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  #1  
Old 04-06-2002, 08:24 AM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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Is the Caribbean part of North America?

I always thought it was. All the evidence I’ve ever seen says that it (as well as “Central America”) is included in North America. Attached is one of many cites/sites. I thought it was a slam dunk something “everyone knows” and I am 100% sure I was taught that in 8th grade geography.

But an obviously smart person (because he showed me up a bit in another area) argued so hard that the Caribbean wasn’t part of North America I started to doubt myself.

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/na.htm
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  #2  
Old 04-06-2002, 08:29 AM
Schnitte Schnitte is offline
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Geographically it is, and so is Mexico. But I think it is usually counted as part of Central America due to cultural (Spanish vs English), not geographic reasons.
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Old 04-06-2002, 08:47 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I am very confused. Didn't you just answer your own question with that link. Yes, the Carribean is part of North America just like it says. Part of the confusion is that it can be arbitrary what continent some islands get assigned to. They are not on the continental mainland so cultural factors come into play. Hell, the continents themselves are pretty arbitrary. Europe and Asia are one huge landmass as we all know.
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Old 04-06-2002, 08:56 AM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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Sorry Shagnasty thanks for the reply (you too Schnitte).

I really wasn't asking is it ... better phrased might have been:

"I think it is, show me evidence it is not"

You were both helpful, thanks again.
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  #5  
Old 04-06-2002, 09:07 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Well, I did not see any "hard arguing." My experience has been to include the contiguous land mass from Alaska/NWT to Panama as North America, throwing in Greenland and the islands of Nunavit on the basis of size and proximity, but to exclude the Bahamas, and the Greater and Lesser Antilles as separate archipelagoes.

Obviously, there are geographers who disagree with the version I had originally learned (which may have been directed by culture as much as anything). Most of the citations I curently find (including the EB), do place the Bahamas, and the Greater and Lesser Antilles into North Amercia, so my education appears to have been stunted in that area. (I have found a Hammond World Atlas dating to 1949 that supports putting the entire Caribbean Basin into North America, so I will not claim that this is some new development.)

(In as much as many in the European tradition of geography simply lump "the Americas" into a single continent, North and South, it would be interesting to discover what the various notions are--and whether there are specific "schools" to support them.)
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  #6  
Old 04-06-2002, 09:18 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Well, Central America is part of the continent of North America.
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  #7  
Old 04-06-2002, 10:50 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Oh, this Staff report should help clarify (further confuse?) the situation: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/meurasia.html
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  #8  
Old 04-06-2002, 05:23 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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To twist it even more: Plate-tectonically, the Caribbean and most of Central America are both part of a plate distinct from the North Am/South Am plates. The arc of the Antilles is the uplift from colission with the Atlantic Ocean floor (which subducts) of the NE edges of the plate. However the CA landmass has been attached to NA since well back in the Cenozoic, while Panama only closed the land bridge to SA in geologically recent times.
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  #9  
Old 04-06-2002, 05:44 PM
TheeGrumpy TheeGrumpy is offline
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Since this question cannot has be answered, I propose making something up. Henceforth, the Caribbean islands, from Cuba to the Lesser Antilles, including the Bahamas and even Bermuda, shall be combined with Greenland and Iceland in the vast supercontinent: ATLANTICA!

And I'll throw in the St. Paul Rocks for nothing extra.

Newfoundland may, in the future, petetion for entry into ATLANTICA. This would, of course, make Canada the fifth bi-continental nation -- after Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Panama (allowing canals to define the edges of landmasses).

On an entirely different, yet equally perplexing, note, may I ask: Does the Pacific Ocean extend as far west as the Malay Peninsula -- or are the Java Sea, South China Sea, Banda Sea, etc. extensions of the Indian Ocean?
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  #10  
Old 04-06-2002, 09:06 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheeGrumpy
This would, of course, make Canada the fifth bi-continental nation -- after Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Panama (allowing canals to define the edges of landmasses).
Kazakhstan is also divided between Europe and Asia, Spain is divided between Europe and Africa, and France (not including territories) is divided between Europe, South America, North America (if that's where we're saying the Caribbean is), and the Indian Ocean.
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  #11  
Old 04-06-2002, 09:11 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheeGrumpy
Since this question cannot has be answered, I propose making something up. Henceforth, the Caribbean islands, from Cuba to the Lesser Antilles, including the Bahamas and even Bermuda, shall be combined with Greenland and Iceland in the vast supercontinent: ATLANTICA!

And I'll throw in the St. Paul Rocks for nothing extra.

Newfoundland may, in the future, petetion for entry into ATLANTICA. This would, of course, make Canada the fifth bi-continental nation -- after Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and Panama (allowing canals to define the edges of landmasses).

On an entirely different, yet equally perplexing, note, may I ask: Does the Pacific Ocean extend as far west as the Malay Peninsula -- or are the Java Sea, South China Sea, Banda Sea, etc. extensions of the Indian Ocean?
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  #12  
Old 04-07-2002, 08:57 AM
Wymsey Wymsey is offline
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Here in the UK, we would define the Caribbean island nations as being part of Central America. The whole continent is often refered to as The Americas, North America being Alaska, Canada and the rest of the USA. The Southern third of the continent we refer to as Latin America.
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  #13  
Old 04-07-2002, 09:35 AM
Kal Kal is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Wymsey
Here in the UK, we would define the Caribbean island nations as being part of Central America. The whole continent is often refered to as The Americas, North America being Alaska, Canada and the rest of the USA. The Southern third of the continent we refer to as Latin America.
I'm from the UK too and I was taught that the United States of America, Canada, the Caribbean Islands and maybe Mexico, can't remember, make up North America.
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  #14  
Old 04-07-2002, 10:22 AM
Yossarian Yossarian is offline
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Really, I've got nothing against Geographers, but this is exactly the kind of geographical arbitrariness that makes me say: "it's a moot question." Kind of like "what's the difference between a hill and a mountain?" or "what's the difference between a creek and a river?" A creek and a river serve the same geological function and are therefore the same thing, so let the geographers fight out whether it is more appropriately called a creek or river--I'm content with "stream"!

So, to give a geological (rather than arbitrary geographical) answer to the OP:

No.

The Carribean is on the Carribean Plate, not the North American Plate, so is therefore not "in" North America.

Of course, bear in mind that using my reasoning places India on the Austro-Indian plate and not "in" Asia! I'm content with answering this question quantitatively with tectonics, but of course YMMV.
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