North America is home to Canada, the United States, Mexico and Greenland. The climate and landscape on this continent varies a great deal. Greenland and much of Canada is cold and inhospitable. The northern United States, including Alaska, also has very cold winters, while the southwest is warm and dry.
North American Facts For Kids
- One of the 7 continents.
- Comprises 23 countries.
- Largest country: Canada.
- Most populous: United States.
- Includes the world’s largest island, Greenland.
- Home to the Grand Canyon.
- The Mississippi is one of its longest rivers.
- Houses the world’s third-largest desert, the Sonoran.
- Has both Arctic and tropical climates.
- Shared by three main languages: English, Spanish, and French.
The United States, nestled within North America, is globally recognized as the third largest country by land area and population. This vast nation is composed of 50 diverse states along with a federal district, and is governed from its capital, Washington D.C. The United States showcases a variety of climates; Florida and Hawaii boast tropical weather, while Alaska experiences Arctic conditions.
The country’s history traces back to thousands of years when Native Americans inhabited the land, long before European settlers made their mark. The wildlife of the United States is as unique and varied as the country itself, featuring species such as the American Bison, Bald Eagle, and the Grizzly Bear.
Furthermore, the US is defined by its iconic landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.
Situated in North America, Canada is the world’s second-largest country by land area, spanning a vast 9.98 million square kilometers.
It is comprised of a combination of 10 provinces and 3 territories, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and extending northward into the Arctic Ocean. Despite its remarkable size, it boasts a sparse population, with a majority of its inhabitants living near the southern border adjacent to the United States.
Canada is celebrated for its stunning landscapes, including a wealth of lakes – a feature that grants it the distinction of having the most lakes of any country globally. Embodying its rich history and cultural diversity, the nation recognizes both English and French as official languages.
Located in North America, Mexico is a country renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture and diverse landscapes, making it a place of fascination. As the third-largest country on the continent, following Canada and the United States, it boasts an impressive population of over 120 million, making it the world’s most populous Spanish-speaking nation.
This country’s allure lies in its ancient civilizations such as the Mayans and Aztecs, who marked history with their remarkable cities adorned with pyramids and temples. Its varied landscapes range from the sun-kissed beaches of Cancun to the rugged terrains of the Sierra Madre mountains, hosting a plethora of plant and animal species.
Notably, Mexico is globally recognized as the birthplace of chocolate, a delicious treat first introduced to the world by the ancient Mesoamericans.
The Great Lakes, a prominent geographical feature in North America, are an essential subject that children should be educated about. Comprising five major lakes – Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario, they collectively represent the largest group of freshwater lakes globally, containing a remarkable 21% of the world’s surface freshwater.
Straddling the United States and Canada, these lakes are brimming with diverse wildlife and significantly contribute to the transportation, fishing, and tourism sectors. With their seamless interconnection through various rivers and channels, they serve as a crucial waterway for trade and navigation.
Interestingly, despite their classification as ‘lakes’, their vastness often leads to the perception of them appearing more like seas!
The Mississippi River, the second-longest in the United States and a major geographical feature of North America snakes its way through ten states, starting from Minnesota and ending in Louisiana where it meets the Gulf of Mexico.
Its vastness has made it a crucial conduit for transportation, facilitating the movement of goods and people, and serving as a historical hub for trade. Aside from its economic significance, the river is also a thriving habitat for a wide array of wildlife, making it a magnet for nature lovers. Thus, the Mississippi River holds a paramount position in both the ecosystem and economy of North America.
The Rocky Mountains, or “the Rockies,” are a stunning natural landmark in North America, spanning over 3,000 miles from British Columbia, Canada, to New Mexico in the United States. This extensive chain of rugged peaks, some soaring over 14,000 feet, form a breathtaking backdrop populated by a thriving ecosystem of thick forests and a diverse range of wildlife such as grizzly bears, moose, and bald eagles.
The Rockies are not just a haven for outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and camping, but also play a crucial role in shaping North America’s climate and rainfall patterns, demonstrating their significance beyond mere aesthetics.
Native American tribes
Long before European explorers set foot on North American soil, the continent was already teeming with a rich tapestry of distinct Native American tribes. Each tribe boasted its own unique culture, language, and lifestyle, showcasing the incredible diversity that existed among them.
Notable tribes such as the Cherokee, Navajo, Apache, and Sioux resided in the United States, while the Inuit and Cree were indigenous to Canada, and the Aztecs and Mayans thrived in Mexico. The tribes were remarkably proficient in living off the land, with tribes like the Plains Indians demonstrating exceptional buffalo hunting skills and others like the Iroquois exhibiting adept farming abilities.
The contributions of Native Americans to North American history and culture have been significant, and their traditions continue to be celebrated and preserved in contemporary times.
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a historical cornerstone in North America, was established in 1994 as a trade-enhancement pact between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The primary objective of this trilateral agreement was to streamline and make affordable the process of buying and selling goods across these countries’ borders, which it achieved by eliminating most taxes or tariffs on the traded goods.
As such, NAFTA made it possible for products like Mexican avocados or Canadian maple syrup to be more cost-effective and easily accessible in the United States.
The Appalachian Mountains, also known as the Appalachians, are an eminent North American range spanning over 1,500 miles from Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada to Alabama in the U.S. As one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, they boast exceptional biodiversity, hosting a myriad of plant and animal species such as black bears, white-tailed deer, and over 200 bird species.
The Appalachians’ diversity extends to the point of subdividing into unique regions, each characterized by distinct wildlife and features. Moreover, these mountains hold historical significance in the U.S. as the nation’s first frontier, witnessing numerous pivotal events.
Central America (geographical adjacency)
Central America, a notable region within North America, acts as a land bridge linking North and South America, and is made up of seven diverse countries including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Renowned for its abundant biodiversity, scenic coastlines, and awe-inspiring ancient Mayan ruins, Central America, although geographically a part of the North American continent, boasts a unique cultural identity shaped predominantly by its indigenous people and Spanish colonization.
Its strategic location, adjacent to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, establishes it as a crucial region for marine life and a hotspot for tropical weather.
Mexico has the largest population, but is the poorest country in North America, while Canada has the smallest population. The United States is the wealthiest country in North America, and currently, in the world. For thousands of years, native tribes lived in North America and took care of the land. When explorers came here from Europe, things changed. European immigrants came in droves. Today, most people in North America are descendants of immigrants from Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, England, Germany and other European countries.
Fun Facts About North America for Kids
- North America covers a land mass area of about 9.5 million square miles
- The earliest record of people in North America is found near what is today Clovis, New Mexico. The culture they discovered was named the Clovis culture and dates back about 13,000 years.
- Have you ever thought about zero? Not just nothing, but zero? The Mayans actually developed the concept of zero around 400 CE.
- The Age of Discovery was the time Europeans began conquering the land they had discovered. The native peoples that had lived there for thousands of years were disregarded.
- Population of North America is roughly 456.5 million people.
North America Vocabulary
- Concept: An understanding held in the mind; of a particular set of instances
- Disregard: To ignore
- Conquer: To subjugate or defeat
- Population: Number of people living within a certain boundary
- Inhospitable: Barren or forbidding; offering no shelter
- Immigrants: People who come to a country to settle
All About North America – Video for Kids
Watch this awesome North America video for kids:
North America Q&A
Question: How did North America get its name?
Answer: It is generally accepted that the Americas were named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer. He was the first to mention that the Americas were a new land mass and not the East Indies as previously believed.
Others proposed that the Americas were really named for Richard Amerike, a Welsh merchant, who paid for the voyage that discovered Newfoundland. Yet another belief that America is named after a Spanish sailor named Amairick and still yet another is that it came from a word from a Native American language.
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