America

America is often divided into North America, Central America and South America as well as including the Caribbean region and the concept of Latin America. North America consists of Canada, Mexico and the United States of America. Central America contains Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The Caribbean region consists of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and the Windward Islands. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela comprise South America.

The term Latin America is widely used to include the Spanish, Portuguese (and French) speaking parts of the Americas, such as Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela.
 
The Atlantic Ocean, bordering the east coast of the Americas, is relatively shallow compared to the Pacific Ocean, and has wide continental margins. The Amazon River flows into the equatorial Atlantic and other large rivers such as the St Lawrence, Mississippi, Orinoco, Rio de la Plata drain into this basin. The Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea are both shallow, semi-enclosed waters which make them sensitive to the heavy loads of industrial wastes, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides as well as areas of increasing population and coastal land use.

The Pacific Ocean to the west of the Americas has rugged mountains which parallel the coastline and narrow continental margins because the mountain slopes continue below sea level. The rivers are short and low volume resulting in an ocean that is less affected by land than either the Atlantic or Indian Oceans.

More information and images on North America and South America provided by our National Geographic partner.

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