North America is a continental land mass in the Northern Hemisphere only, and quite largely within the Northern Hemisphere. It is also described by geographers as the middle subcontinent of a large continent, North America. Geographically speaking, it is an extending plain or landmass bordered on one side by the vast North American Ocean and on another by the central United States.
The boundaries of this continental land mass may seem confusing to many people due to its seemingly vast size and rugged landscape. If we were to translate North America’s borders into the equivalent continental map, we would find ourselves looking at a land mass that stretched from the eastern seaboard of Canada southward along the west coast of Mexico all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Further south, this same landmass would then extend into the northern portions of Texas and Louisiana, while towards the southern end, it would trickle into the deep blue Caribbean Sea and into the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Atlantic.
But North America isn’t simply a landmass. Contrary to some popular belief, it is a continent. On geological maps, it is made up of seven continental landmass – North America, Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North Asia. In more layman’s terms, there are two oceans and four oceans in North America (which, depending on which coast you’re on, you can call the eastern or western parts of the continent – although technically they’re both an ocean). It therefore means that North America consists of three ocean coasts – Eastern seaboard of Canada, Central seaboard of the United States, and South Atlantic seaboard of Europe.
Although its land mass seems to be quite huge, it is actually very compact. Its landmass lacks any great interior mountain ranges which would define highlands in other hemispheres, and lacks any plateaus or lowlands. This allows for air to circulate over the continent and keep the climate warm; conversely, cold air usually sinks into the center and creates a continental-like climate. As such, even though there are mountains in North America, like anywhere else on Earth, the climate is much milder and less extreme than what you’d experience in other places.
In addition to the wide continental coverage, North America also has a very diverse landscape. It has four great tundra regions – the states of Minnesota, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Alaska. Each state has a unique natural landscape as well as a unique climate. This means that there are a variety of habitats within each of the states – including lakes, rivers, open plains, forests, deserts, grasslands, and so on. There are also large swaths of land which are unsuitable for agriculture. For example, the vast prairie area of Iowa is suitable for cattle but not for corn or wheat – the soil is too poor and water needs to be transported a long way to provide ample crops.
In terms of migration, people typically travel south for the winter and return north during the warmer months. The only way to reach Canada (and back) is by sea, which is why so many ships make their journeys along the shores of the north. As for land, you will find some variety across the continent with palm trees and grasslands in some areas and desertification in others. Overall, there is a land mass on North America of around ten million square kilometers, making it the most expansive continent in the world.