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Virtual Americas Photo Library
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Americas Map and photos

Virtual Americas — Your virtual guide to the Americas.

The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World which cover over a quarter of Earth's land area and contains nearly 15% of the world's population. The indigenous peoples of the Americas have a common ancestry and travelled here from a land bridge that existed between Asia and North America. Many ancient civilisations of the Americas were technologically advanced and there are many archeological sites testiment to this.Notable civilisations included the Olmec, Toltec, Aztec, Inca and Maya. Much later, European colonisation brought immigrants from Europe, England, and Ireland to the USA and Canada whereas Central and South America received significant immigration from Spain and Portugal. Africans were brought to the Americas as slaves and mainly live in the USA and Caribbean today.

The Americas is divided into two continents, North and South America with Central America including the Caribbean technically belonging to North America. This landmass stretches from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

North America includes Canada the largest country in area and the USA including Alaska. This continent is situated between the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic Ocean. Landscapes here include mountains including the 'Rockies', tundra, temperate forests, deserts, and sub-tropical wetlands. North America also has the world's largest fresh water lakes. Both Canada and the USA have first world economies and some large industrialised cities.

Central America includes Mexico in the north to Panama in the south as well as Caribbean Island nations from The Bahamas down to Trinidad and Tobago. The mainland has a number of mountain ranges and volcanoes. Landscapes are varied and include: deserts, tropical rainforests,alpine areas, wetlands, and grasslands. The Caribbean Islands are covered in rainforests with some islands existing in the Mesoamerican Reef, the second biggest barrier reef on Earth. Central America is famous for the Panama Canal, an important shipping route that allows ships to pass through the Americas.

South America includes Colombia and Venezuela in the north down to Argentina and Chile in the south. The continent is situated between the South Pacific, South Atlantic, and the Great Southern Ocean, as well as the Caribbean Sea. The main landscape features include the Andes - the second highest mountain range on Earth, volcanoes, and the Amazon - the largest rainforest and river in the world. This area has the highest concentration and greatest variety of flora and fauna on the planet.