North America is a subcontinent that is part of America, located in the Northern Hemisphere, between 17 degrees and 85 degrees North Latitude and between 55 degrees and 170 degrees Western longitude, almost entirely in the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Glacial Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by the Caribbean Sea and to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean and The Chiapas Depression in Mexico. Its extreme points are: to the North Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island; to the south the depression of Chiapas, in Mexico; to the east Cape Race on the island of Newfoundland and to the west the island of St. Lawrence in the Bering Strait. See list of countries in North America.
It is linked to South America by the narrow territorial bridge that represents Central America. It covers an area of approximately 24,315,410 km², about 4.8% of the planet’s surface. In 2009 its estimated population is over 480 million residents. Considered as a continent, it is the third in terms of area, after Asia and Africa, and the fourth in population after Asia, Africa and Europe.
North America stretches from North to South, from the Arctic Archipelago to the Chiapas Depression and from East to West from the island of Newfoundland to the Alaska Peninsula. It is a triangular continent, its greatest width is to the north and tapers to the south.
It is widely accepted that the name ” America ” comes from the navigator and explorer Americo Vespucci, and that it was named after the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller. Vespucci was the first European to suggest that America was not the East Indies, but a new world unknown to Europeans.
The names North America and South America arise as the continent is made up of two large land masses, one in the north and the other in the south. The second theory, with less acceptance, is that this name comes from an English merchant named Richard Amerike of Bristol, who is believed to have financed John Cabot’s trip from England to Newfoundland in 1497. Another theory is that the name comes from an Amerindian language.
Climate in North America
North America has practically the entire spectrum of climates from arctic to tropical. The north-south orientation of the mountains is decisive for the climate. Cold air masses can reach deep in the south in winter and warm air masses far north in summer. The temperatures increase from north to south continuously. The east of North America is more humid than the west. Precipitation only increases again directly on the west coast.
Tropical cyclones and even hurricanes frequently occur along the south and east coasts of North America from July to October.
There is an arctic climate in the north of the continent. The nine-month long frost period with temperatures as low as -40 degrees is only interrupted by a short, cool summer. Since the cold air absorbs little moisture, the precipitation is very low at 250 mm.
To the south is the zone with a continental climate. Here go cold, snowy winters and hot, humid and humid summers off. This zone is often hit by snowstorms in winter and tornadoes in summer.
Cool temperate climate
In the cool, temperate climate of the Canadian southeast coast, it is milder in winter than inland due to the influence of the Atlantic ; on the other hand, the summers are significantly cooler with an average of 16-20 degrees. The region is known for its changeable and foggy weather.
South of the continental zone are the subtropics of North America. Summers have warm, rainy weather with high humidity. The winter is mild and dry.
In California, the south coast contrasts with hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters.
At the southern tip of Florida, the climate is tropical and humid. Even in the cooler months, an average of 18 ° C is reached.
High mountain climate
The high elevations of the mountain ranges on the Pacific coast of North America form a zone with a high mountain climate. The temperatures are in all seasons relatively low.
The north west coast belongs to the temperate climate zone. The summers are moderately warm, the winters remain largely frost-free. With rainfall of up to 3,000 mm, it is the wettest region in North America.
The North American desert zone is located in the southwest of the USA. The climate is hot and very dry with strong temperature fluctuations between the times of the day.
Best travel time for North America
There are regionally different best travel times for North America.
Florida is a winter travel destination with pleasantly warm temperatures even from December to February.
The spring is suitable for travel to the southern United States. This is how visitors bypass the heat and tornadoes of summer, the hurricanes of autumn and the cooler temperatures of winter.
After California can – apart from the cool, damp phase in December and January – always travel.
The ideal travel time for the north east coast is between May and September.
The autumn offers for the New England states and the Great Lakes in to the Indian Summer to enjoy along with stunning foliage discoloration of forests.
Holidaymakers visit the Midwest in May or September, as the summer months are too hot and the winter months too cold.
You can only go all the way to the north in the halfway warm months of July and August.
For winter sports enthusiasts in the Rocky Mountains, only the phase from November to March is an option.
Also see Abbreviation Finder for a list of abbreviations and acronyms of all countries in the continent of North America.