A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants. The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may allow selfing; some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization. Flowers are the site where gametophytes develop. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen. After fertilization, the ovary of the flower develops into fruit containing seeds. In addition to facilitating the reproduction of flowering plants, flowers have long been admired and used by humans to bring beauty to their environment, as objects of romance, religion, medicine and as a source of food; the essential parts of a flower can be considered in two parts: the vegetative part, consisting of petals and associated structures in the perianth, the reproductive or sexual parts. A stereotypical flower consists of four kinds of structures attached to the tip of a short stalk.
Each of these kinds of parts is arranged in a whorl on the receptacle. The four main whorls are as follows: Collectively the calyx and corolla form the perianth. Calyx: the outermost whorl consisting of units called sepals. Corolla: the next whorl toward the apex, composed of units called petals, which are thin and colored to attract animals that help the process of pollination. Androecium: the next whorl, consisting of units called stamens. Stamens consist of two parts: a stalk called a filament, topped by an anther where pollen is produced by meiosis and dispersed. Gynoecium: the innermost whorl of a flower, consisting of one or more units called carpels; the carpel or multiple fused carpels form a hollow structure called an ovary, which produces ovules internally. Ovules are megasporangia and they in turn produce megaspores by meiosis which develop into female gametophytes; these give rise to egg cells. The gynoecium of a flower is described using an alternative terminology wherein the structure one sees in the innermost whorl is called a pistil.
A pistil may consist of a number of carpels fused together. The sticky tip of the pistil, the stigma, is the receptor of pollen; the supportive stalk, the style, becomes the pathway for pollen tubes to grow from pollen grains adhering to the stigma. The relationship to the gynoecium on the receptacle is described as hypogynous, perigynous, or epigynous. Although the arrangement described above is considered "typical", plant species show a wide variation in floral structure; these modifications have significance in the evolution of flowering plants and are used extensively by botanists to establish relationships among plant species. The four main parts of a flower are defined by their positions on the receptacle and not by their function. Many flowers lack some parts or parts may be modified into other functions and/or look like what is another part. In some families, like Ranunculaceae, the petals are reduced and in many species the sepals are colorful and petal-like. Other flowers have modified stamens.
Flowers show great variation and plant scientists describe this variation in a systematic way to identify and distinguish species. Specific terminology is used to describe their parts. Many flower parts are fused together; when petals are fused into a tube or ring that falls away as a single unit, they are sympetalous. Connate petals may have distinctive regions: the cylindrical base is the tube, the expanding region is the throat and the flaring outer region is the limb. A sympetalous flower, with bilateral symmetry with an upper and lower lip, is bilabiate. Flowers with connate petals or sepals may have various shaped corolla or calyx, including campanulate, tubular, salverform or rotate. Referring to "fusion," as it is done, appears questionable because at least some of the processes involved may be non-fusion processes. For example, the addition of intercalary growth at or below the base of the primordia of floral appendages such as sepals, petals and carpels may lead to a common base, not the result of fusion.
Many flowers have a symmetry. When the perianth is bisected through the central axis from any point and symmetrical halves are produced, the flower is said to be actinomorphic or regular, e.g. rose or trillium. This is an example of radial symmetry; when flowers are bisected and produce only one line that produces symmetrical halves, the flower is said to be irregular or zygomorphic, e.g. snapdragon or most orchids. Flowers may be directly attached to the plant at their base; the stem or stalk subtending a flower is called a peduncle. If a peduncle supports more than o
The flowering plants known as angiosperms, Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants, with 64 orders, 416 families 13,164 known genera and c. 369,000 known species. Like gymnosperms, angiosperms are seed-producing plants. However, they are distinguished from gymnosperms by characteristics including flowers, endosperm within the seeds, the production of fruits that contain the seeds. Etymologically, angiosperm means a plant; the term comes from the Greek words sperma. The ancestors of flowering plants diverged from gymnosperms in the Triassic Period, 245 to 202 million years ago, the first flowering plants are known from 160 mya, they diversified extensively during the Early Cretaceous, became widespread by 120 mya, replaced conifers as the dominant trees from 100 to 60 mya. Angiosperms differ from other seed plants in several ways, described in the table below; these distinguishing characteristics taken together have made the angiosperms the most diverse and numerous land plants and the most commercially important group to humans.
Angiosperm stems are made up of seven layers. The amount and complexity of tissue-formation in flowering plants exceeds that of gymnosperms; the vascular bundles of the stem are arranged such that the phloem form concentric rings. In the dicotyledons, the bundles in the young stem are arranged in an open ring, separating a central pith from an outer cortex. In each bundle, separating the xylem and phloem, is a layer of meristem or active formative tissue known as cambium. By the formation of a layer of cambium between the bundles, a complete ring is formed, a regular periodical increase in thickness results from the development of xylem on the inside and phloem on the outside; the soft phloem becomes crushed, but the hard wood persists and forms the bulk of the stem and branches of the woody perennial. Owing to differences in the character of the elements produced at the beginning and end of the season, the wood is marked out in transverse section into concentric rings, one for each season of growth, called annual rings.
Among the monocotyledons, the bundles are more numerous in the young stem and are scattered through the ground tissue. They once formed the stem increases in diameter only in exceptional cases; the characteristic feature of angiosperms is the flower. Flowers show remarkable variation in form and elaboration, provide the most trustworthy external characteristics for establishing relationships among angiosperm species; the function of the flower is to ensure fertilization of the ovule and development of fruit containing seeds. The floral apparatus may arise terminally from the axil of a leaf; as in violets, a flower arises singly in the axil of an ordinary foliage-leaf. More the flower-bearing portion of the plant is distinguished from the foliage-bearing or vegetative portion, forms a more or less elaborate branch-system called an inflorescence. There are two kinds of reproductive cells produced by flowers. Microspores, which will divide to become pollen grains, are the "male" cells and are borne in the stamens.
The "female" cells called megaspores, which will divide to become the egg cell, are contained in the ovule and enclosed in the carpel. The flower may consist only of these parts, as in willow, where each flower comprises only a few stamens or two carpels. Other structures are present and serve to protect the sporophylls and to form an envelope attractive to pollinators; the individual members of these surrounding structures are known as petals. The outer series is green and leaf-like, functions to protect the rest of the flower the bud; the inner series is, in general, white or brightly colored, is more delicate in structure. It functions to attract bird pollinators. Attraction is effected by color and nectar, which may be secreted in some part of the flower; the characteristics that attract pollinators account for the popularity of flowers and flowering plants among humans. While the majority of flowers are perfect or hermaphrodite, flowering plants have developed numerous morphological and physiological mechanisms to reduce or prevent self-fertilization.
Heteromorphic flowers have short carpels and long stamens, or vice versa, so animal pollinators cannot transfer pollen to the pistil. Homomorphic flowers may employ a biochemical mechanism called self-incompatibility to discriminate between self and non-self pollen grains. In other species, the male and female parts are morphologically separated, developing on different flowers; the botanical term "Angiosperm", from the Ancient Greek αγγείον, angeíon and σπέρμα, was coined in the form Angiospermae by Paul Hermann in 1690, as the name of one of his primary divisions of the plant kingdom. This included flowering plants possessing seeds enclosed in capsules, distinguished from his Gymnospermae, or flowering plants with achenial or schizo-carpic fruits, the whole fruit or each of its pieces being here regarded as a seed and naked; the term and its antonym were maintained by Carl Linnaeus with the same sense, but with restricted application, in the names of the orders of his class Didynamia. Its use with any
Aloeae is a tribe of succulent plants in the subfamily Asphodeloideae of the family Asphodelaceae, consisting of the aloes and their close relatives. The taxon may be treated as the subfamily Alooideae by those botanists who retain the narrower circumscription of Asphodelaceae adopted prior to the APG III system. Plants have rosettes of more or less succulent leaves, with or without a distinct stem, their flowers are arranged in racemes and tend to be either small and pale, pollinated by insects, or larger and more brightly coloured, pollinated by birds. As of 2017, 11 genera are recognized, most created since 2010 by splitting off another five genera from Aloe and another two from Haworthia. Only two genera and Aloidendron, are native outside southern Africa, extending northwards to the Arabian Peninsula. Seven genera are restricted to some with small ranges. Members of the Aloeae are cultivated by succulent plant enthusiasts; some species are used in traditional medicine. Aloe vera and Aloe ferox are cultivated for their extracts, whose uses include moisturizers and emollients in cosmetics.
Aloeae leaves are more or less succulent and arranged in tufted terminal rosettes or in basal rosettes, are organized in distinct ranks. Leaves have distinctive white or other uniformly coloured tubercules; this is hypothesized to be a derived condition as a mechanical defensive mechanism to make the leaf less palatable, or to prevent heat damage in arid conditions. The cross-section of the leaves is distinctly boat or crescent shaped, which represents a synapomorphy for all Aloeae taxa; the inflorescence is compacted into a many-flowered spike, or a simple or branched raceme, is apical, although it can seem axillary. Stems are monopodial until an inflorescence is formed, sympodial. Flowers of all taxa within Aloeae are tubular and have some fusion of petal-like tepals, although the amount of fusion varies among genera. Differences in flower structure and colour among genera are considered to represent pollination syndromes shifts between insect and bird pollination, so are less reliable indicators of relationships among species than was once thought.
Thus Astroloba corrugata, like most species of Astroloba, has small, horizontally held flowers that are insect-pollinated, whereas A. rubriflora has larger, vertically held flowers that are bird-pollinated. Within the subfamily Asphodeloideae, Aloeae can be diagnosed by their succulent foliage, a basic chromosome number of x = 7, the presence of specific glycosides in the leaves and anthraquinones in the roots; the unity of this group of plants, the "aloes", has long been recognized, although its classification and nomenclature have varied considerably. In 1753, Carl Linnaeus followed authors before him in using a single genus, for all the "aloes" known to him; the genus was subsequently split several times. Regardless of the number of genera, the "aloes" were placed in the family Liliaceae, formally described by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789; the Liliaceae sensu lato grew in scope. Attempts were made to carve out separate families. In 1802, August Batsch placed the "aloes" in the family Aloaceae rather than the Liliaceae.
However, his family was adopted by other botanists. The Dahlgren system of 1975 onwards was one of the first to produce a classification more in line with current understanding; this sense of the Asphodelaceae was supported by the first APG system of 1998. However, the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group adopted a broader circumscription, so that in the APG IV system of 2016, the Asphodelaceae sensu stricto becomes the subfamily Asphodeloideae of the Asphodelaceae sensu lato. In this system, the "aloes" form the tribe Aloeae. However, the APG's approach has not been followed by many botanists, who prefer to maintain the older, narrower circumscription of the Asphodelaceae, with the "aloes" forming the subfamily Alooideae. Four genera, Haworthia and Astroloba, were considered "core" members of the tribe, Aloe being by far the largest genus; the genera were difficult to characterize based purely on morphological characters. Aloe in particular had few. Molecular phylogenetic studies from 2010 onwards, suggested that the tribe should be divided into more defined genera.
In 2014, John Charles Manning and coworkers produced a phylogeny based on 11 genera. Aloe was divided into six genera, Haworthia into three: More detailed cladograms show that some species placed in Haworthiopsis do not fit into the tidy pattern above. Haworthia koelmaniorum falls outside the main Haworthopsis clade in one analysis, but was placed in that genus on the basis of other evidence. H. attenuata and H. venosa placed in Haworthiopsis, form a clade, weakly placed as sister to the combination of the main Haworthiopsis clade plus Gasteria. Gordon Rowley, who first separated off Haworthiopsis from Haworthia in 2013, suggested a much broader circumscription of Tulista – as the clade marked "TR" in the above cladogram; this has since been defended by Rowley. As of October 2017, the tribe consisted of the following genera. Native distributions are based on the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.
Carl Linnaeus known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus. Linnaeus was born in the countryside of Småland in southern Sweden, he received most of his higher education at Uppsala University and began giving lectures in botany there in 1730. He lived abroad between 1735 and 1738, where he studied and published the first edition of his Systema Naturae in the Netherlands, he returned to Sweden where he became professor of medicine and botany at Uppsala. In the 1740s, he was sent on several journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals. In the 1750s and 1760s, he continued to collect and classify animals and minerals, while publishing several volumes, he was one of the most acclaimed scientists in Europe at the time of his death. Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau sent him the message: "Tell him I know no greater man on earth."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: "With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly." Swedish author August Strindberg wrote: "Linnaeus was in reality a poet who happened to become a naturalist." Linnaeus has been called Princeps botanicorum and "The Pliny of the North". He is considered as one of the founders of modern ecology. In botany and zoology, the abbreviation L. is used to indicate Linnaeus as the authority for a species' name. In older publications, the abbreviation "Linn." is found. Linnaeus's remains comprise the type specimen for the species Homo sapiens following the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, since the sole specimen that he is known to have examined was himself. Linnaeus was born in the village of Råshult in Småland, Sweden, on 23 May 1707, he was the first child of Christina Brodersonia. His siblings were Anna Maria Linnæa, Sofia Juliana Linnæa, Samuel Linnæus, Emerentia Linnæa, his father taught him Latin as a small child.
One of a long line of peasants and priests, Nils was an amateur botanist, a Lutheran minister, the curate of the small village of Stenbrohult in Småland. Christina was the daughter of the rector of Samuel Brodersonius. A year after Linnaeus's birth, his grandfather Samuel Brodersonius died, his father Nils became the rector of Stenbrohult; the family moved into the rectory from the curate's house. In his early years, Linnaeus seemed to have a liking for plants, flowers in particular. Whenever he was upset, he was given a flower, which calmed him. Nils spent much time in his garden and showed flowers to Linnaeus and told him their names. Soon Linnaeus was given his own patch of earth. Carl's father was the first in his ancestry to adopt a permanent surname. Before that, ancestors had used the patronymic naming system of Scandinavian countries: his father was named Ingemarsson after his father Ingemar Bengtsson; when Nils was admitted to the University of Lund, he had to take on a family name. He adopted the Latinate name Linnæus after a giant linden tree, lind in Swedish, that grew on the family homestead.
This name was spelled with the æ ligature. When Carl was born, he was named Carl Linnæus, with his father's family name; the son always spelled it with the æ ligature, both in handwritten documents and in publications. Carl's patronymic would have been Nilsson, as in Carl Nilsson Linnæus. Linnaeus's father began teaching him basic Latin and geography at an early age; when Linnaeus was seven, Nils decided to hire a tutor for him. The parents picked a son of a local yeoman. Linnaeus did not like him, writing in his autobiography that Telander "was better calculated to extinguish a child's talents than develop them". Two years after his tutoring had begun, he was sent to the Lower Grammar School at Växjö in 1717. Linnaeus studied going to the countryside to look for plants, he reached the last year of the Lower School when he was fifteen, taught by the headmaster, Daniel Lannerus, interested in botany. Lannerus gave him the run of his garden, he introduced him to Johan Rothman, the state doctor of Småland and a teacher at Katedralskolan in Växjö.
A botanist, Rothman broadened Linnaeus's interest in botany and helped him develop an interest in medicine. By the age of 17, Linnaeus had become well acquainted with the existing botanical literature, he remarks in his journal that he "read day and night, knowing like the back of my hand, Arvidh Månsson's Rydaholm Book of Herbs, Tillandz's Flora Åboensis, Palmberg's Serta Florea Suecana, Bromelii Chloros Gothica and Rudbeckii Hortus Upsaliensis...."Linnaeus entered the Växjö Katedralskola in 1724, where he studied Greek, Hebrew and mathematics, a curriculum designed for boys preparing for the priesthood. In the last year at the gymnasium, Linnaeus's father visited to ask the professors how his son's studies were progressing. Rothman believed otherwise; the doctor offered to have Linnaeus live with his family in Växjö and to teach him physiology and botany. Nils accepted this offer. Rothman showed Linnaeus that botany was a serious sub
Asparagales is an order of plants in modern classification systems such as the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group and the Angiosperm Phylogeny Web. The order takes its name from the type family Asparagaceae and is placed in the monocots amongst the lilioid monocots; the order has only been recognized in classification systems. It was first put forward by Huber in 1977 and taken up in the Dahlgren system of 1985 and the APG in 1998, 2003 and 2009. Before this, many of its families were assigned to the old order Liliales, a large order containing all monocots with colourful tepals and lacking starch in their endosperm. DNA sequence analysis indicated that many of the taxa included in Liliales should be redistributed over three orders, Liliales and Dioscoreales; the boundaries of the Asparagales and of its families have undergone a series of changes in recent years. In the APG circumscription, Asparagales is the largest order of monocots with 14 families, 1,122 genera, about 36,000 species; the order is circumscribed on the basis of molecular phylogenetics, but is difficult to define morphologically, since its members are structurally diverse.
Most species of Asparagales are herbaceous perennials, although some are climbers and some are tree-like. The order contains many geophytes. According to telomere sequence, at least two evolutionary switch-points happened within the order. Basal sequence is formed by TTTAGGG like in majority of higher plants. Basal motif was changed to vertebrate-like TTAGGG and the most divergent motif CTCGGTTATGGG appears in Allium. One of the defining characteristics of the order is the presence of phytomelanin, a black pigment present in the seed coat, creating a dark crust. Phytomelanin is found in most families of the Asparagales; the leaves of all species form a tight rosette, either at the base of the plant or at the end of the stem, but along the stem. The flowers are not distinctive, being'lily type', with six tepals and up to six stamina; the order is thought to have first diverged from other related monocots some 120–130 million years ago, although given the difficulty in classifying the families involved, estimates are to be uncertain.
From an economic point of view, the order Asparagales is second in importance within the monocots to the order Poales. Species are used as food and flavourings, as cut flowers, as garden ornamentals. Although most species in the order are herbaceous, some no more than 15 cm high, there are a number of climbers, as well as several genera forming trees, which can exceed 10 m in height. Succulent genera occur in several families. All species have a tight cluster of leaves, either at the base of the plant or at the end of a more-or-less woody stem as with Yucca. In some cases the leaves are produced along the stem; the flowers are in the main not distinctive, being of a general'lily type', with six tepals, either free or fused from the base and up to six stamina. They are clustered at the end of the plant stem; the Asparagales are distinguished from the Liliales by the lack of markings on the tepals, the presence of septal nectaries in the ovaries, rather than the bases of the tepals or stamen filaments, the presence of secondary growth.
They are geophytes, but with linear leaves, a lack of fine reticular venation. The seeds characteristically have the external epidermis either obliterated, or if present, have a layer of black carbonaceous phytomelanin in species with dry fruits; the inner part of the seed coat is collapsed, in contrast to Liliales whose seeds have a well developed outer epidermis, lack phytomelanin, display a cellular inner layer. The orders which have been separated from the old Liliales are difficult to characterize. No single morphological character appears to be diagnostic of the order Asparagales; the flowers of Asparagales are of a general type among the lilioid monocots. Compared to Liliales, they have plain tepals without markings in the form of dots. If nectaries are present, they are in the septa of the ovaries rather than at the base of the tepals or stamens; those species which have large dry seeds have a dark, crust-like outer layer containing the pigment phytomelan. However, some species with hairy seeds, berries, or reduced seeds lack this dark pigment in their seed coats.
Phytomelan is not unique to Asparagales but it is common within the order and rare outside it. The inner portion of the seed coat is completely collapsed. In contrast, the morphologically similar seeds of Liliales have no phytomelan, retain a cellular structure in the inner portion of the seed coat. Most monocots are unable to thicken their stems once they have formed, since they lack the cylindrical meristem present in other angiosperm groups. Asparagales have a method of secondary thickening, otherwise only found inDioscorea. In a process called'anomalous secondary growth', they are able to create new
The Arabian peninsula, simplified Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian plate. From a geographical perspective, it is considered a subcontinent of Asia, it is the largest peninsula in the world, at 3,237,500 km2. The peninsula consists of the countries Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; the peninsula formed as a result of the rifting of the Red Sea between 56 and 23 million years ago, is bordered by the Red Sea to the west and southwest, the Persian Gulf to the northeast, the Levant to the north and the Indian Ocean to the southeast. The peninsula plays a critical geopolitical role in the Arab world due to its vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Before the modern era, it was divided into four distinct regions: Hejaz, Southern Arabia and Eastern Arabia. Hejaz and Najd make up most of Saudi Arabia. Southern Arabia consists of some parts of Saudi Arabia and Oman. Eastern Arabia consists of the entire coastal strip of the Persian Gulf.
The Arabian Peninsula is located in the continent of Asia and bounded by the Persian Gulf on the northeast, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman on the east, the Arabian Sea on the southeast and south, the Gulf of Aden on the south, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait on the southwest and the Red Sea, located on the southwest and west. The northern portion of the peninsula merges with the Syrian Desert with no clear border line, although the northern boundary of the peninsula is considered to be the northern borders of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; the most prominent feature of the peninsula is desert, but in the southwest there are mountain ranges, which receive greater rainfall than the rest of the peninsula. Harrat ash Shaam is a large volcanic field that extends from the northwestern Arabia into Jordan and southern Syria; the peninsula's constituent countries are Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the east, Oman on the southeast, Yemen on the south and Saudi Arabia at the center. The island nation of Bahrain lies off the east coast of the peninsula.
Six countries form the Gulf Cooperation Council. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia covers the greater part of the peninsula; the majority of the population of the peninsula live in Yemen. The peninsula contains the world's largest reserves of oil. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are economically the wealthiest in the region. Qatar, a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf on the larger peninsula, is home of the Arabic-language television station Al Jazeera and its English-language subsidiary Al Jazeera English. Kuwait, on the border with Iraq, is an important country strategically, forming one of the main staging grounds for coalition forces mounting the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Though lightly populated, political Arabia is noted for a high population growth rate – as the result of both strong inflows of migrant labor as well as sustained high birth rates; the population tends to be young and skewed gender ratio dominated by males. In many states, the number of South Asians exceeds that of the local citizenry.
The four smallest states, which have their entire coastlines on the Persian Gulf, exhibit the world's most extreme population growth tripling every 20 years. In 2014, the estimated population of the Arabian Peninsula was 77,983,936; the Arabian Peninsula is known for having one of the most uneven adult sex ratios in the world with females in some regions constituting only a quarter of vicenarians and tricenarians. Listed here are the human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups in Arabia Haplogroup J is the most abundant component in the Arabian peninsula, embracing more than 50% of its Y-chromosomes, its two main subclades, show opposite latitudinal gradients in the Middle East. J1-M267 is more abundant in the southern areas, reaching a frequency around 73% in Yemen, whereas J2-M172 is more common in the Levant. J Accounts for the majority of in Saudi Arabia, it seems to be an Adnani marker. Haplogroup J 54.8% Haplogroup E 17.5% R 11.6% Haplogroup T-M184 5.1% Geologically, this region is more appropriately called the Arabian subcontinent because it lies on a tectonic plate of its own, the Arabian Plate, moving incrementally away from the rest of Africa and north, toward Asia, into the Eurasian Plate.
The rocks exposed vary systematically across Arabia, with the oldest rocks exposed in the Arabian-Nubian Shield near the Red Sea, overlain by earlier sediments that become younger towards the Persian Gulf. The best-preserved ophiolite on Earth, the Semail Ophiolite, lies exposed in the mountains of the UAE and northern Oman; the peninsula consists of: A central plateau, the Najd, with fertile valleys and pastures used for the grazing of sheep and other livestock A range of deserts: the Nefud in the north, stony.
North America is a continent within the Northern Hemisphere and all within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea. North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers, about 16.5% of the earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, the fourth by population after Asia and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if nearby islands are included. North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge 40,000 to 17,000 years ago; the so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago. The Classic stage spans the 6th to 13th centuries.
The Pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, the transatlantic migrations—the arrival of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the Early Modern period. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants. Owing to the European colonization of the Americas, most North Americans speak English, Spanish or French, their culture reflects Western traditions; the Americas are accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann. Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies, but a different landmass unknown by Europeans. In 1507, Waldseemüller produced a world map, in which he placed the word "America" on the continent of South America, in the middle of what is today Brazil, he explained the rationale for the name in the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio:... ab Americo inventore... quasi Americi terram sive Americam.
For Waldseemüller, no one should object to the naming of the land after its discoverer. He used the Latinized version of Vespucci's name, but in its feminine form "America", following the examples of "Europa", "Asia" and "Africa". Other mapmakers extended the name America to the northern continent, In 1538, Gerard Mercator used America on his map of the world for all the Western Hemisphere; some argue that because the convention is to use the surname for naming discoveries, the derivation from "Amerigo Vespucci" could be put in question. In 1874, Thomas Belt proposed a derivation from the Amerrique mountains of Central America. Marcou corresponded with Augustus Le Plongeon, who wrote: "The name AMERICA or AMERRIQUE in the Mayan language means, a country of perpetually strong wind, or the Land of the Wind, and... the can mean... a spirit that breathes, life itself." The United Nations formally recognizes "North America" as comprising three areas: Northern America, Central America, The Caribbean.
This has been formally defined by the UN Statistics Division. The term North America maintains various definitions in accordance with context. In Canadian English, North America refers to the land mass as a whole consisting of Mexico, the United States, Canada, although it is ambiguous which other countries are included, is defined by context. In the United States of America, usage of the term may refer only to Canada and the US, sometimes includes Greenland and Mexico, as well as offshore islands. In France, Portugal, Romania and the countries of Latin America, the cognates of North America designate a subcontinent of the Americas comprising Canada, the United States, Mexico, Greenland, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Bermuda. North America has been referred to by other names. Spanish North America was referred to as Northern America, this was the first official name given to Mexico. Geographically the North American continent has many subregions; these include cultural and geographic regions. Economic regions included those formed by trade blocs, such as the North American Trade Agreement bloc and Central American Trade Agreement.
Linguistically and culturally, the continent could be divided into Latin America. Anglo-America includes most of Northern America and Caribbean islands with English-speaking populations; the southern North American continent is composed of two regions. These are the Caribbean; the north of the continent maintains recognized regions as well. In contrast to the common definition of "North America", which encompasses the whole continent, the term "North America" is sometimes used to refer only to Mexico, the United States, Greenland; the term Northern America refers to the northern-most countries and territories of North America: the United States, Bermuda, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Greenland. Although the term does not refer to a unifie