Portal:North America
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Location North America.svg

North America is a continent in the Earth's northern hemisphere and western hemisphere. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southeast by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by the North Pacific Ocean; South America lies to the southeast. It covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 4.8% of the planet's surface or about 16.5% of its land area. As of July 2008, its population was estimated at nearly 529 million people. It is the third-largest continent in area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth in population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. North America and South America are collectively known as the Americas or simply America.

Satellite imagery of North America

North and South America are generally accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, and was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies. Scientists have several theories as to the origins of the early human population of North America. The indigenous peoples of North America themselves have many creation myths, by which they assert that they have been present on the land since its creation. Before contact with Europeans, the natives of North America were divided into many different polities, from small bands of a few families to large empires. They lived in several "culture areas", which roughly correspond to geographic and biological zones and give a good indication of the main lifeway or occupation of the people who lived there.

Countries and territories

Featured article

Poster from the Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush (1848-1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information about gold in California were residents of Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), western Mexico, and Central America. They were the first to go there in late 1848. All told, the news of gold brought some 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad. Of the 300,000, approximately half arrived by sea and half came overland from the east, on the California Trail and the Gila River trail.

The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads and other towns were built throughout California. In 1849 a state constitution was written, and a governor and legislature were chosen. California became a state as part of the Compromise of 1850.

Featured picture

Air Force One over Mt. Rushmore
Credit: United States Air Force
The planes that serve as Air Force One can be operated as a military command center in the event of an incident such as a nuclear attack. Operational modifications include aerial refueling capability, electronic countermeasures (ECMs) which jam enemy radar, and flares to avoid heat-seeking missiles. The heavily shielded electronics onboard include around twice the amount of wiring found in a regular 747.

Did you know...

  • ...that the Cuban night lizard is less than 4 cm long and lives exclusively in the west corner of the southern-most coast of Cuba?

Calico Jack

Selected biography

Teddy Roosevelt, 1904
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26thPresident of the United States. He had been the 25th Vice President before becoming President upon the assassination of President William McKinley. Inaugurated at the age of 42, Roosevelt became the youngest President in U.S. history. Within the Republican Party, he was a reformer who sought to bring the party's conservative ideals into the 20th century. He broke with his friend and successor William Howard Taft and ran as a third party candidate in 1912 on the Progressive Party ticket. Before his presidency, Roosevelt served as a New York State assemblyman, Police Commissioner of New York City, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As a colonel, he commanded his famous all-volunteer First U.S. National Cavalry regiment, the "Rough Riders" during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt also served a successful term as Governor of New York. He was a famous historian and naturalist; his 15 books include works on outdoor life, natural history, U.S. Western and political history, an autobiography and a host of other topics. In his lifetime, he was considered a foremost authority on North American big game animals and Eastern birds.

Selected quote

-- Sitting Bull June 19, 1868

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  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.


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