North America

North America

Overview
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

 and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

. It is also considered a northern subcontinent
Subcontinent
A subcontinent is a large, relatively self-contained landmass forming a subdivision of a continent. By dictionary entries, the term subcontinent signifies "having a certain geographical or political independence" from the rest of the continent, or "a vast and more or less self-contained subdivision...

 of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, to the southeast by South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

.

North America covers an area
Area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

 of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 4.8% of the planet's surface or about 16.5% of its land area.
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Timeline

1497   John Cabot lands in North America at Newfoundland leading the first European exploration of the region since the Vikings.

1527   The first known letter from North America is sent by John Rut while at St. John's, Newfoundland.

1535   French explorer Jacques Cartier sets sail on his second voyage to North America with three ships, 110 men, and Chief Donnacona's two sons (whom Cartier had kidnapped during his first voyage).

1583   Sir Humphrey Gilbert establishes the first English colony in North America, at what is now St John's, Newfoundland.

1620   The ''Mayflower'' departs from Southampton, England on its first attempt to reach North America.

1620   The Pilgrims sail from Plymouth, England, on the ''Mayflower'' to settle in North America. (Old Style date; September 16 per New Style date.)

1652   Rhode Island passes the first law in North America making slavery illegal.

1670   King Charles II of England grants a permanent charter to the Hudson's Bay Company to open up the fur trade in North America.

1679   The brigantine ''Le Griffon'', commissioned by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, is towed to the south-eastern end of the Niagara River, to become the first ship to sail the upper Great Lakes of North America.

1683   William Penn brings 13 German immigrant families to the colony of Pennsylvania, marking the first major immigration of German people to America.

 
Encyclopedia
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

 and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

. It is also considered a northern subcontinent
Subcontinent
A subcontinent is a large, relatively self-contained landmass forming a subdivision of a continent. By dictionary entries, the term subcontinent signifies "having a certain geographical or political independence" from the rest of the continent, or "a vast and more or less self-contained subdivision...

 of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, to the southeast by South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

.

North America covers an area
Area
Area is a quantity that expresses the extent of a two-dimensional surface or shape in the plane. Area can be understood as the amount of material with a given thickness that would be necessary to fashion a model of the shape, or the amount of paint necessary to cover the surface with a single coat...

 of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 4.8% of the planet's surface or about 16.5% of its land area. As of July 2008, its population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 was estimated at nearly 529 million people. It is the third-largest continent in area, following Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, and the fourth in population after Asia, Africa, and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.

Etymology


The Americas are usually accepted as having been named after the Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 explorer Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.-Expeditions:...

 by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller
Martin Waldseemüller
Martin Waldseemüller was a German cartographer...

 and Matthias Ringmann
Matthias Ringmann
Matthias Ringmann was a German cartographer and humanist poet. He is credited with naming America on the map of his friend Martin Waldseemüller.- Life :...

. Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

, but a different landmass previously unknown by Europeans. In 1507, Waldseemüller produced a world map, in which he placed the word "America" on the continent of South America, in the middle of what is today Brazil. He explained the rationale for the name in the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio,
ab Americo inventore ... quasi Americi terram sive Americam (from Americus the discoverer ... as if it were the land of Americus, thus America).


For Waldseemüller, no one should object to the naming of the land after its discoverer. He used the Latinized version of Vespucci's name (Americus Vespucius), but in its feminine form "America", following the examples of "Europa" and "Asia".

Later, when other mapmakers added North America, they extended the original name to it as well: in 1538, Gerard Mercator used the name America to all of the Western Hemisphere on his world map.

Some argue that the convention is to use the surname for naming discoveries except in the case of royalty and so a derivation from "Amerigo Vespucci" could be problematic. Ricardo Palma (1949) proposed a derivation from the "Amerrique" mountains of Central America—Vespucci was the first to discover South America and the Amerrique mountains of Central America, which connected his discoveries to those of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

.

Alfred E. Hudd proposed a theory in 1908 that the continents are named after a Welsh merchant named Richard Amerike
Richard Amerike
Richard ap Meryk, Anglicised to Richard Amerike was a wealthy English merchant, royal customs officer and sheriff, of Welsh descent. He was the principal owner of the Matthew, the ship sailed by John Cabot during his voyage of exploration to North America in 1497...

 from Bristol, who is believed to have financed John Cabot
John Cabot
John Cabot was an Italian navigator and explorer whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America is commonly held to have been the first European encounter with the continent of North America since the Norse Vikings in the eleventh century...

's voyage of discovery from England to Newfoundland in 1497. A minutely explored belief that has been advanced is that America was named for a Spanish sailor bearing the ancient Visigothic name of 'Amairick'. Another is that the name is rooted in a Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 language.

Geologic history


North America is the source of much of what humanity knows about geologic time periods. The geographic area that would later become the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 has been the source of more varieties of dinosaur
Dinosaur
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade and superorder Dinosauria. They were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for over 160 million years, from the late Triassic period until the end of the Cretaceous , when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of...

s than any other modern country. According to paleontologist
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

 Peter Dodson, this is primarily due to stratigraphy, climate and geography, human resources, and history. Much of the Mesozoic Era
Mesozoic
The Mesozoic era is an interval of geological time from about 250 million years ago to about 65 million years ago. It is often referred to as the age of reptiles because reptiles, namely dinosaurs, were the dominant terrestrial and marine vertebrates of the time...

 is represented by exposed outcrops in the many arid regions of the continent. The most significant Late
Late Jurassic
The Late Jurassic is the third epoch of the Jurassic Period, and it spans the geologic time from 161.2 ± 4.0 to 145.5 ± 4.0 million years ago , which is preserved in Upper Jurassic strata. In European lithostratigraphy, the name "Malm" indicates rocks of Late Jurassic age...

 Jurassic
Jurassic
The Jurassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about Mya to  Mya, that is, from the end of the Triassic to the beginning of the Cretaceous. The Jurassic constitutes the middle period of the Mesozoic era, also known as the age of reptiles. The start of the period is marked by...

 dinosaur-bearing fossil deposit in North America is the Morrison Formation
Morrison Formation
The Morrison Formation is a distinctive sequence of Late Jurassic sedimentary rock that is found in the western United States, which has been the most fertile source of dinosaur fossils in North America. It is composed of mudstone, sandstone, siltstone and limestone and is light grey, greenish...

 of the western United States
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

.

Prehistory



Scientists have several theories as to the origins
Models of migration to the New World
There have been several models for the human settlement of the Americas proposed by various academic communities. The question of how, when and why humans first entered the Americas is of intense interest to archaeologists and anthropologists, and has been a subject of heated debate for centuries...

 of the early human population of North America. The indigenous peoples of North America
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 have many creation myths by which they assert that they have been present on the land since its creation. The consensus is that indigenous North Americans first arrived from Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 during the last Ice Age, most likely through the Bering Land Bridge
Bering land bridge
The Bering land bridge was a land bridge roughly 1,000 miles wide at its greatest extent, which joined present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia at various times during the Pleistocene ice ages. Like most of Siberia and all of Manchuria, Beringia was not glaciated because snowfall was extremely light...

 and possibly by primitive boats also.

Before contact with Europeans
Pre-Columbian
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

, the natives of North America were divided into many different polities, from small bands
Band society
A band society is the simplest form of human society. A band generally consists of a small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.Bands have a loose organization...

 of a few families to large empire
Empire
The term empire derives from the Latin imperium . Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a monarch or an oligarchy....

s. They lived in several "culture areas
Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas
Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas is based upon cultural regions, geography, and linguistics. Anthropologists have named various cultural regions, with fluid boundaries, that are generally agreed upon with some variation...

", which roughly correspond to geographic and biological zones
Geography of North America
North America is the third largest continent, or a portion of the second largest if North and South America are combined into the Americas and Africa, Europe and Asia are considered to be part of one supercontinent called Afro-Eurasia...

 and give a good indication of the main lifeway or occupation of the people who lived there (e.g. the bison
Plains Bison
The Plains Bison or Common bison is one of two subspecies/ecotypes of the American Bison, the other being the Wood Bison . Furthermore, it has been suggested that the Plains Bison consists of a northern and a southern subspecies, bringing the total to three...

 hunters
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 of the Great Plains, or the farmer
Farmer
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...

s of Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

). Native groups can also be classified by their language family
Indigenous languages of the Americas
Indigenous languages of the Americas are spoken by indigenous peoples from Alaska and Greenland to the southern tip of South America, encompassing the land masses which constitute the Americas. These indigenous languages consist of dozens of distinct language families as well as many language...

 (e.g. Athapascan
Athabaskan languages
Athabaskan or Athabascan is a large group of indigenous peoples of North America, located in two main Southern and Northern groups in western North America, and of their language family...

 or Uto-Aztecan
Uto-Aztecan languages
Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a Native American language family consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found from the Great Basin of the Western United States , through western, central and southern Mexico Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a Native American language family...

). Peoples with similar languages did not always share the same material culture
Material culture
In the social sciences, material culture is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. Studying a culture's relationship to materiality is a lens through which social and cultural attitudes can be discussed...

, nor were they always allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

.

Scientists believe that the Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 people of the high Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 came to North America much later than other native groups, as evidenced by the disappearance of Dorset culture
Dorset culture
The Dorset culture was a Paleo-Eskimo culture that preceded the Inuit culture in Arctic North America. It has been defined as having four phases, with distinct technology related to the people's hunting and tool making...

 artifacts from the archaeological record
Archaeological record
The archaeological record is the body of physical evidence about the past. It is one of the most basic concepts in archaeology, the academic discipline concerned with documenting and interpreting the archaeological record....

, and their replacement by the Thule people
Thule people
The Thule or proto-Inuit were the ancestors of all modern Inuit. They developed in coastal Alaska by AD 1000 and expanded eastwards across Canada, reaching Greenland by the 13th century. In the process, they replaced people of the earlier Dorset culture that had previously inhabited the region...

.

During the thousands of years of native inhabitation on the continent, cultures changed and shifted. Archaeologists often name different cultural groups they discover after the site where they were first found. One of the oldest cultures yet found is the Clovis culture
Clovis culture
The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture that first appears 11,500 RCYBP , at the end of the last glacial period, characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools...

 of modern New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

. A more recent example is the group of related cultures called the Mound builders (e.g. the Fort Walton Culture
Fort Walton Culture
Fort Walton Culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in southeastern North America, from approximately 1100~1550 CE....

), found in the Mississippi river
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 valley. They flourished from 300 BC to the 150s AD.

The more southern cultural groups of North America were responsible for the domestication
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 of many common crops
Crop (agriculture)
A crop is a non-animal species or variety that is grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, fuel or for any other economic purpose. Major world crops include maize , wheat, rice, soybeans, hay, potatoes and cotton. While the term "crop" most commonly refers to plants, it can also include...

 now used around the world, such as tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

es and squash. Perhaps most importantly they domesticated one of the world's major staples, maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 (corn).

History



As a result of the development of agriculture in the south, many important cultural advances were made there. For example, the Maya civilization
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 developed a writing system
Maya script
The Maya script, also known as Maya glyphs or Maya hieroglyphs, is the writing system of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, presently the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered...

, built huge pyramids and temples
Mesoamerican pyramids
Mesoamerican pyramids, pyramid-shaped structures, are an important part of ancient Mesoamerican architecture. These structures were usually step pyramids with temples on top – more akin to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia than to the pyramids of Ancient Egypt...

, had a complex calendar
Maya calendar
The Maya calendar is a system of calendars and almanacs used in the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and in many modern Maya communities in highland Guatemala. and in Chiapas....

, and developed the concept of zero around 400 CE, a few hundred years after the Mesopotamians. The Mayan culture was still present in southern Mexico and Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 when the Spanish explorers arrived, but political dominance in the area had shifted to the Aztec Empire whose capital city Tenochtitlan was located further north in the Valley of Mexico
Valley of Mexico
The Valley of Mexico is a highlands plateau in central Mexico roughly coterminous with the present-day Distrito Federal and the eastern half of the State of Mexico. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, the Valley of Mexico was a centre for several pre-Columbian civilizations, including...

. The Aztecs were conquered in 1521 by Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

.

Upon the arrival of the Europeans in the "New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

", the Native American population declined substantially, primarily due to the introduction of European diseases to which the Native Americans lacked immunity. Native peoples found their culture changed drastically. As such, their affiliation with political and cultural groups changed as well, several linguistic groups went extinct
Language death
In linguistics, language death is a process that affects speech communities where the level of linguistic competence that speakers possess of a given language variety is decreased, eventually resulting in no native and/or fluent speakers of the variety...

, and others changed quite quickly. The names and cultures that Europeans recorded for the natives were not necessarily the same as the ones they had used a few generations before, or the ones in use today.

In the late 18th century and beginning of the 19th, several independence movements started across North America. The 13 British colonies on the North Atlantic coast declared independence in 1776, becoming the United States of America. New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

, a territory that stretched from modern-day southern U.S. to Central America, declared independence in 1810 becoming the First Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

. In 1823 the former Captaincy General of Guatemala
Captaincy General of Guatemala
The Captaincy General of Guatemala , also known as the Kingdom of Guatemala , was an administrative division in Spanish America which covered much of Central America, including what are now the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas...

, then part of the Mexican Empire, became the first independent state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in Central America, officially changing its name to the United Provinces of Central America
Federal Republic of Central America
The Federal Republic of Central America, known as the United Provinces of Central America in its first year of creation, was a sovereign state in Central America, which consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala of New Spain...

.

Geography and extent



North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

, the Western Hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

, the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, or simply America (which, less commonly, is considered by some as a single continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

 with North America a subcontinent
Subcontinent
A subcontinent is a large, relatively self-contained landmass forming a subdivision of a continent. By dictionary entries, the term subcontinent signifies "having a certain geographical or political independence" from the rest of the continent, or "a vast and more or less self-contained subdivision...

). North America's only land connection to South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 is at the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal...

. The continent is delimited on the southeast by most geographers at the Darién watershed
Darién Gap
The Darién Gap is a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest separating Panama's Darién Province in Central America from Colombia in South America. It measures just over long and about wide. Roadbuilding through this area is expensive, and the environmental toll is steep. Political...

 along the Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

-Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 border, placing all of Panama within North America. Alternatively, less common views would end North America at the man-made Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

; and some geologists physiographically locate its southern limit at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
Isthmus of Tehuantepec
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is an isthmus in Mexico. It represents the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, and prior to the opening of the Panama Canal was a major shipping route known simply as the Tehuantepec Route...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, with Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 extending southeastward to South America from this point. The Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 islands, or West Indies, are considered part of North America.

Before the Central American isthmus was raised, the region had been underwater. The islands of the West Indies delineate a submerged former land bridge
Land bridge
A land bridge, in biogeography, is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plants are able to cross and colonise new lands...

 which had connected North America and South America via what are now Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

. The continental coastline is long and irregular. The Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 is the largest body of water indenting the continent, followed by Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

. Others include the Gulf of Saint Lawrence
Gulf of Saint Lawrence
The Gulf of Saint Lawrence , the world's largest estuary, is the outlet of North America's Great Lakes via the Saint Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean...

 and the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
The Gulf of California is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland...

.

There are numerous island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s off the continent’s coasts, principally, the Arctic Archipelago
Canadian Arctic Archipelago
The Canadian Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Arctic Archipelago, is a Canadian archipelago north of the Canadian mainland in the Arctic...

, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, the Greater
Greater Antilles
The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

 and Lesser Antilles
Lesser Antilles
The Lesser Antilles are a long, partly volcanic island arc in the Western Hemisphere. Most of its islands form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, with the remainder located in the southern Caribbean just north of South America...

, the Aleutian Islands (some of which are in the Eastern Hemisphere
Eastern Hemisphere
The Eastern Hemisphere, also Eastern hemisphere or eastern hemisphere, is a geographical term for the half of the Earth that is east of the Prime Meridian and west of 180° longitude. It is also used to refer to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia, vis-à-vis the Western Hemisphere, which includes...

 proper), the Alexander Archipelago
Alexander Archipelago
The Alexander Archipelago is a long archipelago, or group of islands, of North America off the southeastern coast of Alaska. It contains about 1,100 islands, which are the tops of the submerged coastal mountains that rise steeply from the Pacific Ocean. Deep channels and fjords separate the...

, the many thousand islands of the British Columbia Coast
British Columbia Coast
The British Columbia Coast or BC Coast is Canada's western continental coastline on the Pacific Ocean. The usage is synonymous with the term West Coast of Canada....

, and Newfoundland. Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, a self-governing Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 island, and the world's largest, is on the same tectonic plate (the North American Plate
North American Plate
The North American Plate is a tectonic plate covering most of North America, Greenland, Cuba, Bahamas, and parts of Siberia, Japan and Iceland. It extends eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and westward to the Chersky Range in eastern Siberia. The plate includes both continental and oceanic crust...

) and is part of North America geographically. In a geologic sense, Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

 is not part of the Americas, but an oceanic island which was formed on the fissure of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Mid-Atlantic Ridge
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a mid-ocean ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and part of the longest mountain range in the world. It separates the Eurasian Plate and North American Plate in the North Atlantic, and the African Plate from the South...

 over 100 million years ago. The nearest landmass to it is Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras is a cape on the coast of North Carolina. It is the point that protrudes the farthest to the southeast along the northeast-to-southwest line of the Atlantic coast of North America...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. However, Bermuda is often thought of as part of North America, especially given its historical, political and cultural ties to Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 and other parts of the continent.

The vast majority of North America is on the North American Plate. Parts of California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and western Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 form the partial edge of the Pacific Plate
Pacific Plate
The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At 103 million square kilometres, it is the largest tectonic plate....

, with the two plates meeting along the San Andreas fault
San Andreas Fault
The San Andreas Fault is a continental strike-slip fault that runs a length of roughly through California in the United States. The fault's motion is right-lateral strike-slip...

. The southernmost portion of the continent and much of the West Indies
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 lie on the Caribbean Plate
Caribbean Plate
The Caribbean Plate is a mostly oceanic tectonic plate underlying Central America and the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of South America....

, whereas the Juan de Fuca
Juan de Fuca Plate
The Juan de Fuca Plate, named after the explorer of the same name, is a tectonic plate, generated from the Juan de Fuca Ridge, and subducting under the northerly portion of the western side of the North American Plate at the Cascadia subduction zone...

 and Cocos plates
Cocos Plate
The Cocos Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of Central America, named for Cocos Island, which rides upon it.-Geology:...

 border the North American Plate on its western frontier.

The continent can be divided into four great regions (each of which contains many subregions): the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 stretching from the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 to the Canadian Arctic
Northern Canada
Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to the three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut...

; the geologically young, mountainous west, including the Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States...

, the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

, California
Geography of California
Covering an area of , California is geographically diverse. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, the fertile farmlands of the Central Valley, and the arid Mojave Desert of the south are some of the major geographic features of this U.S. state. It is home to some of the world's most exceptional trees: the...

 and Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

; the raised but relatively flat plateau of the Canadian Shield
Canadian Shield
The Canadian Shield, also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadien , is a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil that forms the nucleus of the North American or Laurentia craton. It is an area mostly composed of igneous rock which relates to its long volcanic history...

 in the northeast; and the varied eastern region, which includes the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, the coastal plain along the Atlantic seaboard, and the Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 peninsula. Mexico, with its long plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

s and cordilleras
American cordillera
The American Cordillera is a cordillera that consists of an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. From north to south, this sequence of overlapping and parallel ranges begins with the...

, falls largely in the western region, although the eastern coastal plain does extend south along the Gulf.

The western mountains are split in the middle and into the main range of the Rockies and the coast ranges
Pacific Coast Ranges
The Pacific Coast Ranges and the Pacific Mountain System are the series of mountain ranges that stretch along the West Coast of North America from Alaska south to Northern and Central Mexico...

 in California, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 with the Great Basin—a lower area containing smaller ranges and low-lying deserts—in between. The highest peak is Denali in Alaska.

The United States Geographical Survey states that the geographic center of North America is "6 miles west of Balta, Pierce County, North Dakota
Balta, North Dakota
As of the census of 2000, there were 73 people, 38 households, and 21 families residing in the city. The population density was 327.1 people per square mile . There were 49 housing units at an average density of 219.6/sq mi...

" at approximately 48°10′N 100°10′W, approximately 15 miles (24.1 km) from Rugby, North Dakota
Rugby, North Dakota
Rugby is a city in Pierce County, North Dakota in the United States. It is the county seat of Pierce County. The population was 2,876 at the 2010 census. Rugby was founded in 1886.Rugby is often billed as being the geographic center of North America....

. The USGS further states that “No marked or monumented point has been established by any government agency as the geographic center of either the 50 States, the conterminous United States, or the North American continent.” Nonetheless, there is a 15-foot (4.5 m) field stone obelisk
Obelisk
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, and is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon...

 in Rugby claiming to mark the center. The North American continental pole of inaccessibility is located 1650 km (1,025.3 mi) from the nearest coastline, between Allen
Allen, South Dakota
Allen is a census-designated place in Bennett County, South Dakota. As of the 2010 census, the CDP had a population of 420. It is considered the poorest place in the United States...

 and Kyle
Kyle, South Dakota
Kyle is a census-designated place in Shannon County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 846 at the 2010 census...

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

 at 43.36°N 101.97°W.

Demographics




The prevalent languages in North America are English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. The term Anglo-America
Anglo-America
Anglo-America is a region in the Americas in which English is a main language, or one which has significant British historical, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural links...

 is used to refer to the anglophone
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 countries of the Americas: namely Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (where English and French are co-official) and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, but also sometimes Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

 and parts of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 refers to the other areas of the Americas (generally south of the United States) where the Romance languages, derived from Latin, of Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 and Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 (but French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 speaking countries are not usually included) predominate: the other republics of Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 (but not always Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

), part of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 (not the Dutch, English or French speaking areas), Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, and most of South America (except Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

, Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

, French Guiana
French Guiana
French Guiana is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations, Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west...

 (FR
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

), and The Falkland Islands (UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

)).

The French language has historically played a significant role in North America and now retains a distinctive presence in some regions. Canada is officially bilingual. French is the official language of the Province of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, where 95% of the people speak it as either their first or second language, and it is co-official with English in the Province of New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

. Other French-speaking locales include the Province of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 (the official language is English, but there is an estimated 600,000 Franco-Ontarians), the Province of Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 (co-official as de-jure with English), the French West Indies
French West Indies
The term French West Indies or French Antilles refers to the seven territories currently under French sovereignty in the Antilles islands of the Caribbean: the two overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the two overseas collectivities of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy, plus...

 and Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, as well as the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, where French is also an official language. Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 is included with this group based on historical association but Haitians speak both Creole
Haitian Creole language
Haitian Creole language , often called simply Creole or Kreyòl, is a language spoken in Haiti by about twelve million people, which includes all Haitians in Haiti and via emigration, by about two to three million speakers residing in the Bahamas, Cuba, Canada, France, Cayman Islands, French...

 and French. Similarly, French and French Antillean Creole is spoken in Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 620 km2 and has an...

 and the Commonwealth of Dominica alongside English.

Economically, Canada and the United States are the wealthiest and most developed nations
Developed country
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...

 in the continent, followed by Mexico, a newly industrialized country
Newly industrialized countries
The category of newly industrialized country is a socioeconomic classification applied to several countries around the world by political scientists and economists....

. The countries of Central America and the Caribbean are at various levels of economic and human development. For example, small Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 island-nations such as Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

, Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

 and Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

 have a higher GDP (PPP) per capita than Mexico due to their smaller populations. Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 and Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 have a significantly higher Human Development Index and GDP than the rest of the Central American nations.

Demographically, North America is a racially and ethnically diverse continent. Its three main racial groups are Caucasians, Mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

s and Blacks
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

. There is a significant minority of Indigenous Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 and Asians
Asian people
Asian people or Asiatic people is a term with multiple meanings that refers to people who descend from a portion of Asia's population.- Central Asia :...

 among other less numerous groups.

Socially and culturally, North America presents a well-defined entity. Canada and the United States have a similar culture and similar traditions as a result of both countries being former British colonies
British America
For American people of British descent, see British American.British America is the anachronistic term used to refer to the territories under the control of the Crown or Parliament in present day North America , Central America, the Caribbean, and Guyana...

. A common cultural and economic market has developed between the two nations because of the strong economic and historical ties. Spanish-speaking North America shares a common past as former Spanish colonies
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

. In Mexico and the Central American countries where civilizations like the Maya
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 developed, indigenous people
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 preserve traditions across modern boundaries. Central American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations have historically had more in common due to geographical proximity and the fact that they won independence from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Northern Mexico, particularly in the cities of Monterrey
Monterrey
Monterrey , is the capital city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León in the country of Mexico. The city is anchor to the third-largest metropolitan area in Mexico and is ranked as the ninth-largest city in the nation. Monterrey serves as a commercial center in the north of the country and is the...

, Tijuana
Tijuana
Tijuana is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula and center of the Tijuana metropolitan area, part of the international San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. An industrial and financial center of Mexico, Tijuana exerts a strong influence on economics, education, culture, art, and politics...

, Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez
Ciudad Juárez , officially known today as Heroica Ciudad Juárez, but abbreviated Juárez and formerly known as El Paso del Norte, is a city and seat of the municipality of Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Juárez's estimated population is 1.5 million people. The city lies on the Rio Grande...

, and Mexicali
Mexicali
Mexicali is the capital of the State of Baja California, seat of the Municipality of Mexicali, and 2nd largest city in Baja California. The City of Mexicali has a population of 689,775, according to the 2010 census, while the population of the entire metropolitan area reaches 936,826.The city...

, is strongly influenced by the culture
Culture of the United States
The Culture of the United States is a Western culture originally influenced by European cultures. It has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore...

 and way of life of the United States
American way
The American way of life is an expression that refers to the lifestyle of people living in the United States of America. It is an example of a behavioral modality, developed from the 17th century until today...

. Of the a fore mentioned cities, Monterrey has been regarded as the most Americanized city in North America. Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 and Canada
Immigration to Canada
Immigration to Canada is the process by which people migrate to Canada to reside permanently in the country. The majority of these individuals become Canadian citizens. After 1947, domestic immigration law and policy went through major changes, most notably with the Immigration Act, 1976, and the...

 remains a significant attribute of many nations close to the southern border of the U.S. The Anglophone Caribbean states
Anglophone Caribbean
The term Commonwealth Caribbean is used to refer to the independent English-speaking countries of the Caribbean region. Upon a country's full independence from the United Kingdom, Anglophone Caribbean or Commonwealth Caribbean traditionally becomes the preferred sub-regional term as a replacement...

 have witnessed the decline of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and its influence on the region, and its replacement by the economic influence of Northern America
Northern America
Northern America is the northernmost region of the Americas, and is part of the North American continent. It lies directly north of the region of Middle America; the land border between the two regions coincides with the border between the United States and Mexico...

. In the Anglophone Caribbean this influence is partly due to the relatively small populations (less than 200,000) of the majority of English-speaking Caribbean countries, and the fact that many of these countries now have expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

 diasporas living abroad that are larger than those remaining at home.

Populace


The most populous country in North America, over doubling the second largest country in population, is the United States with 303,606,020 persons. The second largest country, and only other country to maintain a populace above 100 million persons is Mexico with a population of 112,322,757. Canada is the third largest country with a population of 32,623,490. The majority of Caribbean island-nations have national populations under one million, though Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 - a territory of the United States, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, and Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

 have populations higher than ten million.

As mentioned above, the United States, Canada, and Mexico maintain the largest populations. Yet, large city populations are not restricted to these nations. Among the largest cities of the United States, Canada, and Mexico are also large cities from the Caribbean. The largest cities in North America, by far, are Mexico City and New York. These cities are the only cities on the continent to break eight million, and two of three in the Americas. These cities are followed by Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

, and Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

. Cities in the sunbelt regions of the United States, such as those in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

 and Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, Phoenix
Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is the capital, and largest city, of the U.S. state of Arizona, as well as the sixth most populated city in the United States. Phoenix is home to 1,445,632 people according to the official 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data...

, Miami
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

, Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, and Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, are experiencing rapid growth. These causes included warm temperatures, retirement of Baby Boomers, large industry, and the influx of immigrants. Cities near the United States border, particularly in Mexico, are also experiencing large amounts of growth. Most notable is Tijuana
Tijuana
Tijuana is the largest city on the Baja California Peninsula and center of the Tijuana metropolitan area, part of the international San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. An industrial and financial center of Mexico, Tijuana exerts a strong influence on economics, education, culture, art, and politics...

, a city bordering San Diego that receives immigrants from all over Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and parts of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. Yet as cities grow in these warmer regions of North America, they are increasingly forced to deal with the major issue of water shortages.

Eight of the top ten metropolitan areas are are located in the United States
Table of United States Metropolitan Statistical Areas
thumb|An enlargeable map of the 942 [[Core Based Statistical Area]]s of the [[United States]]. The 367 [[Metropolitan Statistical Area]]s are shown in red....

. These metropolitan areas all have a population of above 5.5 million and include the New York City metropolitan area, Los Angeles metropolitan area
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
The Los Angeles metropolitan area, also known as Metropolitan Los Angeles or the Southland, is the 13th largest metropolitan area in the world and the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States....

, Chicago metropolitan area, and the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex
Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex
The Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a title designated by the U.S. Census as of 2003, encompasses 12 counties within the U.S. state of Texas. The area is divided into two metropolitan divisions: Dallas–Plano–Irving and Fort Worth–Arlington. Residents of the area...

. Whilst the majority of the largest metropolitan areas are within the United States, Mexico is host to the largest metropolitan area by population in North America: Greater Mexico City
Greater Mexico City
Greater Mexico City refers to the conurbation around Mexico City, officially called Mexico City Metropolitan Area , constituted by the Federal District—itself composed of 16 boroughs—and 41 adjacent municipalities of the states of Mexico and Hidalgo...

. Canada also breaks into the top ten largest metropolitan areas with the Toronto metropolitan area having five and half million citizens. The proximity of cities to each other on the Canada - United States border and Mexico - United States border has led to the rise of international
International
----International mostly means something that involves more than one country. The term international as a word means involvement of, interaction between or encompassing more than one nation, or generally beyond national boundaries...

 metropolitan areas. These urban agglomerations are observed at their largest and most productive in Detroit–Windsor and San Diego–Tijuana and experience large commercial, economic, and cultural activity. The metropolitan areas are responsible for millions of dollars of trade dependent on international freight. In Detroit-Windsor the Border Transportation Partnership study in 2004 concluded USD $13 billion was dependent on the Detroit–Windsor international border
Border
Borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, sovereign states, federated states and other subnational entities. Some borders—such as a state's internal administrative borders, or inter-state borders within the Schengen Area—are open and...

 crossing while in San Diego-Tijuana freight at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry was valued at USD $20 billion.

The North America continent has also been witness to the growth of megapolitan areas. In the United States exists eleven megaregions that transcend international borders and comprise Canadian and Mexican metropolitan regions. These are the Arizona Sun Corridor
Arizona Sun Corridor
The Arizona Sun Corridor, shortened Sun Corridor, is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of Arizona. The Sun Corridor is equivalent to Indiana in size and population; unlike Indiana, it will add another Indiana's worth of residents by 2040...

, Cascadia
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Front Range
Front Range Urban Corridor
The Front Range Urban Corridor is an oblong region of urban population located along the eastern face of the Southern Rocky Mountains in the U.S. states of Colorado and Wyoming. The corridor derives its name from the Front Range, the mountain range that defines the west central boundary of the...

, Great Lakes Megaregion, Gulf Coast Megaregion
Gulf Coast of the United States
The Gulf Coast of the United States, sometimes referred to as the Gulf South, South Coast, or 3rd Coast, comprises the coasts of American states that are on the Gulf of Mexico, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida and are known as the Gulf States...

, Northeast
Northeast megalopolis
The Northeast megalopolis or Boston–Washington megalopolis is the heavily urbanized area of the United States stretching from the the northern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts to the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C. On a map, the region appears almost as a perfectly straight line. As of 2000,...

, Northern California
Northern California
Northern California is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The San Francisco Bay Area , and Sacramento as well as its metropolitan area are the main population centers...

, Piedmont Atlantic, Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

, and the Texas Triangle
Texas Triangle
The Texas Triangle is one of eleven so-called megaregions in the United States. These are urban areas that are much greater in scale than just a metropolitan statistical area , defined by the US Census Bureau. These regions also are known as megapolitan areas...

. Canada and Mexico are also the home of megaregions. These include the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, Golden Horseshoe
Golden Horseshoe
The Golden Horseshoe is a densely populated and industrialized region centred around the Greater Toronto Area at the western end of Lake Ontario in Southern Ontario, Canada, with outer boundaries stretching south to Lake Erie and north to Georgian Bay. Most of it is also part of the Quebec City...

 - both of which are considered part of the Great Lakes Megaregion - and megalopolis of Central Mexico. Traditionally the largest megaregion has been considered the Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

-Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 Corridor, or the Northeast, as the region is one massive contiguous area. Yet megaregion criterion have allowed the Great Lakes Megalopolis to maintain status as the most populated region, being home to 53,768,125 people in 2000.

The top ten largest North American metropolitan area
Metropolitan area
The term metropolitan area refers to a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing. A metropolitan area usually encompasses multiple jurisdictions and municipalities: neighborhoods, townships,...

s by population as of 2010, based on national census numbers from the United States of America, and census estimates from Canada and Mexico.
Metro Area Population Area Country
Mexico City
Greater Mexico City
Greater Mexico City refers to the conurbation around Mexico City, officially called Mexico City Metropolitan Area , constituted by the Federal District—itself composed of 16 boroughs—and 41 adjacent municipalities of the states of Mexico and Hidalgo...

21,163,226 1 7346 square kilometres (2,836.3 sq mi) Mexico
New York
New York metropolitan area
The New York metropolitan area, also known as Greater New York, or the Tri-State area, is the region that composes of New York City and the surrounding region...

18,897,109 17405 square kilometres (6,720.1 sq mi) USA
Los Angeles
Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
The Los Angeles metropolitan area, also known as Metropolitan Los Angeles or the Southland, is the 13th largest metropolitan area in the world and the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States....

12,828,837 12562 square kilometres (4,850.2 sq mi) USA
Chicago 9,461,105 24814 square kilometres (9,580.7 sq mi) USA
Dallas-Fort Worth
Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex
The Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a title designated by the U.S. Census as of 2003, encompasses 12 counties within the U.S. state of Texas. The area is divided into two metropolitan divisions: Dallas–Plano–Irving and Fort Worth–Arlington. Residents of the area...

6,371,773 24059 square kilometres (9,289.2 sq mi) USA
Delaware Valley
Delaware Valley
The Delaware Valley is a term used to refer to the valley where the Delaware River flows, along with the surrounding communities. This includes the metropolitan area centered on the city of Philadelphia. Such educational institutions as Delaware Valley Regional High School in Alexandria Township...

5,965,343 13256 square kilometres (5,118.2 sq mi) USA
Houston
Greater Houston
Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown is a 10-county metropolitan area defined by the Office of Management and Budget. It is located along the Gulf Coast region in the U.S. state of Texas...

5,946,800 26061 square kilometres (10,062.2 sq mi) USA
Toronto
Greater Toronto Area
The Greater Toronto Area is the largest metropolitan area in Canada, with a 2006 census population of 5.5 million. The Greater Toronto Area is usually defined as the central city of Toronto, along with four regional municipalities surrounding it: Durham, Halton, Peel, and York...

5,593,212 1 7124 square kilometres (2,750.6 sq mi) Canada
Washington, D.C. 5,582,170 14412 square kilometres (5,564.5 sq mi) USA
Miami
South Florida metropolitan area
The South Florida metropolitan area, also known as the Miami metropolitan area, and designated the Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area by the U.S...

5,564,635 15896 square kilometres (6,137.5 sq mi) USA

1. Figures are estimates for 2009, not official census figures.

Geology




Canadian geology


Geologically, Canada is one of the oldest regions in the world, with more than half of the region consisting of precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 rocks that have been above sea level since the beginning of the Palaeozoic era. Canada's mineral resources are diverse and extensive. Across the Canadian Shield and in the north there are large iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

, zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, molybdenum
Molybdenum
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...

, and uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 reserves. Large diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

 concentrations have been recently developed in the Arctic, making Canada one of the world's largest producers. Throughout the Shield there are many mining towns extracting these minerals. The largest, and best known, is Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury is an exception to the normal process of forming minerals in the Shield since there is significant evidence that the Sudbury Basin
Sudbury Basin
The Sudbury Basin, also known as Sudbury Structure or the Sudbury Nickel Irruptive, is a major geologic structure in Ontario, Canada. It is the second-largest known impact crater or astrobleme on Earth, as well as one of the oldest....

 is an ancient meteorite
Meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

 impact crater
Impact crater
In the broadest sense, the term impact crater can be applied to any depression, natural or manmade, resulting from the high velocity impact of a projectile with a larger body...

. The nearby, but less known Temagami Magnetic Anomaly
Temagami Magnetic Anomaly
The Temagami Magnetic Anomaly, also called the Temagami Anomaly or the Wanapitei Anomaly, is a large buried geologic structure in Ontario, Canada, stretching from Lake Wanapitei in the west to Bear Island in Lake Temagami....

 has striking similarities to the Sudbury Basin. Its magnetic anomalies are very similar to the Sudbury Basin, and so it could be a second metal-rich impact crater. The Shield is also covered by vast boreal forests that support an important logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 industry.

U.S. Geological provinces


The lower 48 U.S. states can be divided into roughly five physiographic provinces:
  1. The American cordillera
    American cordillera
    The American Cordillera is a cordillera that consists of an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. From north to south, this sequence of overlapping and parallel ranges begins with the...

    .
  2. The Canadian Shield
    Canadian Shield
    The Canadian Shield, also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadien , is a vast geological shield covered by a thin layer of soil that forms the nucleus of the North American or Laurentia craton. It is an area mostly composed of igneous rock which relates to its long volcanic history...

    .
  3. The stable platform.
  4. The coastal plain.
  5. The Appalachian orogenic
    Orogeny
    Orogeny refers to forces and events leading to a severe structural deformation of the Earth's crust due to the engagement of tectonic plates. Response to such engagement results in the formation of long tracts of highly deformed rock called orogens or orogenic belts...

     belt.


The geology of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 is typical of that of the cordillera, while the major islands of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 consist of Neogene
Neogene
The Neogene is a geologic period and system in the International Commission on Stratigraphy Geologic Timescale starting 23.03 ± 0.05 million years ago and ending 2.588 million years ago...

 volcanics
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 erupted over a hot spot
Hotspot (geology)
The places known as hotspots or hot spots in geology are volcanic regions thought to be fed by underlying mantle that is anomalously hot compared with the mantle elsewhere. They may be on, near to, or far from tectonic plate boundaries. There are two hypotheses to explain them...

.

Central American geology


Central America is geologically active with volcanic eruptions and earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s occurring from time to time. In 1976 Guatemala was hit by a major earthquake
1976 Guatemala earthquake
The 1976 Guatemala earthquake struck on February 4, 1976 at 03:01:43 local time . It was a 7.5 Mw earthquake, centered in the Motagua Fault, about 160 km northeast of Guatemala City, Guatemala...

, killing 23,000 people; Managua, the capital of Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, the last one killed about 5,000 people; three earthquakes devastated El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, one in 1986 and two in 2001; one earthquake
2009 Costa Rica earthquake
The 2009 Costa Rica earthquake , occurred at 1:21:34 pm local time on January 8, 2009. The epicenter of the 6.1 Mw earthquake was in northern Costa Rica, north-northwest of San José...

 devastated northern and central Costa Rica in 2009 killing at least 34 people; in Honduras
2009 Honduras earthquake
The 2009 Honduras earthquake occurred on May 28, 2009 at 08:24:45 UTC . The quake was a powerful 7.3 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, with the epicenter being located in the Caribbean Sea, northeast of the island of Roatán, north-northeast of La Ceiba...

 a powerful earthquake killed 7 people in 2009.

Volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 eruptions are common in the region. In 1968 the Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano, in Spanish , is an active andesitic stratovolcano in north-western Costa Rica around 90 km northwest of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna....

, in Costa Rica, erupted and killed 87 people. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lavas have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.

Central America has many mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s; the longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas
Sierra Madre de Chiapas
Sierra Madre is a mountain range which runs northwest-southeast from the state of Chiapas in Mexico across Guatemala and into El Salvador and Honduras. Most of the volcanoes of Guatemala are a part of this range.A narrow coastal plain lies south the range, between the Sierra Madre and the Pacific...

, the Cordillera Isabelia
Cordillera Isabelia
Cordillera Isabelia or Cordillera Isabella is the northern portion of the central mountain range in Nicaragua, which runs from north-west to south-east through the center of the country. Isabelia reaches an elevation of more than 2100 m , its highest point is Pico Mogoton, on the border with...

 and the Cordillera de Talamanca
Cordillera de Talamanca
The Cordillera de Talamanca is a mountain range that lies on the border between Costa Rica and Panama. Much of the range and the area around it is included in the La Amistad International Park, which also is shared between the two countries....

. Between the mountain ranges lie fertile valleys that are suitable for the people; in fact most of the population of Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 and Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 live in valleys. Valleys are also suitable for the production of coffee, beans and other crops.

Economy


Rank Country GDP (PPP, 2010)
millions of USD
1  United States 14,657,800
2  Mexico 1,629,917
3  Canada 1,330,272
4  Cuba 125,500
5  Dominican Republic 85,391
6  Guatemala 69,958
7  Costa Rica 51,130
8  Panama 43,725
9  El Salvador 43,640
10  Honduras 33,537


Canada, Mexico and the United States have significant and multifaceted economic systems. The United States has the largest economy in North America, and in the world. In 2011, the US has an estimated per capita gross domestic product (PPP) of $47,200, and is the most technologically developed economy in North America. The United States' services sector comprises 76.7% of the country's GDP (estimated in 2010), industry comprises 22.2% and agriculture comprises 1.2%. Canada's economic trends are similar to that of the United States, with significant growth in the sectors of services, mining and manufacturing. Canada's GDP (PPP) was estimated at $39,400 in 2010. Canada's services sector comprises 78% of the country's GDP (estimated in 2010), industry comprises 20% and agriculture comprises 2%. Mexico has a GDP (PPP) of $15,113 per capita and as of 2010 is the 11th largest economy in the world. Being a newly industrialized country, Mexico maintains both modern and outdated industrial and agricultural facilities and operations. Its main sources of income are oil, industrial exports, manufactured goods, electronics, heavy industry, automobiles, construction, food, banking and financial services.

The North American economy is well defined and structured in three main economic areas. These areas are the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA), Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), and the Central American Common Market (CACM). Of these trade blocs, the United States takes part in two. In addition to the larger trade blocs there is the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement
Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement
The Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement is a free trade agreement between Costa Rica and Canada. It was signed on April 23, 2001 in Ottawa, Ontario, and came into effect on November 1, 2002. It is the first bilateral free trade agreement to include innovative stand-alone procedures on trade...

 among numerous other free trade relations; often between the larger, more developed countries, and Central American and Caribbean countries.

The North America Free Trade Agreement forms one of the four largest trade blocs in the world. Its implementation in 1994 allowed for strong economic cooperation with hopes of eliminating barriers of trade and foreign investment between the three northern nations. While Canada and the United States already conducted the largest bilateral trade relationship - and to present day still do - in the world and Canada - United States trade relations already allowed trade without national taxes and tariffs, NAFTA allowed Mexico to experience a similar duty free trade. The free trade agreement allowed for the elimination of tariffs that had previously been in place on United States-Mexico trade. Trade volume has steadily increased annually and in 2010, surface trade between the three NAFTA nations reached an all-time historical increase of 24.3% or USD $791 billion. The NAFTA trade bloc GDP (PPP) is the world's largest with $17.617 USD trillions. This is in part attributed to the fact that the economy of the United States is the world's largest national economy; the country had a nominal GDP of approximately $14.7 trillion in 2010. The countries of NAFTA are also some of each others largest trade partners. The United States is the largest trade partner of Canada and Mexico; while Canada and Mexico are each others third largest trade partners.

The Caribbean trade bloc - CARICOM - came into agreement in 1973 when it was signed by 15 Caribbean nations. As of 2000, CARICOM trade volume was USD $96 billion. CARICOM also allowed for the creation of a common passport for associated nations. In the past decade the trade bloc focused largely on Free Trade Agreements and under the CARICOM Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) free trade agreements have been signed into effect.

Integration of Central American economies occurred under the signing of the Central American Common Market agreement in 1961; this was the first attempt to engage the nations of this area into stronger financial cooperation. Recent implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has left the future of the CACM unclear. The Central American Free Trade Agreement was signed by five Central American countries, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. The focal point of CAFTA is to created a free trade area similar to that of NAFTA. In addition to the United States, Canada also has relations in Central American trade blocs. Currently under proposal, the Canada – Central American Free Trade Agreement (CA4) would operate much the same as CAFTA with the United States does.

North American nations also take part in inter-continental trade blocs. Mexico takes a part in the G3 Free Trade Agreement
G3 Free Trade Agreement
The G-3 is a free trade agreement between Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela that came into effect on January 1, 1995, which created an extended market of 149 million consumers with a combined GDP of US$486.5 billion. The agreement states a ten percent tariff reduction over ten years for the trade...

 with Colombia and Venezuela and has a trade agreement with the EU. The United States has proposed and maintained trade agreements under the Transatlantic Free Trade Area
Transatlantic Free Trade Area
The Transatlantic Free Trade Area is a proposed free trade area between the United States and the European Union in reaction to the growing economic power of the People's Republic of China. It was considered in the 1990s and again in 2007 but no firm plan has been made...

 between itself and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

; the US-Middle East Free Trade Area between numerous Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern nations and itself; and the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership
Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership
The Trans-Pacific Partnership , also known as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalise the economies of the Asia-Pacific region; specifically, Article 1.1.3 notes: “The Parties seek to support the wider...

 between Southeast Asian nations, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

.

Infrastructure



Transportation


The Pan-American Highway
Pan-American Highway
The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads measuring about in total length. Except for an rainforest break, called the Darién Gap, the road links the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world's...

 route in North America is the portion of a network of roads nearly 48,000 km in length which travels through the mainland nations of the Americas. No definitive length of the Pan American Highway exists because the U.S. and Canadian governments have never officially defined any specific routes as being part of the Pan-American Highway, and Mexico officially has many branches connecting to the U.S. border. However, the total length of the North American portion of the highway is roughly 16000 miles (25,749.4 km).

The First Transcontinental Railroad in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was built across North America in the 1860s, linking the railroad
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 network of the eastern U.S. with California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 on the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 coast. Finished on May 10, 1869 at the famous Golden spike
Golden spike
The "Golden Spike" is the ceremonial final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory...

 event at Promontory Summit, Utah, it created a nationwide mechanized transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West, catalyzing the transition from the wagon train
Wagon train
A wagon train is a group of wagons traveling together. In the American West, individuals traveling across the plains in covered wagons banded together for mutual assistance, as is reflected in numerous films and television programs about the region, such as Audie Murphy's Tumbleweed and Ward Bond...

s of previous decades to a modern transportation system. Although an accomplishment, it achieved the status of first transcontinental railroad by connecting myriad eastern US railroads to the Pacific and was not the largest single railroad system in the world. The Canadian Grand Trunk Railway
Grand Trunk Railway
The Grand Trunk Railway was a railway system which operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, as well as the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec; however, corporate...

 (GTR) had, by 1867, already accumulated more than 2055 kilometres (1,276.9 mi) of track by connecting Portland, Maine, and the three northern New England states with the Canadian Atlantic provinces west as far as Port Huron, Michigan, through Sarnia, Ontario.

Communications


Many of the nations of North America cooperate together on a shared telephone
Telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

 system known as the North American Numbering Plan
North American Numbering Plan
The North American Numbering Plan is an integrated telephone numbering plan administered by Neustar which encompasses 24 countries and territories, including the United States and its territories, Canada, Bermuda, and 16 nations of the Caribbean...

 (NANP) which is an integrated telephone numbering plan
Telephone numbering plan
A telephone numbering plan is a type of numbering scheme used in telecommunications to allocate telephone numbers to subscribers and to route telephone calls in a telephone network. A closed numbering plan, such as found in North America, imposes a fixed total length to numbers...

 of 24 countries and territories: the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and its territories
Insular area
An insular area is a United States territory, that is neither a part of one of the fifty U.S. states nor the District of Columbia, the federal district of the United States...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

, and 16 Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 nations.

Regions



Geographically the North American continent is composed of many regions and subregions. These included regions formed by cultural, economic, and geographic standards. Economic regions included those formed by trade blocs; among notable inclusionss, the North American Trade Agreement bloc and Central American Trade Agreement. Linguistically and culturally, the continent could be divided into Anglo-America
Anglo-America
Anglo-America is a region in the Americas in which English is a main language, or one which has significant British historical, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural links...

 and Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. Anglo-America includes most of Northern America, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, and Caribbean islands with English speaking populations - though sub-national entities such as Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 are Francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 in composition.

The southern North American continent is often recognized as being composed of two regions. These recognized regions are Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 and the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. The north of the continent maintains recognized regions as well. In contrast to the common definition of North America, that which encompasses the whole continent, the term North America is also used to refer to Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Greenland.

The term Northern America
Northern America
Northern America is the northernmost region of the Americas, and is part of the North American continent. It lies directly north of the region of Middle America; the land border between the two regions coincides with the border between the United States and Mexico...

, originating in reference to the northern-most countries and territories of North America, is used in reference to Canada, the United States, Greenland, Bermuda, and St. Pierre and Miquelon. Although rarely used, the term Middle America
Middle America (Americas)
Middle America is a region in the mid-latitudes of the Americas. In southern North America, it usually comprises Mexico, the nations of Central America, and the West Indies. The scope of the term may vary...

 - not to be confused with the Midwestern United States
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 - groups the regions of Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico.

The largest countries of the continent, Canada and the United States, also maintain well-defined and recognized regions. In the case of Canada these are the British Columbia Coast
British Columbia Coast
The British Columbia Coast or BC Coast is Canada's western continental coastline on the Pacific Ocean. The usage is synonymous with the term West Coast of Canada....

, Canadian Prairies
Canadian Prairies
The Canadian Prairies is a region of Canada, specifically in western Canada, which may correspond to several different definitions, natural or political. Notably, the Prairie provinces or simply the Prairies comprise the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as they are largely covered...

, Central Canada
Central Canada
Central Canada is a region consisting of Canada's two largest and most populous provinces: Ontario and Quebec. Due to their high populations, Ontario and Quebec have traditionally held a significant amount of political power in Canada, leading to some amount of resentment from other regions of the...

, Atlantic Canada
Atlantic Canada
Atlantic Canada is the region of Canada comprising the four provinces located on the Atlantic coast, excluding Quebec: the three Maritime provinces – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia – and Newfoundland and Labrador...

, and Northern Canada
Northern Canada
Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to the three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut...

. These regions also maintain numerous subregions. In the case of the United States - and in accordance with the U.S. Census Bureau definitions - these regions are: New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, Mid-Atlantic
Mid-Atlantic States
The Mid-Atlantic states, also called middle Atlantic states or simply the mid Atlantic, form a region of the United States generally located between New England and the South...

, East North Central States
East North Central States
The East North Central States form one of the nine geographic divisions within the United States which are officially recognized by the United States Census Bureau....

, West North Central States
West North Central States
The West North Central States form one of the nine geographic divisions within the United States that are officially recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau....

, South Atlantic States
South Atlantic States
The South Atlantic United States form one of the nine Census Bureau Divisions within the United States that are recognized by the United States Census Bureau....

, East South Central States
East South Central States
The East South Central States constitute one of the nine Census Bureau Divisions of the United States.Four states make up the division: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee...

, West South Central States
West South Central States
The West South Central States form one of the nine Census Bureau Divisions of the United States that are officially designated by the United States Census Bureau.Four states compose the division: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas...

, Mountain States
Mountain States
thumb|300px|Regional definitions vary from source to source. The states shown in dark red are always included, while the striped states are usually considered part of the same region called the Mountain States....

, and Pacific States
Pacific States
The Pacific States form one of the nine geographic divisions within the United States that are officially recognized by that country's census bureau. There are five states in this division — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington — and, as its name suggests, they all have...

. Regions shared between both nations included the Great Lakes Region
Great Lakes region (North America)
The Great Lakes region of North America, occasionally known as the Third Coast or the Fresh Coast , includes the eight U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as the Canadian province of Ontario...

. Megalopolis'
Megalopolis (city type)
A megalopolis is typically defined as a chain of roughly adjacent metropolitan areas. The term was used by Oswald Spengler in his 1918 book, The Decline of the West, and Lewis Mumford in his 1938 book, The Culture of Cities, which described it as the first stage in urban overdevelopment and...

 have also formed between both nations in the case of the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 and the Great Lakes Megaregion.

Countries, territories, and dependencies



Below is a table of North American countries and territories divided into three basic regions.
Country or territory Area
(km²)
Population
(2008 est.)
Population density
(per km²)
Capital
colspan="5" style="text-align:center;"|North America
 Bermuda (UK) 54 65,000 1203.7 Hamilton
Hamilton, Bermuda
Hamilton is the capital of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. It is the territory's financial centre and a major port and tourist destination.-Geography:...

 Canada 9,984,670 33,573,000 3.4 Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

 Greenland (Den
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

.)
2,166,086 57,000 0.026 Nuuk
Nuuk
Nuuk, is the capital of Greenland, the northernmost capital in North America and the largest city in Greenland. Located in the Nuup Kangerlua fjord, the city lies on the eastern shore of the Labrador Sea and on the west coast of Sermersooq. Nuuk is the largest cultural and economic center in...

 (Godthåb)
 Mexico 1,964,375 112,322,757 57.1 Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Fr.) 242 6,000 24.8 Saint-Pierre
 United StatesIncludes the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, which is distant from the North American landmass in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 and therefore more commonly associated with the other territories of Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

.
9,629,091 311,630,000 32.7 Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

Caribbean
 Anguilla (UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

)
91 15,000 164.8 The Valley
The Valley, Anguilla
-Population:-References:...

 Antigua and Barbuda 442 88,000 199.1 St. John's
St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda
St John's is the capital and largest city of Antigua and Barbuda, a country located in the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea. St John's is located at...

 Aruba (Neth
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

.)
180 107,000 594.4 Oranjestad
Oranjestad, Aruba
Oranjestad is the capital and largest city of Aruba, which is in the Caribbean north of Venezuela. Oranjestad is located on the southern coast near the western end of the island country...

Since the Lucayan Archipelago
Lucayan archipelago
The Lucayan Archipelago, as defined by Julian Granberry, consists of the islands of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and of the Turks and Caicos Islands...

 is located in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 rather than Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, the Bahamas
The Bahamas
The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets . It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola , northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States...

 are part of the West Indies but are not technically part of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, although the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 groups them with the Caribbean.
13,943 342,000 24.5 Nassau
Nassau, Bahamas
Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial centre of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city has a population of 248,948 , 70 percent of the entire population of The Bahamas...

 Barbados 430 256,000 595.3 Bridgetown
Bridgetown
The city of Bridgetown , metropolitan pop 96,578 , is the capital and largest city of the nation of Barbados. Formerly, the Town of Saint Michael, the Greater Bridgetown area is located within the parish of Saint Michael...

 Bonaire (Neth.) 294 12,093 41.1 Kralendijk
Kralendijk
Kralendijk is the capital city and main port of the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands. The language spoken in the town is Papiamentu, but Dutch and English are widely used. In Dutch, Kralendijk means "coral reef" or "coral dike". The Papiamentu name for the town is Playa or "beach"...

 British Virgin Islands (UK) 151 23,000 152.3 Road Town
Road Town
-See also:* Government House, the official residence of the Governor of the British Virgin Islands located in Road Town-External links:*****...

 Cayman Islands (UK) 264 56,000 212.1 George Town
George Town, Cayman Islands
George Town, Grand Cayman, is the capital of the Cayman Islands, in the British West Indies. The city has a population of 35,600 and is the largest city on Grand Cayman....

 Cuba 109,886 11,204,000 102.0 Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 Curaçao (Neth.) 444 140,794 317.1 Willemstad
Willemstad
Willemstad can refer to:*Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao*Willemstad , a town in Moerdijk, the Netherlands*Willemstad , a hamlet near Marum, the Netherlands*Willemstad , a hamlet in the Netherlands...

 Dominica 751 67,000 89.2 Roseau
Roseau
-Architecture:The central district of Roseau is tightly packed with small and large houses and even larger modern concrete structures. There is little green or open space situated within the city, and this is even more so today, as many of the courtyards which was once commonplace within the city...

 Dominican Republic 48,671 10,090,000 207.3 Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

 Grenada 344 104,000 302.3 St. George's
St. George's, Grenada
St. George's, population 89,018 , with an agglomeration of 4,500 people , is the capital of Grenada, . The city is surrounded by a hillside of an old volcano crater and is on a horseshoe-shaped harbor....

 Guadeloupe (Fr
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

.)
1,628 401,784 246.7 Basse-Terre
Basse-Terre
Basse-Terre is the prefecture of Guadeloupe, an overseas region and department of France located in the Lesser Antilles...

 Haiti 27,750 10,033,000 361.5 Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

 Jamaica 10,991 2,719,000 247.4 Kingston
Kingston, Jamaica
Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbour protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island...

 Martinique (Fr.) 1,128 397,693 352.6 Fort-de-France
Fort-de-France
Fort-de-France is the capital of France's Caribbean overseas department of Martinique. It is also one of the major cities in the Caribbean. Exports include sugar, rum, tinned fruit, and cacao.-Geography:...

 Montserrat (UK) 102 6,000 58.8 Plymouth
Plymouth, Montserrat
Plymouth is the de jure capital of the island of Montserrat, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom located in the Leeward Island chain of the Lesser Antilles, West Indies. The town was overwhelmed by volcanic eruptions starting in the 1990s and was abandoned...

; BradesDue to ongoing activity of the Soufriere Hills volcano beginning in July 1995, much of Plymouth was destroyed and government offices were relocated to Brades. Plymouth remains the de jure capital.
 Navassa Island (USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

)
5 0 0.0  —
 Puerto Rico (USA) 8,870 3,982,000 448.9 San Juan
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan , officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista , is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of...

 Saba (Neth.) 13 1,537 118.2 The Bottom
The Bottom
The Bottom is the capital and largest town of the island of Saba, the Caribbean Netherlands, and is the first stop on the way from Saba's Port in Fort Bay towards the rest of the island...

 Saint Barthélemy (Fr.) 21 7,448 354.7 Gustavia
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 261 52,000 199.2 Basseterre
Basseterre
Basseterre , estimated population 15,500 in 2000, is the capital of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies. Geographically, the Basseterre port is located at , on the south western coast of Saint Kitts Island, and it is one of the chief commercial depots of the Leeward Islands...

 Saint Lucia 539 172,000 319.1 Castries
Castries
Castries , population 10,634, aggl. 37,963 , is the capital city of Saint Lucia, a country in the Caribbean. The district with the same name had a population of 61,341 in 2001-05-22, and stretches over an area of ....

 Saint Martin (France) (Fr.) 54 29,820 552.2 Marigot
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 389 109,000 280.2 Kingstown
Kingstown
Kingstown is the chief port of Saint Vincent, and the capital of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. With a population of 25,418 Kingstown is a centre for the island's agricultural industry and a port of entry for tourists...

 Sint Eustatius (Neth.) 21 2,739 130.4 Oranjestad
Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
Oranjestad is a small town of nearly 1,000 inhabitants, and is the capital of Sint Eustatius island in the Caribbean Netherlands.Oranjestad is a historic harbour town...

 Sint Maarten (Neth.) 34 40,009 1176.7 Philipsburg
 Trinidad and Tobago 5,130 1,339,000 261.0 Port of Spain
Port of Spain
Port of Spain, also written as Port-of-Spain, is the capital of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the country's third-largest municipality, after San Fernando and Chaguanas. The city has a municipal population of 49,031 , a metropolitan population of 128,026 and a transient daily population...

 Turks and Caicos IslandsSince the Lucayan Archipelago
Lucayan archipelago
The Lucayan Archipelago, as defined by Julian Granberry, consists of the islands of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and of the Turks and Caicos Islands...

 is located in the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 rather than Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, the Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union consisting of two groups of tropical islands in the Caribbean, the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands, known for tourism and as an offshore financial centre.The Turks and...

 are part of the West Indies but are not technically part of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, although the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 groups them with the Caribbean.
(UK)
948 33,000 34.8 Cockburn Town
Cockburn Town
Cockburn Town is the capital city of the Turks and Caicos Islands.-Location and features:Cockburn Town is located on the largest island in the Turks Islands archipelago, Grand Turk Island. Historic 18th and 19th century Bermudian architecture line Duke and Front Streets in Cockburn Town...

 United States Virgin Islands (USA) 347 110,000 317.0 Charlotte Amalie
Central America
 Belize 22,966 307,000 13.4 Belmopan
Belmopan
Belmopan , estimated population 20,000 is the capital city of Belize.Belmopan is located at , at an altitude of 76 metres above sea level. Belmopan was constructed just to the east of Belize River, inland from the former capital, the port of Belize City, after that city's near destruction by...

 Costa Rica 51,100 4,579,000 89.6 San José
San José, Costa Rica
San José is the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. Located in the Central Valley, San José is the seat of national government, the focal point of political and economic activity, and the major transportation hub of this Central American nation.Founded in 1738 by order of Cabildo de León, San...

 El Salvador 21,041 6,163,000 293.0 San Salvador
San Salvador
The city of San Salvador the capital and largest city of El Salvador, which has been designated a Gamma World City. Its complete name is La Ciudad de Gran San Salvador...

 Guatemala 108,889 14,027,000 128.8 Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 Honduras 112,492 7,466,000 66.4 Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa
Tegucigalpa , and commonly referred as Tegus , is the capital of Honduras and seat of government of the Republic, along with its twin sister Comayagüela. Founded on September 29, 1578 by the Spanish, it became the country's capital on October 30, 1880 under President Marco Aurelio Soto...

 Nicaragua 130,373 5,743,000 44.1 Managua
Managua
Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as the department and municipality by the same name. It is the largest city in Nicaragua in terms of population and geographic size. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in...

 PanamaPanama is generally considered a North American country, though some authorities divide it at the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

. Figures listed here are for the entire country.
75,417 3,454,000 45.8 Panama City
Panama City
Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of the same name. The city is the political and administrative center of the...

Total 24,500,995 541,720,440 22.9

Usage of the term North America


The term North America maintains various definitions in accordance with location and context. In English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, North America may be used to refer to the United States and Canada together. Alternatively, usage sometimes includes Greenland and Mexico (as in the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

), as well as offshore islands.

In Ibero-America
Ibero-America
Ibero-America is a term used since the second half of the 19th century to refer collectively to the countries in the Americas that were formerly colonies of Spain or Portugal. Spain and Portugal are themselves included in some definitions, such as that of the Ibero-American Summit and the...

 and other parts of Europe, North America usually designates a subcontinent of the Americas containing Canada, the United States, and Mexico, and often Greenland, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, and Bermuda.

North America has been historically referred to by other names. Spanish North America (New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

) was often referred to as Northern America
Northern America (disambiguation)
Northern America may refer to:*Northern America, a northerly region of the Americas.* An English translation of Mexico's first official name , so entitled in the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America — see Toponymy of Mexico.*Northern United States, a region of the lower...

, and this was the first official name
Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America
The Solemn Act of Northern America's Declaration of Independence is the first Mexican legal historical document which established the separation of Mexico from Spanish rule...

 given to Mexico.

Outside of North America, going into the twentieth century, the whole American continent (North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean) was referred simply as "America" or "The Americas", one of the "Five Continents" (the other four being, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania).

See also



  • Americas (terminology)
    Americas (terminology)
    The Americas, also known as America, are the lands of the western hemisphere, composed of numerous entities and regions variably defined by geography, politics, and culture....


  • European colonization of the Americas
    European colonization of the Americas
    The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492. The first Europeans to reach the Americas were the Vikings during the 11th century, who established several colonies in Greenland and one short-lived settlement in present day Newfoundland...

  • Fortress North America
    Fortress North America
    Fortress North America is a term used both during the Second World War and more often in the Cold War to refer to the option of defending Canada and the United States against their enemies if the rest of the world were lost to them....

  • Mountain peaks of North America
    Mountain peaks of North America
    This article comprises three sortable tables of major mountain peaks of greater North America.This article defines greater North America as the portion of the continental landmass of the Americas extending northward from Panama plus the islands surrounding that landmass...


  • Nearctic ecozone
  • Turtle Island (North America)
    Turtle Island (North America)
    Turtle Island is a term used by several Northeastern Woodland Native American tribes, especially the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy, for the continent of North America.-Iroquois:...

  • Voyages of Christopher Columbus
    Voyages of Christopher Columbus
    In the early modern period, the voyages of Columbus initiated European exploration and colonization of the American continents, and are thus of great significance in world history. Christopher Columbus was a navigator and an admiral for Castile, a country that later founded modern Spain...



Organizations and agreements:
  • Caribbean Community
    Caribbean Community
    The Caribbean Community is an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy...

  • North American Aerospace Defense Command
    North American Aerospace Defense Command
    North American Aerospace Defense Command is a joint organization of Canada and the United States that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the two countries. Headquarters NORAD is located at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado...

  • Organization of American States
    Organization of American States
    The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...


External links