7. Central America
Central America is the region of North America located between the southern border of Mexico and the northwest border of Colombia, in South America. Some geographers classify Central America as a large isthmus, and in this geographic sense it sometimes includes the portion of Mexico east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, namely the Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. However, Central America is much more commonly understood to correspond with the nations between Mexico and Colombia.
In this most common definition, Central America consists of the countries of:
Central America thus has an area of about 540,000 km² (208,500 square miles), and a width between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea ranging from about 560 km to about 50 km (350 miles to about 30 miles).
Additionally, there was a nation of Central America in the early 19th century, consisting of the present day nations of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (and a portion of the modern Mexican state of Chiapas). This was sometimes known as the United Provinces of Central America or the United States of Central America.
The related term Mesoamerica (occasionally also called "Middle America") is used in English mostly restricted to referring to the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures of this region, which extended north into central Mexico.
8. North America
North America is the third largest continent in area and the fourth ranked in population. It is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the North Pacific Ocean. It covers an area of 9,355,000 square miles (24,230,000 square kilometres). In 2001 its population was estimated at 454,225,000.
North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, the Americas, or simply America. North America's only land connection is to South America at the narrow Isthmus of Panama. According to some authorities, North America begins not at the Isthmus of Panama but at the narrows of Tehuantepec, with the intervening region called Central America. Most, however, prefer to see Central America as a subcontinent or region of North America.
On the main continent itself there are three large and relatively populous countries: Canada (some large islands off the shore of North America and belonging to Canada include Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands on the west, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island on the east, and Ellesmere Island, Baffin Island, and Victoria Island in the north); Mexico (including the Revillagigedo archipelago and numerous smaller islands closer to the coast); and most of the United States (includes the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, but not the US state of Hawaii which lies in the Pacific Ocean).
At the extreme southern end of the continent, in a relatively small area called Central America, are the countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, site of the Panama Canal.
The United States and Canada are sometimes grouped under the term Anglo-America while the rest of North America (not including Greenland, and some islands off the mainland coast) and South America is grouped under the term Latin America.
It should be noted that the term "North America", when employed in a context other than geography, may mean different things to different people. To many Americans and Canadians the term, in common usage, is often taken to mean "The United States of America and Canada, only", excluding Mexico and the countries of Central America, unless the context makes it clear that they are to be included (for instance, with specific reference to Mexico, when talking about NAFTA). This is due to the fact that culturally and economically, the USA and Canada are more alike to each other than they are to the rest of North America. Mexicans, however, are acutely aware that Mexico is a part of North America and object to this usage. The Central Americans, however, are generally content to be called Central Americans.
At the extreme southeastern end of the continent lies a chain of islands territories called the Antilles, the Caribbean or the West Indies, which include:
Anguilla (British dependency)
Antigua and Barbuda
Aruba (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
British Virgin Islands (British dependency)
Cayman Islands (British dependency)
Dominica (Commonwealth of)
Guadeloupe (overseas department of France)
Martinique (overseas department of France)
Montserrat (British dependency)
Navassa Island (U.S. territory)
Netherlands Antilles (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
Puerto Rico (U.S. commonwealth)
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands (British dependency)
U.S. Virgin Islands (territory of the USA)
Lying in the Atlantic Ocean but considered part of the continent are Bermuda, a British dependency; Greenland, a self-governing dependency of Denmark, the largest island in the world, located in the far north of the continent, to the east of Canada's Nunavut Territory; and Saint Pierre and Miquelon, found off the coast of Canada, the last of France's once vast North American possessions.
Arguably, four great regions can be discerned: the central lowlands, or Great Plains stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Candian Arctic; the geologically young, mountainous west, including the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, California and Alaska; the raised but relatively flat plateau of the Canadian Shield in the northeast; and the varied eastern region, which includes the Appalachian Mountains, the coastal plain along the Atlantic seaboard, and the Florida peninsula. Mexico, with its long plateaus and cordilleras, falls largely in the western region, although the eastern coastal plain does extend south along the Gulf.
The western mountains are split in the middle, into the main range of the Rockies and the coast ranges in California, Oregon and Washington state, with the Great Basin -- a lower area containing smaller ranges -- in between. The highest peak is Denali in Alaska (which can be considered the tallest in the world if measured from the base to the summit, as distinct from sea level to summit).
9. Polar Region
The Arctic is the area around the Earth's North Pole. The Arctic includes parts of Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Lapland and Svalbard as well as the Arctic Ocean. The 10°C (50°F) July isotherm is commonly used to define the border of the Arctic region.
The Arctic is also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun as it is within the Arctic Circle.
The name Arctic comes from the ancient Greek word, meaning 'bear', and is a reference to the constellations of the Great Bear and Little Bear, which are located near the North Star (which is actually part of the Little Bear).
Antarctica is a continent surrounding the Earth's South Pole. It is the coldest place on earth and is almost entirely covered by ice.
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in area, after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. However, it is the smallest in population. It is also the continent with the highest average altitude, and the lowest average humidity of any continent on Earth, as well as the lowest average temperature.
Several nations, particularly those close to the continent, made territorial claims in the 20th century. These claims have little practical relevance but continue to be observed by cartographers.
Most countries that have observation or study facilities in Antarctica have those facilities within their claimed territory. The Antarctic Treaty defers these claims and most other nations do not recognize them. No other nations have made claims themselves, although the United States and Russia assert the right to do so.
Argentina: 25°W to 74°W; overlaps Chilean and British claims; claimed 1943 as part of the Tierra del Fuego - Antarctica & South Atlantic Isles province Australia: 160°E to 142°E and 136°E to 45°E; claimed 1933 as the Australian Antarctic Territory Brazil: 28°W to 53°W; overlaps Argentine, British and Chilean claims; Zone of Interest designated 1986 Chile: 53°W to 90°W; Overlaps Argentine and British Claims; claimed 1940, see Chilean Antarctic Territory France: 142°E to 136°E; claimed 1924 as part of the French Southern Territories. It is called Terre Adélie New Zealand: 150°W to 160°E; claimed 1923, see Ross Dependency Norway: 45°E to 20°E; claimed 1938 as Dronning Maud Land, and including Peter I Island United Kingdom: 20°W to 80°W; overlaps Argentine and Chilean claims; claimed 1908, see British Antarctic Territory and the lists of its Administrators, Commissioners, and High Commissioners.
No formal claims have been made in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west.
10. Australia (Oceania)
The Commonwealth of Australia is the sixth-largest country in the world (geographically), the only one to occupy an entire continent, and the largest in the region of Australasia. Australia includes the island of Tasmania, which is an Australian State. Its neighbouring countries include New Zealand to the southeast; and Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor to its north. The name 'Australia' comes from the Latin phrase terra australis incognita ("unknown southern land", see Terra Australis).
Australia is divided into six states and several territories. The states are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. The two major territories are the Northern Territory (NT) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The ACT also incorporates a separate area within New South Wales known as Jervis Bay Territory which serves as a naval base and sea port for the national capital.
Australia also has several inhabitated external territories (Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands) and several largely uninhabited external territories: Coral Sea Islands Territory, Heard Island and McDonald Islands and the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The Australian Capital Territory was created at the chosen site of the capital city Canberra. Canberra was founded as a compromise between the two largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney. The name 'Canberra' is derived from the indigenous Ngunnawal language, which is loosely translated into English as "meeting place".
Oceania is a name used for varying groups of islands of the Pacific Ocean. In its narrow usage it refers to Polynesia (including New Zealand), Melanesia (including New Guinea) and Micronesia. In a wider usage it includes Australia. It may also include the Malay archipelago. Uncommonly usage includes islands such as Japan and the Aleutian Islands. Although the islands of Oceania do not form part of a true continent, Oceania is sometimes associated with the continent of Australia for the purposes of dividing the whole world into continental groupings. As such, it is the smallest "continent" in area and the second smallest, after Antarctica, in population. This article primarily refers to the grouping of Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Australia. These traditional divisions are no more in use amongst researchers, that prefer to divide Oceania into Near Oceania and Remote Oceania.
In ecology, Oceania is one of eight terrestrial ecozones, which constitute the major ecological regions of the planet. The Oceania ecozone includes all of Micronesia, Fiji, and all of Polynesia except New Zealand. New Zealand, along with New Guinea and nearby islands, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, constitute the separate Australasia ecozone.
Every country but one in Oceania is borderless. The exception is Papua New Guinea which borders Indonesia.