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The Caribbean, (Spanish: Caribe; French: Cara?be or more commonly Antilles; Dutch: Cariben or Cara?ben, or more commonly Antillen) or the West Indies, is a group of islands and countries which are in or border the Caribbean Sea which lies on the Caribbean Plate. The countries and islands of the Caribbean are located to the south and east of Mexico and to the north and west of Venezuela, South America. There are at least 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cayes in the region. They are organized into 25 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies.

The name "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 in fact reached the Americas. The name "Caribbean" is named after the Caribs, one of the dominant Amerindian groups in the region at the time of European contact. The Caribbean consists of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, and is often considered part of North America.

At one time, there was a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of the English-speaking Caribbean islands of the region.

The Caribbean area is also famous for its sea pirates. See the article piracy in the Caribbean.

The region known as "Caribbean" is usually restricted to the islands of the Caribbean Sea, although sometimes the continental American coastline is included.



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