The North America reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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North America

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Satellite view of North AmericaEnlarge

Satellite view of North America

North America is the third largest continent in area and the fourth ranked in population. It is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the North Pacific Ocean. It covers an area of 9,355,000 square miles (24,230,000 square kilometres). In 2001 its population was estimated at 454,225,000.

North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, or simply the Americas. North America's only land connection is to South America at the narrow Isthmus of Panama. According to some authorities, North America begins not at the Isthmus of Panama but at the narrows of Tehuantepec, with the intervening region called Central America.

On the main continent itself can be found three large and relatively populous countries: Canada (some other large islands off the shore of North America and belonging to Canada include Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands on the west, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island on the east, and Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island, and Victoria Island in the north); Mexico (including the Baja California peninsula); and the United States (includes the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and Hawaii, in the Pacific Ocean)


At the extreme southern end of the continent, in a relatively small area called Central America, are the countries Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, site of the Panama Canal.

The United States and Canada are sometimes grouped under the term Anglo-America while the rest of North America and South America are grouped under the term Latin America.

It should be noted that the term "North America", when employed in a context other than geography, may mean different things to different people. To many Americans and Canadians the term, in common usage, is often taken to mean "The United States of America and Canada, excluding Mexico", unless the context makes it clear that Mexico is to be included (for instance, when talking about NAFTA). This is due to the fact that culturally and economically, the USA and Canada are more alike to each other than they are to Mexico. Mexicans, however, feel that Mexico is a part of North America and object to the above usage.

At the extreme southeastern end of the continent, lies a chain of islands territories called the Antilles, the Caribbean or the West Indies, which include:

Lying in the Atlantic Ocean but considered part of the continent are Bermuda, a (British dependency); Greenland, a self-governing dependency of Denmark, the largest island in the world, located in the far north of the continent, to the east of Canada's Nunavut Territory; Saint Pierre and Miquelon, found off the coast of Canada, it is the last of France's once vast North American possessions.

Political highlights of North AmericaEnlarge

Political highlights of North America

country pop. dens. area population
  (/kmò) (kmò) (2002-07-01 est.)
Bermuda (UK) 1,200 53 63,960
Barbados 642 431 276,607
Puerto Rico (US) 435 9,104 3,957,988
Martinique (Fr.) 384 1,100 422,277
Aruba (Neth.) 365 193 70,441
U.S. Virgin Islands (US) 351 352 123,498
El Salvador 302 21,040 6,353,681
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 299 389 116,394
Saint Lucia 260 616 160,145
Grenada 259 344 89,211
Haiti 255 27,750 7,063,722
Guadeloupe (Fr.) 245 1,780 435,739
Jamaica 244 10,991 2,680,029
Trinidad and Tobago 227 5,128 1,163,724
Netherlands Antilles (Neth.) 223 960 214,258
Dominican Republic 179 48,730 8,721,594
Antigua and Barbuda 152 443 67,448
Saint Kitts and Nevis 148 261 38,736
British Virgin Islands (UK) 139 153 21,272
Cayman Islands (UK) 138 262 36,273
Guatemala 122 108,890 13,314,079
Anguilla (UK) 122 102 12,446
Cuba 101 110,860 11,224,321
Dominica 93 754 70,158
Montserrat (UK) 83 102 8,437
Costa Rica 75 51,100 3,834,934
Honduras 59 112,090 6,560,608
Mexico 52 1,972,550 103,400,165
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK) 44 430 18,738
Nicaragua 39 129,494 5,023,818
Panama 37 78,200 2,882,329
United States 29 9,629,091 280,562,489
Saint Pierre and Miquelon (Fr.) 29 242 6,954
Bahamas 22 13,940 300,529
Belize 11 22,966 262,999
Canada 3.2 9,976,140 31,902,268
Greenland (Denm.) 0.03 2,166,086 56,376
Navassa Island (Fr.) n/a 5 0
 

Since 1931 Rugby, North Dakota has officially been recognised as being at the geographic center of North America. The location is marked by a 4.5 metre (15 foot) field stone obelisk.

See also


  Continents of the World
Asia | Africa | North America | South America | Antarctica | Europe | Australia
(The Pacific Islands in Oceania are not part of any continent)