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Facts about North America For Kids

North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere.It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

North America covers an area 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. North America is the third-largest continent in area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth in population after AsiaAfrica, and Europe.

  • The Americas are usually accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann.
  • He explained the rationale for the name in the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio, For Waldseemüller, no one should object to the naming of the land after its discoverer.
  • 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.
  • One of the results of the formation of Pangaea was the Appalachian Mountains, which formed some 480 million years ago, making it among the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
  • The geographic area that would later become the United States has been the source of more varieties of dinosaurs than any other modern country.
  • The Mayan culture was still present in southern Mexico and Guatemala 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.
  • In the late 18th century and beginning of the 19th, several independence movements started across the continent, which would create its modern countries.
  • North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, the Americas, or simply America (which, less commonly, is considered by some as a single continent with North America a subcontinent).
  • Others include the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Gulf of California.
  • Greenland, a self-governing Danish island, and the world’s largest, is on the same tectonic plate and is part of North America geographically.
  • The term Anglo-America is used to refer to the anglophone countries of the Americas: namely Canada and the United States, but also sometimes Belize and parts of the Caribbean.
  • Economically, Canada and the United States are the wealthiest and most developed nations in the continent, followed by Mexico, a newly industrialized country.
  • For example, small Caribbean island-nations such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda have a higher GDP (PPP) per capita than Mexico due to their smaller populations.
  • Panama and Costa Rica have a significantly higher Human Development Index and GDP than the rest of the Central American nations.
  • These metropolitan areas all have a population of above 5.5 million and include the New York City metropolitan area, Los Angeles metropolitan area, Chicago metropolitan area, and the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.
  • In addition to the larger trade blocs there is the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement among numerous other free trade relations; often between the larger, more developed countries, and Central American and Caribbean countries.
  • In the case of Canada these are the British Columbia Coast, Canadian Prairies, Central Canada, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada.

List of Countries in North America