North America, the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere, joined to South America at the tip of Panama. The Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans virtually surround the continent. The total area of 9,360,000 square miles (24,240,000 km2)is exceeded only by that of Asia and of Africa. This total includes Greenland, Central America, and most of the West Indian island.
North America is part of the New World, so called because it was unknown to Europeans until comparatively recent times. From all parts of the world have come its people, bringing a heritage of ideas and skills that Stimulated its rapid development. North America is rich in mineral, water, and forest resources, and is a world center of agriculture and industry.
|Facts in brief about North America|
|Area: 9,348,000 mi2 (24,212,000 km2). Greatest distances (mainland)--north-south, 4,500 mi (7,200 km); east-west, 4,000 mi (6,400 km); (including islands)—north-south, 5,400 mi (8,900 km); east-west, 5,400 mi (8,900 km). Coastline—about 190,000 mi (300,000 km).|
|Population: Current estimate—530,064,000; population density, 57 per mi2 (22 per km2).|
|Elevation: Highest—McKinley in Alaska, 20,320 ft (6,194 m) above sea level. Lowest—near Badwater, Death Valley, 282 ft (86 m) below sea level.|
|Physical features: Chief mountain ranges—Alaska, Appalachian, Cascade, Coast, Rocky, Sierra Madre, Sierra Nevada. Chief rivers—Arkansas, Colorado, Columbia, Fraser, Mackenzie, Mississippi, Missouri, Nelson, Ohio, Rio Grande, St. Lawrence, Yukon. Chief lakes—Athabasca, Erie, Great Bear, Great Salt, Great Slave, Huron, Michigan, Nicaragua, Ontario, Superior, Winnipeg. Chief deserts—Chihuahuan, Colorado, Great Basin, Mojave, Painted, Sonoran, Vizcaino, Yuma. Chief waterfalls—Niagara, Ribbon, Silver Strand, Takakkaw, Yosemite. Chief islands—Cuba, Greenland, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Newfoundland, Puerto Rico, Vancouver.|
|Number of independent countries: 23.|