The People Who Live in North America

Despite the challenges of earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, contentious immigration issues and isolated terrorism attacks, the twenty-three countries and dozens of territories in North America have managed to find ways to co-exist peacefully. This enormous continent is home to numerous natural wonders, including the Great Plains and the Mississippi River system. Throughout its history, North America has been shaped by the people who live there. Its diverse cultures include those of Native Americans, First Nations and immigrants from around the world. Christianity remains the main religion, though followers of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism have found a home here as well.

Physical Geography

Physically, the continent is dominated by a stable platform of Precambrian rock known as the Canadian Shield. This is flanked by older, but considerably taller mountain ranges (the Cordillera) in the west and younger plains to the east.

This topography creates a variety of climates within the continent. For example, the Rocky Mountains act as a barrier that prevents cold Arctic air from reaching western North American coastlines. The Sierra Nevada also blocks cold polar air, keeping areas like California warm and dry.

These regions have also been influenced by the large number of rivers that flow through the continent. The Mississippi River and its tributaries, which form the third largest river system in the world, help to shape the landscape of eastern North America. The Great Plains, on the other hand, are flat with very few hills.

Historically, people of indigenous origin inhabited North America, with the earliest inhabitants likely crossing into the area from Asia by land bridges. These early peoples were hunter-gatherers, but over time some developed more sedentary lifestyles and began cultivating crops. For example, the Hopi, Zuni and other Southwestern tribes created permanent villages with multistory dwellings known as pueblos. Others, such as the Navajo and Apache, remained nomadic and lived in temporary shelters such as kivas.

In the 13th century, Central Mexico was home to one of the most advanced civilizations of its time, the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs were able to develop a written language, build pyramids and make progress in mathematics. The Age of Discovery brought Europeans to the North American continent, starting with Christopher Columbus’ voyage in 1492.

The influx of newcomers from around the world has contributed to North America’s cultural diversity, which is now among its most distinctive characteristics. This multiculturalism has also been a key driver of the continent’s economic development. The many immigrants from Europe and other parts of the world have also brought with them scientific, business and cultural skills that have enriched North American life. In addition, a series of compromises and land agreements in the late 19th century led to the formation of modern countries such as Canada, Mexico, the United States of America and the Caribbean Islands.

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