Portal:North America

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The North America Portal

Location North America.svg

North America is a continent in the Earth's northern hemisphere and western hemisphere. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southeast by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by the North Pacific Ocean; South America lies to the southeast. It covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 4.8% of the planet's surface or about 16.5% of its land area. As of July 2008, its population was estimated at nearly 529 million people. It is the third-largest continent in area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth in population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. North America and South America are collectively known as the Americas or simply America.

Satellite imagery of North America

North and South America are generally accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, and was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies. Scientists have several theories as to the origins of the early human population of North America. The indigenous peoples of North America themselves have many creation myths, by which they assert that they have been present on the land since its creation. Before contact with Europeans, the natives of North America were divided into many different polities, from small bands of a few families to large empires. They lived in several "culture areas", which roughly correspond to geographic and biological zones and give a good indication of the main lifeway or occupation of the people who lived there.

Countries and territories

Territories, dependencies, and subnational entities of a country not located primarily in North America are italicized.

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Florentine codex
Nahuatl is a group of related languages and dialects of the Aztecan, or Nahuan, branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. All Nahuan languages are indigenous to Mesoamerica and are spoken by an estimated 1.5 million Nahua people, most of whom live in Central Mexico.

Nahuatl has been spoken in Central Mexico since at least the 7th century AD. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 16th century it was the language of the Aztecs, who dominated central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology. The expansion and influence of the Aztec Empire led to the dialect spoken by the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan becoming a prestige language in Mesoamerica in this period. With the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl also became a literary language and many chronicles, grammars, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in the 16th and 17th centuries. This early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan dialect has been labeled Classical Nahuatl and is among the most-studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.

Today Nahuan dialects are spoken in scattered communities mostly in rural areas. There are considerable differences between dialects, and some are mutually unintelligible. They have all been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern dialects are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are generally more closely related to it than those on the periphery.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial design
Credit: Maya Lin
Maya Lin's original competition submission for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.. Originally designed as a student project at Yale University's School of Architecture in 1981, the memorial is a black granite wall, in the shape of a V, on which the names of American servicemen killed or missing in action from the Vietnam War are inscribed. The architect hoped that "these names, seemingly infinite in number, [would] convey the sense of overwhelming numbers, while unifying these individuals into a whole."

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Vermont coppers

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Hilary Putnam
Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is an American philosopher who has been a central figure in Western philosophy since the 1960s, especially in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science. He is known for his willingness to apply an equal degree of scrutiny to his own philosophical positions as to those of others, subjecting each position to rigorous analysis until he exposes its flaws. As a result, he has acquired a reputation for frequently changing his own position.

In philosophy of mind, Putnam is known for his argument against the type-identity of mental and physical states based on his hypothesis of the multiple realizability of the mental, and for the concept of functionalism, an influential theory regarding the mind-body problem. In philosophy of language, along with Saul Kripke and others, he developed the causal theory of reference, and formulated an original theory of meaning, inventing the notion of semantic externalism based on a famous thought experiment called Twin Earth.

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Theodore Roosevelt Minnesota State Fair, 3 September 1901

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