North America

North America is a continent completely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost completely within the Western Hemisphere. It’s also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It’s bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

This continent covers an area of approximately 9,540,000 sq miles, about 4.8 percent of the plants surface or about 16.5 percent of its land area. North America is the third largest continent regarding area, following Africa and Asia, and the fourth regarding its population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. As of July 2008, the population was estimated at nearly 529 million people across 23 independent states, a representation of about 7.5 percent of the human population.

It was usually accepted as having been named honoring the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann. Vespucci, who explored South America, was the first European to propose that the Americas weren’t the East Indies, but a different landmass formerly unknown by Europeans.

North America inhabits the northern portion of the landmass usually referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, the Americas, or simply just America. The only land connection to South America is the Isthmus of Panama.

Before the Central American isthmus was raised, the area had been submerged in water. The islands of the West Indies define a submerged former land bridge which had connected North and South America by means of what is now Florida and Venezuela.

There are a number of islands off the continent’s coasts, mainly the Arctic Archipelago, Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas, the Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Aleutian Islands, the many thousand islands of the British Columbia Coast, the Alexander Archipelago, and Newfoundland.

The term ‘North America’ holds a variety of definitions in accordance with context and location. In English, North America might be used in reference to the United States and Canada together. Although, sometimes it includes Greenland and Mexico, as well as some islands located offshore.

Image Caption: North America. Credit: Bosonic dressing/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)