North America is one of two continents named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, with a surface area of 24,221,490km² (9,351,969 square miles). It’s in the northern hemisphere, between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and to the north of South America. North America’s highest point is Alaska’s Mount McKinley, which rises to 6,194m (20,320 ft) above sea level.
North America consists of three large nations and one large island territory that covers most of its area. They are Canada, the United States of America (USA), Mexico and Greenland.
There are also seven smaller nations at its southern extreme (collectively known as Central America), around two dozen island nations and territories of various sizes in the Caribbean, and one isolated French territory off the Canadian Atlantic coast.
Although the Central American and the Caribbean regions are technically part of the North American continent, they are commonly listed separately from their larger neighbours to the north and hence the distinctive region names for both cultural and geographical reasons.
How to go
Virtually all travel into North America is by air. Every major city has an international airport with service to other continents, and they are generally safe and feature reasonable amenities. However, travelling through security is almost universally considered annoying, particularly in the United States, with many restrictions that seem almost arbitrary to the average traveller – removing your shoes, intrusive full-body scanners, limitations on fluid containers, and the like are nearly universal in the US, and some are common elsewhere.
It is also technically possible to enter North America by ship, though very few transoceanic liners still exist in this century, or overland through Panama, though this route is extremely rough and dangerous.
Hostels in North America
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