North America is a subcontinent of the Americas and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the south and west and South America and the Caribbean Sea to the southeast. The population in 2016 is over 565 million.
North America has an estimated 2016 population of over 565 million, which is based on national estimates from its 23 independent states but does not take into account non-sovereign territories like Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The largest countries in terms of land -- the United States, Mexico and Canada -- also take a lion's share of North America's total population. The United States is the 4th largest country on earth, and the third most populous country. While it is North America's most populous country, it is actually second in terms of size, as Canada does have slightly more total area, but less land area. The population of the United States accounts for almost 57% of the total population of North America.
The United States also has a population in 2016 that is more than double that of Mexico, the second most populous country in North America with just over 21% of the continent's population. Canada has a mere 6% of North America's population, and no other country accounts for more than 3% after these three.
The ten most populous countries in North America are:
- United States: 321.2 million
- Mexico: 121 million
- Canada: 35.8 million
- Guatemala: 16.1 million
- Cuba: 11.2 million
- Haiti: 10.9 million
- Dominican Republic: 9.9 million
- Honduras: 8.9 million
- Nicaragua: 6.5 million
- El Salvador: 6.4 million
Least Populous Countries
North America has 23 independent states, but 41 countries total including non-independent territories. When these countries are included, the 5 least populous countries (all non-independent) in North America are:
- Montserrat (UK): 5,000
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France): 6,000
- Saint Barthelemy (France): 10,000
- Anguilla (UK): 14,000
- Caribbean Netherlands (Kingdom of the Netherlands): 26,000
Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest sovereign state in the entire Americas, both in terms of size and population. This federal two-island country in the West Indies has a population of just under 55,000 in 2016.
Largest Cities in North America
The two largest cities in North America belong to Mexico and the United States and both are nearly tied in terms of population. Both are also far ahead of any other city on the continent. The 10 most populous countries in North America are:
- Mexico City (Mexico): 8,854,600
- New York City (US): 8,550,405
- Los Angeles (US): 3,971,883
- Toronto (Canada): 2,826,498
- Chicago (US): 2,720,546
- Houston (US): 2,296,224
- Havana (Cuba): 2,117,625
- Ecatepec de Morelos (Mexico): 1,760,705
- Montreal (Canada): 1,753,034
- Philadelphia (US): 1,567,442
Comparison to Other Continents
North America is the third largest continent in terms of area, after Asia and Africa, and the fourth in terms of population after Asia, Africa and Europe. Asia has nearly double the area of North America (43.8 million square kilometers versus 24.5 million square kilometers), and North America accounts for 16.5% of the world's total landmass and 8% of the world's total population. Asia, meanwhile, has 60% of the total population on just 29.5% of the world's landmass.
North America Population Growth
North America has seen a great deal of growth in its many megapolitan areas, including the ten listed above. The United States alone has 11 megaregions that transcend international borders, comprising Mexican and Canadian metropolitan regions. Like many areas of the world, much of North America is experiencing high rates of urbanization that is expected to continue.
North America as a whole has a current population growth rate of just under 1% annually, with a birth rate that is nearly double the death rate. In 2013, the United Nations population division changed its forecast for the world population upward to 11.2 billion in 2100, as they found that fertility rates in many developing countries are not slowing as expected. While they increased their forecast for many regions, especially Latin America and Africa, they reduced their forecasts for North America.
It's estimated that by 2050, the population of North America will be approximately 685 million.
*Note: The below tables are from the 2017 revision of the UN's World Population Prospects, which define North America as: Bermuda, Canada, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and the United States of America.