Frequently, the continent of North America is identified primarily by the largest countries within it—the United States, Mexico, and Canada. However, those curious about how many countries are actually in North America will be pleased to know that the number far exceeds three—and you can learn as much by simply looking at a map! But there’s much more interesting information to be learned if we treat this study as more than a simple numbers game. Therefore, we’re going to take a closer look at the various countries within the North American continent.
We won’t be omitting the three big ones, of course. They make up such a considerable amount of North America’s population and landmass that it would be impossible to. However, it’s useful to know how they relate to the various other countries and territories in the continent, and what sorts of relationships they maintain.
If you have a piqued curiosity about the North American continent, we’ve got you covered.
North America—the Continent
The size of North America is respectably large when compared to the rest of Earth’s landmasses, and that holds true in several respects. It’s the third-largest continent in terms of surface area (after Asia and Africa) and has the fourth largest population (after Asia, Africa, and Europe.) Combined with South America, it comprises almost the entirety of all lands in Earth’s Western Hemisphere.
Speaking of South America, it bears quick mention that not every continental model in popular use around the world considers North America its own continent. A six-continent model that combines North and South America into a single continental entity—the Americas—routinely groups many continental facts about both landmasses together. However, for the sake of being concise and specific, we’re going to be using the seven-continent model for the duration of this article. After all, if we’re going to be looking specifically at North America, it’s helpful to view it as its own continental entity.
Countries of North America
The larger countries within North America are immediately identifiable based on their size alone, but there are actually 23 confirmed countries within the North American continent. This doesn’t include the various territories lacking their own sovereignty.
Before we dig into some of the more detailed aspects of this study, let’s get the names of these countries out in the open. Below, we’ve organized a list of them based on their populations, starting with the largest and descending from there:
- The United States of America: 324,314,000 people
- Mexico: 112,322,000 people
- Canada: 35,851,000 people
- Guatemala: 16,176,133 people
- Cuba: 11,204,000 people
- Dominican Republic: 10,912,000 people
- Haiti: 10,033,000 people
- Honduras: 8,576,000 people
- El Salvador: 6,164,000 people
- Nicaragua: 6,072,000 people
- Costa Rica: 4,832,000 people
- Panama: 3,454,000 people
- Jamaica: 2,720,000 people
- Trinidad & Tobago: 1,339,000 people
- Bahamas: 370,000 people
- Belize: 368,00 people
- Barbados: 278,000 people
- Saint Lucia: 173,000 people
- Saint Vincent & the Grenadines: 110,000 people
- Antigua & Barbuda: 88,000 people
- Dominica: 67,000 people
- Saint Kitts & Nevis: 52,000 people
- Grenada: 10,400 people
All of these population numbers are approximations based on recent census data, but relative to each other, they’re all quite accurate. They help to provide information in two different ways.
First, they illustrate the relative size of the different countries that can be found on the North American continent. Secondly, they illustrate the population disparities themselves and establish the largest countries that most people assume, anyway—the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
As stated, the list above includes only sovereign territories that are fully in control of their own government, economics, and citizenship.
However, that doesn’t mean that dependent territories in the North American continent should be overlooked, so we’ve assembled a similar list below. Once again, it’s organized by relative population, beginning with the largest and descending from there.
We’ve also included, in parentheses, the sovereign nation that oversees each of these dependent territories.
- Puerto Rico (United States): 3,982,000 people
- U.S. Virgin Islands (United States): 111,000 people
- Bermuda (United Kingdom): 65,000 people
- Greenland (Denmark): 57,000 people
- Cayman Islands (United Kingdom): 56,400 people
- Turks & Caicos Islands (United Kingdom): 33,000 people
- British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom): 23,100 people
- Anguilla (United Kingdom): 15,500 people
- Montserrat(United Kingdom): 6,500 people
Apart from Puerto Rico, which has a rather large and substantial population, you can see the disparity in population from the list above. Most of these territories are limited in their populace, but this isn’t necessarily indicative of anything other than the cost of living in these regions, and the surface area attributed to each of them.
There quite a lot of information that can be gained not only from looking at the sum total populations of North American countries, but also how those populations are spread out. Each of these respective countries is going to feature different allocations of their total population, based on the number of metropolitan centers located in each. Some of this information is relatively predictable—look at the list above, and you can clearly see which countries hold a majority of the continent’s inhabitants.
But there are still some surprises to be found. For example, would you have guessed that the most heavily-populated city in North America isn’t in the United States, but in Mexico?
Whenever we take a look at a continent containing more than one country (see: all of them), we find it important to look at the various metropolitan areas spread out across those countries. If you’re living in the United States, for example, you could easily name the heavily-populated cities respective to that country; but could you name any others in the North American continent? And moreover, would you be able to accurately guess how they rank when compared to United States cities, in terms of population?
Below, we’ve organized another list of the most heavily-populated cities that can be found in North America, as well as the countries they’re located in. Some of these may well be a surprise, while others certainly won’t be.
- Mexico City, Mexico: 21,339,771 people
- New York City, US: 20,182,305 people
- Los Angeles, US: 13,340,068 people
- Chicago, US: 9,551,031 people
- Dallas-Fort Worth, US: 7,102,796 people
- Houston, US: 6,656,947 people
- Toronto, Canada: 6,129934 people
- Washington DC, US: 6,097,684 people
- Philadelphia, US: 6,069,875 people
- Miami, US: 6,012,331 people
- Atlanta, US: 5,710,795 people
- Guadalajara, Mexico: 4,796,050 people
- Boston, US: 4,774,321 people
- San Franciso, US: 4,656,132 people
- Phoenix, US: 4,574,531 people
As you can see from this list, the United States holds a vast majority of the major population centers that can be found in North America. That might well have been indicative from the overwhelming majority that it has over all of the other countries in the continent (provided in the above list), but it occasionally helps to see it represented through various cities.
Other large cities are Vancouver (2,504,340) and Montreal (4,060692) in Canada, as well as Monterrey (4,477,614) and Puebla-Tlaxcala (2,954,767) found in Mexico.
Countries by Size
Countries can be measured in size by their population, of course, but it’s also useful to know how they compare in relative surface area. Match that information up with what you know about the population of North American countries, and you can understand more about each of these nations.
Below, you’ll see each of the sovereign countries of the North American continent, organized from the largest to the smallest, in terms of surface area. We’ve also included dependent states in this list, for the sake of being concise. They can be separated by using the provided information, above.
- Canada: 9,984,70 sq. km.
- United States: 9,826,675 sq. km.
- Greenland: 2,166,086 sq. km.
- Mexico: 1,964,375 sq. km.
- Nicaragua: 130,370 sq. km.
- Honduras: 112,090 sq. km.
- Cuba: 110,860 sq. km.
- Guatemala: 108,889 sq. km.
- Panama: 75,420 sq. km.
- Costa Rica: 51,100 sq. km.
- Dominican Republic: 48,670 sq. km.
- Haiti: 27,750 sq. km.
- Belize: 22,966 sq. km.
- El Salvador: 21,041 sq. km.
- The Bahamas: 13,880 sq. km.
- Puerto Rico: 13,790 sq. km.
- Jamaica: 10,991 sq. km.
- Trinidad & Tobago: 5,128 sq. km.
- Virgin Islands: 1,910 sq. km.
- Turks & Caicos Islands: 948 sq. km.
- Dominica: 751 sq. km.
- Saint Lucia: 616 sq. km.
- Curacao: 444 sq. km.
- Antigua & Barbuda: 443 sq. km.
- Barbados: 430 sq. km.
- Saint Vincent & the Grenadines: 389 sq. km.
- Grenada: 344 sq. km.
- Cayman Islands: 264 sq. km.
- Saint Kitts & Nevis: 261 sq. km.
- Saint Pierre & Miquelon: 242 sq. km.
- Aruba: 180 sq. km.
- British Virgin Islands: 151 sq. km.
- Montserrat: 102 sq. km.
- Anguilla: 91 sq. km.
- Saint Martin: 54 sq. km.
- Bermuda: 54 sq. km.
- Sint Maarten: 34 sq. km.
- Clipperton Island: 6 sq. km.
- Navassa Island: 5 sq. km.
Once again, taking a look at comparative numbers will show you just how drastically different in size the largest countries in North America are from the smallest.
The United States, Canada, Mexico, and Greenland are vastly larger than other countries and territories. Match the sizes of these regions up against their respective populations, and you’ll see a climbing trend of greater landmass supporting larger populations. A predictable set of figures? Probably, but no less interesting, and certainly helpful for gaining a better understanding of the countries in the North American continent.
We hope that the above information has been helpful to you, and for more than just identifying how many countries are in the continent of North America. For those of us who live here, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook the 22 other countries and additional dependent territories, thus making information like this a welcome reminder of how diverse the continent is. If you have any further questions on the topic, or about any of the countries located in North America, be sure to let us know in the comments, below!