Defining the Realm
Where, and what, is North America? As we have learned, geographers do not all divide the world into the same geographic regions.
"North America" is a continent, which should be defined as a very large landmass mostly separated from other large landmasses by water. North America is also a realm.
But what is the North American REALM [nawor]? Well, for reasons that we'll discuss below, the author of our textbook puts the realm's southern boundary at the Mexican border. So the realm includes two countries: the United States and Canada.
We have taken a REGIONAL APPROACH to these three questions. We've divided the world into 12 realms [wwrealsm] and have been studying WHY these 12 by looking at 4 REGIONAL CRITERIA:
Let's now apply these criteria to the North American realm as we have defined it. For each of the criteria, compare the North American realm with the neighboring [wwrealsm] Middle American realm. From the maps you should be able to identify (1) the reasons for identifying North America as a separate realm, and (2) why the realm boundary was drawn at the US / Mexico border
Physically North America is well defined by water to the north, west, and east. The southern border is more problematic.
Besides water barriers between realms, we can use other physical characteristics such as mountains, deserts, forests, etc., to define them. Also, realm boundaries tend to be sparsely populated due to these physical barriers.
Examine the following climate maps [wwclimat] [naclimat], maps of precipitation [wwprec] [napreces], and population density maps [wwecumen] [napopden]. Be able to (1) describe the climate of North America, and (2) discuss any physical charateristics that act to separate North America from Middle America.
Our cultural criteria includes language, religions, and ethnicity. (The economy is also a cultural criteria, but I like to keep that as a separate group.) Look at the map of world religions [wwrelig] and languages [wwlangng].
Study the following maps. Compare the North American realm with
the neighboring [wwrealsm]
Middle American realm. From the maps you should be able to identify
the reasons for dividing the North American continent into two
[realmmea] [wbgnpmap] [nahdi] [naaglab] [nalifexp] [napopgr] [natransp] [naurban] [wraglab] [wrurban] [wrpopgr] [wwtrans] [wwhdi]