North America is the third largest continent in size and the fourth largest when we consider population. The North American continent houses 23 countries. The continent is located in the Northern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere.
There are 23 countries in North America (see list of the ten biggest countries on the right) and 9 dependencies with a total of more than 590 million people living on the continent.
Largest Country: Canada. The country is covering almost half the North American continent’s land area. Canada is slightly bigger than the USA and about as big as China. Read more about Canada here.
Largest City: Mexico City, which is the capital city of Mexico with a population of about 9 million. With more than 20 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, this is one of the largest cities in the world. Read more about Mexico here.
Smallest Country: St Kitts and Nevis with only about 54,000 inhabitants. This island country is located in the Caribbean Sea. The least populated dependency is Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory, with less than 6,000 inhabitants.
Biggest Island: Greenland. This is also the world’s largest island that is not a continent! Greenland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. – Australia is also an island, but considered a continent.
Longest River of North America: Missouri River/USA (3,767 km/ 2,341 miles). The Missouri River flows through seven states of the USA: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. Together with the Mississippi River, it forms one of the largest river systems in the world.
North America Facts: Highest Mountain: Denali in Alasaka/USA. The mountain (6,190 metres/ 20,310 ft) is located in the Alaska mountain range. Until 2015, this mountain was referred to as Mount McKinley.
Denali is considered the third most isolated mountain peak in the world of the world’s Seven Summits after Mount Everest (in Asia) and Aconcagua (in South America). The Seven Summits are the highest mountain peaks or summits of each continent.
Biggest Lake: Lake Superior. This is the largest of the Great Lakes in the USA. This lake is as big as South Carolina/USA or Austria! Lake Superior is shared by Canada (to the north) and the United States (to the east, south and west). Lake Superior is also considered the largest freshwater lake by area in the world.
Lowest Point: Death Valley. In the Death Valley National Park you will not only find the lowest point in North America with 86 m/282 ft. below sea level, but this is also the hottest and the driest national park in the USA.
North America Facts: There is no landlocked country in North America.
North America was first populated about 10,000 years ago when people moved across the Bering Sea between Siberia and Alaska. First records are found on the island of Greenland from about 980.
Indigenous people lived in various clusters from small family groups to large empires across the whole continent.
The European explorers arrived in larger numbers only after Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. There were power struggles between the colonisers from England, France and Spain as well as revolutions of the local indigenous people which later led to the creation of the different independent states.
People of North America: Before the Europeans arrived in North America, the indigenous and native Americans were the people who lived on the continent. Today, the biggest groups of native Americans are the Cherokee, Navajo and Iroquois people. Only 2% of all US Americans consider themselves as Native Americans.
In Canada, among the indigenous people are First Nations people, the Inuit and the Métis.
In Mexico, the largest indigenous minority groups belong to the modern Mayan people such as the Yucatan or Campeche people. Mayan or mixed Mayan people are also among the largest ethnic groups in other countries. Many of the decedents of the Maya people live also in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.
Languages in North America: English is most widely spoken in North America. Spanish and French are spoken by many as second language in the USA. While Spanish is the most common first language in the Caribbean, French is the first language of 20% of the Canadian population.
North America Facts: Religion: Most of the North American people are Christians (75%), others are Muslims, Jews and some indigenous people have their indigenous beliefs.
Tourist attractions in North America
The most popular attractions include:
New York City which is also called the ‘Big Apple’/USA for museums and shopping
California/USA: amazing beaches for surfing
Las Vegas/USA, the casino paradise with lots of popular shows and entertainment options for the whole family
World Disney World in Florida/USA
Yucatan peninsula/Mexico for Mayan ruins and awesome beaches
Hawaii/USA: volcanic islands and paradise beaches
Rocky Mountains in the USA and Canada for skiing and wintersports
Grand Canyon/USA for hiking and nature experiences
Caribbean islands for watersports and nature walks
Kennedy Space Centre/USA for learning all about space travel and the planets
Biggest Cities: The most populous city in North America is Mexico City. Over 20 million people live in the metropolitan area of the capital city of Mexico.
However, more than half of the population of the North American continent live in the USA – 330 million people live in the USA in 2020.
The biggest cities (metropolitan areas) in North America are:
Mexico City (Mexico): 21.3 million inhabitants
New York (USA): 20.2 million inhabitants
Los Angeles (USA): 13.3 million inhabitants
Chicago (USA): 9.5 million inhabitants
Dallas-Fort Worth (USA): 7.1 million inhabitants
Houston (USA): 6.6 million inhabitants
Toronto (Canada): 6.1 million inhabitants
North America Facts | Animals: In North America there are brown bears, coyotes, racoons, moose, jaguars and many other animals.
North America is also home to many endangered animals such as the American bison, the banana bat or the cougar. Cougars are also called pumas or mountain lions.
Main natural resources in North America are minerals such as coal, copper, zinc, iron ore and nickel (used to make steel) and precious metals such as gold and silver.
The USA was the world’s largest oil producer in 2019 and third biggest coal producer (after China and India) while the USA hold’s the world’s biggest coal reserves. Agricultural produce such as grains (barley, wheat, sorghum) and vegetables such as corn, soybean as well as sugar beet, peanuts and tobacco.
North America Facts | North America superlatives:
Canada and the United States of America have the longest land border in the world with 8893 km/ 5526 miles.
The first “skyscrapers” (of ten stories and more) were built in Chicago/USA as early as during the 1880s.
New York/USA has still the second most skyscrapers in a city! The city with more than 300 skyscrapers that are taller than 150 m/493 ft. is, however, Hong Kong in China.
Colonial Creek Falls in Washington State with a hight of 783 m/ 2,568 ft. are the highest waterfalls in continental USA. The Oloupena Falls in Hawaii are unofficially named North America’s highest waterfalls with a drop of 900 m/ 2,952 ft.
Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii/USA is the second highest mountain island in the world.
The Rockies or Rocky Mountains are among the longest mountain ranges in the world. Mount Elbert in Colorado/USA is the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains.
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky has been recognised as the world’s longest cave system with more than 650 km/ 405 miles of passageways.
Among the most famous landmarks in North America are:
– natural landmarks:
Grand Canyon, USA
Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
Redwood National Park, USA
Mauna Kea, Hawaii/USA
Pico de Orizaba, Mexico
Pitons, St Lucia
– man-made landmarks:
Statue of Liberty, USA
Golden Gate Bridge, USA
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Capitol Building and The Mall, USA
Empire State Building, USA