caribbean island has the highest Human Development Index (HDI)?
Here is a list of the top Caribbean countries according to the latest global Human Development Index (HDI). As mentioned, the HDI is an indicator of overall progress based on fundamental aspects of human development, including quality of life, standard of living, and being knowledgeable.
HDI (Global Ranking)
Trinidad & Tobago
Antigua & Barbuda
St Kitts & Nevis
St Vincent & the Grenadines
If you are planning to relocate to the Caribbean, you should read our article: Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Comparison Guide
Top 10 Most Developed Caribbean Islands
The Caribbean is home to some vibrant economies that attract a variety of people, from foreign investors looking for profitable business opportunities to families looking for a better quality of life. In this section, we take a look at some of the most developed Caribbean islands using data from the World Bank and the Human Development Index.
1. Trinidad and Tobago
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a twin-island nation with a relatively high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of around $18,223 (2022). In fact, the nation’s GDP grew by 2.5 percent in 2022, according to the World Bank’s data. As a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the nation benefits from trade alliances with other Caribbean states.
While most other Caribbean nations rely on tourism, Trinidad and Tobago’s high-income economy is dependent on industry. Its large oil and natural gas reserves are responsible for much of the country’s wealth, as is its reputation as a great investment site for international businesses. It is widely considered one of the most developed nations in the Caribbean.
2. Antigua and Barbuda
The World Bank recorded the nation’s GDP per capita at $18,745.2 in 2022, with tourism accounting for around half of the island’s revenue. The island’s local currency is the East Caribbean Dollar. The nation has also taken steps to diversify its economy and tap into other sources of revenue as a safeguard against natural disasters that can impact tourism. These sources include financial services, communication, and transportation. The island’s citizenship by investment program – also called the Antigua and Barbuda CBI program – is also a great encouragement for investment in the country.
With a GDP per capita of $20,019 (2022), the small island country has three primary economic drivers: The international business sector, foreign direct investment, and tourism. Through most of the 20th century, the island’s economy relied greatly on the production of molasses, rum, and sugar. Today, however, the economy is more diversified to include light industry and tourism, as well as technological devlopment. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, delicious cuisine, and plenty of local attractions and activities, the island continues to be a popular destination for travelers.
4. St Kitts and Nevis
Of the five Caribbean countries that offer citizenship by investment programs, St Kitts and Nevis has the highest GDP per capita of around $20,176 (2022). Until 1970, the island’s main source of income was from sugarcane exports. Now, however, its economy largely depends on tourism. Home to some of the best beaches, a rich culture, and plenty of water-based activities, St Kitts and Nevis is a popular tourist destination located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Another thing that makes St Kitts one of the best places to live in the Caribbean is that the country has its own CBI program.
5. Turks and Caicos Islands
This British Overseas Territory has a GDP per capita of about $24,917.6 (2022), according to the World Bank’s report. The island’s economy is largely based on tourism, offshore financial services, and fishing. Considered the ultimate dive destination for snorkelers and scuba divers, its thriving marine life, colorful coral, white sand beaches, and tropical fish attract tourists from all over.
6. St Martin
A union of two territories – the French St Martin and the Dutch St Maarten – the island’s primary source of income is provided by its tourism industry. The nation sees an annual average income of around $25,000, thanks largely to its growing label of being a major tourist destination in the Caribbean and having over one million visitors yearly.
7. The Bahamas
Located in the Atlantic Ocean, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas has a high-income economy and an estimated GDP of $31,458.3 per capita (2022). The nation’s economy mainly depends on its tourism industry and financial services industry to generate income. Agriculture also contributes to the economy of this island country, with notable crops including sugar cane, coffee, root crops, citrus fruits, and cacao. The Bahamas also has the highest HDI ranking of the Caribbean countries and boasts an excellent standard of healthcare.
8. US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands is a group of Caribbean islands, known for their white sand beaches. The Virgin Islands are governed by the US government and boast a GDP per capita of around $39,552 (2020). The tourism industry is the nation’s main source of income, with around 2.5 million tourists visiting each year by cruise ship. Here, you’ll find no sales tax or state tax while also enjoying all the protective laws of the United States.
9. Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are known as one of the world’s top tax havens thanks to its zero percent tax rate on income earned by individuals. The Cayman Islands are made up of Grand Cayman (the largest island located in the west Caribbean Sea), Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. A British overseas territory, its tax-neutral status has attracted investors from all over the world who are eager to make use of its offshore international financial services.
The local currency is the Cayman Islands Dollar, and the nation has a per capita income of around $86,568 (2021). Much of the revenue for the Cayman Islands government comes from indirect taxes such as VAT and customs duties, as well as fees associated with registering and renewing offshore companies and hedge funds. The nation also has various policies in place to ensure its sustainable development.
Bermuda consists of 181 islands, the largest of which is the main island of Bermuda. Eight of the larger islands are connected by bridges, while the rest can be reached by boat. As a British Overseas Territory, citizens are also British Overseas Territories citizens. The average per capita income of the island is $118,845 (2022), with tourism and offshore insurance being the main industries that fuel the nation’s economy. Regarding GDP per capita, Bermuda is the wealthiest Caribbean country as well as one of the richest island countries in the world. Bermuda is a popular vacation destination, particularly for individuals from America, Britain, and Canada, and receives around 500,000 visitors each year.
Caribbean Citizenship Benefits
- To obtain Caribbean citizenship, you are required to fulfill little to no residency requirements.
- The region has attractive economic opportunities and a thriving real estate market.
- With Caribbean citizenship, you can travel visa-free to around 140 countries across the globe.
- There is no taxation on international income, wealth, inheritance, gift, or capital gains tax in the Caribbean.
- The region is home to white sandy beaches that run along blue waters and enjoy limitless sunshine.
Caribbean Passport Requirements
- The applicant must prove their financial capabilities to invest in the country.
- Applicants must go through a rigorous background check.
- The applicant must be in good health and possess excellent character.
- The applicant should make the qualifying investment.
- The applicant must swear an Oath of Allegiance.
- Applicants applying to Dominica, Grenada, or St Kitts and Nevis must partake in a mandatory interview.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Caribbean
Which Caribbean island is considered the most developed?
Caribbean countries like Cuba, Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname are among the most developed countries in the Caribbean region regarding economic growth, human development index, and other factors.
Which Caribbean country has the fastest-growing economy?
According to the World Bank’s projection, Guyana is set to have the maximum economic growth in the Caribbean region. The country’s economy is set to grow by an average of 25.8 percent by the end of 2026.
What are the three strongest Caribbean countries?
As per the Global Passport Index, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada are the top three strongest countries in the Caribbean based on visa-free access to countries worldwide. The Index also takes into account factors such as quality of life and economic opportunities.
What are the environmental sustainability practices of the most developed Caribbean islands?
Many Caribbean islands have implemented sustainable tourism practices to ensure continued sustainable development. Dominica boasts some of the best efforts in the region with its green resorts, sustainable guidelines for buildings, renewable energy, and energy efficiency policies. St John, in the US Virgin Islands, offers eco-friendly campgrounds, Bonaire boasts many eco-friendly practices and biodiversity conservation, and a large part of Costa Rica’s eco-tourism is designed around environmental sensitivity.
What economic factors contribute to an island being considered highly developed?
Factors that contribute to economic development include:
- Natural resources
- Power and energy resources
- Capital accumulation
- Technological resources
- Available labor force
- Transportation and communications
- Education and training
Caribbean islands will be considered developed based on how well they perform in terms of these factors.