North America is a continent in Western Hemisphere, connected to South America through the isthmus of Panama, and having coastlines along the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It covers a broad variety of environments and terrains, ranging from the Arctic tundra in the far north, to vast deciduous and conifer forests, prairies and grasslands, arid rocky desert lands in the central portion, and tropical rain forests in the south. By the twentieth century, North America was home to the countries of Canada, United States of America, and Mexico, as well as the countries of Central America, the name given to the portion of the continent south of Mexico.
Many parts of North America have a long history of human settlement, with indigenous American Indian tribes covering many parts of the continent, after initially migrating from Asia over a land bridge across the Bering Strait during the ice age. In the areas of Mexico and northern Central America, some of these groups, such as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec built urban empires. Other tribal groups in North America developed as hunter/gatherers or agricultural societies.
In the late 1400s and early 1500s, European voyagers began exploring and claiming the lands of North America for their home countries, with colonies forming along the Atlantic coast and on the islands of the Caribbean Sea in the 1500s and 1600s. Spain claimed much of the Caribbean islands, Florida, and the lands of Mexico and Central America, conquering the Aztec empire. France explored the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River valley, forming fur-trading settlements in what is now eastern Canada. The United Kingdom granted colonial charters to various groups seeking economic gain or religious freedom as they settled the mid-Atlantic coast. The Netherlands, Sweden, and other European states attempted to colonize, but eventually gave up their colonial ambitions. In addition to European settlers, African slaves were brought to work in the European colonies.
In the late 1700's, the Spanish had begun building settlements on the Pacific coast of California, and the English colonies had fought for independence, forming the United States of America. In the 1800s, many of the other colonial possessions had become independent, and the US began expanding its territory across to the Pacific coast through purchase and war. Throughout the expansion, the Native American tribes were often forced off their land or fought in wars. By the twentieth century, the political borders of North America were firmly set, and many cities in North America were among the top industrial and economic centers of the world.
During World War I, Germany tried to secretly enlist the help of Mexico against the undecided United States. However, the interception of this information helped push the United States into the war against Germany, and Mexico, still dealing with the results of its own internal wars, stayed out of the larger conflict.
The people of North America are a mix of the descendants of European immigrants, with smaller populations of African-Americans, mestizos, Asian-Americans, and native Americans.
For archaeologists, North America contains a trove of many different sites from different cultures, especially in Mexico and the American Southwest. Some of which were undiscovered until modern exploration in the twentieth century.
Adventures in North America
Indiana Jones grew up in North America, living primarily in different parts of the United States, such as New Jersey and Utah. In 1916, he traveled with his father across the continent to visit his relatives in New Mexico, and eventually ended up joining with Pancho Villa in Mexico.
Returning to the continent after World War I, Jones studied in Chicago and eventually became an archaeologist, which frequently took him to different sites in the Southwest and in Mexico and Central America.
Countries in North America
- British Honduras / Belize
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- United States of America
Indigenous groups of North America
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull