Leeward Islands, the northern chain of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. They extend from Puerto Rico on the west to the Windward Islands on the south. Some form independent countries; others are possessions of France, the Netherlands, the United States, or Great Britain.
The Leewards were discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and were settled in the 1600's. Most of the inhabitants are descendants of slaves brought from Africa to work on the sugar plantations.