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.
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.
Geography: Appalachian Mountains • Canadian Shield • Chihuahuan Desert • Continental Divide • Baja California • Extreme points • Geology • Grand Canyon • Great Lakes • Great Plains • Gulf of Mexico • Isthmus of Tehuantepec • Mississippi River • Panama Canal • Rio Grande • Rivers • Rocky Mountains • San Andreas Fault • Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt • Tropic of Cancer • Valley of Oaxaca • Yucatán Peninsula
History: Archaeology • Aztec • Clovis culture • Columbian Exchange • Cuban Revolution • Decolonization • European colonization • Great Depression • Indigenous peoples • Industrial Revolution • Manifest Destiny • Maya • Migration models • Mound builders • New France • New Spain • Oregon Trail • Paleo-Indians • pre-Columbian • Pueblo • Republic of Texas • Roaring Twenties • Slavery • Thirteen Colonies • Vinland
Language: Algic • Algonquian • Chibchan • Creole • Dutch • English • Eskimo-Aleut • French • Mayan • Maipurean • Mixe-Zoque • Muskogean • Na-Dene • Nahuatl • Navajo • Oto-Manguean • Penutian • Portuguese • Siouan-Catawban • Spanish • Totonacan • Uto-Aztecan
Lists: Airports • Archaeological periods • Bear attacks • Caribbean islands • Conflicts • Countries • Endangered species • GDP • Islands • Mountains • Nude beaches • Political parties • Population • Rivers • Stadiums • TV Stations • Urban agglomerations