North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.
North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface.
North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if nearby islands (most notably the Caribbean) are included.
Countries and territories
The Mayan languages
form a language family
spoken in Mesoamerica
and northern Central America
. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya
, primarily in Guatemala
, and Belize
. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name, and Mexico recognizes
eight more. The Mayan language family is one of the best documented and most studied in the Americas
. Modern Mayan languages descend from Proto-Mayan
, a language thought to have been spoken at least 5,000 years ago; it has been partially reconstructed
using the comparative method
Mayan languages form part of the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area, an area of linguistic convergence developed throughout millennia of interaction between the peoples of Mesoamerica. All Mayan languages display the basic diagnostic traits of this linguistic area.
During the pre-Columbian era of Mesoamerican history, some Mayan languages were written in the Maya hieroglyphic script. Its use was particularly widespread during the Classic period of Maya civilization (c. 250–900 CE). The surviving corpus of over 10,000 known individual Maya inscriptions on buildings, monuments, pottery and bark-paper codices, combined with the rich postcolonial literature in Mayan languages written in the Latin alphabet, provides a basis for the modern understanding of pre-Columbian history unparalleled in the Americas.
Did you know...
Earl William "Madman" Muntz
(January 3, 1914 – June 21, 1987) was an American businessman
who sold and promoted cars and consumer electronics
in the United States from the 1930s until his death in 1987. He was a pioneer in television commercials
with his oddball "Madman" persona
– an alter ego
who generated publicity with his unusual costumes, stunts, and outrageous claims. Muntz also pioneered car stereos by creating the Muntz Stereo-Pak
, better known as the 4-track cartridge, a predecessor to the 8-track cartridge
developed by Lear Industries
He invented the practice that came to be known as Muntzing, which involved simplifying otherwise complicated electronic devices. Muntz produced and marketed the first black-and-white television receivers to sell for less than $100, and created one of the earliest functional widescreen projection TVs. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Detroit News and Los Angeles Times credit him with coining the abbreviation "TV" for television, although the term had earlier been in use in call letters for stations such as WCBS-TV.
||Who could conquer Tenochitlán? Who could shake the foundation of heaven?
— Unknown Aztec