NORTH AMERICA

North America is a continent of enormous diversity, with vast mountain ranges, huge, flat, grassy plains, hot deserts, and frozen ice caps. In the south lie the tropical islands of the Caribbean and the rainforests of Central America. To the far north, a polar ice cap 2 miles (3 km) thick covers most of Greenland. Most North Americans live in the large cities on the east and west coasts. The Great Plains and deserts west of the Mississippi River are sparsely populated, as are the forests and frozen wastes of northern Canada and Alaska.

FACTFILE: NORTH AMERICA

Total land area: 9,358,340 sq miles (24,238,000 sq km)

Total population: 493 million

Number of countries: 23

Largest country: Canada 3,851,788 sq miles (9,976,140 sq km)

Smallest country: Grenada 131 sq miles (340 sq km)

Largest country population: United States 289 million

Largest lake: Lake Superior, Canada/US 32,140 sq miles (83,270 sq km)

Longest river: Mississippi–Missouri 3,740 miles (6,019 km)

Highest point: Mt. McKinley (Denali), Alaska 20,322 ft (6,194 m)

Major deserts: Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts

Largest island: Greenland 836,327 sq miles (2,166,086 sq km)

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley