North America is a continent located in the Northern Hemisphere. It is located entirely within the Western Hemisphere, and is referred to as the northern subcontinent of the American continent. Almost every region of the world contains parts of North America. However, it is a relatively small continent and therefore can be compared to the European continent. For that reason, it is a great place to explore on a vacation.
North America is home to some of the oldest rocks on Earth. Because the continent is dominated by three major countries, it is a geologically unique continent. These include Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Other areas, such as Central America, are considered part of North America, though there are some differences. For example, the Caribbean is part of North and South America. Despite the differences, North America is still a region of great diversity.
Geographically, North America is divided into a large triangle. The continent is centered on the Canadian (Laurentian) Shield. The Appalachian Mountains, which rise to the southeast, and the Cordillera Mountains to the west occupy almost one-third of the continent’s landmass. The Atlantic Ocean separates North and South America, but both are covered with forests and glaciers. To the west are the Great Plains, while the Central Lowlands lie east of the shield.
There are four great regions of North America. The southern region is formed by the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, while Central America extends to South America. Also included in the peninsula are the Caribbean islands, including Cuba and Puerto Rico. In addition, North America boasts a long coastline, with the Gulf of Mexico and the Hudson Bay as the largest bodies of water indenting the continent. In 1903 the United States aided the Panamanians to separate from Colombia. This completed the opening of the Pacific to the Atlantic.
After the Civil War, the United States expanded its intervention in the region. The Alaska Purchase in 1867 saw the US state acquire the territory of the Russian Empire. In addition, the Spanish-American War in 1898 seized several Spanish colonies. In 1914, the Panama Canal was built, avoiding the treacherous Cape Horn route to the Pacific Ocean. It is now easier than ever to travel between the continents and oceans by means of the Panamanian canal.
North America is the most populous continent in the world, and its countries are largely geographically connected to each other. For example, the United States and Canada are both continents, and their countries have different languages. The island nations of the region include Cuba and the British Virgin Islands, which are located between the two continents. A third area is occupied by the Caribbean, which includes the islands in the Atlantic and Pacific. The country has over one hundred thousand nationalities and is home to many languages, including English, French, and Spanish.