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North America - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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North America. Overview.

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  • Canada, the United States, and Mexico make up the largest part of the continent of North America. The countries of Central America also are part of the continent, and several islands, including the West Indies and Greenland, are associated with North America. It is third in size and fourth in population among Earth's continents.

Land and climate
Land and Climate

  • Belts of mountains run along the east and west sides of North America. In the east are the Laurentians and the Appalachians. The mountains in the west are much taller. They include the Rocky Mountains, which extend from Canada to Mexico. Mexico has the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental in the east.

  • Between the Appalachians and the Atlantic Ocean in the east is a low coastal plain. Another vast lowland stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians. Between Mexico's eastern and western mountain systems lies a high central plateau

  • Most of North America has a mild climate, with warm summers, cold winters, and moderate rainfall. However, much of Alaska and northern Canada have bitterly cold winters and short, cool summers. Parts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico are very dry, with regions of desert and semidesert. Central America has hot weather and heavy rainfall throughout the year

Plants and animals
Plants and Animals

  • The mountainous parts of North America contain large areas of thick forests. Douglas fir, redwood, pine, and spruce trees grow along the northern Pacific Coast. Tropical hardwood forests grow in Mexico and Central America. Few plants grow in the desert and cold northern regions. Prairies form a belt between forest and desert, mainly on the Great Plains of the central part of the continent.

  • Animals native to North America include bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, and elk. There are also mountain lions (pumas), bobcats, lynx, coyotes, wolves, and bears. Deer thrive in many areas, while squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons have adapted to areas inhabited by humans. Alligators, snakes, wild pigs, colorful birds, and monkeys live in the warmer southern regions.

  • Human activity has greatly affected the plants and animals. By the mid-1900s the United States had killed much of its wildlife, cut more than half its timber, and plowed up nearly all its grassland. Much of this was done to clear the land for cities to develop. In the second half of the 1900s the countries of North America began to protect some of their land and animals.


  • The original inhabitants of North America were Native Americans. In Mexico and parts of Central America, more than 80 percent of the people have at least some American Indian ancestors. Most of the people in the United States and Canada are of European descent. In the United States an important minority of the people have ancestors from Africa who were brought over as slaves

  • In the United States and most of Canada the main language is English. French is spoken in parts of eastern Canada, particularly Quebec. Spanish is the main language in Mexico and Central America and is also spoken by many people in the United States.

  • Most of the continent's people are Christian. Canada has more Roman Catholics than Protestants, and nearly all Mexicans are Roman Catholic. In the United States all major religions are represented, though more than half the people follow Protestant faiths. The United States and Canada have Jewish and Muslim minorities


“North America." Britannica Elementary Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 5  Jan.  2012.<>.