NASA/JPL/NIMA. “WorldSRTM-noPoles-giant” Online Image. Earth Observatory. 16 May 2005
North America - Largest
This image was created from a larger Public Domain world map produced from data obtained by NASA's
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). The world map was cropped to the North America
and resized to twice normal size using a trial version of Adobe Photoshop. Using Google's free Picasa2 program,
the color and lighting were then enhanced and finally sharpened to obtain the image above. The original
image can be viewed at the NASA link above.
The vast majority of North America, excepting only Central America, was comparatively undeveloped for
most of its history, only developing intensive agriculture after 1000AD, millennia after the Middle East
and China. Mesoamerica (Central America) was the dominant location of development in North (and South)
America. In 1050 the Anasazi culture began to thrive in what would become the desert Southwest of the US.
irrigation allowed it to survive in the sun baked heat, but it collapsed in droughts around 1300. The
Mississippian temple mound builders developed intensive agriculture around 1250 but had largely
disintegrated by 1650 when Europeans were claiming footholds along the East Coast. It is quite possible
their collapse was due to European diseases which had 150 years to spread since Columbus’s voyage of 1492.
The history of North America was unquestionably defined less by conquest and culture than biology. When
Native Americans resisted colonial Europeans their success varied from problematic to highly threatening,
but they lacked the numbers to stem the tide of European takeover. The diseases which Europeans brought
with them, most importantly influenza and small pox, decimated the unprepared populations of the Americas.
The most advanced cultures, the urban dwellers who lived in high concentrations were disproportionately
affected, leaving the less advanced native cultures naked to the coming European transformation of the
By 1783 when Britain was forced to recognize the US, European immigration and baby boom had
reshaped the demographics of the Americas. Europeans and their descendents were no longer mere interlopers,
but the largest population block with superior technology to boost their numerical advantage. By 1900, the
US would exert a dominant influence throughout the Americas, and by 1950 had begun to emerge as one of the