How much do you know about North America? This quiz will test you from coast to coast!
According to history, North America, a.k.a. "The New World," a.k.a. the West, a.k.a (if you're American) simply America, was "discovered" by Europeans just a little more than 500 years ago, but according to science, the continent formed more than 1 billion years ago during the Proterozoic Eon. It then joined the continent party known as Pangaea, which was (debated by geologists) a landmass of every single continent joined together. This merger was how North America acquired some its greatest natural treasures, like the Appalachian Mountains, which were formed almost 500 million years ago, making them one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
Around 200 million years ago, the continent decided to leave the party and become independent. About 100 million years after that, some more of its greatest natural treasures, like the Rocky Mountains, began to form. This was when North America was the prime location for dinosaurs. The United States in particular was home to more varieties of dinosaurs than any other modern country. Then the dinosaurs went extinct, and millions of years after that a lot of glaciers melted (forming the Great Lakes), but before they did, a lot of people walked over frozen land and settled here (about 13,000 years ago). Colonization and its brutal forces eventually turned North America into one of the most diverse places on the planet, but this quiz isn't about demographics, it's about geography, and North America has a ton of unique features. Let's see what you know!
The continent of North America is comprised of 23 countries and consists of Canada, the United States, Mexico, seven countries in Central America, which is the southernmost portion of North America, plus more than a dozen islands in the area.
Canada is the largest of the 23 countries that make up North America, but it is only slightly larger than the United States. Canada's capital is Ottawa and the population of the entire country is just 37 million compared to America's 330 million.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation in the West Indies and it is the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere, in both land size and population, with just a bit more than 50,000 citizens on the islands.
The population of every country in North America combined equals about 580 million people. The United States has the largest population, with close to 330 million people. Mexico is second with close to 130 million, and Canada is third with just more than 37 million citizens.
Mexico City holds the record for most populous city in North America, with more than 8.9 million residents and just barely edging out New York City, which counts a bit more than 8.5 million people as residents. Los Angeles rounds out the top three, with close to 4 million residents.
Greenland is by far the largest island in North America, and is considered the largest island in the world, although Australia and Antarctica are both larger in size (they are considered continental landmasses instead of islands). Greenland's population is a bit more than 56,000 people.
North America is the third largest continent in the world, behind only Asia and Africa, and fairly larger than its neighbor to the south, South America. Both Africa and Asia have more than double the people that North America has. Africa has more than 1 billion people and Asia has more than 4 billion.
Once upon a time, legend has it the Bering Strait was frozen and humans were able to walk from the area that today is known as Russia to what is today known as Alaska. Today, the Bering Strait is 55 miles across at its narrowest point and separates the North American continent from the Asian continent.
The Isthmus of Panama is historically known as the Isthmus of Darien and is said to have formed almost 3 million years ago, separating the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is about 400 miles long, extending from Costa Rica to Colombia, and 50 miles wide.
Alaska is not only the largest state in the United States by land size, it is also home to the highest peak in all of North America - Mt. Denali aka Mt. McKinley. The summit of the mountain is 20,310 feet, and although it's the highest on the continent, it doesn't crack the top 10 tallest peaks in the world.
With the greatest land size in America comes the greatest amount of coastline. Although Alaska doesn't look like the typical peninsula, like Florida, it is a peninsula as it is surrounded by water on three sides. On top of that, there is a mini peninsula, called the Alaskan Peninsula, extending from its southern border.
This is a close one, as the Mississippi River and Missouri River are only separated in length by a few miles, but the Missouri River doesn't deposit into the ocean, it deposits into the Mississippi River, where it becomes the Missouri-Mississippi River, making it difficult to establish where one starts and one ends. The Mississippi River deposits into the Gulf of Mexico, making it a traditional river. It is 2,348 miles long.
The Rocky Mountains extend more than 3,000 miles from New Mexico well into Canada, making them one of the longest mountain ranges in the world, third behind the Andes of South America and the Southern Great Escarpment, which stretches across seven South African countries.
The Colorado Plateau covers more than 130,000 square miles across Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. In comparison, the largest and tallest plateau in the world is the Pamir Plateau (aka the Tibetan Plateau aka "the roof of the world"), in central Asia. It covers 970,000 square miles of land.
Montpelier, VT is the least populous capital in the United States with just under 8,000 residents. The daytime population, however, swells to 21,000 because of the number of jobs within the city. It is named after a city in the south of France.
Lake Superior is not only the largest of the Great Lakes, it's the largest freshwater lake in the world, measuring more than 31,700 square miles. The largest overall lake in the world is the Caspian Sea, which is a sea, and Lake Michigan–Huron, which is two lakes combined by five miles of ocean water. Lake Baikal, in Russia, actually holds more water than Superior due to its great depth.
Surprisingly, there isn't one landlocked country within the entire continent of North America. The United States, which is one of the 23 countries, has 16 landlocked states, but every country borders the ocean. Asia has 12 landlocked countries and Africa has 15.
Death Valley didn't earn that nickname because of its comfortable atmosphere. In July of 1913, an area within Death Valley recorded a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the hottest temperature ever recorded in the world.
The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River in Arizona and is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide at its widest points and over a mile deep at its deepest points. It is one of the most popular natural attractions in the world and makes for an unparalleled sight at sunrise and sunset.
North America, and the United States in particular, is full of such diverse land that people often forget about the islands of Hawaii, but that's where you will find the tallest natural waterfall in North America. The Oloʻupena Falls is unofficially listed as the fourth tallest waterfall in the world, measuring 2,953 feet tall. Yosemite Falls, which is three waterfalls (upper, middle, lower), measures 2,425 feet tall, and the world-famous Niagara Falls are only 167 feet tall but are remarkable wide.
The Mississippi River starts in northern Minnesota and flows for 2,380 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico. It either runs through or borders 10 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Once again, the mystery of Alaska continues. Its location places it farther north than the tip of Maine and farther east and west than Hawaii. It is one of the most unknown states in America and has boundless natural features that are unique to the area.
The world's greatest vertical drop is found on Mount Thor (aka Thor Peak) in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island in Canada. The west face of the mountain is 4,101 feet tall and falls down at an angle of 105 degrees, which is so insanely steep it's almost an overhang. Yosemite's El Capitan is 2,900 feet tall and isn't purely vertical.
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue and landed on America. Then in 1501 Amerigo Vespucci set sail and landed on America, and for some reason, the continents were named after Vespucci. It's likely because Columbus "said" he was looking for India and just got lost. But when Vespucci set sail, he set out to discover "new land."
The Great Basin Desert is in the western U.S. and is the 10th largest desert in the world at 190,000 square miles. It touches parts of Nevada, Utah, California, Idaho and Oregon. The largest desert in the world is Antarctica. The largest desert that actually has sand and cacti is the Sahara in Africa.
The mystery of Alaska continues with the fact the state claims to have more than 3 million lakes. Yup, 3 million lakes - no big deal. And to top it off, there are also 12,000 rivers, which together comprise more than 40% of America's surface water. Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867 for $0.02 an acre, which is about $0.33 an acre today.
The Caribbean is comprised of more than 7,000 islands. Most of them are deserted islands where you would not want to end up, but there are 7,000 islands nonetheless. Of all the islands, there are about 28 island nations with a total population of more than 44 million people.
Obviously the coldest state in the U.S. is Alaska, where a temperature of -81.4 degrees Fahrenheit was once recorded, but to shake things up a little, we're limiting this to the continental U.S., where the coldest temperature ever recorded was -70 degrees Fahrenheit at Rogers Pass, Montana.
Believe it or not, the United States has eight of the 10 largest cities in the world by land area, and the top spot goes to Jacksonville, FL., which measures 747 square miles. Tokyo and Moscow are the other two cities in the top 10, and NYC and Boston actually count multiple cities as one single urban area.
It took almost 15 years, from 1927 to 1941, and 400 workers to construct the 60-foot tall structure depicting four U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. It is located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota.
The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are one of the most unique natural landmarks to see in the United States and from 1963 to 1970 it was the location of 10 land speed records. It is a salt pan in Utah open to the public, and is the largest salt flats in America. The largest salt flats in the world are found in Bolivia
If you've ever spoken to anyone who's been to Seattle or Miami, they will tell you that it's always raining, and those cities do receive annual rainfalls of up to 130 inches, but the rainiest place in North America is Henderson Lake on Vancouver Island with an annual rainfall of 271.8 inches, which is more than double the rainiest place in America.
Paradise Ranger Station on Mount Rainier in Washington records 671 inches of snow per year. That's almost 56 feet of snow a year. Paradise Ranger Station isn't a city, it's just an area, but nevertheless, it is the snowiest place on Earth. The world's snowiest city is Aomori City in Japan and only receives half that amount.
Americans love their beef. There is just a bit more than 93 million cows grazing in the United States. If you rounded up all the cattle and gave them their own country, it would be the third most-populous country in North America. The population of Canada is 37 million.
The United States has everything: deserts, lakes, rivers, mountains, canyons, plateaus, valleys, basins, grasslands and more. There are more than 20 national grasslands in the U.S. and the largest one is the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota, which is 1,028,784 acres large. The largest grassland in the world is the Eurasian Steppe.