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In between the mountain systems lie wide plains that contain deep, rich soil. Much of the soil was formed from material deposited during the most recent glacial period. This ice age reached its peak about 18, years ago. As glacier s retreated, streams of melted ice dropped sediment on the land, building layers of fertile soil in the plains region. North America contains a variety of natural wonders. Landforms and all types of vegetation can be found within its boundaries.

Yellowstone National Park, in the U.

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In the U. Despite its name, Greenland is mostly covered with ice. Its ice is a remnant of the great ice sheets that once blanket ed much of the North American continent. Greenland is the only place besides Antarctica that still has an ice sheet.

Reynaldo Reyes III - Google Scholar Citations

From the freezing Arctic to the tropical jungle s of Central America, North America enjoys more climate variation than any other continent. Parts of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U. South America is the fourth-largest continent and extends from the sunny beaches of the Caribbean Sea to the frigid waters near the Antarctic Circle. These islands even host some Antarctic birds, such as penguins, albatrosses, and terns. Early Spanish explorer s visiting the islands for the first time saw small fires dotting the land.

These fires, made by indigenous people, seemed to float on the water, which is probably how the islands got their name—Tierra del Fuego means "Land of Fire. Many active volcano es dot the range. These volcanic areas are fueled by heat generated as a large oceanic plate, called the Nazca Plate, grinds beneath the plate carrying South America. The central-southern area of South America has pampas , or plains. These rich areas are ideal for agriculture. The growing of wheat is a major industry in the pampas. Grazing animal s, such as cattle and sheep, are also raised in the pampas region.

In volume, the Amazon is the largest river in the world. More water flows from it than from the next six largest rivers combined. Water flows more than meters 3, feet —almost a mile. The falls are so high that most of the water evaporate s into mist or is blown away by wind before it reaches the ground. South American rain forests contain an enormous wealth of animal and plant life. More than 15, species of plants and animals are found only in the Amazon River basin. Many Amazonian plant species are sources of food and medicine for the rest of the world.

Scientists are trying to find ways to preserve this precious and fragile environment as people move into the Amazon basin and clear land for settlements and agriculture. In total area, the continent of Europe is only slightly larger than the country of Canada. However, the population of Europe is more than twice that of South America.

Most European countries have access to the ocean. The continent is bordered by the Arctic Ocean in the north, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Caspian Sea in the southeast, and the Mediterranean and Black Seas in the south. Early Europeans learned the river systems of the Volga, Danube, Don, Rhine, and Po, and could successfully travel the length and width of the small continent for trade , communication , or conquest.

European explorers were responsible for colonizing land on every continent except Antarctica. This colonization process had a drastic impact on the economic and political development of those continents, as well as Europe. In the east, the Ural Mountains separate Europe from Asia. The nations of Russia and Kazakhstan straddle both continents. To the south, the Alps form an arc stretching from Albania to Austria, then across Switzerland and northern Italy into France.

A large area of gently rolling plains extends from northern France eastward to the Urals. A climate of warm summers, cold winters, and plentiful rain helps make much of this European farmland very productive. Almost all of Europe sits on the massive Eurasian Plate. Africa Africa, the second-largest continent, covers an area more than three times that of the United States. From north to south, Africa stretches about 8, kilometers 5, miles. It is connected to Asia by the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt.

A series of falls and rapids along the southern part of the river makes navigation difficult. The Nile has played an important role in the history of Africa. In ancient Egyptian civilization , it was a source of life for food , water, and transportation. The top half of Africa is mostly dry, hot desert. The middle area has savanna s, or flat, grassy plains. This region is home to wild animals such as lions, giraffes, elephants, hyenas, cheetahs, and wildebeests. The central and southern areas of Africa are dominate d by rain forests. Much of Africa is a high plateau surrounded by narrow strips of coastal lowlands.

Hilly uplands and mountains rise in some areas of the interior. Glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania sit just miles from the tropical jungles below. Even though Kilimanjaro is not far from the Equator, snow covers its summit all year long. The rift valley actually starts in southwestern Asia. The Great Rift Valley is a site of major tectonic activity, where the continent of Africa is splitting into two.

Geologists have already named the two parts of the African Plate. The area of central-eastern Africa is important to scientists who study evolution and the earliest origins of humanity. This area is thought to be the place where hominid s began to evolve. The entire continent of Africa sits on the African Plate.

Asia Asia, the largest continent, stretches from the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the western Pacific Ocean. There are more than 40 countries in Asia. Some are among the most-populated countries in the world, including China, India, and Indonesia. The continent of Asia includes many islands, some of them countries. The plateaus in central Asia are largely unsuitable for farming and are thinly populated. The continent has a wide range of climate regions, from polar in the Siberia n Arctic to tropical in equatorial Indonesia.

Southeast Asia, on the other hand, depends on the annual monsoon s, which bring rain and make agriculture possible. Asia is the most mountainous of all the continents. More than 50 of the highest peaks in the world are in Asia. Mount Everest, which reaches more than 8, meters 29, feet high in the Himalaya range, is the highest point on Earth. These mountains have become major destination spots for adventurous travelers.

Plate tectonics continuously push the mountains higher. As the landmass of India pushes northward into the landmass of Eurasia, parts of the Himalayas rise at a rate of about 2. The land there lies more than meters 1, feet below sea level. Although the Eurasian Plate carries most of Asia, it is not the only one supporting major parts of the large continent. The Indian Plate supports the Indian peninsula, sometimes called the Indian subcontinent.

The Australian Plate carries some islands in Indonesia. Australia In addition to being the smallest continent, Australia is the flattest and the second-driest, after Antarctica. The continent is sometimes called Oceania, to include the thousands of tiny islands of the Central and South Pacific, most notably Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia including the U.

However, the continent of Australi itself includes only the nation of Australia, the eastern portion of the island of New Guinea the nation of Papua New Guinea and the island nation of New Zealand. Australia covers just fewer than 8. Its population is about 31 million. It is the most sparse ly populated continent, after Antarctica.

Rainfall is light on the plateau, and not many people have settled there. The Great Dividing Range, a long mountain range, rises near the east coast and extends from the northern part of the territory of Queensland through the territories of New South Wales and Victoria. Mainland Australia is known for the Outback , a desert area in the interior. This area is so dry, hot, and barren that few people live there. In addition to the hot plateaus and deserts in mainland Australia, the continent also features lush equatorial rain forests on the island of New Guinea, tropical beaches, and high mountain peaks and glaciers in New Zealand.

Biologists who study animals consider Australia a living laboratory. When the continent began to break away from Antarctica more than 60 million years ago, it carried a cargo of animals with it. Isolated from life on other continents, the animals developed into creatures unique to Australia, such as the koala, the platypus, and the Tasmanian devil.

The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy

The reef itself is 1, kilometers 1, miles of living coral communities. Most of Australia sits on the Australian Plate. Antarctica Antarctica is the windiest, driest, and iciest place on Earth. Antarctica is larger than Europe or Australia, but unlike those continents, it has no permanent population. People who work there are scientific research ers and support staff, such as pilots and cooks. The climate of Antarctica makes it impossible to support agriculture or a permanent civilization. Temperatures in Antarctica, much lower than Arctic temperatures, plunge lower than degrees Celsius degrees Fahrenheit.

Scientific bases and laboratories have been established in Antarctica for studies in fields that include geology , oceanography , and meteorology. Antarctica is also an ideal place for discovering meteorite s, or stony objects that have impacted the Earth from outer space. The dark meteorites, often made of metals like iron, stand out from the white landscape of most of the continent.

Antarctica is almost completely covered with ice, sometimes as thick as 3. Like all other continents, Antarctica has volcanic activity. The most active volcano is Mount Erebus, which is less than 1, kilometers miles from the South Pole. Antarctica does not have any countries.

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However, scientific groups from different countries inhabit the research stations. A multinational treaty negotiated in and reviewed in states that research in Antarctica can only be used for peaceful purposes. Vostok Station, where the coldest temperature on Earth was recorded, is operated by Russia.

All of Antarctica sits on the Antarctic Plate. Microcontinents In addition to the seven major continents, Earth is home to microcontinents, or pieces of land that are not geologically identified with a continent. Major microcontinents include:. Also called cosmic dust or space dust. Gas molecules are in constant, random motion. Also called the Somali Peninsula. The last ice age peaked about 20, years ago. Also called glacial age. Monsoon usually refers to the winds of the Indian Ocean and South Asia, which often bring heavy rains.

Regions are the basic units of geography. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a year cycle. Also called lithospheric plate. Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society. Dunn, Margery G. For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection natgeo. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page.

Some media assets videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner of the media viewer. But people who live along this stretch of the US-Mexico border have a complicated understanding of immigration. It is not a black-and-white issue for residents of Luna County. Locals here, as elsewhere along the border, deal with the realities of keeping schools open, meeting health-care needs, and finding jobs or workers.

In that context, coexistence is more important than winning Twitter wars. Local supporters are quick to remind opponents that the arrangement in Deming Public Schools is legal. A mixed-citizenship family structure is increasingly common along the border, but the ratio of these families in Palomas, a town of less than 5, people, is particularly high. Some Mexican-American families move to Palomas from within Mexico for the schooling arrangement, or local agricultural opportunities, or a combination of the two.

And many families move to Palomas after one parent is deported since it allows children to use their US citizenship to study and work there. The closest Mexican hospital is in Juarez, two hours east, so when soon-to-be mothers come to US Customs with labor pains, many patrol officers let them through to the hospital 45 minutes north in Deming. For decades, New Mexico state and US federal policy approved this humanitarian arrangement. In , Palomas agreed to renovate a small clinic and staff it around the clock. Now only expectant mothers with emergency medical needs are officially eligible to cross the border to give birth.

The new arrangement has cut the number of such births in Deming approximately in half, to a reported 52 in Trump has said he wants to issue on executive order nullifying this long-accepted guarantee, but most legal experts say the president cannot do this with the stroke of pen. As for education, state and local laws guarantee citizens the right to free public schools. Back then, the students did not have to be American; it was only in the s that the county began requiring US citizenship.

Luna County is not the only US border locale with this arrangement. Compare this to Deming, which sends yellow school buses down to the border every morning and every night. Like other schoolgirls at bus stops across America, Gabriela and Alejandra find their friends and start laughing. They talk rapidly in Spanish about boy bands and homework. Their elementary school in Columbus, N. Their father, Gregorio Corona, grew up in Palomas and he remembers feeling jealous of his neighbors who were US citizens and went to school in Columbus and Deming.

But Palomas families say any US education is superior to their schools in Mexico. Public education in Mexico is compulsory until middle school, at which point families decide if they can afford high school. Romero, the Deming superintendent, thinks everyone in America should spend a morning at his border bus stop. The immigration debate has turned toxic, but watching five-year-olds walk through Customs with passports around their neck might change perceptions about who belongs in this country.

What opposition there is to the school program comes mostly from older transplants to the region, say city officials. Whereas most other states rely heavily on property taxes to fund local schools, New Mexico pools all of its education funding and then sends the money to districts on a per student basis. Between Deming and Columbus, Mexico commuters make up more than 15 percent of the school population, which means more education dollars for a rural district. Now many of them are less friendly. He says one even threatened to take his visa — something that had never happened before.

At Deming High, Gabriela says the Palomas kids have been treated differently over the past year. But recently there have been fights between the two groups — something she had never seen before. At the Walmart in Deming, older white couples peruse the aisles with canes and motorized scooters; young Hispanic couples hold up baby clothes. Most of the workers restocking the shelves are also Hispanic. While picking out pet food, Edie Scheller talks about how much she dislikes Deming. She moved here six months ago from Phoenix, a place she characterizes as much more strict — rightfully so, she says — on immigration.

But Jasso tries to remind locals like Mr. Beem that educating these young US citizens is the best way to build the local tax base for a rural town with a shrinking population, as well as reduce future national handouts like welfare. They're going to be the next round of business people. Jasso worked as a firefighter for 22 years before being elected mayor in In , he carried Luna County by nearly four points, a wider margin than Mitt Romney in Many Columbus and Deming residents, for example, visit a dentist in Palomas.

But then there are the kids who pile into his bus every day, bound for their American classrooms. But I can also see the humanitarian side of educating these children. Cross-border education binds together the communities on both sides. And whenever Deming Public Schools buys new books or desks, Romero often donates the old supplies to Palomas.

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Corona admits it was hard waving goodbye to Gabriela almost 11 years ago when she began kindergarten in Columbus. But for now, at her pink stucco home in Palomas, where her dog Milo runs collarless around the neighborhood, Gabriela thinks of her diploma. Already a subscriber? This website uses cookies to improve functionality and performance. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

The $15 Minimum Wage Doesn’t Just Improve Lives. It Saves Them.

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