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North America

A map of North AmericaNorth America includes Canada, the United States of America (USA), Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean islands. Greenland is sometimes considered part of North America. In the sparsely populated north, the Arctic ice gives way to the barren tundra of northern Canada and Alaska. A chain of mountains runs like a backbone all the way down the western side of the continent. In the United States and Mexico it divides into several ranges separated by desert plateaux. The forested Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern USA. In the fertile lowlands of the Mississippi river basin and the eastern coast, there are vast fields where crops such as maize and wheat grow. Farther south are the hot, dry deserts of southwestern USA and Mexico, then the hot, steamy rainforests of the Caribbean coast.

An aerial view of the Prairie Pothole Region, near Wing, North Dakota

Chicago, USA, part of a continuous urban area that extends around the shore of Lake Michigan—a megalopolis with a population of...Read More >>Chicago, USA, part of a continuous urban area that extends around the shore of Lake Michigan—a megalopolis with a population of tens of millions of people.


More than 529 million people live in North America, around 8% of the world's population. Across the continent there are areas of farmland, forest, desert and wilderness that are sparsely populated. There are also areas where cities have spread out so extensively, their suburbs have merged together to produce a megalopolis of tens of millions of people. This is the case in parts of northeastern USA and California.

North Americans can trace their ancestors to all parts of the world. The indigenous peoples of America (known as Native Americans in the USA or aboriginal peoples in Canada) had the continent to themselves for at least 10,000 years.
Settlers from Europe first arrived in the 1500s. The number of immigrants was a stready trickle at first, often including groups of Europeans who wanted to follow their religion and way of life away from their home countries. The trickle became a flood in the 19th century, as millions—including Irish, Italian and Jewish people—sought a better and more prosperous life in the USA, the "land of opportunity".
People waiting for a bus in Honduras. About 90% of Honduras's population is mestizo (mixed Native American and European).In the later 20th century, there has been a large influx of Mexicans and other Hispanic people into the USA from Latin America and the Caribbean.

With 17.58 m (57 ft 8 in) of snow, the place with the highest annual snowfall is Mount Rainier, in Washington State, USA.


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