North America, since it was discovered in 1492, has always been a land of promise, much as it still remains today for many people who wish to start a new life, but for visitors it is a land full of the history of ancient Indian cultures, a land full of surprise and interest, and above all it is a land of busy and exciting cities and great natural beauty. This region stretches from the northern lands of the Inuit, with the permanent snow and ice of the Arctic Circle, to the sub-tropical islands of the Florida Keys and the tropical Mayan lands of the Yucatan Peninsula, where the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza can be found. It offers an exciting, cosmopolitan and varied culture that reflects the history of each area from the conservative east coast to the more entrepreneurial, casual and laid back west coast, the vibrant south which is dominated by its Spanish heritage to the pioneering and steadfast north, land of the float-plane and huge forests dotted by lakes and waterways. Home to some of the most popularised places in the world such the exciting world of Disney at Disneyland, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty of New York city, the shopping of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the awesome Niagara Falls of Canada, the massive and inspiring Grand Canyon of Arizona, the internationally famous seaside resort of Acapulco, the renowned city of Las Vegas with its bright lights and casinos, the spectacular Rocky Mountains, the huge ski fields of Whistler and Blackcomb, and the famous Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, better known as Mexico City which is one of the largest cities in the world!! Containing such a mass of exceptional destinations and places of interest, North America offers endless opportunities for fun and recreation and remains a popular holiday destination.
The North America Region is comprised of the majority of the North American continent and its islands, and includes the United Mexican States, the United States of America and Canada, the second largest country in the world. It is a large region and contains a magnificent range of mountains, known as the North American Cordillera, which itself is comprised of several mountain ranges, that run in alignment with the Pacific Coast and stretch for approximately 5,000 kilometres from Mexico to Alaska. To the east of these mountains in the U.S.A. and Canada, lie the vast North American Interior Plains that stretch eastwards to the gently undulating Appalachian Plateau and Appalachian Mountains. East of the Appalachian Mountains the land slopes towards the broken and picturesque coastline of the Atlantic Ocean which in the south forms the peninsula of Florida and in the north forms the large Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Newfoundland. In the extreme north large areas of Alaska and Canada are covered in tundra, an area of permafrost, bogs and low level vegetation, towards the south the tree line indicates major changes in the landscape as a belt of forest extends from coast to coast in Alaska and much of Canada. South of the forest lies the vast central Canadian Prairie and the Great Plains of the U.S.A. which stretch from Hudson Bay to the coast of Texas. Once covered in bison and hunted by Sioux and Cheyenne, these grasslands are now agricultural areas producing grain crops and livestock.
The southern area of the North American Region ends at the southern border of Mexico and the Central American countries of Belize and Guatemala. Mexico shares a 5,000 kilometre border with the U.S.A. much of it being defined by the Rio Grande. The northern area of Mexico contains two deserts, the Chihuahuan and the Sonoran, with the Great Plains of the U.S.A. extending along the eastern coastline and following the coast around the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula. The western coastline includes the worlds’ longest peninsula, the Baja California, and is formed of a narrow plain backed by the central mountain ranges which includes one of the most volcanically active areas on earth. The central northern area of the country is formed of a broad plateau of fertile rolling hills between the western Sierra Madre Occidental and the eastern Sierra Madre Oriental and is called the Altiplano Central, or the Mexican Plateau. The Altiplano Central continues south until it reaches the Sierra Nevada, or the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, which include Mexicos’ active volcanoes, the Popocatepetl and the Volcan de Fuego de Colima. Within this area lies the ‘Valley of Mexico’ which contains the City of Mexico and was a centre for several pre-Columbian civilisations including the Teotihuacan, Toltec and Aztec. The ruins of the Teotihuacan civilisation are found in this area and contain the largest pyramidal structures built in pre-Columbian America. Within Mexico lies the Tropic of Cancer that effectively divides the country into temperate and tropical zones which exists primarily within the coastal lowland areas. At the southern border of Mexico the mountain ranges are covered in tropical rain-forest as they cross the border into Guatemala.