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The North American Continent

As if kept aside, carefully cordoned off by great oceans by God for his children to discover it for themselves when they are able enough, the South and North American continents lie connected to Eurasia only barely at the tips through what is today called the Bering Strait. This is the connection believed to have been first used for inhabiting the North American continent by migratory groups from north-west Asia around 12,000 BC.

Calling them "Indians" was a mistake that was started by Christopher Columbus mistaking the continent for the Indian sub continent in the East. The movements of indigenous Americans into South America over centuries and European colonization have made their population thinner today in North America. It brought the latest that was springing up with the Renaissance in Europe. The developments in both the northern continents had naturally gained equal pace to build what is today North America.

Geography

North America connects to the other continents in very minor regions as compared to the size of it. The third largest continent after Asia and Africa, North America is connected to South America by the Isthmus of Panama, the southern limit being Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. The continent is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on the East and the Arctic Ocean on the West, and the Gulf of Mexico in the eastern indent of the mainland. The Arctic Archipelago in the North and the Bahamas, Caribbean and the thousands of islands towards the tropics are considered part of North America.

The North American mainland is primarily divided into four geographical regions. The Great Plains extend from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian Arctic. The western region including the Rocky Mountains, California, the Great Basin and Alaska is a new terrain in geological terms. A raised plateau extends over the Canadian north-east. On the eastern part of the continent, towards the coast, the Appalachian Mountains run down a few hundred miles inside from the Atlantic coast. Mexico being the fourth region mostly gets the extension of the Western terrain.

The climate in North America varies mainly dependent on the terrain and the latitudes. The northern parts of Canada and the Arctic Archipelago are very cold throughout the year. Places like Alaska and north east Canada however do not fail to attract some adventurous tourists. Most of the western mountains have a semi-arid or a desert climate. The greenery and moisture increase along this terrain southwards as the continent tapers bringing the sea closer. Most of the remaining continent has humid continental and sub-tropical patterns of climate. Most of tropical North America can be really hot with moderate rainfall in summer.

History, people and culture: 

In the Home of Liberty, European colonization ended with the victory of the new settlers against their native authority back in Europe. The British, who held most of the North American territories, lost their power over America in the American War of Independence that lasted from 1771 until England signed the peace treaty in 1783.

Most of North America is cosmopolitan. Although mostly populated by races of European origin, being an early business centre made North America renowned for its mixed social pattern. After the War of Independence, the USA was involved in wars with Turks, the French and once with Britain as a struggle to retain Independence. With a new order of justice and liberty in effect, most of North America progressed into the free-market boom, gradually pushing the average economic strength of the continent to match with major colonizers such as the British, which also had come into peaceful terms with North American authorities.

Slavery remained a means of livelihood and luxury for European field owners. African natives who today form a major part of North American society are descendents of the African population brought in to work in farms of European settlers. Although the official abolishing of slavery came into effect in the 1800's, certain North American institutions have often been alleged for racial discrimination against Africans natives.

America's involvement in the World Wars is considered defensive, except for the nuclear attacks on Japan. Most of North America's 20th century history is marked with cold ties with Soviet Russia, and wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan. In the recent past, North American governments have been subject to threats of terrorism and have been involved in the resurgence in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Present day culture in North America has its roots in a variety of cultures and native art forms brought in by immigrants. One of the longest standing art forms originates from the improvised music of the African slaves, giving rise to Jazz, Blues and Rock which provide the base for modern western music. American country music of the European natives blended over the years with Blues and Rock. The Mediterranean influences have shaped the costal cultures through music, literature, dance and architecture, mostly felt in the tropical regions. Most of the North American monuments in major cities have significant historical background.

English is the most commonly used language. However, French is more prevalent in erstwhile French colonies and Hispanic around the southern regions around Mexico.

Places of interest and night life:
  
Tourist attractions in North America vary greatly amongst natural treasures of the continent. Places of historical importance and advanced architecture are also great attractions.

  • Grand Canyon - Located in Arizona this is one of America's biggest natural heritage sites and most beautiful sceneries. It is gated by the Grand Canyon National Park which is the one of the oldest national parks. With the terrain, one of its kind, it lies 446 km long with a 4-18 km width and over a mile in depth. It is believed to have been created by the Colorado River for more than 5.4 million years. Populated by ancestral Pluebloan prior to Spanish colonization in the area, the place has often been a destination for expeditionary activities. The area being rimmed by forested regions receives precipitation, but less often in the Inner Gorge.
  • Montreal Botanical Garden - Located in Quebec, Canada, this place exhibits over 22,000 plant species and 30 thematic gardens. This is considered to be one of the world's largest and most spectacular botanical gardens. Irrespective of the season, the gardens are lush with captivating colours and scents from around the globe.
  • The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History - Located in Mexico, this is a museum meant to preserve the Art and history of Albuquerque and Middle Rio Grande Valley. It has masterpieces giving the artistic tourist a worth for his money. The museum houses an extensive photo archive, apart from art galleries and outdoor garden sculpture, weavings and other artefacts.
  • Central Park Zoo - Located in New York, the Central Park Zoo is a marvel with 25 million visitors each year. A huge number of migratory birds is seen flocking into the premises. The park is a safe haven for strollers, athletes and musicians and has been recommended by visitors for more than 150 years.
  • Statue of Liberty - A gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, this symbolic monument stands since October 28 in 1886 as a symbol of friendship. The destination is open all days of the year except the December 25 and can be visited any time between 8.30 am and 6.15 pm. The torch on the statue was changed into a 24k gold leaf illuminated from inside in 1984.
  • The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum - Due to reopen in 2010 summer, this place symbolizes a defining moment in the history of American Independence. Established in 1973, 200 years to the victory of American patriots against British forces on ships three tea ships.
  • Vancouver Aquarium - A non-profit Canadian organization, this forum dedicates itself to the conservation of water life. Holding regular shows and special events, the organization targets education too. Among the many life forms seen there, opportunities to interact with dolphins, beluga whales, sea turtles, the stellar sea lions and the sea otter are major crowd pullers.
  • Computer History Museum - Located on the way to the California airport, this museum serves as an essential and interesting tourist spot. For the techie tourist, this may as well be silicon to hide him. Housing revolutionary technical masterpieces, this museum also attracts the biggest minds of the technology world.
  • White House Park - Located in Washington DC in front of the President's residence, this is central to symbolizing the visit to the State. Lush with beautiful gardens, trees and shrubs, this historic place draws many tourists.

Las Vegas and some Mexican towns are open all night and give you as much fun as you could take. New York pubs hold some world-class performances and so does the Film Festival. From the best musicians to the most glamorous gambling dens, it's all there to make the North American night life a lifetime experience. However, strict anti-drug laws in most of North America make sure the best partying zones stay under control.

Original Authors: Shampa
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 17/11/2009
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