North America

North America belongs to the American continent, which is also formed by Central America and South America.

According to, North America has its limits to the east with the Atlantic Ocean, to the west with the Pacific Ocean, and to the north with the Arctic Ocean and to the south with Central America and the Caribbean.

Country Percentage of the population with access to toilets (per cent) Proportion of the population who have access to clean water (percent)
Antigua and Barbuda 87.5 (2017) 96.7 (2015)
Bahamas 94.9 (2017) 97.8 (2015)
Barbados 97.3 (2017) 98.1 (2015)
Belize 87.9 (2017) 97.1 (2015)
Costa Rica 97.8 (2017) 99.7 (2015)
Dominica 77.9 (2015) 96.5 (2015)
Dominican Republic 83.9 (2017) 94.5 (2015)
El Salvador 87.4 (2017) 93.0 (2015)
Grenada 91.5 (2017) 95.6 (2015)
Guatemala 65.1 (2017) 93.6 (2015)
Haiti 34.7 (2017) 64.2 (2015)
Honduras 81.3 (2017) 92.2 (2015)
Jamaica 87.3 (2017) 92.9 (2015)
Canada 99.3 (2017) 98.9 (2015)
Cuba 92.8 (2017) 95.2 (2015)
Mexico 91.2 (2017) 98.3 (2015)
Nicaragua 74.4 (2017) 82.3 (2015)
Panama 83.3 (2017) 95.0 (2015)
Saint Kitts & Nevis 91.6 (2013) 99.0 (2013)
Saint Lucia 88.4 (2017) 98.2 (2015)
St. Vincent & the Grenadines 87.2 (2017) 95.1 (2015)
Trinidad & Tobago 93.4 (2017) 96.9 (2015)
USA 100.0 (2017) 99.2 (2015)


The North American relief features two mountain ranges arranged almost parallel: the Western mountain ranges and the Appalachian or Allegany mountains, which include: the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Costa chain. Between them there are three lower areas: the Canadian shield, to the north; the central plain; and the plain of the Atlantic coast.

In Mexico, the western mountain ranges are divided, in the Madre Occidental and Eastern mountains, with volcanoes such as Popocatepetl (5,451m) and Orizaba (5,699m), which close the Mexican plateau.

The main landforms are the Florida and Yucatan peninsulas, in the Gulf of Mexico, and the California peninsula and Gulf. The peak is Mount McKinley (6,194m) in Alaska.

The largest islands are Greenland, Banks, Victoria, Ellesmere, Devon and Baffinland and are located to the north.


North America has the Great Lakes as its main feature in its hydrography, located on the border of the United States with Canada. They have a total area of 250,000 km², it is in this region that are the famous Niagara falls.

Among the most prominent rivers is the Mississippi, presenting a basin of 4,600,000 km², this river runs through the United States from north to south, its main tributaries are Missouri, Arkansas and Ohio. It is on the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains that the Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna and Potomac rivers are born, which pour their waters into the Atlantic. In western North America the most important rivers are Columbia and Colorado.

In the region of Canada it presents several glacial lakes, among them the Winnipeg, the Great Lake of the Bear, the Atabasca, the Manitoba and the Great Lake of the Slave. Other important rivers also stand out, such as São Lourenço, Frazer, Mackenzie and Nelson, in Canada, and the Yukon, in Alaska. In Mexico, the Rio Grande stands out as the largest.


North America’s climate has five main climatic regions. The northern two-thirds of Canada and Alaska, as well as Greenland, are characterized by arctic climates, where the rigor of long winters is alternated with the mildness of short summers. In these regions, rainfall is rare. Snow and ice are common for much of the year.

The second climatic region is located in two thirds of North America, a region that comprises the United States and southern Canada. In this region changes in time are frequent, as the southern part presents warmer average temperatures.

A third region comprises the western interior of the United States and a large part of northern Mexico. Mainly mountainous and desert area, rainfall is rare and temperature variations are local depending on the altitude.

The fourth climatic region narrowly dominates an area that borders the Pacific Ocean from southern Alaska to southern California. This region has a temperate climate with rare rains in the summer.

Finally, the southern part of Mexico provides a tropical and warm climate throughout the year, with heavy rainfall, especially in the summer. In this region it is common to experience sudden changes in temperature during the same season, with the consequent formation of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fauna and Flora

According to, North America’s natural vegetation varies by region and is characterized by the taiga, or boreal forest, a vast wooded expanse mainly made up of conifers that covers most of southern and central Canada and even extends to Alaska. To the north the soil is surrounded by the tundra.

In the eastern United States, mixed forests are made up of different pine species. In the western part, forests are located in mountain ranges and conifers are predominant. Mexico is home to a tropical forest, particularly rich in species. The driest regions of North America are made up of herbs and shrubs.

The dry regions of the western United States and northern Mexico have some rare varieties of shrubs and numerous cactus species, vegetation that is characteristic of the desert.

The fauna in North America is quite rich and is home to countless species such as reindeer, moose, polar bears, seals and foxes, animals that inhabit the southern regions. In other regions, such as the central American prairie, deer, puma and bison are found. In the deserts you can find rodents, reptiles and coyotes and in the forests you can find a wide variety of birds, squirrels and snakes.

Ethnic composition

North America has a wide variety of racial and ethnic types, due to the miscegenation of the indigenous peoples who lived on the continent with Europeans and black Africans. As of the 20th century, the immigration of Asians increased.

In the United States and Canada, the predominance of the population is of European origin. A large part of the Mexican population comes from the mixture of indigenous and Europeans and the people that inhabit Greenland are the result of the mixture of Eskimos with the early Danish colonists.


North America has a linguistic variation. There is English, spoken in the United States and Canada; French, in Canada; and Spanish, in Mexico and the United States, are the main languages.

Among the languages of native and indigenous origin, the highlights are Nahuatl and Mayan in Mexico; the sioux, in the United States; atapasco, in Canada; and the Eskimo, in Canada and Greenland.

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