Physical geography: North America

North America, as a continent, is the third largest continent after Asia and Africa. The continent stretches from the tiny Aleutian Island in the north-western part to the Isthmus towards the South. It consists of some major Island of Greenland towards the North-eastern part as well as small nations and boundaries that surround the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Towards the North, North America extends from Greenland to Aleutians (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). In addition to this, though it is among the largest continent, it is the fourth biggest in regards to the human population. However, the population is not evenly distributed across the continent because of the nature of the land affecting the distribution.

Physical Assets

In regards to physical geography, North American can be grouped into five distinct regions, and its landforms and physical features attribute each. First, let begin with the Caribbean as one of the regions.  It consists of the Caribbean Sea and about 7000 Islands. The Islands are normally bordered by coral reefs and are habitat to most biomes. Most of the Islands has High Mountain, rocky shores whereas others have jungles. The Caribbean Islands is of different types, but they have the same features and risks such as Hurricanes.

Extending to the continental regions, we meet the next physical region of North America known as the Eastern Region. It extends from the coast of Atlantic on the west to the Appalachian Mountains, to the South in the Caribbean coast of Central America, and to the North is the Canadian border currently. The region constantly increases in elevation to the Appalachians which are the oldest existing mountain ranges of the continent. The region is also rich in minerals and organic deposits as a result of its age.

Besides, towards the west after the Appalachians, we encounter a massive valley known as the Great Plains. It stretches from Appalachian Mountain and is described by a region of significantly flat land that is sheathed in fertile soil. A glacier that sheathed North America extensively established the plains (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). However, the region does not have a dense forest that is found in the East but has grasslands, which makes it unique considering the other regions in North America.

Another physical feature in North America is the Canadian Shield. It is a raised but to some extent a flat plateau. The Canadian shield stretches through the eastern, north-western and central Canada. It is attributed to rocky geography that has a variety of lakes. For instance, the Tundra that extends across the north borderline of Alaska, as well as Canada to the Hudson Bay region, is an ecosystem that is common to the Canadian Shield. Moreover, it is important to note that some of the rocks in the Canadian Shield is precisely old globally. 

In addition, North America variety of landscape features a lot of natural wonders. The continent has deep Canyons like Copper Canyon in the Mexican state. It also has the Denali which is the North American’s highest peak and is situated in Denali National Park and kept in the US state of Alaska (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). There also exist some Great Lakes that form part of the area of the continent of fresh-water such as Mississippi River long is one of the longest rivers globally and drains all or a section of US. These Rivers contributes to the physical aspect of the continent resulting in an extended landscape scenery.

Human Assets

However, in regards to human geography, North American also has a unique distribution of people. To begin with, North America consists of the US and Canada. Globalization has pushed the societies to introduce ways of relating with and gain from geographic aspects. The cultures towards the South of North America cultivated corn, and bean, among others, which enabled major civilization. That said, it is important to note that the original North Americans are anticipated to have come from Siberia in Asia through the land bridge over the Bering Strait.

The people from Siberia later moved towards the South, which is currently described as Florida, Mexico, Central America, and California.  In addition to the Americans who were already in North America, the population is enriched with massive immigration of people from various parts of the world (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). It is among the most culturally diverse countries globally, and due to this, every region has led to the “melting pot.” The immigrants from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America have sought opportunities, especially in the US and Canada for many years. These people have contributed to the development of North America.

Problems and limitations

The continent has been experiencing various challenges extending from social to environmental aspects. First, North America has been experiencing illegal immigration issues. These issues have influenced the relationship between the US and Mexico with claims that the impoverished people from Mexico are moving to the US. Second, North American has been experiencing issues such as Hurricane which has destroyed properties and killed many (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). The issue has been as a result of climate change. It is important to note that North America has contributed to global warming, which has led to climate change.

Question 2

Middle America is a term that geographers use to illustrate the regions between Mexico and Panama. It comprises of three major regions; Caribbean Island, Mexico and Central America republics which represents countries from Guatemala to Panama. Though Middle America is a section of the North America continent, it is important to determine the physical features that are present in this area.  In addition, Middle American is not a linked realm, but it is attributed by a high degree of cultural diversity. There exist people who come from diverse cultures due to immigration. 

Physical Assets

In regards to physical assets, Middle America has different kinds of physical terrains such as volcanic Islands and mountain. The tectonic part at the realm of the Caribbean Plate has led to volcanic activities establishing most of the Islands of the continent as volcanoes. Montserrat is among the Islands in this region (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). Most of the low-level Islands like the Bahamas were formed by coral reefs which are situated east of Florida. Most importantly, it is important to note that the region has a lot of tectonic activities. The tectonic movements contributed to the formation of the Volcanic Islands. 

Mountain ranges also form part of Middle America landscapes. First, the Sierra Madre Oriental which is located in North-Eastern Mexico on the eastern part of Mexican Plateau. One of the highest peaks of the range is Cerro San Rafael in Coahuila. Second, the Yucatan Peninsula is a mountain range that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea and consists of three Mexican states together with Belize and Guatemala (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). Third, Sierra Madre Oriental also runs parallel to Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. These mountain ranges form part of the physical features of the continent. 

The other significant mountain range is the Cordillera Neovolcánica. Evident from its name, it is among groups of volcanoes that are about 620 miles east to west through the central and southern part of the country. In regards to geographical terms, the range is among the slitting line that exists between North and Central America. The mountain peaks of the range can get higher than 16,000 feet in terms of height and are normally covered by Snow (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). Other examples of the mountain ranges found in the region are Hispaniola, Darien, and Sierra Madre del Sur. The ranges are an important part of Middle America physical assets. 

In addition, the water bodies in the regions are also part of the physical assets. Various water bodies are located in Middle America. First, the Caribbean Sea is a water body that is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean southeast of the Gulf of Mexico. It also bordered by Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama. Second, the Panama Canal is also an important waterway that cuts through the Isthmus of Panama (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). It is human-made Canal and was completed in 1914. It got rid of the long trip around the Cape Horn as well as the southern-most trip of South America. The other water bodies in Middle America are the Pacific Ocean, Rio Grande, and Windward Passage.

Human Assets

In regards to the human asset, Middle America has a different mix of people such as Amerindian “indigenous people to the Americas,” Europeans, among others. Mexico, as part of Middle America, is regionally and ethnically diverse with an acute socio-economic division (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). Most of the rural societies have a strong connection with their continents and are normally described as a small country which assists in managing cultural diversity. The high number of native languages and customs, particularly in the southern areas of Mexico, assist promotes cultural diversity. Thus, it is among major regions with high rates of immigration.

Although Middle America has been inhabited for many years, among the earliest cultures to have developed to civilization with big towns was the Olmec. However, after the Olmec, the Maya build a vast civilization (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). The era of Mayan civilization stayed for a long time and was focused in the Peninsula of Mexico, Belize, and Central America. These people contributed to the immense knowledge and development of modern Middle America, especially in Mexico. Therefore, with the expanding civilization, most of the earliest inhabitants of the continents were overtaken.

Middle America is also made up of European, Asian, and African immigrants. The existence of these groups of people contributes to the diversity of the continent in terms of cultural practices and language groups. Most of the people in this region are the inhabitants of the continent, forming the highest number of people followed by immigrants from diverse areas. It is important to note that Latin is not an active language, and Middle America has established its own and unique cultural identity rather than adopt one from immigrants or colonialists.

Problems and limitations

Although Middle America has important physical and human assets, there exist several challenges. To begin with, the continent has been experiencing a large volcanic eruption. As a result of volcanic activities leading to the formation of various landscapes in the areas, the region has experienced intense eruptions destroying properties and loss of lives (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). In addition, Middle America has been battling issues such as poverty and insecurity. Most of the insecurity cases are deemed to be caused by drug trafficking that is common in many countries in Middle America.

Question 3

The physical assets of South America are about continents, fascinating environments. South America is considered the fourth-biggest continent coming after Asia, Africa, and North America and stretches from the Gulf of Darien in the nor-west to archipelago towards the South (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). The mainland can be grouped into three significant physical assets; mountains and highlands, coastal plains and river basins. Besides, it is important to note that South America’s human assets terrain is highly impacted by natives and immigrant populations and their link to the physical environment.

Physical Assets

Mountains and highlands; the main mountain in the Andes, which is the longest in the world. It covers about 8850 kilometers and is situated on the western edge of South America. The Andes extends from the southern tip to the north coast of South America. The mountain also has many peaks that are more than 4500 meters tall, and most of them are volcanic (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). For example, the highest peak of the mountain is Aconcagua, which stands at about 6900 meters tall. Apart from the Andes, the content has two main highland areas; the Brazilian highland, which is situated south of the Amazon River and the Guiana Highlands, which is located between Orinoco Rivers and Amazon.

River basins; the continent has three major river basins; Amazon, Parana, and Orinoco. The Amazon River basin is considered the largest watershed globally since it covers about seven million square kilometers. It contributes more to supporting the Amazon rain forest, which consists of approximately the rain forest of the whole world (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). Also, Orinoco River flows north-wards of the Amazon and comes from the Guiana Highlands in Brazil and discharges in the Atlantic Ocean. Parana River basin is also an important feature in South America. It covers about 3 million square kilometers. It is one of the essential grazing and cropland regions on the continent.

Coast plains; it is a region of flat land that is found next to a sea-coast. The coast plains in South America are situated on the north coast of Brazil, the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru. However, most of the plains around the coast in this continent are extensively dry. The highlands in Brazil always act as a wedge that drives out moist sea winds from the coastal plains. Thus, it is apparent that the Brazilian Highlands contributes to the extreme dryness of the coastal plains in South America.

Human Assets

Currently, South American is a habitat to the people of Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Brazil, among others (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). These countries are made up of indigenous and immigrants from other countries around the world. Most of the indigenous peoples are staging a social, political as well as economic re-awakening. For instance, in places where the indigenous people are high in terms of numbers, they normally translate into political strength as an aspect of promoting their strength. The indigenous people, as well as the descendants of the communities, are controlled by the Inca Empire.

The cultural aspect of South America is similar to that of Middle America. The indigenous inhabitants had created and crafted diverse landscapes throughout the globe with some resulting in a more significant impact compared to others. The arrival of the Europeans resulted in cultural transformation. The native people became minorities in their lands, and Europeans come up with crops and notion about land ownership. The Europeans also brought in the African slaves from various parts of the African continent (Nijman, Muller & De Blij, 2016). The move contributed to the current diversity in South America.

The Japanese settlers arrived in Brazil and Peru at the same time when the European come into South America. They brought in their notions in creating a platform for economic and political development. The indigenous people in this continent adopted some of the ideas which contributed to the present civilization. In addition, it is important to note that all these aspects contributed to the shaping of the current ethnic completion of South America.

Problems and limitations

Despite the accomplishments experienced in South America, there exist various challenges and limitations. There is a high level of social inequality which affects most of the countries in South America. There exist a considerable gap between the rich and the poor in society. For instance, the Brazilian government is always on the move of setting policies projected at bringing relief to its poor population while keeping a robust economic growth. It is apparent that poverty levels in this continent are noticeable. Therefore, in as much as the countries are doing well in terms of economic development, the level of social inequality is high.

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