Windmills on a Caribbean Island
There is nothing like an island to provide a concise case study, in this case of geography, technology, and the environment. The Island of Nevis in the Caribbean is a wonderful laboratory to understand how windmills were sited. Sighted by Columbus in 1493, the island was exploited for its sugar-growing capacity by the English beginning in the early 17th century. Today, Nevis has some of the world's highest literacy rates, thrives on sugar and tourism, and has a population predominantly of African descent. Being a small volcanic island (36 sq. miles) with limited waterpower opportunities, wind power was a natural choice from the outset. But where to put the mills?
Windmills are located where prevailing winds are reliable and not readily blocked by vegetation or terrain. The maps below will allow students to consider the island of Nevis and why its mills are where they are. Students can be asked a number of questions [with general answers in brackets].
Below are early maps of early colonial cities. The larger versions are available in two forms, plain or with the mills highlighted.