North America, because of its vast size has very varied climatic regions. Five major climatic regions can be identified, the first being the tropical climate in Southern Mexico, the second, the mild climate with wet winters and virtually rainless summers of the Pacific zone along the coastal regions from southern Alaska to southern California. The third region includes the western interior of the United States and much of northern Mexico and is described as mostly mountainous and desert country. The fourth region consists of the eastern two-thirds of the United States and southern Canada and has a humid climate with obvious seasonal changes, and the last region is that of the northern two-thirds of Canada and Alaska, as well as all of Greenland, which have arctic and sub-arctic climates.
The Continent is surrounded by oceans and seas. On the west coast is the Pacific Ocean, the east coast is the Atlantic Ocean, to the south of the United States and Mexico lies the Gulf of Mexico, in the northern areas near Alaska and the north of Canada lies the Arctic ocean.
The most notable forests in North America are the taiga or boreal forest, which is a large expanse of mainly coniferous trees that covers much of central and southern Canada and Alaska. There is also a large area of redwood forests in California in the US and tropical forests in Mexico.
North America (the name "America" coming from Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, who may have visited the mainland of North America in 1497 and 1498) is the third largest continent, lying mostly between the Arctic Circle and the Tropic of Cancer, covering an area of 24,230,000 square kilometers. The continent, often referred to as the "New World", includes the countries of Canada, the second largest country in the world, the United States of America, Mexico, Greenland as well as the small French overseas department of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and the British dependency of Bermuda. North America ranks fourth in comparing population statistics of the continents, with 2000 estimates of more than 405 million inhabitants.*
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