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From January 3, 1958, to May 31, 1962, there was also a short-lived political union called the West Indies Federation 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 region enjoys year-round sunshine, divided into 'dry' and 'wet' seasons, with the latter six months of the year being wetter than the first half.

Hurricane season is from June to November, but they occur more frequently in August and September and more common in the northern islands of the Caribbean.

The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

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).

Others possess rugged towering mountain-ranges like the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Dominica, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Thomas, Saint John, Tortola, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago.

Definitions of the terms Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles often vary.

The Virgin Islands as part of the Puerto Rican bank are sometimes included with the Greater Antilles.

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.

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