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Geographically a subcontinent of the American Continent, which would include South America and Central America, North America is bordered by the Arctic Ocean in the north, by the Atlantic in the east, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and by South America and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast. It includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, as well as several island nations and territories in the Caribbean, the largest of which are Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Although Greenland, the world's largest island, is considered part of North America, it has long been politically and culturally associated with Europe and is a constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark, so we will list sites relating to Greenland within the Europe category. For similar reasons, Hawaii, although geographically within the Pacific island group of Polynesia, will be listed within North America, considering that it is a US state.

Geographically, North America can be broken up into several regions. The southern part of the continent is made up of two distinct regions: Central America and the Caribbean. Often the term "North America" is used to refer to Canada, the United States, and Mexico alone. The largest countries in North America, the United States, and Canada can also be divided into well-defined regions. It has long been the tradition of history writers to begin the history of North America with the colonization of the continent by Europeans, but it is important to remember that the Europeans are relative newcomers.

The entire continent was inhabited by the time the Europeans arrived. It is believed that the continent's indigenous people arrived in the continent through a land bridge connecting eastern Siberia with what is now Alaska as long as 25,000 years ago. Not much is known of these people because they didn't have a written language, and that is probably why the histories generally begin with the arrival of the Europeans. Nevertheless, even today there are millions of people in North America who identify as indigenous; other labels might include Aboriginal. Native American, or Indian. More than a thousand distinct tribal identities or nations are still in existence today, and that is considering only the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Compared to the United States and Canada, there is a much higher percentage of people with indigenous ancestry in Mexico. By one report, about 20% of the Mexican population is fully indigenous, while 75% are of mixed ancestry. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the people of North America were divided into several groups, from small bands of a few families to allied tribes, and large empires. The Mayan civilization developed a system of writing, as well as a calendar, and built pyramids and temples a few hundred years before the Mesopotamians. Other groups of indigenous people lived far more simply. European exploration and colonization began in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

Christopher Columbus is popularly believed to have discovered America, but others had visited the continent long before his first voyage, even apart from the indigenous people who had resided there for thousands of years. Columbus never set foot on any of the lands that are now Canada, the United States, or Mexico. He landed first on the island of San Salvador, which is now the Bahamas, and there were already people there when he arrived. Although Europeans have been on the continent for a comparatively brief time, they soon conquered and have yielded significant influence over the culture and governments of the countries of North America. Within North America, European influences have been stronger in the north, while indigenous and African influences are predominant in the south, particularly Central America and the islands of the Caribbean.

Even Mexico, with its high indigenous population, got its chief language from the Spaniards. In fact, Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. In the thousands of years, before the Europeans arrived, there were about a thousand different languages spoken in North America. Now, although the primary languages on the continent are English, Spanish, and French, many native people still speak traditional languages.

As Europeans colonized the continent, they brought their own ideas of education and agriculture, introduced technology, and formed governments. Scientists divide North America into five physical regions. The West is home to its youngest mountains, which include the Rockies. The Great Plains cover the middle of the continent. The Canadian Shield is a high plateau covering much of eastern and central Canada. The Eastern Region includes the Atlantic coast and the older mountain ranges. Lastly, the Caribbean covers more than 7,000 islands.



Caribbean Islands

Central America


United States



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