Americas (terminology)

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Subdivisions of the Americas
Map Legend
  North America (NA)
  South America (SA)
  May be included in
       either NA or SA
  North America (NA)
  May be included in NA
  Central America
  South America
  North America (NA)
  May be included in NA

       Northern America

  Middle America (MA)
  Caribbean (may be
        included in MA)
  South America (SA)
  May be included
        in MA or SA
  Anglo-America (A-A)
  May be included in A-A
  Latin America (LA)
  May be included in LA

The Americas, also known as America,[1] are lands of the Western Hemisphere, composed of numerous entities and regions variably defined by geography, politics, and culture.

The Americas are recognised in the English-speaking world to include two separate continents: North America and South America. The Americas are also considered to be a single continent named America in parts of Europe, Latin America and some other areas.[which?][2]

Physical geography[edit]

Human geography[edit]

Geographical or geopolitical regions[edit]

United Nations geoscheme[edit]

United Nations geoscheme for the Americas
  Central America
  Northern America
  South America

Within this scheme, the continent of America includes Northern America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.[19]

Political divisions[edit]

United States of America
Confederate States of America (1861-1865)
Federal Republic of Central America (1823-1840)
West Indies Federation (1958-1962)

Linguistic/cultural regions[edit]

  • Anglo-America—the region of the Americas having significant historical, linguistic, and cultural links to England or the British Isles, i.e., Anglophone; often just Canada and the United States.
  • Latin America—the region of the Americas where Romance languages derived from Latin–namely Spanish, Portuguese, and variably French–are officially or primarily spoken. Though French is spoken in Quebec, it is typically not included due to Canada's links to Britain.
  • Mesoamerica—a region of the Americas extending from central Mexico southeast to Nicaragua and Costa Rica; a term used especially in archaeology and ethnohistory for the region where an array of civilizations had flourished during the pre-Columbian era, and which shared a number of historical and cultural traditions.
    • Mesoamerican Linguistic Area—a sprachbund, or linguistic region, defined as the area inhabited by speakers of a set of indigenous languages which have developed certain similarities as a result of their historic and geographical connections; roughly co-terminate with the archaeological/ethnohistorical Mesoamerica.
  • Aridoamerica—an archaeological/ethnohistorical regional division, essentially comprising the arid/semi-arid northern portion of present-day Mexico, whose historical peoples are generally characterised by a nomadic existence and minimal reliance on agriculture.
  • Oasisamerica—an occasionally used archaeological/ethnohistorical term for a (pre-Columbian) cultural region of North America.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "America." The Oxford Companion to the English Language (ISBN 0-19-214183-X). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 33: "[16c: from the feminine of Americus, the Latinized first name of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512). A claim is also made for the name of Richard Ameryk, sheriff of Bristol and patron of John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), the 16c Anglo-Italian explorer of North America. The name America first appeared on a map in 1507 by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, referring to the area now called Brazil]. Since the 16c, a name of the western hemisphere, often in the plural Americas and more or less synonymous with the New World. Since the 18c, a name of the United States of America. The second sense is now primary in English: ... However, the term is open to uncertainties: ..."
  2. ^ Martin W. Lewis; Karen E. Wigen (1997). "Chapter One, The Architecture of Continents". The Myth of Continents. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20742-4.
  3. ^ a b "Middle America", Encyclopædia Britannica, on line. Accessed October 12, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c "Middle America." Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. Accessed October 11, 2007.
  5. ^ Nord-Amèrica, in Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana Archived 2016-05-15 at the Portuguese Web Archive
  6. ^ "Central America". Encyclopædia Britannica, on line. Accessed October 12, 2007.
  7. ^ "North America". Michigan State University Global Access. Archived from the original on 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
  8. ^ "Joint Statement by Prime Minister Harper, President Bush, and President Calderón". The White House. 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  9. ^ "Citizenship and Human Rights in the North American Region". Centre of North American Politics and Society, Carleton University. 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  10. ^ "Teaching Geography and Geopolitics". Foreign Policy Research Institute. May 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  11. ^ pp. 30–31, Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts, H. J. de Blij and Peter O. Muller, Wiley, 12th ed., 2005 (ISBN 0-471-71786-X.)
  12. ^ p. 168, Lewis and Wigen.
  13. ^ Burchfield, R. W., ed. 2004. "America." Fowler's Modern English Usage (ISBN 0-19-861021-1) New York: Oxford University Press, p. 48
  14. ^ McArthur, Tom. 1992."North American." The Oxford Companion to the English Language (ISBN 0-19-214183-X) New York: Oxford University Press, p. 707.
  15. ^ "North America", MSN Encarta, Microsoft. Accessed on line October 10, 2007. Archived 2009-10-31.
  16. ^ "Central America", MSN Encarta, Microsoft. Accessed on line October 12, 2007. Archived 2009-10-31.
  17. ^ "Central America", Encyclopedia Americana, Grolier: 2002.
  18. ^ "South America", MSN Encarta, Microsoft. Accessed on line October 12, 2007. Archived 2009-10-31.
  19. ^ Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings. United Nations Statistics Division, Country and Region Codes. Revised August 28, 2007. Accessed on line October 12, 2007.
  20. ^ Mexican Congress Archived 2008-03-15 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Decreto Constitucional para la Libertad de la América Mexicana Archived 2013-05-20 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ What's the difference between North, Latin, Central, Middle, South, Spanish and Anglo America? Archived 2016-04-10 at the Wayback Machine Geography at Accessed on line October 12, 2007.