The United States and Canada

state-gdp-mapNorth America is comprised of Canada and the United States. Sometimes, you may see Mexico included within the definition of “North America.” The Automobile Industry is famous for this, as they try to obscure information about where their cars and trucks are built, i.e.”Made in North America with North American parts.” Mexico as part of North America maybe a stretch to some geographers.

The United States has a population of about 330,000,000. (Census Population Clock) What percent of the world’s population live in the United States? Answer: about 5% of the world’s population live in the United States. 5%. Or, think about this way: 1 out of 20 people on the planet are U.S. citizens. One in six people are Chinese (and, for the sake of argument, we can use the same ratio for Indian’s – 1 in 6 people are from India).

The United States is not the largest country in area, nor do we have the most people, nor do we produce the most cattle, or the most soybeans. Most of the world (80%) is also not Caucasian, and most of the world (about 90%) does not speak English as a first language. And a lot of what we have learned we have learned from others.

We are very productive, energetic, entrepreneurial, and philanthropic, among other attributes, though. And those characteristics help make the United States the unique geopolitical world power that it is today. One of the hardest assignments my students struggle with is when I ask them to “Define What Makes an American and American.”

The characteristics listed above are not unique to the United States, as people from China and India begin to emerge upon the global stage. Folks, Americans are not only competing against other Americans for employment but also against skilled people from many other countries. China and India graduate 7x’s as many engineers as the United States. Right now, as our educational system slips, those systems in other countries are rising. Business leaders across the United States are unanimous in one thought: we must invest more in research, development, and education. Otherwise, economically speaking, we will find ourselves playing catch-up. The reality is, because of the lack of political leadership over the last two decades, it may be too late.

The one economic sector where the United States still maintains an edge is Higher Education. People from all over the world come to the United States to receive an education. They take that education back to their home countries and put it to use in business and industry. Then, they encourage others to do the same. As countries reap the rewards of that education, incomes and productivity increase. National incomes increase, and the livelihoods of people gradually improve. However, as we “ship” or “transfer” that knowledge abroad, the Education Gap is closing, and our ‘edge’ narrows.


For more information, here are some selected great websites:

The National Atlas >> The National Atlas has gone away, sadly. Some of the data can be found here, at the USGS EarthExplorer website. (Source:

The Library of Congress >> The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress holds more than 4.5 million items, of which Map Collections represents only a small fraction, those that have been converted to digital form. The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases and, in general, are restricted to items that are not covered by copyright protection. Map Collections is organized according to seven major categories. Because a map will be assigned to only one category, unless it is part of more than one core collection, searching Map Collections at this level will provide the most complete results since the indexes for all categories are searched simultaneously. (Source:

United States Geological Survey >> The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information. (Source: URL:

United States Census Bureau >> Our Mission – To serve as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. Full Mission Statement » Our Authority – The United States Census Bureau operates under Title 13 and Title 26, of the U.S. Code Our Goal – To provide the best mix of timeliness, relevancy, quality, and cost for the data we collect and services we provide | Careers – The Jobs@Census site provides prospective employees information on positions available at the Census Bureau.

NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio >> The mission of the Scientific Visualization Studio is to facilitate scientific inquiry and outreach within NASA programs through visualization. To that end, the SVS works closely with scientists in the creation of visualization products, systems, and processes in order to promote a greater understanding of Earth and Space Science research activities at Goddard Space Flight Center and within the NASA research community. All the visualizations created by the SVS (currently totalling over 5,400) are accessible to you through this Web site. More recent animations are provided as MPEG-4s, MPEG-2s, and MPEG-1s. Some animations are available in high definition as well as NTSC format. Where possible, the original digital images used to make these animations have been made accessible. Lastly, high and low resolution stills, created from the visualizations, are included, with previews for selective downloading.

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