North America Geography

North America Geography

When talking about North America, we must immediately remember that we are talking about the richest part, that is, with the highest degree of development in the entire American continent. According to, United States has the largest population. Understanding by American continent, or by America, a single continent that was artificially divided into three others: North America, Central America and South America. Some scholars will consider each America as a different continent, but here we will choose the current of scholars who understand the three Americas as subcontinents or regions of a single continent.

Country Literacy (percent) Literacy women (percent)
Antigua and Barbuda 99.0 (2015) 99.4 (2015)
Barbados 99.6 (2014) 99.6 (2014)
Belize 70.3 (1991) 70.3 (1991)
Costa Rica 97.4 (2011) 97.5 (2011)
Dominican Republic 93.8 (2016) 93.8 (2016)
El Salvador 88.1 (2016) 86.3 (2016)
Grenada 98.6 (2014) 98.6 (2014)
Guatemala 81.3 (2014) 76.4 (2014)
Haiti 48.7 (2006) 44.6 (2006)
Honduras 89.0 (2016) 88.9 (2016)
Jamaica 88.1 (2014) 92.7 (2014)
Cuba 99.8 (2012) 99.8 (2012)
Mexico 94.9 (2016) 94.0 (2016)
Nicaragua 78.0 (2005) 77.9 (2005)
Panama 94.1 (2010) 93.5 (2010)
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Lucia
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 95.6 (1970) 95.5 (1970)
Trinidad & Tobago 96.9 (1990) 95.7 (1990)

The Gentile (a word used to say what the person’s geographical origin is) for those born anywhere in America is American, while for those born in North America (in any of their countries) it is American. It is important to emphasize this because, mistakenly from a geographical point of view, it became popular to call American or North American only those people who were born in the United States of America, a mistake that ended up imposing itself in the Portuguese language as part of the cultured norm[2]. However, the most suitable gentile for those born in the United States of America would be American.

This linguistic misunderstanding is mainly due to the great cultural, political and economic influence that the United States of America has in the world and also the fact that they themselves, in the English language, often refer to their country only as America and to its people only as American. As well as, in the case of the North American term, the fact that the United States is the largest country in that continent and the most populous, as well as many people (mistakenly) think that Mexico borders on Central America and is Latin (Hispanic)), would be part of Central America and not North America.

According to, North America is the America with the smallest number of countries, only three countries in total, which does not mean that it is the smallest in size (the smallest is Central America), in reality it is quite the opposite because, it is the largest of the three Americas. The countries that compose it are the United States of America, Canada and Mexico. Of the three, only Mexico is not a developed country, but it is still a developing country. All of North America is located on the same tectonic plate, the North American plate, and part of the west coast of the United States of America is on the border between the North American plate and the Pacific plate, and is therefore very recurrent earthquakes in the region.

In addition to the countries mentioned, there are some territories belonging to European countries in North America and that many people do not even know that these territories are part of North America. One of them is Bermuda Island (or Bermuda Islands) that belong to the United Kingdom, as well as Greenland that belongs to the Kingdom of Denmark.

In total, three were the countries that colonized the northern portion of the American continent: England (the main colonizer of the United States of America, Canada and Bermuda), Spain (Mexico and part of the United States of America) and France (parts United States of America and Canada).

North America has its own economic bloc, of which all three countries are a part: NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). There was an attempt to create an economic bloc for the whole of America, the FTAA: Free Trade Area of the Americas. However, the attempts did not go ahead largely because of the rise in Latin America of governments with ideas aligned with left-wing political thought, contrary to free trade. However, there have been countries outside North America that have tried unsuccessfully to join NAFTA: Chile and Argentina [4].

Physical aspects

Most of North America is in the temperate zone, so the temperate climate, in its various variations, predominates in this subcontinent. However, given the great extent and diversity of other climates that affect climates (altitude, maritime, etc.), we can find some other climates: The polar in the most northern part of Canada, Alaska and Greenland, the subpolar climate, the desert and semi-arid climate (especially on the border between the United States of America and Mexico), the subtropical climate and even the most southern tropical climate in Mexico.

North America has three large mountain ranges, one to the east, the Appalachian Mountains and two other mountain ranges to the west, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Mountain Range. The two mountain ranges located in the far North American West are the continuity in the North of the Andes in South America or, better said, are formations that are equivalent to those found in the Andes.

The North American territory also has some coastal plains, such as near the Gulf of Mexico and Hudson Bay, as well as some plateaus between these plains and those mountain ranges mentioned above.

Due to its central position in the subcontinent, the United States of America ends up being the meeting point between Canada and Mexico, both climatically (all climates present in North America appear in some part of the United States territory) and physically (all relief formations that exist in this sub-continent, also appear in the United States of America), as well as politically, economically and culturally.

Armed conflicts

North America is a relatively peaceful subcontinent, despite the fact that the United States of America participates in wars outside its territories and possible threats of terrorism against the United States. However, there is an armed conflict taking place within the American borders: the conflict between the Zapatistas and the Mexican government.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) is a guerrilla movement inspired by libertarian socialism, commanded by a mythical personality: subcomandante Marcos. The Zapatistas dominate a large part of the indigenous lands of southern Mexico, especially those located in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, being basically a guerrilla formed by indigenous people and their descendants (mestizos). His name comes from the name of the Mexican revolutionary and national hero, Emiliano Zapata, who was an Indian and Spanish mestizo who led the Mexican revolution. It has been a guerrilla group with an aura very romantic and that has attracted supporters around the world, especially after his actions against NAFTA.

“American Way of Life” x “Canadian Way of life”

The United States of America and Canada are two developed countries, both ex-British colonies with part of the territory having been ex-French colony, both are neighbors and the contact between them is immeasurable, however the lifestyle and government of both are completely different from each other.

Canadians opted for the Welfare State, along European lines, especially Scandinavian ones, while the United States of America opted for a strongly liberal model, delivering almost all public goods and services to the market. More than public policies, these two models demonstrate a different lifestyle in the two countries. While Barack Obama was labeled by some opponents in the US as a socialist for wanting to expand public health care, bringing it closer to the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS), Canadians have a much higher amount of public services than those that exist in the United States. United States and even Brazil. Of course, more public services require a higher tax burden.

We can also say that, while there is a greater concern with individual freedom (free enterprise) in the USA, Canada is more concerned with reducing social inequalities, without however being a communist country or something like that.