The Caribbean is a region of the Americas that comprises the Caribbean Sea, its surrounding coasts, and its islands. The region lies southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and of the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America. The region, situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, has more than 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays. Three island arcs delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea: The Greater Antilles to the north, and the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Antilles to the south and east. Together with the nearby Lucayan Archipelago, these island arcs make up the West Indies. The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are sometimes considered to be a part of the Caribbean, even though they are neither within the Caribbean Sea nor on its border. However, The Bahamas is a full member state of the Caribbean Community and the Turks and Caicos Islands are an associate member.