Canada, the United States and Mexico
make up North America, which is one of three parts of the great
continent called America. The other two are Central America
and South America. Some islands, such as Greenland (belonging
to Denmark), Bermuda (connected to the United Kingdom) and Saint-Pierre and
Miquelon (French territory), are associated with North America.
North America is a subcontinent that has mountain belts along its east and
west sides. In the east are the Laurentine and Appalachian Mountains. In the
west, the altitudes are much higher and include the Rocky Mountains,
which extend from Mexico to Canada. Mexico has the Madre Occidental mountain
range in the west and the Madre Oriental mountain range in the east.
The area between the Appalachians and the Atlantic Ocean in the east is a
low-lying coastal plain. Another large low plain extends from the Rocky
mountains to the Appalachians. A high central plateau occupies the region
between Mexico's eastern and western mountain ranges.
The Great Lakes, in central-eastern North America, make up
the largest freshwater area in the world. Most of the other large lakes in the
subcontinent are further north in Canada. The largest river system in North
America is that of the Mississippi River. On its way to the Gulf of Mexico,
Mississippi receives waters from the Missouri and Ohio rivers. Together, they
drain the central United States.
Much of North America has a mild climate, both in summer and winter, with
moderate rainfall. However, in most parts of Alaska (which is an American state)
and northern Canada, winters are freezing, and in summer, which lasts a short
time, the temperature does not rise much. The climate in parts of the
southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico is very dry, with desert and
Flora and fauna
The mountainous parts of North America include large areas of dense forests.
On the north coast bathed by the Pacific, conifers, redwoods, pines and spruces
grow; in Mexico there are forests of tropical hardwood trees. In deserts and icy
northern regions there is little vegetation. Prairies form a belt between
forests and deserts, mainly in the Great Plains region, in central North
Wild sheep, mountain goats, moose and red deer are among the native animals
of North America. There are also cougars, lynxes, coyotes, wolves and bears. In
some regions it is possible to find deer. Some small animals, such as squirrels,
rabbits and raccoons, have adapted to the inhabited areas and live with humans.
In the warmest regions of the south live alligators, snakes, wild pigs, colorful
birds and monkeys.
Nature has been devastated by the action of man. By the middle of the
twentieth century, the United States had already wiped out much of its fauna,
cut down more than half of its trees and converted much of its grassland into
agricultural land. The justification for this was the opening of space for the
development of cities. In the second half of the 20th century, with the
awareness of the need for environmental preservation, the countries of North
America began to take measures to protect the remaining flora and fauna.
The original inhabitants of North America were Native Americans, or
Indians. More than 80 percent of Mexico's population descends at least
in part from Indians. The majority of the population in the United States and
Canada are of European descent. A significant minority of inhabitants of the
United States are of African descent who were brought into the country as
The primary language of the United States and most of Canada is English.
French is spoken in parts of eastern Canada, especially in Quebec. Spanish is
the main language of Mexico and is also spoken by many people in the United
Most people in the subcontinent follow Christianity. Canada has more
Catholics than Protestants, and in Mexico the majority are also Catholic. All
the world's major religions are represented in the United States, although more
than half of the population follow Protestant denominations. There are Jewish
and Muslim minorities in the United States and Canada.
In general, the inhabitants of Canada and the United States have a good
quality of life. The level of literacy is high. Although hospitals and medical
institutions are among the best in the world, part of the population, especially
in the United States, is exempt from free medical care. There is a lot of
wealth, but there is also a lot of poverty, because the gap between rich and
poor is great. In Mexico, living conditions are lower than in the United States
and Canada. There are few wealthy people, and health and education services are
The economy of the United States and Canada has long depended more on the
manufacturing sector than on agriculture. This sector started to grow rapidly
also in Mexico, at the end of the 20th century. Chemicals, food and electronics,
transportation equipment and other types of machinery are among the main items
manufactured in North America. At the end of the 20th century, industries that
provide services to the public, such as the banking, healthcare, communications
and tourism sectors, started to form the most important part of the
North America produces much of the world's food. Wheat, corn, soybeans, hay,
fruits, vegetables and dairy products are produced in various regions of the
United States and Canada. In Mexico, sugarcane, corn, sorghum, bananas and other
tropical vegetables and fruits are grown.
North America is also rich in natural resources, including minerals such as
iron ore, copper, nickel, zinc, lead and silver. There are coal reserves in the
United States and oil in the south-central United States, Alaska, western Canada
and eastern Mexico.
AbbreviationFinder.org, the first inhabitants of North America came from Asia between 60,000 and
20,000 years ago. The first to arrive were the peoples who would become the
Native Americans; over time, they moved south. The Inuit ( Eskimos
) arrived later and remained in the north of the subcontinent.
Agriculture was already practiced around 3500 BC The Olmecs,
in what is now Mexico, were the first to form a civilization, from around 1200
BC They built villages in which commerce was practiced and developed a way
writing. Later, the Maya and the Aztecs built
cities, pyramids and monuments.
A Viking named Leif Eriksson may have been the first
European to reach the lands of North America. He landed in present-day Canada
around 1000 AD But the Vikings did not establish permanent settlements in the
region. At the end of the 15th century, Europeans began to explore the American
continent and found colonies. In general, the Spaniards dominated the south
(present-day Mexico and Central America), the French, the north (present-day
Canada), and the English, the middle part (which today is the United States). In
the 1760s, the British took over much of the northern subcontinent.
The United States was formed in 1776, when the thirteen British colonies
established in its territory declared independence. Mexico became independent
from Spain in 1821. Canada formed a separate government within the British
Empire in 1867 and officially became an autonomous country in 1931.
The United States and Canada developed at an accelerated pace in the last
half of the 19th century, but this development took a high toll on the Indians.
Most of the indigenous peoples who had survived the fighting and diseases
brought by the Europeans lost their land. They were left with only confined
areas in the United States and Canada, called "reserves".
Mexico remained more connected to its Amerindian origins, but its economic
development was less. The United States has attracted many immigrants from
Mexico. In 1992, Canada, the United States and Mexico signed the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which aims to promote business between the three