American Geographic Characteristics

With an area of 42,044,000 km², it is the second largest land mass on planet Earth, covering 8.3% of its total surface area and 30.2% of the emerged land, and also concentrates about 12% of the human population.

Due to its large size and geographic characteristics, America is traditionally divided into North America, Central America, the West Indies, and South America. Based on their cultural characteristics, Anglo-Saxon America, the non-Latin Caribbean and Latin America are distinguished.

According to Countryaah, the American continent had previously been named Abya Yala by the ancient Mayans and Central American cultures, and Cem Anahuac by the Aztecs.


America corresponds to the second largest land mass on the planet, after Asia. It has an approximate area of 42,437,680 km². It extends from north to south from Cape Columbia (58ºN, Canada) in the Arctic Ocean to the Diego Ramírez Islands (56ºS, Chile), located in the Drake Pass that separates the American continent from Antarctica. Its easternmost point corresponds to Cape Branco in Brazil (34 ° 47’W) while the westernmost point corresponds to Attu Island in the Aleutian Islands (173 ° 11’E), next to the Bering Strait that separates Alaska from the mainland. Asian.


In the American territory, the plates of the earth’s crust (North American, Caribbean and South American) in their displacement from the center of the Atlantic towards the west, form the mountain range of the western edge of America, product of the subduction process of the Pacific plate. It is basically composed of a series of high mountain ranges on the western coast (mainly the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Andes, all part of the Ring of Fire) product of the collision of the continental plates with the oceanic and plains in the eastern areas.

Although the coast is largely regular, it has dismembered sections, mainly at its ends, giving rise to the islands of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland in the north, and Chile and Tierra del Fuego in the southern zone. Other important island groups are the Aleutian Islands in the extreme north-west, the Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, the Galapagos Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.


In North America, rivers of the three existing slopes can be identified: the Mackenzie River that flows into the Arctic slope, the Yukon, Colorado and Columbia rivers are the longest rivers on the Pacific Ocean slope, while on the Atlantic slope they stand out. the North Bravo River, the Mississippi-Missouri system, and the St. Lawrence River. Of all of them, the Mississippi stands out for being the longest and with the largest basin in this area of the continent, being the main river in the United States. In the lakes, those of the Great Lakes region stand out where lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Eire meet. All the above lakes share a glacial lake system, whose waters accumulate mainly due to winter thaws. These lakes are connected by rivers, canals and locks, emptying into the Atlantic through the Saint Lawrence River.

In Central America the rivers are short and correspond mainly to the Atlantic slope. These rivers fulfill several functions, even serving as borders; such is the case of the Segovia or Coco rivers (between Honduras and Nicaragua), the Lempa river (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) and the San Juan river (between Costa Rica and Nicaragua). In this area, the lakes are also smaller, highlighting lakes Nicaragua, Managua and Gatún, the latter, built by man, located in the Panama Canal, which provides the necessary water for ships to bridge the differences of level.

In South America, the Pacific slope reappears even though the rivers on the Atlantic slope are longer and more important. In the southern part of the continent, the Orinoco rivers, the Paraná-Río de la Plata system and the Amazon stand out. The Amazon River is the largest, the largest and the longest in the world, which forms the largest hydrographic basin in the world. Among the most important lakes in South America there are Lake Maracaibo, Titicaca, Poopó and Buenos Aires / General Carrera.


America has almost all of the existing climates. Between the coasts of Mexico and southern Brazil, the warm climate develops on the coastal plains and mountain slopes. The rainy intertropical climate and the jungle are characteristic of much of Central America, the Amazon plain and the Caribbean islands, while a savanna zone develops on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana.

In the subtropical zones close to latitude 30º there are arid zones, with desert characteristics such as the Sonora desert (southern United States and northern Mexico) and the Atacama (northern Chile), while in Patagonia it develops a cold desert climate. The steppes serve as a transitional passage to more temperate climates.

The temperate climate extends into the middle latitudes and mountain climbs, mainly on the Atlantic slope. The temperate climate with rains throughout the year extends to the coastal strips of Canada, Alaska and southern Chile, producing areas of mixed forest, while the temperate climate with summer rains is the most widespread climate on the continent, mainly in the Southeastern portion of the United States, central Mexico, and southeastern Brazil. The Mediterranean climate is found in California and the Chilean Central Valley, generating a style of vegetation known as chaparral.

Finally, cold climates extend along the extremes of the continent in the vicinity of the poles, especially in North America. The tundra is found throughout much of Alaska and Canada, and in the extreme south of South America; due to the effect of height in the Andean Puna and a large part of the mountainous areas. Finally, the polar climate is found in Greenland and the cold climate due to the height in the mountainous areas of the Rockies and the Andes.

American Geographic Characteristics