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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

North America


The original people of North America lived in a wide range of environments. On the grass plains of the Midwest they hunted to extinction several American species, including the camel and mammoth. On the east side of the continent there were woodlands, where they killed elk and deer.

The cultivation of crops in America begins in the Tehuacan valley, southeast of the present-day Mexico City. Squash and chili were the earliest plants to be grown around 5000 BC soon followed by maize and then by beans and gourds.

Satellite imagery of North America.

The early crops that were grown in North America were all species which needed to be individually planted, rather than their seeds being scattered or sown over broken ground, as there were no animals in America at this time strong enough to pull a plough.

Bjarni Herjólfsson, a 10th century Norse explorer, is believed to have been the first European to sight North America in 986 while blown off course for Greenland. Despite begging from his crew to explore, he refused to stop and look around. He was later criticized by King Eric of Norway for his lack of investigation

Leif Erikson, the first known European to have set foot on North America, made landfall at three places on the continent around 1000 AD, one of which he named Vinland - the land of wine.

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus sighted a Bahamian island, believing he had reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, becoming the first European to set foot in North America since Leif Erikson.

Christopher Columbus never set foot on mainland North America.

When Columbus returned to Spain he bought back with him the previously unknown tobacco plant, the pineapple fruit, the turkey and the chili pepper.. In his log he wrote "there is also plenty of ají, which is their pepper, which is more valuable than [black] pepper, and all the people eat nothing else, it being very wholesome"

Genoese navigator John Calbot discovered the mainland of North America. Little is known about his life. About 1490 he settled in Bristol, England, and set sail in 1497 with two ships, accompanied by his three sons. They made landfall somewhere on the coast of North America on June 24, 1497. The exact location of the landfall has long been disputed, with historians proposing either Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia) as the most likely places.

John Cabot in traditional Venetian garb by Giustino Menescardi (1762). 

America was named after either Italian cartographer Amerigo Vespucci or English merchant Richard Amerike, the money-man behind British ship Matthew, which discovered the North American mainland in 1497.

The Spanish established the first permanent settlement at St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. At St Augustine there was the first introduction of cattle, horses, pigs, and sheep into North America.

Map of North America, from 1621.

French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico between the late 1660s and his death in 1687. He was probably the first white man to visit the mid-west of North America.

Scottish-Canadian explorer Alexander Mackenzie was the first recorded person to complete a transcontinental crossing of North America north of Mexico, He reached the westernmost point of his journey on July 22, 1793 and inscribed his name on a rock near the water's edge of Dean Channel. Mackenzie wrote the message with a reddish paint made of vermilion and bear grease, and turned back east.

Inscription on a stone at the end of Alexander Mackenzie's 1792–1793 Canada crossing  Wikipedia

Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark left St. Louis to find a route to the Pacific Ocean on May 14, 1804. They arrived at the Pacific Coast of Oregon in November 1805 and returned to St Louis on September 23, 1806.

The final boundaries of the southern United States were formed creating North and South America on December 30, 1853.

The St. Roch, the first ship to circumnavigate North America, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1950.


North America covers an area of about 9,540,000 square miles (24,709,000 square kilometers), about 16.5% of the earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface.

 It is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa

In 2013, North America's population was estimated at nearly 565 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if the Caribbean is included. It is the 4th most populous continent.

There are eight time zones in North America.

America roughly translates in Chinese to 'beautiful country'.

Due to obesity, North America has 6% of the world's population and 34% of the world's human biomass.

In 1990, the most obese state in America still had a lower rate than the least obese state in America today.

The lowest temperature in North America, −63.9 °C (−83.0 °F), was recorded in Snag, Yukon on. February 3 1947.


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