Portal:North America

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Introduction

Location North America.svg

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. 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, and to the southeast by 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. North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, 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 (most notably the Caribbean) are included.

Countries and territories

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

Featured article

Flag of Mexico
The Flag of the United Mexican States or Mexico is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe. While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country's War of Independence. The current flag was adopted in 1968, but the overall design has been used since 1821, when the First National Flag was created. The current law of national symbols, Law on the National Arms, Flag, and Anthem, that governs the use of the national flag has been in place since 1984. France was the inspiration of those who detached Mexico from Spain in 1821, and they devised a new tricolor based on the flag of the liberation army. At that time the Italian tricolor was not in use. The flag now contains the coat of arms, in order to distinguish it from that of Italy. Red, white, and green are the colors of the national liberation army in Mexico. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the center of their empire. It recalls the legend that inspired the Aztecs to settle on what was originally a lake-island. The form of the coat of arms was most recently revised in 1968. Aztec legend held that they should found their city on the spot where they saw an eagle on a cactus, eating a snake. Ribbon in the national colors at are the bottom of the coat of arms. Throughout history, the flag has changed 4 times, as the design of the coat of arms and the length-width ratios of the flag have been modified.

Featured picture

Trumbull's Declaration of Independence
Credit: John Trumbull
John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Did you know...

  • ...that the Cuban night lizard is less than 4 cm long and lives exclusively in the west corner of the southern-most coast of Cuba?

  • ... 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

Palindrome by Leigh Mercer, November 13, 1948
More quotes...

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