America. Part of the world formed by two continental masses (North America and South America) joined together by a long and narrow isthmic region which, with the island festoons of the Antilles, constitutes Central America defined by COUNTRYAAH. In the common language, as well as the entire continent, the term designates, par excellence, the United States of America. America represents less than a third of the land masses and corresponds to approx. half of the Ancient Continent, extending for 42,082,483 km²; houses approx. of 820 million inhabitants, that is one seventh of the world population, but in the last three hundred years its population has increased by more than 50 times, while humanity has multiplied, “only”, 10 times. What distinguishes America from a general glance is the great variety of its environments, the powerful dimension of its geography. The particular configuration contributes to this since, unlike other continents, America develops almost over an entire terrestrial arc, that is, it extends from one part of the two polar regions to the other. The denomination “America” is applied globally to the entire continent and this because originally and for a long time it was considered a land unto itself, unitary, exclusively a “new world”. In fact, North America and South America repeat certain structural motifs, traceable in the expanded North contour that tapers towards South, in the presence of lowlands in the center, of ancient massifs on the eastern side, of young mountain systems in the section facing the Pacific, all motifs that is, they reveal a common geological story, even if the natural environments of the two parts are very dissimilar. Culturally, these are two worlds that have elaborated the European civilization forcibly introduced into those new lands in a different way. Diversity that reflects not only the various conditions of Europe at the time of the gradual discovery of the continent, but also two human attitudes typical of the Anglo-Saxon and Latin peoples. These two parts that have had autonomous historical and cultural developments are therefore considered distinctly, just as the section that divides them, Central America (whose discussion also concerns Mexico for many physical links), is separately examined from the physical point of view, considered instead from the human and economic point of view an integral part of South America. However, a fundamental characteristic of America remains its isolation from the Ancient Continent which has conditioned the originality of human and cultural developments.
Precisely because of its isolation, in America the appearance of man took place relatively recently: so far, in fact, there are no clues that allow us to admit the existence of a native human or humanoid form. Strait of Bering, was reached (according to some scholars) ca. 40,000 years ago, during the oscillation of the last American glaciation which takes the name of Wisconsin II. In relation to this lowering of the sea level, it would have formed between Siberia and Alaska, a continental bridge of approx. 2000 km wide. Since there are no traces of fossil humans older than this period, today it is inclined to admit that man entered America in successive waves, between 40,000 and 20,000 years ago, right through the Bering Strait and spread from there. across America; the hypothesis of a population also through the South Pacific has been made, but the studies carried out in this sense have not yet proved this possibility. In any case, the American continent, as a whole, maintains the characteristics of the dualism between Anglo-Saxon and Latin America, a division that appears more suited to the interpretation of geographic-economic phenomena than the conventional one (North, Central and South America) linked to the shape of the continent itself, even if, even within each of the two partitions, there is no lack of notable differences. For Anglo-Saxon America, think of the secessionist temptations that in the past resurfaced in the French-speaking component of the Canadian population, the claims of the minority indigenous components (for example Inuit, again in Canada) or to the never completely dormant racial tensions in the United States, fueled by almost unstoppable immigration (from Mexico and Central America). For Latin America, which extends from the subtropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere to the subpolar ones of the southern hemisphere, it is necessary to consider the enormous differences in population and resources, the strongly spread rates of growth and the wide range of physical conditions. In any case, the gap between the two subcontinents is certainly much clearer, which can be effectively represented through an indicator that, since 1990, the UN has decided to elaborate in an attempt to provide a global image of development, no longer linked to income alone. This indicator, defined precisely as the “human development index”, it is built on significant data on the level of health (life expectancy at birth), education (illiteracy and overall school level) and wealth (gross domestic product per inhabitant, however weighted by the assessment of real purchasing power and significant thresholds for the transition from poverty to at least relative well-being: for example, $ 2,000 per year). Well, Canada and the United States occupy the 3rd and 15th place in the world ranking, respectively with 0.967 and 0.950 of the value expressed in thousandths, while among the Latin American countries, apart from the 37th place of the Barbados islands, the highest positions are found starting from 40th (Chile) and 46th (Argentina) to move to 70th in Brazil, 98th in Paraguay and gradually decreasing beyond the 100th position. Nothing to do, of course, with underdeveloped situations such as that in Africa, where almost all countries are below 0.500; but a condition equally far from the excellent potential, also in consideration of the high cultural tradition and economic capacity of the immigrant populations, especially from Europe, which have constituted the fulcrum of some large Latin American states. A gap, however, which shows the possibility of overcoming to the extent that the growing tendencies towards integration will actually be realized (see, above all, the attempt animated by Brazilian President Lula to establish, with MERCOSUR, a free trade area Latin American) and the best organization of the territory, based on a more widespread urbanization of which the first symptoms are felt.