Dreamed of by many as the perfect location for hot, sunny vacations in a tropical paradise, the Caribbean is a region wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It consists of over seven thousand islands, coral reefs, cays and islets in the Caribbean Sea. Only 2% of its islands are inhabited, some belonging to foreign countries, but others, such as Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas, are fully independent.Also known as the West Indies, the Caribbean region is home to approximately forty million people, many of whose ancestors were slaves from Africa who worked in the sugar plantations.The Caribbean is extremely susceptible to global warming, and is a target for storms, hurricanes and changing sea levels in the rainy season. Poverty is a significant social issue, particularly for those in disaster-prone areas. Despite this, the Caribbean remains a popular tourist destination, famous for culture, food, music and unforgettable scenery.