Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

4: North America

  • Page ID
    21073
    • 4.1: North America's Physical Setting
      Traditionally, the continent of North America extends from the Canadian Arctic through the United States and Mexico to the narrow Isthmus of Panama. When considering the “region” of North America, however, that is, the area united by common physical and cultural characteristics, there are distinct similarities between Canada and the United States in terms of language and a shared history that are quite different from their Spanish-speaking neighbors to the south.
    • 4.2: North American History and Settlement
      Although Christopher Columbus is often credited with “discovering” America, the landmass was inhabited long before Europeans made contact. Most likely, early migrants to the Americas traveled from Asia through the Beringia land bridge that once connected Siberia and Alaska over 10,000 years ago. These indigenous peoples, known as First Nations in Canada or Native Americans in the United States, were divided into a number of different groups.
    • 4.3: Industrial Development in North America
      As the Industrial Revolution began in the United Kingdom in the mid-1700s and spread across Europe, the United States was still primarily based on agriculture and natural resource production. Some of the early innovations in industry were thus based on these raw resources, such as the cotton mill and textile factories. Hydropower was the key source of energy for these early manufacturing plants and thus they were located almost exclusively in the northeastern United States.
    • 4.4: The North American Urban Landscape
      North America’s urban landscape has been shaped both by colonization and by industrialization. Most of the early settlements in the region were small and were located close to the eastern coast. The Appalachian Mountains provided a formidable obstacle for early settlers before 1765. As settlement and colonization expanded, people moved steadily westward, still primarily situating close to waterways. Even today, most urban centers are located close to water.
    • 4.5: Patterns of Inequality in North America
      This income inequality is geographical, with the states in the south having significantly greater concentrations of people in poverty that the rest of the country. These regional differences are connected to historical differences in development. Just as the northern areas were the first to industrialize, they were the first areas to transition to more higher-income service industries.
    • 4.6: North America's Global Connections
      North America continues to have a significant role in global trade and influence. Both Canada and the United States are members of the Group of Eight (G8), a political forum of the world’s leading industrialized countries that also includes France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Both are also members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), an intergovernmental organization that collectively regulates international trade.

    • Was this article helpful?