Spanish Empire was composed of a network of sea routes as well
as land-based colonies. The
colonies consisted mainly of small market towns scattered over
Central America, the Caribbean and the Spanish Main.
While the Spanish Maritime Empire spread around
the world, the “Spanish Main” referred to the coastal region
of the Americas surrounding the Caribbean Sea, particularly the
coast of South America from the Isthmus of Panama to the mouth
of the Orinoco River.
treasure fleets, sailing home from the New World, passed through
the Caribbean north of the Main and were attacked by pirates and
privateers who hid among the many islands in the area.
Pirates continued to congregate in the area, preying on
ships of all nations, until the mid-1800s.
made their living in the Caribbean as best they could. They fished, supplied fleets with food and water, and acted
as pilots and guides. When
legitimate trades failed, they turned to smuggling and piracy,
often “going straight” again in better times.
Many of the descendants of these entrepreneurial types
became the wreckers and rescuers of the 19th century.