North America's extensive agricultural lands (especially in Canada and the United States) are a result of the interrelationship of favorable climatic conditions, fertile soils, and technology. Irrigation has turned certain arid and semiarid regions into productive oases. North America produces most of the world's corn, meat, cotton, soybeans, tobacco, and wheat, along with a variety of other food and industrial raw material crops. Mineral resources are also abundant; the large variety includes coal, iron ore, bauxite, copper, natural gas, petroleum, mercury, nickel, potash, and silver. The manufacturing that provided a high standard of living for the people of Canada and the United States has significantly declined, and formerly abundant factory jobs are increasingly replaced by those in the service sector. Much of this manufacturing has moved to Mexico (especially in the border zone adjoining the United States), which offers a large and inexpensive labor force.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.