North America is one of three continents including South America and Oceania that comprised what has been referred to as the “New World” since European settlement commenced in the 15th century (Nationalgeographic.com, web). It encompasses five physical regions: the mountainous west, the Great Plains, the Canadian Shield, the varied eastern region, and the Caribbean. North America is home to the citizens of Canada, the United States, Greenland, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and the island countries and territories of the Caribbean Sea and western North Atlantic Ocean (Nationalgeographic.com, web).
Plentiful natural resources, a series of varying regions with tremendously different terrain and precipitation have led North American nations such as the United States and Canada to develop a multitude of financial activities. These include mining, agriculture, fur trading, ship building, drilling for oil, minerals, fishing and much more. Native American activity played a large role in how these nations developed over the course of time, as their customs are still heeded today. The procurement and management of the continents rich amounts of natural resources are what created the foundation for America to become the world’s largest economy and a superpower (Nationalgeographic.com, web). Politically, Canada and the United States have remained very stable as well as being major players in the international arena. South America has been prone to instability and uprisings, due to their development not being on a par with their Northern neighbors. Not that they are backwards and don’t also possess rich natural resource stores, but they remained colonies much longer than the United States and enjoy a different historical background.
These nations possess some of the newest mountains in the world, with the Mississippi River being one of the world’s longest (Nationalgeographic.com, web). It drains 31 of the 50 US states. In addition, the Great Lakes Region is the world’s largest body of freshwater (Nationalgeographic.com, web). North America has a little bit of everything, as it has canyons, deserts, mountains and beaches. This variety has also enabled North America to become a sort of melting pot for cultures, ideas and religions. It is certainly unique when compared to the other six continents.
With its vast reserves of oil, coal and other fossil fuels, North America will still have to contend what other areas of the world will be facing in the coming decades and that is how to conserve energy or alter how it is used. Also, they face the problem of global warming, climate change and pollution. All these issues are international in nature and should not be assigned merely to North America. With climate change, the citizens of these countries will see the landscapes and weather altered. For example, the levels of the ocean may rise to cover what is now considered as shoreline. Varying amounts of precipitation or aridity will influence agricultural aspects, which could in turn shift the stability of political systems.
They will have to find ways to feed all their people and provide adequate care for them. It will be interesting to see what the future holds in store for North America. Especially with the increasing nature of globalization. The world is becoming much unified and issues are not relegated to merely one region but are becoming concerns for the entire planet. Hence we have accords such as the Kyoto Protocol and increasingly rely on international organizations to address global concerns. This includes conflicts, such as in Iraq and Syria, trade agreements and various other groups such as the European Union, ASEAN and NATO. Although geography certainly played a tremendous role in how nations have developed, technology has broken down many barriers.
- Frazier, John. “Race, Ethnicity and Place in a Changing America: A Perspective” State University of New York Press, Albany. 2010. Retrieved from http://www.sunypress.edu
- Kacowicz, Arie. “Regionalization, Globalization and Nationalism: Convergent, Divergent and Overlapping?” The Kellogg Institute. December 1998. Retrieved from https://www3.nd.edu/~kellogg/
- Nationalgeographic.com. “North America: Human Geography” Nationalgeographic.com. web. 2014. Retrieved from http://education.nationalgeographic.com/