The Caribbean is a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (most of which are enclosed by the sea), and the surrounding coasts. The region is located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and North America, east of Central America, and to the north of South America.
Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. (See the list) These islands generally form island arcs that delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea. The Caribbean islands are part of the somewhat larger West Indies grouping, which consists of the Greater Antilles on the north, the Lesser Antilles on the south and east (including the Leeward Antilles), the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (the Lucayan Archipelago, which does not border the Caribbean Sea), as well as countries such as Belize in Central America and Guyana in South America which are historically and culturally part of the British West Indes.
Geopolitically, the Caribbean islands are usually regarded as a subregion of North America and are organized into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then UK dependencies. The West Indies cricket team continues to represent many of those nations.