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North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the Earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third-largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Geographical treatment of North America, including maps and statistics as well as a survey of its geologic history, land, people, and economy. It occupies the northern portion of the ‘New World.’ North America, the world’s third largest continent, lies mainly between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer.
North America, the third-largest continent, extends from the tiny Aleutian Islands in the northwest to the Isthmus of Panama in the south. North America’s physical geography, environment and resources, and human geography can be considered separately. North America and South America are named after Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci.
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North America Geography Notes. Two of North America's most interesting geographical features are the Great Plains and the Mississippi River System; both impressive in so many ways. Great Plains: The Great Plains of North America slope east from the Rockies and extend to the edge of the Canadian Shield and the western edges of the Appalachians ...
- Early history
North America consists of three large nations and one large island territory that covers most of its area. They are Canada, the United States of America (USA), Mexico and Greenland.
Although the Central American and the Caribbean regions are technically part of the North American continent, they are commonly listed separately from their larger neighbours to the north and hence the distinctive region names for both cultural and geographical reasons.
Prior to Christopher Columbus establishing trans-Atlantic contact in 1492, the Americas were inhabited by a vast array of indigenous peoples. While at a lower technology level than Europe, they had large populations and developed trade networks. However, contact brought a vast array of Eurasian diseases to the locals, which proceeded to cause probably the largest mass death in human history (estimates range as high as 200 million). While this was largely unintentional, it shattered the local powers and left the continent open to Europeans. Colonization and conquest quickly followed, as Europe sent adventurous souls across the ocean to the \\"New World\\". Natives were still important military powers until the 19th century, but as Europeans marched west, they rapidly became allies and subjects instead of independent powers. The last independent tribes were conquered in the 1870s, though occasional rebellions happened later.
European conquest was primarily English, French, and Spanish, though the Dutch, Danish, and Russians controlled some territory as well. Originally, it was small outposts to produce valuable crops like gold, cotton, tobacco, fur, and sugar, but over time as the settler population grew, farming and logging grew to become more important, particularly in the English and French areas. The French lost the vast majority of their territory in the Seven Years War (1756-63), but the economic cost of that war, among other causes, led much of the British areas to rebel in 1776 and eventually form the United States of America. Rapid decolonization followed in the 19th century, either by rebellion (as in cases like Haiti and Mexico), or by peaceful agreement (as in cases like Canada). North America has seen relatively few wars in the European period. In addition to various rebellions and civil wars around the continent, the Americans fought the British in 1812, the Mexicans in 1848, and the Spanish in 1898. As such, there is very little of the sort of military ruins that dot Europe and the Mediterranean basin, and North Americans have little of the history of strife that the rest of the world does. Conversely, North America has a much more relevant history of slavery than most other places, with millions of primarily-African slaves being forcibly taken there to work in mines and plantations from the 16th-19th centuries. The legacy of this has faded over time, but is still a relevant political issue, primarily in the United States.
North America is primarily populated today by immigrants and their descendants - indigenous peoples are less than 10% of the population. The United States and Canada in particular are nations of immigrants, with waves of people from all over the world moving there over the last few centuries. As such, they are the most multicultural places in the world, particularly in larger cities like New York and Toronto.
It is also technically possible to enter North America by ship, though very few transoceanic liners still exist in this century, or overland through Panama, though this route is extremely rough and dangerous. European visitors should note that crossing international borders is not as easy in North America as they may be used to in the Schengen area. Borders are not generally difficult to cross, although queues of an hour or two to clear customs at peak hours are not unheard of. Expect a guard to ask you several questions (citizenship, where you're going, how long you'll be there, etc.) - answer clearly and calmly, and you will more often than not be let through without incident. However, guards can ask more questions or do a more thorough search at will, and will do so for travellers who seem suspicious, particularly when crossing from Mexico into the United States.
Because population centre are often widely spaced, most long-range travel is by air, with an extensive network of major hubs and smaller regional airports, usually supplemented with car rental services to cover local travel (see \\"By car\\"). Expect to pay at least $150-200 per flight, even when booked well in advance. There is prolific long range bus service across most of the US, Canada and Mexico, but travel times are excessively long (as much as three to five times as long as a direct trip in a personal vehicle for shorter routes) especially while travelling on the Greyhound Network. However Megabus has been making inroads in North America and now offer a few non-stop options between major cities, with modern double decker buses equipped with Wi-Fi.
In Mexico, most Primera, Plus or Executive buses, are modern, clean and will run non-stop to your final destination. The Executive ones, have airplane business like seats with an almost full flat recline, Wi-Fi, Individual TV and with a small meal and drink provided and recently man and women restrooms.
Although it once held much of the continent together, and remains useful for local travel in many metro areas, intercity train travel now ranges from relatively convenient in the Northeast Corridor, to manageable in California and parts of southeastern Canada, to sparse in other parts of the continent. If you prefer to travel by rail, it's still possible (depending on where you go), but it offers neither speed nor convenience. As noted above, the exception is the Northeast Corridor area, which links Washington, D.C. to Boston with frequent stops in intermediate cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, New Haven, and Providence. It is explained in detail on the Rail travel in North America article. In Mexico the only passenger trains left are for sight seeing, the Chepe (This is the best way to see the Copper Canyon) and the Tequila Express (From Guadalajara to the heart of the Tequila region)
The United States and the majority of Canada are majority English speaking countries and is by far the best language for getting around these vast countries. English is also spoken in many Caribbean nations and the small country of Belize. Mexico, most of Central America, some southern cities of the United States and portions of the Caribbean are majority Spanish speaking, making it the second most spoken language in North America. French plays a substantial role in Canada, (particularly in Quebec, where it is generally dominant and often universal, but it is relevant in parts of Ontario, Manitoba, and New Brunswick), as well as in some parts of the Caribbean. Dutch is spoken in the southern Caribbean. Several indigenous languages are spoken by Native Americans and the Inuit peoples of North America including in Greenland, Alaska and Nunavut, though communities where they are the primary language are extremely rare and remote. Danish is also spoken in Greenland. Other important immigrant languages spoken in many ethnic neighborhoods of North America are Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tagalog. German is still spoken in rural communities of the Amish. Knowledge of English, Spanish, and French will be sufficient for virtually anywhere in North America.
Some of the best Scenic areas include Basically any activity imaginable is possible in North America. Major cities have a wide variety of attractions, including museums, amusement parks, concerts, and sporting events. Smaller cities and towns generally have at least a few things to do, though often with less availability than larger centres, but even smaller towns will often have a bar with occasional live music, a minor-league sports team, and/or a small museum somewhere.
Rural areas span every climate from frozen tundra to scorching desert, and pleasant meadows to the Rocky Mountains. Trails, lakes, rivers, and outright wilderness are all fairly accessible, but the exact sort of landscape will vary immensely across the continent.
Visa and MasterCard are almost universally accepted across the continent, other than at things like street vendors. Automatic banking machines are quite common, and can be used to withdraw cash in local currencies with a credit card, although this may result in significant fees (usually ~$3 per transaction, plus interest for a cash advance). Debit cards often work, though it is less reliable and still charges the per-transaction fee. American Express and Discover are secondary credit cards, available at many retailers(though by no means all).
North America's history of recent and significant immigration has led to an extremely varied set of options in cuisine, especially in the larger and more multicultural cities like New York or Toronto. Virtually every form of ethnic food is available in larger cities, though often in forms that will be somewhat alien to people actually from the country the cuisine is named after - Chinese food and pizza are particular offenders here, being forms of cuisine heavily adapted from the originals by Americans. Authentic cuisine is available in any area that has a large immigrant population of the relevant ancestry, but the American variety is much more commonly found. Many local forms of cuisine exist as well. Tex-mex cuisine is popular in the Southwestern US, and available across the continent(though Taco Bell, the most common such chain, is generally considered an exceptionally poor example of the form). Canada and some parts of the northern US offer poutine, which is fries covered in cheese curd and gravy. The southern US offers a wide range of specialities, though most are only available locally.
It is customary to tip wait staff at certain restaurants. Generally, fast-food places do not require tipping, but it is generally expected at sit-down restaurants and bars. 15% is the usual amount, but it can be adjusted up and down based on to quality of service. Keep in mind that staff in tip-heavy industries usually get paid far less than minimum wage, because the expectation is that patrons will make up the difference with gratuities.
For the more budget-conscious traveller, hostels are reasonable choices in larger cities. Expect many fewer amenities, and frequently communal rooms, but prices are perhaps half of a hotel's.
Canada and the United States are generally safe, as long as you stay away from bad neighbourhoods (most of which will have little appeal to travelers, and will be obvious at a glance). Likewise, many (though not all) Caribbean islands are quite well-run and safe. Conversely, much of Central America has a significant problem with street crime, and you should investigate the local country articles for more details if you are travelling there. Tourist resorts are almost always quite safe, even in dangerous countries, but setting foot outside the resort tends to put you into much more typical parts of the country, so safety can decline quickly if you leave the tourist areas. Common-sense precautions are always wise even in nice areas, of course - don't show of wads of cash, keep an eye on your belongings, and the like.
Most of the continent has high public health standards and relatively few issues with diseases. Medical care is commonly available and of a high standard. However, apart from Cuba, it can be extremely expensive for those who don't have travel insurance - the United States, in particular, has massively expensive medical services, and even a short hospital stay can cost tens of thousands of dollars. In a pinch, most countries require their medical facilities to treat emergencies first and worry about billing later. Some parts of Central America and the Caribbean are less well-provisioned in this regard, however - again, check the local country articles.
Certain areas have issues with natural disasters that travellers should be aware of. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast happen in roughly June-November, and serious ones are frequently fatal for those caught on the coast, or on small Caribbean islands. The south-central United States is known as \\"tornado alley\\", and gets roughly half the tornadoes in the world. California and the Caribbean basin also get serious earthquakes on occasion. Northern areas, particularly the Northeast, get severe blizzards in roughly December-March, which do not generally cause fatalities, but can easily snarl travel for days. None of these disasters is particularly common or predictable, and as such they shouldn't impact travel plans too badly, but be aware of the possibility and the appropriate responses.
As a subcontinent of the Americas, North America is located within Western Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere. Being the third largest continent after Asia and Africa, the North America continent has an area of 24,709,000 km 2, accounting for 16.5% of world’s total land area.
List of countries in North America. Occupying the northern part of the large supercontinent known as Americas or New World, North America is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean from the north and by the Atlantic Ocean from the east, by the Pacific Ocean from the west and south.
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In North America, the greatest number of fourteeners are in the United States, and more specifically in the U.S. state of Colorado. The highest peaks of the Americas are located in the Andes, with Aconcagua of Argentina being the highest; in North America Denali (Mount McKinley) in the U.S. state of Alaska is the tallest.