The featured image is from New York with rows of skyscrapers in the background. The view is iconic: Millions have seen this scene or others from the Big Apple, in real life or on film. However, North America is a lot more than this.
This region covers Central and Northern America, including the Caribbean. The variations in this northern part of the Western Hemisphere are enormous. As a result, we have a very fascinating part of the world to travel in. Unfortunately, I have paid very few visits to North America. In fact I have only been to three of 23 independent countries: Canada, the United States and Cuba.
In addition, my visits were concentrated in time and space. One week in New York City and four days in the big cities in eastern Canada. The big exception was my road trip in Cuba. Sure, I did get many impressions from New York, but the Big Apple is far from average North America. Moreover, most of my impressions of the United States and Canada are prejudiced. They are based on Americans I have met around the world, as well as reading about the countries, watching movies and so on. The rest of the Caribbean is a recurring element on my annual bucket lists.
As a matter of fact, I have always had this idea that I would need several months to properly experience North America. The problem is that I have not had the opportunity to venture on such a long journey for decades. Another reason is that the United States and Canada are countries that are easy to travel in, compared to many other parts of the world. Consequently I have postponed my travels until I reach retirement. I still have a few years to go.
There are 23 independent countries in North America. I have only visited the three listed above. Click the links to access all posts from each country.
The rest are, in addition to Mexico in the north, situated in two sub-regions – continental Central America (seven countries) and the Caribbean island states (12).
I have not been to Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Costa Rica; Dominica; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Grenada; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Saint Kitts and Nevis. There are also two more Saint-countries: Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Finally we have Trinidad and Tobago.
There are also 27 dependencies and other areas. They range in size from Greenland to tiny islands like Sint Eustatius.
Map of North America. Sandalsand has been to countries marked with a green colour, and not the yellow countries. (Source: Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (user Bosonic dressing))
Posts from North America
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Traveling in Europe made me understand that America has an island mentality: No one exists except us. There’s a whole other world out there, but most Americans – all they know is America, the marketing plan. (will.i.am)
A fact sheet
The first humans reached North America during the last glacial period. They crossed the Bering land bridge approximately 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. This is Wikipedia’s introduction to this region.
Map and numbers
- Area: 24,709,000 km2
- Population: 579,024,000 (2016)
- Population density: 22.9/km2
- Nominal GDP: $21.2 trillion (2016)
- PPP GDP: $24.4 trillion (2016)
- Per capita GDP: $41,830 (2016)
- Countries: 23 sovereign states
- Dependencies: 23 non-sovereign territories
North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. Some considers it to be the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It borders to the north the Arctic Ocean, to the east the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast South America and the Caribbean Sea.
North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the earth’s land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. This is the third largest continent by area, after Asia and Africa, and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 565 million people in 23 independent states. Altogether, this is about 7.5% of the world’s population, if nearby islands (most notably the Caribbean) are included.
Its first human populations reached North America during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge approximately 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. The so-called Paleo-Indian period lasted until about 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Archaic or Meso-Indian period). The Classic stage spans roughly the 6th to 13th centuries. What is called the Pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, and 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 different kinds of interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants.
European influences are strongest in the northern parts of the continent while indigenous and African influences are relatively stronger in the south. Because of the history of colonialism, most North Americans speak English, Spanish or French. Societies and states commonly reflect Western traditions.