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Portal:North America

The North America Portal

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North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

North America 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 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if nearby islands (most notably around the Caribbean) are included.

North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge approximately 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. The so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Archaic or Meso-Indian period). The Classic stage spans roughly the 6th to 13th centuries. The Pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, with the beginning of the transatlantic migrations—the arrival of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the Early Modern period. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants.

Owing to Europe's colonization of the Americas, most North Americans speak European languages such as English, Spanish or French, and their states' cultures commonly reflect Western traditions.

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The Alamo, as drawn in 1854

The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna reclaimed the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, United States), killing the Texian and immigrant occupiers. Santa Anna's cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians, both legal Texas settlers and illegal immigrants from the United States, to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the rebellion.

Several months previously, Texians had driven all Mexican troops out of Mexican Texas. About 100 Texians were then garrisoned at the Alamo. The Texian force grew slightly with the arrival of reinforcements led by eventual Alamo co-commanders James Bowie and William B. Travis. On February 23, approximately 1,500 Mexicans marched into San Antonio de Béxar as the first step in a campaign to retake Texas. For the next 10 days, the two armies engaged in several skirmishes with minimal casualties. Aware that his garrison could not withstand an attack by such a large force, Travis wrote multiple letters pleading for more men and supplies from Texas and from the United States, but the Texians were reinforced by fewer than 100 men because the United States had a treaty with Mexico, and supplying men and weapons would have been an overt act of war. Read more...

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land offer
Credit: Burlington & Missouri River Railroad Co., User:Durova
Settlement of Nebraska and Iowa: a land offer from the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, 1872.

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Zappa performing live at Ekeberghallen in Oslo, Norway, 1977

Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, jazz, jazz fusion, orchestral and musique concrète works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist. Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era.

As a self-taught composer and performer, Zappa's diverse musical influences led him to create music that was sometimes difficult to categorize. While in his teens, he acquired a taste for 20th-century classical modernism, African-American rhythm and blues, and doo-wop music. He began writing classical music in high school, while at the same time playing drums in rhythm and blues bands, later switching to electric guitar. His 1966 debut album with the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, combined songs in conventional rock and roll format with collective improvisations and studio-generated sound collages. He continued this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was rock, jazz or classical. Read more...

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The Texas oil boom, sometimes called the gusher age, was a period of dramatic change and economic growth in the U.S. state of Texas during the early 20th century that began with the discovery of a large petroleum reserve near Beaumont, Texas. The find was unprecedented in its size (worldwide) and ushered in an age of rapid regional development and industrialization that has few parallels in U.S. history. Texas quickly became one of the leading oil producing states in the U.S., along with Oklahoma and California; soon the nation overtook the Russian Empire as the top producer of petroleum. By 1940 Texas had come to dominate U.S. production. Some historians even define the beginning of the world's Oil Age as the beginning of this era in Texas.

The major petroleum strikes that began the rapid growth in petroleum exploration and speculation occurred in Southeast Texas, but soon reserves were found across Texas and wells were constructed in North Texas, East Texas, and the Permian Basin in West Texas. Although limited reserves of oil had been struck during the 19th century, the strike at Spindletop near Beaumont in 1901 gained national attention, spurring exploration and development that continued through the 1920s and beyond. Spindletop and the Joiner strike in East Texas, at the outset of the Great Depression, were the key strikes that launched this era of change in the state. Read more...

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Air pollution over the City of Los Angeles
Credit: Diliff
Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States, with an estimated population of 3.85 million people. Los Angeles is one of the cultural, economic, scientific and entertainment centers of the country.

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