November 30, 2021
North America is a continent in its own right or a sub-continent of America depending on the division adopted for the continents.
It is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The Isthmus of Central America connects it to South America. The Caribbean, a region sometimes included in North America, encloses the Gulf of Mexico.
The boundaries of what is called North America differ depending on the point of view. For the United Nations, North America includes only Canada, the United States, Bermuda and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. However, Mexico is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement and commonly accepted in the subcontinent.
The north of the American continent therefore includes the following countries:
Greenland, an autonomous overseas territory of Denmark;
Canada, which owns large islands off its coasts:
Vancouver Island and the Haida Gwaiis in the west,
Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island in the east,
the Arctic Archipelago, including Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island, and Victoria Island to the north;
off the coast of Canada, the archipelago of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, a territory attached to France;
the United States, including the Aleutian Islands and Alaska;
Bermuda, an autonomous overseas territory of the United Kingdom;
Mexico, which geopolitically is part of North America (being a member of NAFTA), although geographically its southern end, beyond the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, belongs to Central America and that, culturally, it shares the history of pre-Columbian civilization in part with its neighbors in Latin America. From 1907 to 1934, Newfoundland was also a dominion (independent state part of the British Empire).
South of Mexico, there are a number of countries that are grouped under the name of Central America:
Panama. In some cases we can add the Antilles to these countries. This archipelago is divided into two large groups:
The Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola);
The Lesser Antilles (which brings together all the string of islets in the eastern Caribbean). However, their connection is questionable, especially with regard to the Leeward Islands, due to their geographical proximity to South America.
Legacy of the different waves of immigration that have marked its history, North America has two well-differentiated ethno-cultural groups:
The first in the north is the Anglo-Saxon group, made up of Canada and the United States. Native Americans are still present there, but in a tiny proportion (1.3% of the population in the United States in 2019 and 4.9% of the Canadian population in 2016). The majority of the population is of European origin (without neglecting the contributions of recent immigration and African-Americans). The most widely used language remains English, although there is still a strong French-speaking minority in Canada, including the province of Quebec, which is 80% French-speaking. The rest of the Francophonie is concentrated in New Brunswick, eastern Ontario, New York State, California, Louisiana and Florida.
The second in the south, where the majority of the population is mixed race, resulting from marriages between Spanish settlers and Amerindians. The proportion of Amerindians is much greater in Mexico, with 6.7% of the population. We can, in spite of everything, underline the predominance of European languages (especially Spanish), of Christianity (Protestant and Catholic), the whole being mixed with Amerindian and African cultures, to a certain extent.