What are the Natural Resources of America?

The Natural resources of America Most important are water resources, agriculture, livestock, forest resources, aquaculture, hydrocarbons and minerals.

America is an isolated continent of the other continents, its surface is of 42,262,142 km2. Its boundaries are: the Arctic glacial ocean to the north, the Atlantic to the east, the Antarctic glacial to the south and the Pacific to the west.

What are the Natural Resources of America?

It is composed of two subcontinents (North America and South America), which remained separated for millions of years until they occupy their present positions and join forming the isthmus of Panama at the end of the Tertiary Era, about 3 Million years ago.

The North American territory begins inside the Arctic polar circle and its extreme limit in the south is the river Suchiate, that marks part of the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Its coastlines extend along the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The territory of South America extends from the Panama Canal to the Drake Passage in Argentina. Within its relief highlights the cordillera of the Andes, that extends in all the western part, the great plateaus in Brazil and the wide plains that form pampas in Argentina and Uruguay.

Water resources

The main lakes in North America are Lake Superior, which is the largest lake in the world with an area of ​​82,500 km 2. Others are Lake Huron (59,250 km 2 ), Lake Erie (25,700 km 2 ), Lake Ontario (19,500 km 2 ) And Lake Michigan 57,750 km².

In South America, lakes are not as large compared to those found in the north of the continent. The largest lake is Lake Maracaibo, in Venezuela (13,820 km 2) , Followed by Lake Cocibolca in Nicaragua and Lake Titicaca in the Cordillera de los Andes between Bolivia and Peru. The latter has the peculiarity of being the highest lake in the world with cargo ship traffic.

The Mississippi River is one of the most important rivers in the world, the largest in North America. It is born in Lake Itaska to the North of the United States and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It has an extension of 3.770 km 2 , And is fed to the west by the Missouri River, which is born in the Rockies and to the east by the Ohio River.

In South America, the Amazon River is the most important. It is born from the mountain range of the Andes and is the largest in the world, containing about one fifth of the fresh water of the planet. It crosses the territories of Peru, Colombia and Brazil, with a length of 7062 km.

The Paraná, Paraguay, Uruguay and Rio de la Plata rivers form the La Plata basin, one of the most important hydrological basins in the continent, which comprises part of the territory of Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina.

We also find large marshes on the continent as in the pantanal region in the South American scepter between the countries of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, and the Envergadles in Florida in North America. These large marshes act as important reservoirs of continental water, in addition to harboring a large number of species of aquatic flora and fauna of America.

Agriculture in North America

USA and Canada were the second and fifth largest exporters of agricultural products in the world in 2015 (CAES, 2016).

In 2007, 51% of US territory was used for agriculture. The main products were corn, cotton, wheat, citrus, melons, nuts, rice, soy, sugar, potato and tomato, among others (USDA, 2015). In 2011, the total agricultural land was 64.8 million hectares, 7% of its territory, and its agricultural activities contributed in 2014 to 6.6% of the country's GDP (CAES, 2016).

In Mexico 26.9 million hectares are destined for agriculture. The main agri-food products exported in 2016 were Avocado (50.8% of the world), Jitomate (21.5% of the world) and fresh berries (9.6% of the world) (SAGARPA, 2016).

The countries that contribute most to Central America's agricultural exports are Costa Rica and Guatemala. In 1996 Central America's GDP was just over 30 million dollars and its exports of 8 million dollars, 68% of its total exports. The main products harvested were rice, beans, maize, sorghum, cotton, banana, cocoa, coffee, flowers and foliage and sugarcane (Arce, et al., 1999).

Agriculture in South America

The main crops of South America are: wheat, rice, oilseeds and coarse grains.

Over the past two decades, South America has significantly increased its share of world food trade, due to the performance of Brazil and Argentina, countries that were able to take advantage of the impressive increase in demand for soybeans, essentially from China.

Peru is the center of origin of two crops of great cultural importance; the potato ( Solanum tuberosum) And beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ) (Garzón, 2016). Paraguay is the center of origin of species such as cassava ( Manihot esculenta ), Sweet potato ( Ipomoea potatoes ), Peanuts ( Arachis hypogaea ), And pineapple ( Ananas comosus ) (CBD, 2003).

Livestock in North America

The main products that Canada produces from the livestock system are red meats (about 15.1 billion dollars). Also dairy products - $ 6.1 trillion - and eggs and poultry - $ 2.3 trillion. Another important product is pork (CAES, 2016).

Livestock gains in the United States are $ 100 billion per year. The main products it exports are beef cattle, meat, dairy products, pork, poultry and eggs, wool, sheep, pigs and mutton (USDA, 2015).

Mexico allocates 109.8 million hectares for livestock. At present there are breeding birds, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and hives (SAGARPA, 2016). In addition, it is the third largest exporter of honey in the world (SAGARPA, 2016).

Livestock in South America

The main breeding sites in South America are cattle, pork, sheep, beekeeping and dairy products. Brazil is the main exporter of poultry meat in the world and Chile is the second exporter of pork from Latin America (FAO, 2013).

Harvesting of wildlife in North America

Mexico and States are very diverse countries. Mexico occupies the third place of the countries in which more mammals live, the second in reptiles and the fifth in amphibians (Mexican Biodiversity, 2013).

Canada and the United States have reindeer ( Rangifer tarandus ) As one of the species in the hunting ranches, other species such as the uapiti ( Cervus canadensis ) And white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus ) Or deer ( Mazama spp .), Among others (Chardonnet, et al., 2002).

In Mexico many animals are destined to the sport hunt. The most common species are: white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus ), Deer bura ( Odocoileus hemionus ), wild pig ( Pecari tajacu ), Rana forreri ( Lithobates forreri ), Asian Zenaida ( White-winged pigeon ), the coyote ( Canis latrans ), Paloma huilota ( Zenaida macroura ), Californian quail ( Callipepla californica ), Hare rabbit ( Lepus callotis ), American coot ( Fulica americana ), Florida rabbit ( Sylvilagus floridanus ), Among many others (Mexican Biodiversity, 2012).

Use of wildlife in South America

In Venezuela they breed the capybara ( Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris ) And the caiman ( Caiman crocodilus ) In large ranches, which are exported (Chardonnet, et al., 2002).

In Costa Rica they raise the green iguana for their meat consumption, skin production, as pets and tourism (Chardonnet, et al., 2002).

The ranches of Psittacidae are the scarlet macaw ( Ara macao ) Or the Amazonian parrots ( Amazona spp. ). They are also of commercial value in countries such as Argentina and Costa Rica (Chardonnet, et al., 2002).

Other breeding species are chinchilla ( Chinchilla laniger ), The Otter ( Myocastor coypu ), Amazonian turtles (Podocnemis expansa), tepezcuintle ( Cuniculus paca ) (Chardonnet, et al., 2002), among many others.

Protected areas

In 2006 North America had 360 million hectares of protected areas, of which more than 70% were in the United States (United Nations, 2008c, FAO, 2009).

In Canada is Gros Morne National Park; In USA the Everglades National Park and the Grand Canyon; In Mexico the ancient Mayan city, the tropical forest of Calakmul, the islands and protected areas of the Gulf of California (IUCN, 2016).

In Central American countries such as Belize is the Belize Reef Barrier Reserve System and in Costa Rica the La Amistad National Park. Finally in Panama, the Coiba National Park and a special maritime protection area (IUCN, 2016).

In South America the main Protected Areas are: In Argentina the Iguazu National Park, in Brazil the protected area Chapada dos Veadeiros and the national parks Emas and Iguacu and in Ecuador the Galapagos Islands (IUCN, 2016).

Forest utilization

According to FAO (2010), North America has 705 million hectares of forest area, 33% of its total area. North America is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of wood products.

In 2006, Canada and the United States produced about 1.5 million and 1 million tons of wood pellets, respectively, and ranked second and third behind Sweden (FAO, 2009).

The production of the few economically important non-timber forest products with well-established markets, mainly in the United States and Canada, is both maple syrup and Christmas trees, both highly commercialized (FAO, 2009).

In Mexico there are 30 representative species marketed in the formal market highlighting the following: the palmer palm ( Chamaedorea elegans ), Wild mushrooms ( Tricholoma magnivelare ) And pine resin ( Pinus leiophylla, P. oocarpa, P. pseudostrobus ), As well as others in the literature (López, et al., 2005, Marshall, et al., (2006) and Sosa-Montes et al.

According to FAO, these are the most representative non-timber forest products in Central America: in Belize chewing gum (Manilkara zapota) and in Costa Rica medicinal plants ( Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Lusitanian Cupressus, Equisetum bogotense , among others),

In the savior medicinal plants ( Myroxylon balsamum var. Pereirae, Polypodium aureum, Cassia fistula , Among others), in Guatemala the xate for the florist ( Chamaedorea spp. ) And in Honduras medicinal plants ( Quassia will love , Fevillea cordifolia , Smilax spp. , among other),

In Nicaragua, handicrafts ( Carludovica palmata, Pinus oocarpa, Attalea butyracea , Among others) and lastly in Panama are used mainly for medicinal purposes ( Equisetum bogotense, Lippia alba, Cymbopogon citratus , Among others) (Robles - Valle, et al., 2004).


In 2013 US aquaculture production was 1.37 trillion. Fish, food, ornamental, mollusks, crustaceans and some reptiles such as crocodiles and turtles stand out (USDA, 2015).

In Mexico, 11 thousand km of coast are destined for fishing, in addition to 120 thousand hectares for aquaculture. In 2016, 1.3 million tons were fished and 361 thousand tons of species were raised. Shrimp is the export aquaculture product that stands out with 1.8% of the world total (SAGARPA, 2016).

Meanwhile, in South America aquaculture production in 2010 harvested 602,000 tonnes of freshwater fish and 503,000 tonnes of crustaceans, with 314,000 tonnes of molluscs (FAO, 2013).

Hydrocarbons and minerals

In the continent there are two important areas of oil reserves, one located in Venezuela where 18% of the world's oil reserves are located, and a production of 999,400 barrels / day. The second area is in Canada, this country has the third largest oil reserves in the world only surpassed by Saudi Arabia and Venezuela (CIA, 2015).

However, Canada's oil is dissolved in bitumen sands. Their extraction is more expensive and much less profitable compared to conventional oil extractions. It also involves open-pit mining to separate the sands from crude oil, causing serious damage to the ecosystem.

With regard to minerals we find that in North America, the United States is the eighth largest producer of uranium in the world and the first in the American continent. Mexico is the main producer of silver and together with Peru produce about 40% of the world's silver.

Among the mining countries in South America are Brazil, which for many years has been the world's leading producer of gold (Malm, 1998), and Chile, which is the world's leading copper producer (Sturla & Illanes, 2014).


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