North America

Geography

North America is the third largest of the seven continents. Its three largest countries are United States, Canada, and, Mexico. Central America and the Caribbean are generally recognized as part of North America. Some of the main geographical features in the region are the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Canadian Shield, and Coastal Plain. Mexico City, Mexico is the city with the biggest population in North America, while the United States is the country with the most population. The longest river in North America is the Mississippi River.

Greenland, Canada and most of the United States lie in the Northern hemisphere and have four distinct seasons:

  • Winter – December to February
  • Spring – March to May
  • Summer – June to August
  • Autumn – September to November

Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and the southern United States have constant temperatures throughout the year but have a wet season. The wet season is from May to October and the dry season is from November to April.

Culture

The United States strongly believes in the concept of individualism. Americans want to be in control of their own lives and not be bound to a particular family or a group. They also believe in the idea that all people are created equal. Thus, Americans tend to be informal in their behavior towards other people. Most of the time they address people by their first names. It sometimes comes as a surprise to other people visiting the U.S at how informal Americans are in terms of their speech, clothes, and attitude. Additionally, Americans value the act of being direct and frank towards others. Around ninety percent of the U.S. population speaks English while the most frequently spoken non-English languages are Spanish, Chinese, French and German. Christian is the dominant religion the U.S. The United States is a sports-minded country, with millions of fans who follow football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, among other sports.

Numerous European cultures and traditions influence the culture of Canada, particularly British, U.S.A, and French culture. Fairness, equality, inclusiveness and social justice are the fundamental values of Canada. This is evidenced by the nation’s approach to governance, which includes public health care and higher taxation to promote the reallocation of wealth, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the abolition of capital punishment, and the suppression of far-right politics. Canada generally has a very open and accepting approach towards other cultures and religions. English and French are the main languages spoken this the region. Christianity is the most prevalent religion in Canada follows by Atheism.

Mexico’s culture is greatly shaped by its diverse history. The country was home to the Aztecs before it was colonized by Spain for over a three hundred year period. Spanish is the actual national language of Mexico. Around ninety percent of Mexico’s population is Catholic and the remaining percentage is Protestant.

Transportation

Waterways

Industry has been strengthened by the ease of movement in North America. Waterways, widely used by the Indians and early Europeans, are still important. In spite of the barriers of the Canadian Shield and the Appalachians, the routes up the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Hudson Strait, Chesapeake Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico permitted the swift development of coastal ports and allowed the continental interior to be opened up. The Mississippi-Ohio and the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence waterways drew navigation into the heartland. Connecting these two systems, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, linking the Illinois River with Lake Michigan, and various Ohio River–Lake Erie canals provided a tremendous network, extended by the Erie Canal to the Mohawk-Hudson waterway and by the Intracoastal Waterway to river ports of the Gulf of Mexico. The St. Lawrence Seaway, which overcame the Lachine and International rapids and Niagara Falls, has made ocean ports of inland cities.

Railways

Railways soon offered the challenge of more direct and speedy access than the waterways. Developed principally from bases along the Atlantic Seaboard, they made the most of the gaps through the Appalachians, debouched on the Great Lakes or Ohio River at Buffalo and Chicago and Pittsburgh, and pushed on to the Mississippi River at St. Louis and St. Paul–Minneapolis, Minnesota. Other lines were then laid across the Great Plains, and, utilizing passes through the Cordilleras, the railways built terminals at San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Most of the Western railways were given large land grants to encourage immigrants to settle along them, while low promotional rates on long-haul traffic developed transcontinental trade. In Canada the transcontinental railways linked up the Maritime Provinces with the St. Lawrence–Great Lakes, and thence, from Montreal and Toronto, they crossed the shield to converge at Winnipeg; there, reinforced by large land grants, they fanned out across the prairies, to be drawn together by the Fraser River down to Vancouver.

Mexico overcame difficult grades in building a railway from Veracruz to Mexico City and added extensions north and south along the Gulf Coast, with lines into Monterrey and to Mérida. Eventually, lines were pushed through the Sierra Madre Occidental at Guadalajara to the Pacific coast.

Railroads had a tremendous impact on urban development. Among the major railroad cities are New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles in the United States and Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Vancouver in Canada. Mexico City dominates the network in Mexico. Railroads led to the rise of east-west over north-south lines and rapidly displaced most waterways, particularly the Mississippi. The main economic axis in the United States lies along the railway belt from New York to Chicago. Inadequate overall planning in major metropolitan regions has resulted in crucial transportation problems, however, and inner-city rapid-transit systems often have fared no better.

Roads

North America’s road network first began to offer serious competition to the railways after World War I. The U.S. government has since financed more than 300,000 miles (483,000 km) of transcontinental highways, including more than 40,000 miles (64,000 km) of limited access multilane roads. In Canada, the Trans-Canada Highway offers a coast-to-coast through route, while from Mexico the Pan-American Highway links the countries of Central America. These highways have enabled trucks to take over short-haul routes from railways, and the railways have concentrated on long-haul, low-cost routes. Truck and train, however, have been integrated with the “piggyback” containerized carriage. The automobile, meanwhile, has displaced commuter trains in many cities, and radial and ring routes have helped draw the cities far out into the countryside. The attendant problems of congestion and pollution have approached the critical stage in many cities.

Air transport

The United States alone accounts for about 40% of all the world’s air traffic. It connects with Europe and Asia making North America the main hub of air routes in the world. Several of the chief airports in the world are in the United States, including those in Chicago, Dallas–Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami just to name a few. Montreal and Mexico City are also major air hubs.

Food

In history, Europeans and Native Americans have influenced American cuisine. Now, commonly identified American foods are hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and potato chips. A style of cooking is found in the South often regarded as comfort food which includes dishes such as fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread.

Basically, Canadian cuisine is similar to the common western diet. Canadian food, much like the Americans and Europeans focuses greatly on processed grain and dairy products, farm-grown beef and chicken, certain cooked or fresh fruits and vegetables, and questionable amounts of salt and sugar.

Mexican Cuisine is a nice blend of the indigenous and Spanish cuisine. It is still based on beans, corn, tortillas, and chili peppers, but these are now usually served with some sort of meat and cheese.