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North America

Old 12-03-19, 03:07 PM
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North America

Lately, I've seen people refer to North America as if it is only Canada and the US. I learned it is much more than that. For whatever it's worth, Wikipedia says it has 23 sovereign states, including the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and some countries south of Mexico.

What is the point of using the narrower definition?
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Old 12-03-19, 03:25 PM
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Well, in common usage a lot of things get corrupted. Those other states and nations are commonly referred to as Central America.

Other examples that pop to mind are all political and probably best left out of this discussion.
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Old 12-03-19, 03:48 PM
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It’s because of Vladamir Putin.
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Old 12-03-19, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
Well, in common usage a lot of things get corrupted. Those other states and nations are commonly referred to as Central America.
Mexico lies on the division between Central America and North America.
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Old 12-03-19, 04:06 PM
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The USA, of course, is the "United States of America", and we've commonly called ourselves Americans. Nor is there an easy way to transform the country name into a name for the people without using the continent name.

With few exceptions (Holland/Dutch), most other countries use the name of the country as part of the name of the people. Canadians, Mexicans, etc. With Germany, of course, having some very different names in different languages, but still generally related between the people/country designations.

The people from the USA and the people from Canada have many ethnic, racial, and cultural similarities, and like to lump each other together, but also maintain a distinction from our southern neighbors.

I suppose I haven't considered what E-Bay considers "North America" for the search function.
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Old 12-03-19, 04:11 PM
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I never thought of Caribbean Islands as being part of North America but I'm flexible on the issue.
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Old 12-03-19, 04:12 PM
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Well, it's true about the name American. Citizens of the USA are called Americans. I had a Brazilian cow-orker who said she's American, and she's not wrong, but it's another sense of the word. Similarly, when I meet people in upstate New York (State), I can tell them I'm a New Yorker, and they will probably know I mean I'm from New York City.

Clearly, you (CliffordK) disagree with the Wikipedia article.
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Old 12-03-19, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I never thought of Caribbean Islands as being part of North America but I'm flexible on the issue.
Thinking about that, I guess it's fair to say that islands are not on a continent but are "members" of one continent or another. There are some exceptions for islands very far from continents such as Easter Island and Guam. Maybe they are considered to be members of South America and Asia, respectively. I don't know. For that matter, what continent is New Zealand a part of? None, I suppose.

Our words try to define things, but only because we want them to. Things as they are, without the existence of humans, don't require definition.
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Old 12-03-19, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Mexico lies on the division between Central America and North America.
Those lying Mexicans!
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Old 12-03-19, 05:21 PM
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Is Canada really a soverign state, eh?
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Old 12-03-19, 05:54 PM
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Because it's cold in the North :-)
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Old 12-03-19, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Clearly, you (CliffordK) disagree with the Wikipedia article.


The United Nations formally recognizes "North America" as comprising three areas: Northern America, Central America, and The Caribbean. This has been formally defined by the UN Statistics Division.[14][15][16]

"Northern America", as a term distinct from "North America", excludes Central America, which itself may or may not include Mexico (see Central America § Different definitions). In the limited context of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the term covers Canada, the United States, and Mexico, which are the three signatories of that treaty.
Mexico seems to be stuck in the middle of the middle.

"Northern America" doesn't seem to be used much, but Central America is considered as a distinct region.
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Old 12-03-19, 07:59 PM
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Geologically/geographically Mexico sits on the south end of the North American tectonic plate (ends around where Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula meet).

Culturally Mexico is more associated with the Latin American cultures since it was part of the Spanish empire that came up from South America/across the Caribbean Sea, and the primary language is Spanish.
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Old 12-04-19, 05:07 AM
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Saying what is a continent and what is not is kind of random. Look at the continents of Europe and Asia. It all looks like one large land mass to me...
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Old 12-04-19, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
Saying what is a continent and what is not is kind of random. Look at the continents of Europe and Asia. It all looks like one large land mass to me...
IE, Eurasia.
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Old 12-04-19, 06:03 AM
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It's not random. It is a proven scientific fact. (Venus is larger than Earth is kind of random. It looks like a marble to me.) :-)

Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
Saying what is a continent and what is not is kind of random. Look at the continents of Europe and Asia. It all looks like one large land mass to me...

Last edited by PedalingWalrus; 12-04-19 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 12-04-19, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Is Canada really a soverign state, eh?
Well I know one thing "soverign state" or not I don't have donald trump as my fearless leader.
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Old 12-04-19, 07:47 AM
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I always thought of Mexico as being in North America, but did not consider the Caribbean islands to be part of the continent. Of course people often consider the Bahamas to be Caribbean islands, but they aren't actually. Even Bermuda gets thrown in with the other islands at times although it's far from the Caribbean. As there are no real political ramifications, such designations are relatively meaningless,
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Old 12-04-19, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
Well, in common usage a lot of things get corrupted. Those other states and nations are commonly referred to as Central America.

Other examples that pop to mind are all political and probably best left out of this discussion.
Jawja is SOUTH America, everybody knows that.
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Old 12-04-19, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
IE, Eurasia.
Yes, Eurasia, that would make more sense from a geographical standard. It goes to show how continents are established by political/cultural paradigms.
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Old 12-04-19, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Lately, I've seen people refer to North America as if it is only Canada and the US. I learned it is much more than that. For whatever it's worth, Wikipedia says it has 23 sovereign states, including the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, and some countries south of Mexico.

What is the point of using the narrower definition?
I think it's a cultural distinction. North-America as opposed to Latin America, with the Carribean as another unit. It's not too fussy, nevermind Suriname, French Guyana, Guyana, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and probably quite a few others I can't think of right now.

Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
Saying what is a continent and what is not is kind of random. Look at the continents of Europe and Asia. It all looks like one large land mass to me...
I believe geologically Europe is a subcontinent, but it were the Europeans that came up with the distinction between continents and the names. It's always a bit political too, now the EU is often named Europe and the EU claims the name Europe for itself allthough large parts of Europe aren't part of the EU. You have people say for example that Europe can't defend itself, while I got the impression the European part of Russia is very well capable of defending itself.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
The USA, of course, is the "United States of America", and we've commonly called ourselves Americans. Nor is there an easy way to transform the country name into a name for the people without using the continent name.
I'm not sure, but I believe in many foreign languages it's the official name that is primarely used, like Estados Unidos or Etats-Unis, and with the adjective like Estadounidense like in Unitedstatesian. So you got always a translation issue mixed with a political issue. The name United States is very political to begin with, it's extremely self centered as it doesn't say anything about itself to the outside world, it's a statement about it's internal politics towards England/Great Britain/United Kingdom and it's self assuredness. I guess the French and the Spanish will use Americain and Americano but colloquial and in a cultural sense, but the Spanish will probably use Americano more often for the continent because of their history with Spanish-America.

With few exceptions (Holland/Dutch), most other countries use the name of the country as part of the name of the people.
It's actually The Netherlands, to complicate matters further. It has been for over 200 years but the perseverance of 'Holland' is also political. The two of 12 provinces North Holland and South-Holland are politically, economically and culturally dominant. Difference with the USA is that for the Dutch the country is Nederland, the people are Nederlanders and the language is Nederlands. Holland is used internally but usually informal. Also the national tourism office has recently changed the name form Holland.com to the Netherlands.com, also for political reasons because the government wants to spread tourism over the whole country. The English word 'Dutch' has the same root as Deutsch, as in Deutschland which is the name the Germans call Germany. It means people or people's language, as opposed to French and Latin which was the language of the nobility, it was split in the Middle Ages in Nederdiets for the lower lying countries, which is the meaning of netherlands. When the Dutch declared idependence from the Spanish Empire in 1581 for some reason the English preferred "Dutch Republic" over "De Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden", which was actually quite correct because of that meaning of Dutch and nobility itself had become politically irrelevant in the Dutch Republic while (nether)Dutch became the only official language.

I could also explain why the name Holland stuck in many languages, but not without going into the history of the Dutch Republic, Napoleon and his brother Louis and the Kingdom of the Netherlands since, so maybe later. The point is that with country's names it's always political and historical, and mixed up with how the country views itself politically and historically and how it's viewed from other countries politcally and culturally, with all kinds of distortions through translations.
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Old 12-06-19, 12:22 PM
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It's because of culture. The US is the globally most dominant presence in north america. Adding Canada to the mix adds more land and less people, and because of common English-speaking/british colonial heritage, doesn't change the 'average' culture that much. Adding Mexico in does add a lot more land and people, but with a very different culture. Because of language and spanish colonial heritage, Mexico slots in more neatly with central and south america. The islands add less land/people, but also very different cultures (probably half of which are again hispanic, and can neatly group with Mexico and SA).

But the 'bulk' of NA is the US and Canada.
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Old 12-06-19, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post

But the 'bulk' of NA is the US and Canada.
Hard to argue with that when considering amount of square miles.

North America = 9,540,000 sq mi
Canada = 3,855,100 sq mi
USA = 3,717,813 sq mi in North America
Greenland = 836,330 sq mi
Mexico = 758,449 sq mi
all other countries = 372,308 sq mi

per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_America
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Old 12-06-19, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
It's because of culture. The US is the globally most dominant presence in north america. Adding Canada to the mix adds more land and less people, and because of common English-speaking/british colonial heritage, doesn't change the 'average' culture that much. Adding Mexico in does add a lot more land and people, but with a very different culture. Because of language and spanish colonial heritage, Mexico slots in more neatly with central and south america. The islands add less land/people, but also very different cultures (probably half of which are again hispanic, and can neatly group with Mexico and SA).

But the 'bulk' of NA is the US and Canada.
How is the US culturally more dominate than Canada?
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Old 12-06-19, 05:02 PM
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The World is consuming American culture through the media we export: Movies, TV shows, Music, Fashion, etc etc.

There are a disproportionate number of Canadian comic actors, and there is also Orphan Black, but otherwise Canada is losing to the U.S. in terms of cultural dominance.
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