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The Caribbean (Spanish: Caribe; French: Cara´be; Dutch: Cara´ben; Portuguese: Caribe or CaraÝbas) is a region of the Americas consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (most of which enclose the sea), and the surrounding coasts. Located southeast of Northern America, east of Central America, and to the north and west of South America, the Caribbean is usually considered a subregion of North America.
Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the area comprises more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cayes. The West Indies consist of the Antilles, divided into the larger Greater Antilles which bound the sea on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the east, and the Bahamas which are northeast of the sea. Bermuda lies much further to the north in the Atlantic Ocean and is sometimes included in the West Indies. Geopolitically, the West Indies are organized into 28 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies. At one time, there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories.
The name "Caribbean" is named after the Caribs, one of the dominant Amerindian groups in the region at the time of European contact during the late 15th century. The analogous "West Indies" originates from Christopher Columbus' idea that he had landed in the Indies (then meaning all of south and east Asia) when he had actually reached the Americas. The Spanish term Antillas was commonly assigned to the newly discovered lands; stemming from this, "Sea of the Antilles" is a common alternate name for the Caribbean Sea in various European languages.