Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent, underlying the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness.
Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. There are no permanent human residents but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including penguins, seals, nematodes, Tardigrades, mites, many types of algae and other microorganisms, and tundra vegetation.
Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis (“Southern Land”) date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. The first formal use of the name “Antarctica” as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by twelve countries; to date, forty-six countries have signed the treaty. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, supports scientific research, and protects the continent’s ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists of many nationalities and with various research interests.
Centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica is the southernmost continent and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean; alternatively, it may be considered to be surrounded by the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, or by the southern waters of the World Ocean. It covers more than 14,000,000 km2 (5,400,000 sq mi), making it the fifth-largest continent, about 1.3 times as large as Europe. The coastline measures 17,968 km (11,165 mi) and is mostly characterized by ice formations, as the following table shows:
|Ice shelf (floating ice front)||44%|
|Ice walls (resting on ground)||38%|
|Ice stream/outlet glacier (ice front or ice wall)||13%|
Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. The coldest natural temperature ever recorded on Earth was −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983. For comparison, this is 11 °C (20 °F) colder than subliming dry ice. Antarctica is a frozen desert with little precipitation; the South Pole itself receives less than 10 cm (4 in) per year, on average. Temperatures reach a minimum of between −80 °C (−112 °F) and −90 °C (−130 °F) in the interior in winter and reach a maximum of between 5 °C (41 °F) and 15 °C (59 °F) near the coast in summer. Sunburn is often a health issue as the snow surface reflects almost all of the ultraviolet light falling on it.
East Antarctica is colder than its western counterpart because of its higher elevation. Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent, leaving the center cold and dry. Despite the lack of precipitation over the central portion of the continent, ice there lasts for extended time periods. Heavy snowfalls are not uncommon on the coastal portion of the continent, where snowfalls of up to 1.22 metres (48 in) in 48 hours have been recorded.
Antarctica is colder than the Arctic for two reasons. First, much of the continent is more than 3 kilometres (2 mi) above sea level, and temperature decreases with elevation. Second, the Arctic Ocean covers the north polar zone: the ocean’s relative warmth is transferred through the icepack and prevents temperatures in the Arctic regions from reaching the extremes typical of the land surface of Antarctica.
Flora and fauna
The climate of Antarctica does not allow extensive vegetation. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit plant growth. As a result, plant life is limited to mostly mosses and liverworts. The autotrophic community is made up of mostly protists. The flora of the continent largely consists of lichens, bryophytes, algae, and fungi. Growth generally occurs in the summer, and only for a few weeks at most.
A variety of marine animals exist and rely, directly or indirectly, on the phytoplankton. Antarctic sea life includes penguins, blue whales, orcas, colossal squids and fur seals. The Emperor penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the winter in Antarctica, while the Adélie Penguin breeds farther south than any other penguin. The Rockhopper penguin has distinctive feathers around the eyes, giving the appearance of elaborate eyelashes. King penguins, Chinstrap penguins, and Gentoo Penguins also breed in the Antarctic.
|Argentina||Australia||Chile||France||New Zealand||Norway||United Kingdom|
|1908||United Kingdom||British Antarctic Territory||20°W to 80°W|
|1923||New Zealand||Ross Dependency||150°W to 160°E|
|1924||France||Adélie Land||142°2’E to 136°11’E|
|1929||Norway||Peter I Island||68°50′S 90°35′W / 68.833°S 90.583°W / -68.833; -90.583 (Peter I Island)|
|1933||Australia||Australian Antarctic Territory||160°E to 142°2’E and
136°11’E to 44°38’E
|1939||Norway||Queen Maud Land||44°38’E to 20°W|
|1940||Chile||Antártica||53°W to 90°W|
|1943||Argentina||Argentine Antarctica||25°W to 74°W|
(Marie Byrd Land)
|90°W to 150°W
(except the Peter I Island)
The Argentine, British, and Chilean claims all overlap, and have caused friction. The areas shown as Australia’s and New Zealand’s claims were British territory until they were handed over following the countries’ independence. Australia currently claims the largest area. Australia and New Zealand both recognise the British claim, and vice-versa.
Countries interested in participating in a possible territorial division of Antarctica
This group of countries participating as members of Antarctica Treaty have a territorial interest in the Antarctic continent:
- Brazil has a designated ‘zone of interest’ that is not an actual claim.
- Peru has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
- Russia has reserved its right to claim “territories discovered by Russians”, which potentially may refer to the entire continent.
- South Africa has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
- Spain has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
- United States has formally reserved its right to make a claim.
-Let’s discover more interesting things about Antarctica!
Oceania (sometimes Oceanica) is a geographical, and often geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands—mostly islands in the Pacific Ocean and vicinity. The term “Oceania” was coined in 1831 by French explorer Dumont d’Urville. The term is also sometimes used to denote a continent comprising Australia and proximate Pacific islands, and is one of eight terrestrial ecozones.
The boundaries of Oceania are defined in a number of ways. Most definitions include Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, and all or part of the Malay Archipelago. Ethnologically, the islands that are included in Oceania are divided into the subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
Oceania is traditionally understood as being composed of three regions: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. As with any region, however, interpretations vary; increasingly, geographers and scientists divide Oceania into Near Oceania and Remote Oceania.
Most of Oceania consists of island nations comprising thousands of coral atolls and volcanic islands, with small human populations. Australia is the only continental country but Indonesia has land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. If the Australia-New Guinea continent is included then the highest point is Puncak Jaya in Papua at 4,884 m (16,024 ft) and the lowest point is Lake Eyre, Australia at 16 m (52 ft) below sea level.
Territories and regions
Descriptions of the regions and constituents of Oceania vary according to source. The table below shows the subregions and countries of Oceania as broadly categorised according to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the United Nations. These territories and regions are subject to various additional categorisations, of course, depending on the source and purpose of each description.
|Name of region, followed by countries
and their flags
|Dependencies/Territories of Australia:|
|Christmas Island||135||1,493||3.5||Flying Fish Cove|
|Cocos (Keeling) Islands||14||632||45.1||West Island|
|Coral Sea Islands||3|
|Indonesia (Oceanian part only)||499,852||4,211,532||8.4||Jakarta|
|New Caledonia (France)||19,060||240,390||12.6||Nouméa|
|Papua New Guinea||462,840||5,172,033||11.2||Port Moresby|
|Federated States of Micronesia||702||135,869||193.5||Palikir|
|Northern Mariana Islands (USA)||477||77,311||162.1||Saipan|
|Wake Island (USA)||2||Wake Island|
|American Samoa (USA)||199||68,688||345.2||Pago Pago, Fagatogo|
|Cook Islands (NZ)||240||20,811||86.7||Avarua|
|Easter Island (Chile)||163.6||3,791||23.1||Hanga Roa|
|French Polynesia (France)||3,961||257,847||61.9||Papeete|
|Pitcairn Islands (UK)||5||47||10||Adamstown|
|Wallis and Futuna (France)||274||15,585||56.9||Mata-Utu|
|Total minus mainland Australia||1,350,845||17,844,851||13.2|
-Enjoy the following videos about Oceania!
Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.6% of the Earth’s total surface area (or 29.9% of its land area) and with approximately 4 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world’s current human population. During the 20th century Asia’s population nearly quadrupled.
Asia is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Eurasia — with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe — located to the east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains and south of the Caucasus Mountains (or the Kuma-Manych Depression) and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Given its size and diversity, Asia — a toponym dating back to classical antiquity — is more a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity.
The wealth of Asia differs very widely among and within its regions, due to its vast size and huge range of different cultures, environments, historical ties and government systems. In terms of nominal GDP, Japan has the largest economy on the continent and the second largest in the world. In purchasing power parity terms, however, China has the largest economy in Asia and the second largest in the world.
Medieval Europeans considered Asia as a continent a distinct landmass. The European concept of the three continents in the Old World goes back to Classical Antiquity, but during the Middle Ages was notably due to 7th century Spanish scholar Isidore of Sevilla. The demarcation between Asia and Africa (to the southwest) is the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. The boundary between Asia and Europe is conventionally considered to run through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to its source and the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea near Kara, Russia. While this interpretation of tripartite continents (i.e., of Asia, Europe and Africa) remains common in modernity, discovery of the extent of Africa and Asia have made this definition somewhat anachronistic. This is especially true in the case of Asia, which has several regions that would be considered distinct landmasses if these criteria were used (for example, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia).
In the far northeast of Asia, Siberia is separated from North America by the Bering Strait. Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean (specifically, from west to east, the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal), on the east by the waters of the Pacific Ocean (including, counterclockwise, the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea) and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Australia (or Oceania) is to the southeast.
Some geographers do not consider Asia and Europe to be separate continents, as there is no logical physical separation between them. For example, Sir Barry Cunliffe, the emeritus professor of European archeology at Oxford, argues that Europe has been geographically and culturally merely “the western excrescence of the continent of Asia.” Geographically, Asia is the major eastern constituent of the continent of Eurasia with Europe being a northwestern peninsula of the landmass – or of Afro-Eurasia: geologically, Asia, Europe and Africa comprise a single continuous landmass (save the Suez Canal) and share a common continental shelf. Almost all of Europe and most of Asia sit atop the Eurasian Plate, adjoined on the south by the Arabian and Indian Plate and with the easternmost part of Siberia (east of the Cherskiy Range) on the North American Plate.
In geography, there are two schools of thought. One school follows historical convention and treats Europe and Asia as different continents, categorizing subregions within them for more detailed analysis. The other school equates the word “continent” with a geographical region when referring to Europe, and use the term “region” to describe Asia in terms of physiography. Since, in linguistic terms, “continent” implies a distinct landmass, it is becoming increasingly common to substitute the term “region” for “continent” to avoid the problem of disambiguation altogether.
Given the scope and diversity of the landmass, it is sometimes not even clear exactly what “Asia” consists of. Some definitions exclude Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia while only considering the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent to compose Asia, especially in the United States after World War II. The term is sometimes used more strictly in reference to the Asia-Pacific region, which does not include the Middle East or Russia, but does include islands in the Pacific Ocean—a number of which may also be considered part of Australasia or Oceania, although Pacific Islanders are not considered Asian.
|Name of region and
territory, with flag
|People’s Republic of China||9,640,821||1,322,044,605||134.0||Beijing|
|Republic of China||35,980||22,920,946||626.7||Taipei|
|Brunei||5,770||381,371||66.1||Bandar Seri Begawan|
|East Timor (Timor-Leste)||15,007||1,108,777||73.8||Dili|
|Sri Lanka||65,610||21,128,773||322.0||Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte|
|United Arab Emirates||82,880||4,621,399||29.5||Abu Dhabi|
- Note: Part of Egypt (Sinai Peninsula) is geographically in Western Asia
-Finally, enjoy these activities and videos about Asia!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyAbxf4kM0Q&feature=related (Geography: Asia [Part 1 of 2])
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njTCXIgs0v8&feature=related (Geography: Asia [Part 2 of 2])
Africa is the world’s second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area. With a billion people (as of 2009, see table) in 61 territories, it accounts for about 14.72% of the World’s human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent has 54 states, including Madagascar, various island groups, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a member state of the African Union whose statehood is disputed by Morocco.
Africa, particularly central eastern Africa, is widely regarded within the scientific community to be the origin of humans and the Hominidae clade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago – including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to ca. 200,000 years ago.
Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones.
Africa is the largest of the three great southward projections from the largest landmass of the Earth. Separated from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea, it is joined to Asia at its northeast extremity by the Isthmus of Suez (transected by the Suez Canal), 163 km (101 miles) wide. (Geopolitically, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula east of the Suez Canal is often considered part of Africa, as well.) From the most northerly point, Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia, to the most southerly point, Cape Agulhas in South Africa, is a distance of approximately 8,000 km (5,000 miles); from Cape Verde, the westernmost point, to Ras Hafun in Somalia, the most easterly projection, is a distance of approximately 7,400 km (4,600 miles). The coastline is 26,000 km (16,100 miles) long, and the absence of deep indentations of the shore is illustrated by the fact that Europe, which covers only 10,400,000 km² (4,010,000 square miles) – about a third of the surface of Africa – has a coastline of 32,000 km (19,800 miles).
Africa’s largest country is Sudan, and its smallest country is the Seychelles, an archipelago off the east coast. The smallest nation on the continental mainland is The Gambia.
Geologically, Africa includes the Arabian Peninsula; the Zagros Mountains of Iran and the Anatolian Plateau of Turkey mark where the African Plate collided with Eurasia. The Afrotropic ecozone and the Saharo-Arabian desert to its north unite the region biogeographically, and the Afro-Asiatic language family unites the north linguistically.
The climate of Africa ranges from tropical to subarctic on its highest peaks. Its northern half is primarily desert or arid, while its central and southern areas contain both savanna plains and very dense jungle (rainforest) regions. In between, there is a convergence where vegetation patterns such as sahel, and steppe dominate.
The African Union (AU) is a 53 member federation consisting of all of Africa’s states except Morocco. The union was formed, with Addis Ababa as its headquarters, on 26 June 2001. In July 2004, the African Union’s Pan-African Parliament (PAP) was relocated to Midrand, in South Africa, but the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights remained in Addis Ababa. There is a policy in effect to decentralise the African Federation’s institutions so that they are shared by all the states.
The African Union, not to be confused with the AU Commission, is formed by an Act of Union, which aims to transform the African Economic Community, a federated commonwealth, into a state under established international conventions. The African Union has a parliamentary government, known as the African Union Government, consisting of legislative, judicial and executive organs. It is led by the African Union President and Head of State, who is also the President of the Pan African Parliament. A person becomes AU President by being elected to the PAP, and subsequently gaining majority support in the PAP.
The powers and authority of the President of the African Parliament derive from the Union Act, and the Protocol of the Pan African Parliament, as well as the inheritance of presidential authority stipulated by African treaties and by international treaties, including those subordinating the Secretary General of the OAU Secretariat (AU Commission) to the PAP. The government of the AU consists of all-union (federal), regional, state, and municipal authorities, as well as hundreds of institutions, that together manage the day-to-day affairs of the institution.
There are clear signs of increased networking among African organisations and states. In the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire), rather than rich, non-African countries intervening, neighbouring African countries became involved (see also Second Congo War). Since the conflict began in 1998, the estimated death toll has reached 5 million.
Political associations such as the African Union offer hope for greater co-operation and peace between the continent’s many countries. Extensive human rights abuses still occur in several parts of Africa, often under the oversight of the state. Most of such violations occur for political reasons, often as a side effect of civil war. Countries where major human rights violations have been reported in recent times include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Côte d’Ivoire.
Territories and regions
The countries in this table are categorised according to the scheme for geographic subregions used by the United Nations.
|Name of region and
territory, with flag
|Central African Republic||622,984||4,511,488||7.2||Bangui|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||2,345,410||68,692,542||29.2||Kinshasa|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||1,001||212,679||212.4||São Tomé|
|Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic||266,000||405,210||1.5||El Aaiún|
|Spanish and Portuguese territories in Northern Africa:|
|Canary Islands (Spain)||7,492||1,694,477||226.2||Las Palmas de Gran Canaria,
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
|Madeira Islands (Portugal)||797||245,000||307.4||Funchal|
|South Africa||1,219,912||49,052,489||40.2||Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Pretoria|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (UK)||410||7,637||14.4||Jamestown|
-Do you like to know more about Africa? Enjoy these activities!
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. Most of Central America is considered to be part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot.
Central America has an area of 524,000 square kilometers (202,000 sq mi), or almost 0.1% of the Earth’s surface. As of 2009, its population was estimated at 41,739,000. It has a density of 79 people per square kilometer or 206 people per square mile.
The region is geologically active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring from time to time. In 1976 Guatemala was hit by a major earthquake, killing 23,000 people; Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, the last one killed about 5,000 people; three earthquakes devastated El Salvador, one in 1986 and two in 2001; one earthquake devastated northern and central Costa Rica in 2009 killing at least 34 people; in Honduras a powerful earthquake killed 7 people in 2009.
Volcanic eruptions are common in the region. In 1968 the Arenal Volcano, in Costa Rica, erupted and killed 87 people. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lavas have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.
Central America has many mountain ranges; the longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the Cordillera Isabelia and the Cordillera de Talamanca. Between the mountain ranges lie fertile valleys that are suitable for the people; in fact most of the population of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala live in valleys. Valleys are also suitable for the production of coffee, beans and other crops.
Geopolitically, Central America has traditionally consisted of the following countries:
Name of territory, with flag
|Area (km²)||Population (July 2009 est.)||Population density (per km²)||Capital||
|Costa Rica||51,100||4,579,000||90||San José||Spanish|
|El Salvador||21,040||6,163,000||292||San Salvador||Spanish|
Many modern definitions of Central America include Belize, and Panama, which did not exist upon the formation of the Federal Republic of Central America, a short-lived union created after most of the region gained independence from Spain in 1821. The territory now occupied by Belize was originally contested by the United Kingdom and the Spanish Empire and, later, Guatemala (which has considered it, wholly or partially, an eastern department); it became a British colony (British Honduras) in 1871 and gained independence in 1981.
Panama, situated on the Isthmus of Panama, is sometimes regarded as a transcontinental territory. Because of the Panama Canal, it is considered part of both North America and South America. For much of its post-Columbian history, Panama was culturally linked to South America. Panama was a possession of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, and then, following independence, became a part of la Gran Colombia (Greater Colombia). Only after independence from Colombia in 1903 did some begin to regard Panama as a North or Central American entity.
-Enjoy these funny exercises about Central America!
North America is the northern continent of the Americas, situated in the Earth’s northern hemisphere and in the 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 west by the North Pacific Ocean. To the southeast lies South America.
North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 4.8 percent of the planet’s surface or about 16.5 percent 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, after Asia and Africa, and the fourth-largest in population, after Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Geography and extent
North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, the Americas, or simply America (which is sometimes considered a single continent and North America a subcontinent). North America’s only land connection to South America is at the Isthmus of Panama. The continent is generally delimited on the southeast by the Darién watershed along the Colombia-Panama border, or at the Panama Canal; according to other sources, its southern limit is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico, with Central America tapering and extending southeastward to South America. Before the Central American isthmus was raised, the region had been underwater. The islands of the West Indies delineate a submerged former land bridge, which had connected North America and South America via what are now Florida and Venezuela. Much of North America is on the North American Plate.
The continental coastline is long and irregular. The Gulf of Mexico is the largest body of water indenting the continent, followed by Hudson Bay. Others include the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Gulf of California.
There are numerous islands off the continent’s coasts: principally, the Arctic Archipelago, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, the Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Aleutian Islands (some of which are in the eastern hemisphere proper), the Alexander Archipelago, the many thousand islands of the British Columbia Coast, Newfoundland and Greenland, a self-governing Danish island, and the world’s largest, is on the same tectonic plate (the North American Plate) and is part of North America geographically. Bermuda is not part of the Americas, but is an oceanic island which was formed on the fissure of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge over 100 million years ago. The nearest landmass to it is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and it is often thought of as part of North America, especially given its historical, political and cultural ties to Virginia and other parts of the continent.
The prevalent languages in North America are English, Spanish, and French. The term Anglo-America is used to refer to the anglophone countries of the Americas: namely Canada (where English and French are co-official) and the United States, but also sometimes Belize and parts of the Caribbean. Latin America refers to the other areas of the Americas (generally south of the United States) where the Romance languages, derived from Latin, of Spanish and Portuguese (but French speaking countries are not usually included) predominate: the other republics of Central America (but not always Belize), part of the Caribbean (not the Dutch, English or French speaking areas), Mexico, and most of South America (except Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana (FR), and The Falkland Islands (UK).
The French language has historically played a significant role in North America and retains a distinctive presence in some regions. Canada is officially bilingual. French is the official language of the province of Quebec and is co-official with English in the province of New Brunswick. Other French-speaking locales include the province of Ontario (the official language is English, but there is an estimated 500,000 Franco-Ontarians), the French West Indies and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, as well as the U.S. state of Louisiana, where French is also an official language. Haiti is included with this group based on historical association but Haitians speak Creole and French. Similarly there remains small segments in Saint Lucia and the Commonwealth of Dominica that speak unique French and creole languages alongside their English speaking majorities.
Socially and culturally, North America presents a well-defined entity. Canada and the United States have a similar culture and similar traditions as a result of both countries being former British colonies. A common cultural and economic market has developed between the two nations because of the strong economic and historical ties. Spanish-speaking North America shares a common past as former Spanish colonies. In Mexico and the Central American countries where civilizations like the Maya developed, indigenous people preserve traditions across modern boundaries. Central American and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations have historically had more in common due to geographical proximity and the fact that, after winning independence from Spain. Northern Mexico, particularly cities such as Monterrey, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and Mexicali are strongly influenced by the culture and way of life of the U.S. Immigration to the United States and Canada remains a significant attribute of many nations close to the southern border of the U.S. As the British Empire and its influences declined, the Anglophone Caribbean states have witnessed the economic influence of northern North America increase on the region. In the Anglophone Caribbean this influence is in part due to the fact that the majority of English-speaking Caribbean countries have populations of less than 200,000 people and many of these countries now have expatriate diasporas living abroad that are larger than those remaining at home.
Economically, Canada and the United States are the wealthiest and most developed nations in the continent, followed by Mexico, a newly industrialized country; the countries of Central America and the Caribbean are at various levels of development. The most important trade blocs are the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the recently signed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)—the last of these being an example of the economic integration sought by the nations of this sub-region as a way to improve their financial status.
Demographically, North America is a racially and ethnically diverse continent. Its three main racial groups are Whites, Mestizos and Blacks (chiefly African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans). There is a significant minority of Native Americans and Asians among other less numerous groups.
Countries and territories
North America is often divided into subregions but no universally accepted divisions exist. Central America comprises the southern region of the continent, but its northern terminus varies between sources. Geophysically, the region starts at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico (namely the Mexican states of Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán). The United Nations geoscheme includes Mexico in Central America; conversely, the European Union excludes both Mexico and Belize from the area. Geopolitically, Mexico is frequently not considered a part of Central America.
Northern America is used to refer to the northern countries and territories of North America: Canada, the United States, Greenland, Bermuda, and St. Pierre and Miquelon. They are often considered distinct from the southern portion of the Americas, which largely comprise Latin America. The term Middle America is sometimes used to collectively refer to Mexico, the nations of Central America, and the Caribbean.
(July 2008 est.)
|Anguilla (UK)||102||14,108||138.3||The Valley|
|Antigua and Barbuda||443||84,522||190.8||St. John’s|
|British Virgin Islands (UK)||153||24,041||157.1||Road Town|
|Cayman Islands (UK)||262||47,862||182.7||George Town|
|Clipperton Island (France)||6||0||0.0||—|
|Costa Rica||51,100||4,195,914||82.1||San José|
|Dominican Republic||48,730||9,507,133||195.1||Santo Domingo|
|El Salvador||21,040||7,066,403||335.9||San Salvador|
|Montserrat (UK)||102||5,079||49.8||Plymouth; Brades|
|Navassa Island (USA)||5||0||0.0||—|
|Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands)||960||225,369||234.8||Willemstad|
|Puerto Rico (USA)||8,870||3,958,128||446.2||San Juan|
|Saint Barthélemy (France)||21||7,492||356.8||Gustavia|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||261||39,817||152.6||Basseterre|
|Saint Martin (France)||54||29,376||544.0||Marigot|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)||242||7,044||29.1||Saint-Pierre|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||389||118,432||304.5||Kingstown|
|Trinidad and Tobago||5,128||1,047,366||204.2||Port of Spain|
|Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)||430||22,352||52.0||Cockburn Town|
|United States||9,826,630||303,824,640||33.2||Washington, D.C.|
|U.S. Virgin Islands (USA)||346||109,840||317.5||Charlotte Amalie|
-Finally, here you will find suitable activities about America!
Water water everywhere and always moving around. Even the smallest water molecule at the bottom of the ocean is moving. It just moves really slowly. We’re going to talk about the hydrologic cycle. This is the path water takes when it moves through the oceans, through the sky and through life on land. It’s a never ending cycle that keeps life on Earth alive.
Just Flowing Through
Water cycles and flows through ecosystems. Water is recycled on a global scale. It’s actually a cycle through the biosphere, not just through local ecosystems. It may flow from one ecosystem to another on its way from the air to the land and back to the oceans. Also, a great amount of fresh water below the surface of the Earth that is cycled over long periods of time.
Even though there is no real starting place, we’ll start the cycle in the atmosphere. Water in the atmosphere is found in clouds and water vapor. Slowly the entire atmosphere circulates around the planet. When weather is created one of the most common results is precipitation. Precipitation is the process of water condensing in the atmosphere. It could be rain, snow, drizzle, fog, dew, or hail. Whatever path, the water comes out of the atmosphere and makes it to the surface. Scientists also use the term hydrological cycle to when discussing water’s movement through the biosphere.
Once on the surface, water is still moving around. Snow can melt and become rivers that flow into the oceans. Water can collect underground (groundwater). Water can collect in the oceans. Over 60% of the surface of the planet is covered by water. Beyond collecting, water can return to the atmosphere. Water moves from the ground or oceans into the atmosphere through a process called evaporation. It’s a process that happens on a molecular level when the molecules of water are really energized and rise into the air.
Now you’ve got water in the air and water on land. Organisms all over the Earth need water to survive. Although it’s a small amount when compared to oceans, every living creature is filled with water. Our cells are mainly composed of water. The human body is 80% water. Eventually, when an organism dies, the water is returned to the system, but you should know that living things borrow water on a regular basis.
Life Of A Water Molecule
So you’re a water molecule. Chances are you’ll stay a water molecule and won’t ever be broken down. The world likes to keep its water around. You’re moving through the hydrologic cycle. You evaporate, fall in rain, and drain in a river. Not a lot of excitement. But how much time does it take? Scientists think that if you are lucky enough to be evaporated into a cloud that you spend about ten days floating around the atmosphere. If you’re unlucky enough to be at the bottom of the ocean, or stuck in a glacier, you might spend tens of thousands of years without moving.
-Finally, enjoy these activities and videos about the water cycle!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YswL4dIDQuk (The water cycle song)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYBjPE0wekw&feature=related (The Earth’s Water Cycle)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LQ1tbZCQ94&feature=related (Water cycle lesson)