The Essential Backpacker's Guide to North America, Part 1

Published: 04/17/2014

The continent of North America holds as many wonders as it’s neighbour, South America and whilst many of the cultural influences of South America have been carried into the lives of people all over North America, North America still has it’s own culture rich in history and tradition, heightened by influences from all over the world. 

North America is a captivating destination because most of the world grows up seeing it on television and people feel as if they have an understanding of the people from what they’ve learnt in the media.  Singers, actors, movies, literature and massive industry have flooded out of mainly the United States of America for decades, making their way into our homes all over the globe but these are not the be-all and end-all of what you can find in this fascinating part of the world.  There is much more to behold and there are many more wonders to amaze so it’s definitely worth a visit.  

The continent of North America is located in the North Eastern hemisphere and consists of Canada, The United States and Mexico.  Lets start with Canada.

Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories.  It is located in the northern part of the continent and extends from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific.  Canada is the world’s second largest country by way of area and the border that it shares with the United States is the world’s longest land border shared by two countries.  It is home to the northernmost settlement, which is the Canadian Forces Station Alert, lying only 817 kilometers from the North Pole.  A large portion of the Canadian Arctic is covered by ice and permafrost and there are 8 distinct forest regions and around 31,700 large lakes.  Fresh water glaciers exist in the Canadian Rockies and Coast Mountains and many potentially active volcanoes can be found.

The climate varies from region to region and winters can be extremely harsh, particularly in the Prairie provinces and interior.  Non-coastal regions can experience snow cover for almost six months of the year but some areas north can experience snow all year round.  A temperate climate with a mild and rainy winter is what you’ll find in Coastal British Columbia.  Average high temperatures on the east and west coasts are in the low 20s, between the coasts from 25s to 30s and in some interior locations, occasionally exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.

 Culturally, Canada is described as a mosaic, being made up of a collection of several regional, aboriginal and ethnic subcultures.  Historically, Canada has experienced influence from the British, French and Aboriginal cultures and traditions. 

The cuisine varies depending on the region with the very first cuisines consisting heavily of English, Scottish and French roots.  English Canada’s cuisine is closely reflective of British and Scottish cuisines and French Canada is closely reflective of French cuisine.

In the next part of this series we will look at sites and attractions that can be found in Canada.

Posted in: Travel Destinations
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