North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It 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 565 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world’s population, if nearby islands (most notably the Caribbean) are included. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect different kind of interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants. European influences are strongest in the northern parts of the continent while indigenous and African influences are relatively stronger in the south. Because of the history of colonialism, most North Americans speak English, Spanish or French and societies and states commonly reflect Western traditions.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “North America”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.