North America

By | January 8, 2023

North America

North America, the third largest continent; 24 million km2, 520 million residents (2006). According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER, the continent includes the mainland and the islands from the Bering Strait in the west to the Strait of Denmark in the east, including Central America to the Panama Canal, most of the islands in the Caribbean and a few in the Atlantic Ocean. In some places, the term North America is used synonymously with the predominantly English-speaking Anglo – America (USA and Canada), while Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean are grouped with South America in the predominantly Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin America. A table of North American countries, capitals, population and area can be found on Countryaah – Countries in North America.

Greenland is thus geographically part of North America, but otherwise closely linked to Europe.


North America is sparsely populated; most of Greenland and Canada are uninhabited, and even in the United States, which accounts for more than half of the continent’s population, there are vast wastelands in Alaska and the western mountain ranges. In Canada, the United States and Mexico, 75% of the population lives in cities; in Central America and the Caribbean, the degree of urbanization is smaller and the population density greater, especially in Puerto Rico and other island states.

Independent states Capital city Population (1000) approximately 1997 Area (km2)
Antigua and Barbuda St. John’s 64 442
Bahamas Nassau 284 13864
Barbados Bridgetown 300 430
Belize Belmopan 219 23000
Canada Ottawa 28900 9980000
Costa Rica San José 3370 51100
Cuba Havana 10950 110860
Dominica Roseau 67 751
Dominican Rep. Santo Domingo 8090 48440
El Salvador San Salvador 5790 21041
Grenada St. George’s 99 378
Guatemala Guatemala City 11680 108889
Haiti Port-au-Prince 7000 27750
Honduras Tegucigalpa 5750 112100
Jamaica Kingston 2500 11425
Mexico Mexico City 96000 1970000
Nicaragua Managua 4390 130671
Panama Panama City 2700 75517
St. Christopher and Nevis Basseterre 45 262
St. Lucia Castries 151 617
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Kingstown 118 389
Trinidad and Tobago Port of Spain 1270 5124
USA Washington, DC 266000 9370000
non-autonomous areas
Anguilla (GB) The Valley 11 96
Aruba (NL) Oranjestad 63 193
Bermuda (GB) Hamilton 60 53
British Virgin Islands Road Town 18 130
Cayman Islands (GB) George Town 35 259
Greenland (DK) Nuuk 56 2170000
Guadeloupe (F) Basse-Terre 417 1705
Netherlands Antilles Willemstad 197 800
Martinique (F) Fort-de-France 403 1080
Montserrat (GB) Plymouth 4 102
Puerto Rico (USA) San Juan 3800 9104
St. Pierre and Miquelon (F) St. Pierre 7 242
Turks and Caicos Islands (GB) Grand Turk 14 497
US Virgin Islands Charlotte Amalie 97 342

Due to immigration, previously also imports of slaves, population growth has at times been very large. The combined effect of the massive immigration, especially to the United States, and the decimation of the native population is evident in the ethnic composition of the population. Where Indians in particular, but also Inuit and Aleutians in pre-Columbian times inhabited most of the continent, these now constitute only a minority in a population that in the United States and Canada is predominantly of European and to a lesser extent of Asian and African descent. The largest Native American touches are found in Central America. The descendants of African slaves dominate several Caribbean islands, but most African Americans are found in the United States, where the 33 million. blacks represent a significant minority of 12%.

Countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and several Central Americans belong to the group of poor developing countries. North America thus houses both some of the world’s richest societies and some of the poorest, and even in the high-income countries the United States and Canada, there is a poor minority of 10-15%. Compared to the USA and Canada, the rest of the countries now have a significantly higher population growth, and from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic have emigrated to major American cities since the 1950’s.


Agriculture is in most places the largest industry in terms of area, but is otherwise run very differently on the basis of both economic and natural conditions. Central America and the Caribbean are characterized by self-sufficient small farms in addition to export-oriented plantations. Opposite this is the United States’ mechanized large-scale agriculture, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of soy, wheat, maize and beef. Other market-oriented and capital-intensive farms are found in Canada (especially wheat) and Mexico (beef cattle).

Forests cover a third of North America, and forestry is of great importance in the northern coniferous forest region and on several coastal plains, while fishing is an important occupation in Greenland, Alaska, British Columbia and the Canadian Atlantic provinces.

North America as a whole is well supplied with metals, hydropower, coal, oil and natural gas. The largest producers are the United States, Canada and Mexico. At the same time, however, the United States must supplement production with overseas imports in addition to supplies from Canada (iron, oil, natural gas, electricity), Mexico (oil), Trinidad and Tobago (oil) and Jamaica (aluminum).

As the world’s leading industrial nation, the United States is a leader in almost every industry. Through investment and ownership, American companies also dominate production and trade throughout the continent; after 1959, however, not in Cuba. Since the 1960’s, a large part of wage-heavy production has thus been moved to free zones, which offer favorable conditions for investors and increasingly characterize the industry in Central America, the Caribbean and northern Mexico. Many of the smaller states are also trying to attract capital through a targeted investment in tourism and offshore banking in varying degrees of value (Cayman Islands, Bahamas, etc.).

However, the majority of capital movements and trade in North America take place between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which in 1993 expanded cooperation with the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.