Mapping the Physical & Human Characteristics in North America's Regions

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  • 0:42 Mountainous West
  • 1:22 Great Plains
  • 1:49 Canadian Shield
  • 2:23 Eastern Region
  • 3:06 Caribbean Region
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson lists and describes the regions of North America. It focuses on terrain, climate, location, natural resources and people of the five main regions. It also defines the Cordilleras, wetlands and biomes.

North America

When it comes to the regions of North America, they're as varied as their people. Today, we'll take a look at these five regions, paying special attention to their physical characteristics and the humans that inhabit them.

To kick things off, North America is made up of Canada, the United States, Mexico, Greenland, the countries of Central America, the Caribbean Islands and many bordering islands. As for land area, it's the third largest of the world's continents. As for population, it comes in fourth.

The vast lands of North America are often broken into five regions. They are the Mountainous West, the Great Plains, the Canadian Shield, the Eastern Region and the Caribbean Region.

Mountainous West

We'll start with the Mountainous West, which spans North America's Western coast. Aptly named, this region is full of mountains. In fact, a vast part of the region is covered by the Cordilleras, a series of mountain ranges that extend from Canada to Panama. The Rocky Mountains of Canada and the U.S., as well as the Sierra Madres of the U.S. and Mexico, are part of the Cordilleras.

The people of this mountainous region are as varied as the mountains themselves. We have the snow loving skiers of Colorado, the city dwellers of Los Angeles, the farmers of Mexico, the fisherman of Seattle and the native tribes of Central America.

Great Plains

Moving to the middle of the continent, we come to the Great Plains region, which is located in the U.S. and Canada. Home to many of the continent's farmers, the Great Plains region is often called the 'bread basket' of North America. It's earned this nickname due to its lush soil that supplies much of the continent with wheat and agricultural products aplenty! It's also home to the Corn Belt, the booming agricultural region of the Midwestern U.S.

Canadian Shield

Moving our eyes northward, we come to the Canadian Shield. The Canadian Shield is a raised plateau that covers much of Eastern, Central and Northwestern Canada. Defining our definition a bit more, a plateau is a flat, elevated landform that rises above the surrounding area.

Due to its rather harsh environment, the Canadian Shield is rather sparsely populated. Most who live there make their homes closer to cities, like Toronto. For those brave humans who take on the tundra and the cold, forestry is a very common occupation!

Eastern Region

With a much milder climate, we have the extremely varied, Eastern Region. Spanning the Northeastern coast of the continent, the Eastern Region is comprised of things like the Appalachian Mountains and the Eastern coastal plains of Canada and the U.S.

A large part of the Eastern Region is made up of wetlands, areas where the earth is saturated most of the time. Great examples of this are the swamps of Florida.

Like in many of the regions, the people of this area are as varied as the landscape. It's home to those who make a living in the cities of New York and Boston, while also being home to the farmers of Pennsylvania. It's home to the lumberjacks of New England and the beach lovers of Florida and the Carolinas.

Caribbean Region

Last, we come to the Caribbean Region. Famous for its amazing vacations spots, the region is made up of the islands of the Caribbean Sea. It's located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and east of Central America.

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