Western Hemisphere: Major Countries, Cities & Physical Features

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Do you know what's found in the Western Hemisphere? Lots of exciting countries, cities, and physical features. This lesson will give you an enticing taste of all three!

The Western Hemisphere

The Western Hemisphere is the part of our planet that is found west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian. The Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich, England, while the Antimeridian slices through relatively close to the Bering Strait, which separates Russia from Alaska. This is the hemisphere that includes North and South America as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It's huge! Because it's so large, we'll only cover some major things to give you a taste of what this area of the world encompasses, which is each of the following:

  • Important countries
  • Major cities
  • Incredible physical features

Important Countries

In the Western Hemisphere lies the nation of the United States of America (USA). This is a relatively young nation, but one that is rich in important history and culture. From various Native American tribes to English settlers. From the Civil War to World War II. From hamburgers to the iMac. The USA is arguably the world's leading economic and military powerhouse since the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.

The USA has, for a long time now, been involved in many overseas projects, wars, and economic developments. One of them involves the country of Panama. Now, you might be thinking, why in the world is this a major country in the Western Hemisphere? It's so small, but this is the country that now fully and independently controls one of the most important waterways in the entire world, the Panama Canal. This canal slices Panama into two halves and thus allows for ships to pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and back without having to travel around the tip of South America.

The Panama Canal artificially slices Panama in half.
Panama Canal

South America is the continent that is home to another major country in the Western Hemisphere, Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world. It's very famous for its Carnival festival, rich history of soccer, and amazing natural beauty. Brazil is also a very important local economic powerhouse. Inasmuch, Brazil is one country that is part of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, & China), an acronym that denotes important economies that are yet to fully reach their utmost potential.

Major Cities

Just like there are major countries in the Western Hemisphere, so too are there very important cities. One of them is New York City (NYC), an enormous city found on the eastern edge of the USA. The city itself, not including the metropolitan area, has over 8 million inhabitants! This is a city that is considered by many to be the center of many important activities including an important fashion industry, cultural events in Broadway, as well as the economic power seat of the USA by way of Wall Street.

With almost 9 million inhabitants, Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, is another important city in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico City was founded in 1521 by Spanish conquistadors after they had all but wiped out the Aztec Empire that occupied the area before them. Mexico City is the seat of politics in Mexico and an important business city, one to which many people flock to in order to seek opportunities away from their rural homes.

While NYC and Mexico City are both in North America, South America has plenty of important cities of its own. One of these is Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and the largest city in this country as well. Bueno Aires is, like NYC, located on the eastern shores of its country. It's well-known for its impressive churches, tango, and its love of steak and desserts.

Incredible Physical Features

While the countries are important and the cities are impressive, the Western Hemisphere's physical features are awe-inspiring. Running close to the western edge of North America are the Rocky Mountains (the Rockies). This mountain range stretches from Canada and through most of the USA, covering a distance of over 3,000 miles in the process. In some spots, the Rockies can be over 300 miles wide!

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