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Portal:North America

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The North America Portal

Location North America.svg

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers (9,540,000 square miles), about 16.5% of the earth’s land area and about 4.8% of its total surface.
North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, and the fourth by population after Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world’s population, if nearby islands (most notably around the Caribbean) are included.

North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge approximately 40,000 to 17,000 years ago. The so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Archaic or Meso-Indian period). The Classic stage spans roughly the 6th to 13th centuries. The Pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, with the beginning of the transatlantic migrations—the arrival of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the Early Modern period. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants.

Owing to Europe’s colonization of the Americas, most North Americans speak European languages such as English, Spanish or French, and their states’ cultures commonly reflect Western traditions.

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Location of Mayan speaking populations. See below for a detailed map of the different languages.

The Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million Maya peoples, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name, and Mexico recognizes eight more within its territory.

The Mayan language family is one of the best-documented and most studied in the Americas. Modern Mayan languages descend from the Proto-Mayan language, thought to have been spoken at least 5,000 years ago; it has been partially reconstructed using the comparative method. The proto-Mayan language diversified into at least six different branches: the Huastecan, Quichean, Yucatecan, Qanjobalan, Mamean and Chʼolan–Tzeltalan branches. Read more…

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Emblems of USA 1876 (original).jpg
Credit: A.J. Connell, Library of Congress

A lithograph from 1876, showing the seals of the then-47 U.S. states and territories as well as the District of Columbia. Some of these seals have changed since this image was created.

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Putnam in 2006

Hilary Whitehall Putnam (/ˈpʌtnəm/; July 31, 1926 – March 13, 2016) was an American philosopher, mathematician, and computer scientist, and a major figure in analytic philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. He made significant contributions to philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophy of science. Outside philosophy, Putnam contributed to mathematics and computer science. Together with Martin Davis he developed the Davis–Putnam algorithm for the Boolean satisfiability problem and he helped demonstrate the unsolvability of Hilbert’s tenth problem.

He was known for his willingness to apply an equal degree of scrutiny to his own philosophical positions as to those of others, subjecting each position to rigorous analysis until he exposed its flaws. As a result, he acquired a reputation for frequently changing his own position. In philosophy of mind, Putnam is known for his argument against the type-identity of mental and physical states based on his hypothesis of the multiple realizability of the mental, and for the concept of functionalism, an influential theory regarding the mind–body problem. In philosophy of language, along with Saul Kripke and others, he developed the causal theory of reference, and formulated an original theory of meaning, introducing the notion of semantic externalism based on a famous thought experiment called Twin Earth. Read more…

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A potbelly sculpture from Monte Alto in Guatemala, on display in the plaza of La Democracia

Potbelly sculptures, (Spanish barrigones pl. or barrigón sing.), are in-the-round sculptures of obese human figures carved from boulders. They are a distinctive element of the sculptural tradition in the southern Maya area of Mesoamerica. The precise purpose of potbelly sculptures is unknown, although they appear to have been the focus of public veneration and ritual directed by the ruling elite. Although this sculptural tradition is found within the southern Maya area, it has been recognized that the sculptures themselves are non-Maya. Read more…

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Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro

  • … that the Valley of Mexico has been one of the most heavily populated places on the planet for almost two millennia?

Selected panorama

New York City
Credit: Daniel Schwen

New York City, nicknamed the “Big Apple“, is the most populous city in the United States and the most densely populated major city in North America. The city proper consists of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

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