North America

North America
Location North America.svg
Area 24,709,000 km2 (9,540,000 sq mi)
Population 565,265,000 (2013, 4th)
Population density 22.9/km2 (59.3/sq mi) [note 1]
GDP (nominal) $21.2 trillion (2016, 2nd)
GDP (PPP) $37.4 trillion (2016, 1st)
GDP per capita $41,830 (2016, 1st) [1]
Demonym North American
Countries 23
Dependencies 22 (see list of countries)
Largest cities Largest urban areas: [2]
New York City
Mexico City
Los Angeles
Dallas–Fort Worth
San Francisco

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. [3] [4] It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, [5] and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. [6] In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 565 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if nearby islands (most notably the Caribbean) are included.

North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge approximately 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. The so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Archaic or Meso-Indian period). The Classic stage spans roughly the 6th to 13th centuries. The Pre-Columbian era ended with the transatlantic migrations and the arrival of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the Early Modern period. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect different kind of interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants.

European influences are strongest in the northern parts of the continent while indigenous and African influences are relatively stronger in the south. Because of the history of colonialism, most North Americans speak English, Spanish or French and societies and states commonly reflect Western traditions.


Map of North America, from 1621

The Americas are usually accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann. [7] Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies, but a different landmass previously unknown by Europeans. In 1507, Waldseemüller produced a world map, in which he placed the word "America" on the continent of South America, in the middle of what is today Brazil. He explained the rationale for the name in the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio: [8]

... ab Americo inventore ... quasi Americi terram sive Americam (from Americus the discoverer ... as if it were the land of Americus, thus America).

For Waldseemüller, no one should object to the naming of the land after its discoverer. He used the Latinized version of Vespucci's name (Americus Vespucius), but in its feminine form "America", following the examples of "Europa", "Asia" and "Africa".

Later, other mapmakers extended the name America to the northern continent, In 1538, Gerard Mercator used America on his map of the world for all the Western Hemisphere. [9]

Some argue that the convention is to use the surname for naming discoveries except in the case of royalty and so a derivation from "Amerigo Vespucci" could be problematic. [10] Ricardo Palma (1949) proposed a derivation from the "Amerrique" mountains of Central America—Vespucci was the first to discover South America and the Amerrique mountains of Central America, which connected his discoveries to those of Christopher Columbus.

Alfred E. Hudd proposed a theory in 1908 that the continents are named after a Welsh merchant named Richard Amerike from Bristol, who is believed to have financed John Cabot's voyage of discovery from England to Newfoundland in 1497. A minutely explored belief that has been advanced is that America was named for a Spanish sailor bearing the ancient Visigothic name of 'Amairick'. Another is that the name is rooted in a Native American language. [9]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Noord-Amerika
Alemannisch: Nordamerika
Ænglisc: Norðamerica
asturianu: Norteamérica
Avañe'ẽ: Yvateamérika
azərbaycanca: Şimali Amerika
bamanankan: Saheli Amerika
Bahasa Banjar: Amirika Utara
Bân-lâm-gú: Pak Bí-chiu
Basa Banyumasan: Amerika Utara
башҡортса: Төньяҡ Америка
беларуская: Паўночная Амерыка
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Паўночная Амэрыка
Bikol Central: Amerika nin Norte
Bislama: Not Amerika
български: Северна Америка
Boarisch: Noadamerika
brezhoneg: Norzhamerika
čeština: Severní Amerika
Chi-Chewa: North America
chiShona: North America
Deutsch: Nordamerika
dolnoserbski: Pódpołnocna Amerika
Ελληνικά: Βόρεια Αμερική
Esperanto: Nordameriko
estremeñu: América el Norti
euskara: Ipar Amerika
Fiji Hindi: North America
føroyskt: Norðuramerika
贛語: 北美洲
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Pet Mî-chû
한국어: 북아메리카
hornjoserbsce: Sewjerna Amerika
Bahasa Indonesia: Amerika Utara
interlingua: America del Nord
Interlingue: America del Nord
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᐊᒥᐊᕆᑲ ᑐᓄᕕᐊᖅ
isiXhosa: UmNtla Melika
íslenska: Norður-Ameríka
Basa Jawa: Amérika Lèr
kalaallisut: Amerika Avannarleq
къарачай-малкъар: Шимал Америка
kaszëbsczi: Nordowô Amerika
kernowek: Amerika Gledh
Kinyarwanda: Amerika ya Ruguru
Kreyòl ayisyen: Amerik dinò
Кыргызча: Түндүк Америка
latviešu: Ziemeļamerika
Lëtzebuergesch: Nord- a Mëttelamerika
Limburgs: Noord-Amerika
Livvinkarjala: Pohjas-Amerikku
la .lojban.: bemtu'a
Luganda: North America
македонски: Северна Америка
მარგალური: ოორუე ამერიკა
مازِرونی: شمالی امریکا
Bahasa Melayu: Amerika Utara
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Báe̤k Mī-ciŭ
монгол: Хойд Америк
မြန်မာဘာသာ: မြောက်အမေရိက
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Nordamerica
Nederlands: Noord-Amerika
Nedersaksies: Noord-Amerika
नेपाल भाषा: उत्तर अमेरिका
日本語: 北アメリカ
Nordfriisk: Nuurd-Ameerikoo
Norfuk / Pitkern: North Merika
norsk nynorsk: Nord-Amerika
олык марий: Йӱдвел Америка
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Shimoliy Amerika
پنجابی: اتلا امریکہ
Papiamentu: Nort Amerika
Patois: Naat Amoerka
Перем Коми: Ойвыв Америка
Tok Pisin: Not Amerika
Plattdüütsch: Noordamerika
Qaraqalpaqsha: Arqa Amerika
qırımtatarca: Şimaliy Amerika
română: America de Nord
русиньскый: Северна Америка
саха тыла: Хоту Америка
Seeltersk: Noud-Amerikoa
Sesotho sa Leboa: Amerika Leboa
Simple English: North America
slovenčina: Severná Amerika
slovenščina: Severna Amerika
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Сѣвєрьна Амєрїка
Soomaaliga: Woqooyiga Ameerika
Sranantongo: Opo Amrika
српски / srpski: Северна Америка
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sjeverna Amerika
Basa Sunda: Amérika Kalér
svenska: Nordamerika
Taqbaylit: Tamrikt n Ugafa
татарча/tatarça: Төньяк Америка
Türkçe: Kuzey Amerika
Türkmençe: Demirgazyk Amerika
українська: Північна Америка
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: شىمالىي ئامېرىكا
Vahcuengh: Baekmeijcouh
vepsän kel’: Pohjoižamerik
Tiếng Việt: Bắc Mỹ
West-Vlams: Nôord-Amerika
吴语: 北美洲
粵語: 北美洲
žemaitėška: Šiaurės Amerėka
中文: 北美洲