North America

North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of a single continent, America. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean. Because it is on the North American Tectonic Plate, Greenland is included as part of North America geographically.

North America
Area24,709,000 km2 (9,540,000 sq mi) (3rd)
Population592,296,233 (2021; 4th)
Population density22.9/km2 (59.3/sq mi)[lower-alpha 1]
GDP (PPP)$26.55 trillion (2021 est.; 2nd)[1]
GDP (nominal)$24.88 trillion (2021 est.; 2nd)[2]
GDP per capita$49,430 (2021 est.; 2nd)[c][3]
DemonymNorth American
Countries23 sovereign states
Dependencies23 non-sovereign territories
LanguagesEnglish, Spanish, French, and many others
Time zonesUTC-10 to UTC
Largest citiesList of urban areas:[4]
UN M49 code003 – North America
019Americas
001World
Map of populous North America showing physical, political and population characteristics as per 2018

North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the Earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third-largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population.

North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge approximately 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. The so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Archaic or Meso-Indian period). The classic stage spans roughly the 6th to 13th centuries. The pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, with the beginning of the transatlantic migrations of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the early modern period. However, the first recorded European references to North America (other than Greenland) are around 1000 AD in Norse sagas in which it is referred to as Vinland. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves, immigrants from Europe, Asia, and South Asia, and the descendants of these groups.

Owing to Europe's colonization of the Americas, most North Americans speak European languages such as English, Spanish or French, and their cultures commonly reflect Western traditions. However, in parts of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America, there are indigenous populations continuing their cultural traditions and speaking their own languages.