Introduction about North America
North America, third largest continent, c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), about 4.8% of the planet's surface or about 16.4% of its land area, the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. North America includes all of the mainland and related offshore islands lying North of the Isthmus of Panama (which connects it with South America).
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. The term “Anglo-America” is frequently used in reference to Canada and the United States combined, while the term “Middle America” is used to describe the region including Mexico, the republics of Central America, and the Caribbean.
Climate of North America
North America, extending to within 10° of latitude of both the equator and the North Pole, embraces every climatic zone, from tropical rain forest and savanna on the lowlands of Central America to areas of permanent ice cap in central Greenland. Subarctic and tundra climates prevail in N Canada and N Alaska, and desert and semiarid conditions are found in interior regions cut off by high mountains from rain-bearing westerly winds. However, a high proportion of the continent has temperate climates very favorable to settlement and agriculture.
North America is the only continent that has every kind of climate, from the dry, bitter cold of the Arctic to the steamy heat of the tropics. An icecap permanently covers the interior of Greenland, where the temperature almost never rises above freezing. In the North American tundra, the vast treeless plain of the far north, the temperature rises above freezing for only a short period each summer. In the low-lying areas of the far south, it is hot and rainy all the time.
Most of the rest of North America is cold in the winter and warm in the summer, with moderate precipitation. Some areas have mild winters and long, hot summers. Other areas have harsh winters and short summers.
The highest temperature ever recorded in North America was 134 degrees F. (57 degrees C) at Death Valley in 1913. The lowest temperature was -87 degrees F. (-66 degrees C) at Northice in Greenland in 1954.