Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 700 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, consisting of the Greater Antilles on the north and the Lesser Antilles on the south and east (including the Leeward Antilles), are part of the somewhat larger West Indies grouping, which also includes the Lucayan Archipelago (comprising the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands) north of the Greater Antilles and Caribbean Sea. In a wider sense, the mainland countries of Belize, Guyana, and Suriname may be included. 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 December 15, 1954, to October 10, 2010 there was a country known as the Netherlands Antilles composed of five states, all of which were Dutch dependencies. While from January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was also a short-lived country called the Federation of the West Indies composed of ten English-speaking Caribbean territories, all of which were then British dependencies. The West Indies cricket team continues to represent many of those nations
The Caribbean (/ˌkærɨˈbiːən/ or /kəˈrɪbiən/; Spanish: Caribe; Dutch: About this sound Caraïben (help·info); French: Caraïbe or more commonly Antilles) is a region that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean), and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.
The old walled city of San Juan is the gateway to Puerto Rico, whether you’re arriving by sea or by air. Founded by Spanish colonists in 1521, San Juan is the second-oldest city in the Americas (after Santo Domingo). Covering just seven square blocks, the historic heart of the city boasts some of the finest Spanish colonial architecture this side of Madrid. Fort San Cristóbal and El Morro stand watch over the harbor entrance, connected by underground tunnels or the more recently added trolleys above ground. Check out the Art Deco buildings along Avenida Ponce de León in Santurce, still striking despite varying states of repair. The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, along with countless galleries, showcase the island’s finest artwork. For the latest in trendy restaurants, boutiques and bars, head to the SoFo (South of Fortaleza) district, where watermelon sangrias and Nuevo Latino cuisine hit just the right note.
World class hotels, spas, and restaurants await, as do our famous stretches of uncrowded beaches and vibrant coral reefs. On land or below the water, you'll relax in the unique serenity, hospitality and beauty of our islands. Home to the Best Beach in the World, breathtaking hues from inviting waters, and legendary diving, snorkeling and fishing, the Turks & Caicos Islands beckon you to an undiscovered Caribbean. Travel to the Turks and Caicos is easy and efficient. Just a short flight from the east coast of the US, our islands are a tropical classic, a throwback in time where relaxation is unavoidable and rejuvenation ensured.