Belize is a small nation on the eastern coast of Central America, on the Caribbean Sea bordered by Mexico to the northwest and Guatemala to the west and south. The country is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy which recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as Sovereign. The nation of Honduras lies 47 miles away across the Gulf of Honduras to the east. The name is derived from the Belize River, after which Belize City, the former capital and largest city, is also named. Known as British Honduras until 1973, Belize was a British colony for more than a century. It became an independent nation in 1981. Belize is a member of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Sistema de Integracion Centro Americana (SICA) and considers itself to be both Caribbean, and Central American.