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Facts about North America

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Continent name: North America

Story behind the name: North and South America were named after the Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. First, “America” referred to what is now called South America, but the name soon spread to include North America.

Area: 24,709,000 square kilometers or 9,540,000 square miles

Population: Approximately 528,270,588

Location and Geography: North America is located in the Northern and Western hemispheres. North and South America sometimes are considered subcontinents, with “America” as a single continent.

Four main geographic regions divide the continent:

  • West – mountainous, Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, California, Alaska, most of Mexico
  • Great Plains – flat lands, mostly prairies in the central United States and Canada
  • Canadian Shield – plateau region
  • East – varied with Appalachian Mountains, coastal plains, Florida

Highest point: Mount McKinley (Denali), Alaska, United States – 6,194 meters (or 20,320 feet) above sea level

Lowest point: Death Valley, California, United States – 86 meters (or 282 feet) below sea level

Economy and Currencies: The wealthiest countries in North America are Canada and the United States, followed by Mexico and then Central American countries, which are at varying degrees of development.

North American countries and their currencies:
  • Antigua and Barbuda – EC dollar (Eastern Caribbean)
  • Bahamas – Bahamian dollar
  • Barbados – Barbadian dollar
  • Belize – Belizian dollar
  • Canada – Canadian dollar
  • Costa Rica – Colón
  • Cuba – Cuban peso
  • Dominica – EC dollar
  • Dominican Republic – Dominican Republic Peso
  • El Salvador – US dollar
  • Grenada – EC dollar
  • Guatemala – Quetzal
  • Haiti – Gourde
  • Honduras – Lempira
  • Jamaica – Jamaican dollar
  • Mexico – Mexican peso
  • Nicaragua – Córdoba
  • Panama – Balboa
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis – EC dollar
  • Saint Lucia – EC dollar
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – EC dollar
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Trinidad and Tobago dollar
  • United States – US dollar

Languages: English and Spanish are the most spoken languages in North America, followed by French. Other languages including numerous indigenous languages are spoken in small pockets across the continent.

  • English is the predominant language in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands
  • English-based or French-based creole languages are spoken in many Caribbean countries
  • Spanish is the spoken in Mexico and most of Central America
  • Canada’s official languages are English and French
  • The United States has no official national language

History and Colonization:
Before European colonization, North America was populated by numerous indigenous peoples, who were separated into groups across the continent. Many Native American groups were nomadic hunter-gatherers, though southern groups developed systems for cultivating crops, especially corn, tomatoes, and squash. The Maya civilization in Central America made advancements in culture and civilization, including a well-developed writing system and calendar. Once Europeans began to explore North America, native groups were exposed to European diseases, including smallpox and influenza, and their populations declined. Colonists started settling in the New World and began to take control over the land. The first permanent European settlement in North America was

Countries with their Capitals:
  • Antigua and Barbuda – St. John’s
  • Bahamas – Nassau
  • Barbados – Bridgetown
  • Belize – Belmopan
  • Canada – Ottawa
  • Costa Rica – San Jose
  • Cuba – Havana
  • Dominica – Roseau
  • Dominican Republic – Santo Domingo
  • El Salvador – San Salvador
  • Grenada – St. George’s
  • Haiti – Port-au-Prince
  • Honduras – Tegucigalpa
  • Jamaica – Kingston
  • Mexico – Mexico City
  • Nicaragua – Managua
  • Panama – Panama City
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis – Basseterre
  • Saint Lucia – Castries
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Kingstown
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Port of Spain
  • United States – Washington D.C.

Ten top countries by population:
  1. United States
  2. Mexico
  3. Canada
  4. Guatemala
  5. Cuba
  6. Dominican Republic
  7. Haiti
  8. Honduras
  9. El Salvador
  10. Nicaragua

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