United StatesUnited StatesCanadaGreenlandMexicoEcuadorColombiaUruguayBoliviaParaguayBrazilPeruArgentinaChileFalkland IslandsPanamaGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaraguaCubaJamaicaVenezuelaGuyanaSuriname
America consists of 57 countries with a total land area of 43 million km² (16 million square miles), representing 28% of the Earth’s habitable surface. America's coastlines have a combined length of 329,888 km (205,027 miles). There are 1.03 billion people living in America — that's 13.0% of the world's population — and they account for around 32% of global economic output.

* Countries marked with an asterisk are not sovereign states, but dependent territories. (Cf.: What is a country?)
Tectonically, America consists of three continental plates: North America, South America and the Caribbean Plate, on which parts of the mainland also lie. For political reasons, the Americas are often divided into North and South America. The division into North, Central and South America prevails especially in Europe. According to the M49 standard, the United Nations speaks only of North America and a combined region, Latin America and the Caribbean, which in turn is subdivided into Central and South America and the Caribbean.

A point of contention occasionally arises in the allocation of Greenland to Europe or America. Greenland is a territory of the Danish Kingdom and thus politically belongs to Europe. Geographically, Greenland belongs to North America. The US state of Hawaii, on the other hand, belongs politically to America, but geographically and culturally to Polynesia.

In total, the double continent has a north-south extension of more than 15,600 kilometres (~9,700 miles) and stretches from the Arctic cape Morris Jesup in Greenland to the Chilean cape Hoorn. Canada, the USA and Brazil are by far the largest countries.

Discovery and naming

America was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, who assumed that he had landed in India. Amerigo Vespucci was the first to discover the Brazilian mainland and the eponym of the continent. By the way, the name of the natives as "Indians" is also based on Columbus' error. The term is not used in America itself. There one speaks mostly of Native Americans.


After the discovery of America around 1500 CE. more and more areas of the continent were colonized. The indigenous peoples of America were pushed further and further back. Internationally known are especially the Indians from numerous films. Further indigenous peoples are the Inuit or the Mayas.

With the colonization, numerous Europeans came to the continent and founded ever larger cities. As early as the early 16th century, an estimated 12 million slaves were bought in West and Central Africa and transported across the Atlantic by ship. This only came to an end in the middle of the 19th century.

Most widely spoken native languages in America

Spanish40.7 %418.0 M
English29.2 %299.8 M
Portuguese19.6 %200.8 M
French1.6 %16.0 M