THE CONTINENT OF NORTH AMERICA
North America is the fourth largest continent of the world. It occupies the next place to Asia, Europe and Africa. Financed by the king and queen of Spain the famous navigator Columbus of Italy discovered America miraculously instead of India in 1492.
Many small and large islands surrounding North America are included in this continent. The islands close to North Canada, Greenland, Newfoundland and West Indies are remarkable.
Location : The triangular continent extends from north of 830 North Latitude to the south of 80 North Latitude and from east of 520 West Longitude to the west of 1700 West Longitude. This continent is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean in the north, South America in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west.
Area : The area of this continent is about 2,23,14,239 square kilometres (Source: Data Sheet of World Population, 2000).
Physiography : The landform of North America is of varied nature. This continent is full of high mountains, wide river valleys, plateaus and plain lands. For this reason, the whole continent is divided into five physiographic regions: 1. The Western Mountainous Region;
2. The Eastern Highlands;
3. The Central Plain Region;
4. The Highlands of Central America;
5. The Coastal Plain.
1. The Western Mountainous Region : This mountainous region covers the whole of western part extending from the Bay of Alaska in the north to Panama canal in the south. The average height of this mountainous region is about 600 metres. But somewhere the height exceeds even 4,877 metres. This mountain 96 Social Science
tappers towards north and south but somewhere at the central part it widens up to about 325 to 1,770 metres.
This mountainous region consists of three parallel fold mountainous extending from north to south. Combinedly these are known as Cordillera. Of all these mountains, the Rocky Mountains situated to the east is the principal mountain range. This range extends from Alaska to the southern boundary of Mexico. The northern part of the Rocky in Alaska is known as Endicott Mountain and the southern end of Rocky in Mexico is known as East Sierra Madre. The central range of the Rocky is called the Alaska range, Cascade, Sierra Nevada and West Sierra Madre from the north to the south. The peak of McKinley (6,194 metres) is the highest peak in North America. The northern part of the western mountain range is known as St. Alias Alps and the southern part as Coast Range or Coastal mountains. British Columbia, Idaho Plateau, Great Basin, Colorado and Mexico Plateau are situated from north to south in the region between the Rocky and the Central Mountains.
2.The Eastern Highlands : This highland covers Greenland. Island in the north, Labrador Plateau and New England highland at the middle and the Appalachian highland extending almost upto Florida Island in the south. 3.The Central Plain Region : This is the largest region. This area covers about three-fifth of the total area of North America. This extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south and is located just at the central part of the east and west highlands. The central part is slightly high and gradually slopes towards the north and south coasts. The Lake Region of North America is situated to the north and the Mississippi Basin to the south of this plain.
4.The Highlands of Central America : The portion between Mexico and South America is known as Central America. The Mexican plateau is situated to the north of this region. The southern part of Cordillera i.e. the East and West Sierra Madre is the main physiographic characteristics of this region. There are a few volcanoes in this mountainous region. Nicaragua is the principal lake of the region.
The Continent of North America 97
Fig 9.1: Physiography of North America
5. The Coastal Plain : The coastal plain covers the East and West Coastal Plain of North America. The...