Portal:North America

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The North America Portal

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

Territories, dependencies, and subnational entities of a country not located primarily in North America are italicized.

Featured article

US Demand Notes
A Demand Note is a type of United States paper money that was issued between August 1861 and April 1862 during the American Civil War in denominations of 5, 10, and 20 dollars. Original legislation referred to the currency as "treasury notes". The term Demand Note was applied retrospectively due to the fact that the notes were redeemable on demand for gold coin. The notes were created to serve as a means of monetary exchange in place of gold and silver coins. The U.S. government used Demand Notes to pay expenses and salaries. Once the public learned the notes were redeemable in gold coin, the notes began to circulate as widely as gold and silver coins previously did.

Because of the distinctive green ink used on the reverse of all Demand Notes, the notes were nicknamed "greenbacks".The obverse of the notes contained familiar elements such as a Bald Eagle, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Hamilton; however, the portraits used on Demand Notes are different than the ones seen on U.S. currency today. After Demand Notes were discontinued, they were replaced with Legal Tender Notes. Legal Tender Notes of the time, however, were not redeemable in coin like Demand Notes, and thus Demand Notes took precedence. As a result, many more Demand Notes were redeemed and not as many notes exist today.

Featured picture

Bingham Canyon Mine
Credit: Andreas Feininger
Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah has been in operation since 1906 and its cumulative production of copper ranks second in the world. It also produces large quantities of gold, silver, and molybdenum.

Did you know...

Calico Jack

  • ... that the Valley of Mexico has been one of the most heavily populated places on the planet for almost two millennia?

Selected biography

Ryan White
Ryan Wayne White (December 6, 1971 – April 8, 1990) was an American teenager from Kokomo, Indiana who became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States after being expelled from school because of his infection. A hemophiliac, he became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment and, when diagnosed in 1984, was given six months to live. Though doctors said he posed no risk to other students, AIDS was poorly understood at the time, and when White tried to return to school, many parents and teachers in Kokomo rallied against his attendance. A lengthy legal battle with the school system ensued, and media coverage of the struggle made White into a national celebrity and spokesman for AIDS research and public education. He appeared frequently in the media with celebrities such as singer Elton John, pop star Michael Jackson and talk show host Phil Donahue. Surprising his doctors, White lived five years longer than predicted and died in April 1990, shortly before he would have completed high school.

Selected quote

Theodore Roosevelt Minnesota State Fair, 3 September 1901

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