Before coming to some interesting facts about North America, a few lines about the demographics will be in order. It is the third largest continent after Asia and Africa and is surrounded by several oceans – the Arctic in the North, the Pacific to the South and West and the Atlantic to the East. Then there is the Caribbean Sea to the southeast. The Continent is spread out over 9.5 million square miles and forms about 16.5% of the Earth’s total land area.
Here are a few interesting facts about the Continent.
Countries in North America
People often tend to equate North America with its largest and most powerful component the USA while in reality it is actually a group of 23 countries with dozens of territories and possessions. These include all the Central American and Caribbean countries as well as Canada, Mexico, Greenland, Bermuda and the USA of course. The most populous country in North America is the USA followed by Canada and Guatemala.
Populated for over 15,000 years
Surprised? Yes the common notion is that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492 and some go back to the Norse settlers of the 11th century. But recent scientific studies show that Paleo-Indians migrated from Eurasia almost 15,000 years back. How they did so is a matter of conjecture but here again scientists believe that it was by crossing the Bering Strait over a land bridge that is thought to have existed between Siberia and modern Alaska. Once in North America, they continued down to what is today Central and South America.
Home to all Major Biome
A biome is defined as a community of animal and plant life that is found in extensive areas of uniform climate. North America is home to every single one of the world’s major biomes. These include grasslands, deserts, tundras, coral reefs and tropical rainforests. It is therefore not surprising that the continent has some of the earth’s most spectacular landmarks like the Niagara Falls, the Mississippi river, Rocky Mountains and the Great Lakes.
Hosted the Olympics 12 times
North America has hosted the Olympic Games 12 times in total. The first time was in 1904 in St. Louis Missouri, USA with seven more following over the years. This is more than any other country in the world. It includes winter games in Lake Placid, Squaw Valley and Salt Lake City and summer games in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Canada too has hosted the Olympics several times in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary with the 1968 Summer Games being held in Mexico City.
A Coffee Cup of annual rainfall
There is great diversity between the wettest and the driest place in North America. Death Valley receives the lowest annual rainfall per year. Located in the Mojave Desert, California it is so dry that the annual rainfall of 2.36 in would barely fill a coffee cup. Further, this is not only what Death Valley is famous (or notorious) for. It is also the lowest and hottest part of North America.
These are just a few of the interesting points of North America. Hundred others can be found about the Continent.