Population Patterns of North America:Where Did the First People in North America Came From

The Question which first arises is-Where did the first people in North America came from?


According to one theory, nomads crossed land bridge from Asia to Alaska and settled in N. America.

According to another theory, nomads from Central and South America settled in N. America at the same time as the people from Asia.


Possible Coastal Migration Routes

Recent years have seen a coastal migration hypothesis emerge as an alternative to the land bridge theory.he coastal migration hypothesis entails migration using watercraft, via the Kurile island chain, the coast of Beringia, and archipelagos off the Alaskan-British Columbian coast, continuing down the coast to Central and South America.

Many European groups came to N. America and settled here in colonies. Following is a brief description of their settlement and colonies:

Spanish people controlled Florida and large area west of Mississippi River; set up military posts, missions, farms, and cattle ranches.

French came for fur trade along rivers; settled along St. Lawrence and Mississippi Rivers.

English settlers made colonies along Atlantic Coast. Northern colonies were specialized in shipbuilding, fishing and trade. Middle colonies mainly dealt with farming. They produced cash crops here. Southern colonies focused on plantation farming.

 In 1763, France gave much of its land to Britain after the French and Indian War. English migrate west and push Native Americans off their land. U.S.A. was created in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence; fought and won independence in American Revolution. Americans set up a republic in which the people elect their own officials.

People still loyal to Great Britain move north and establish the Dominion of Canada.

 In 1800s the region saw the march of industrialization and Urbanization. Industrialization with the disposable income it produced caused urbanization. The cities mainly grow along rivers.

In the south, enslaved Africans provided labor on southern plantations. Underground Railroad and a series of safe houses, helped many slaves make their way north to freedom.

The population of the continent of North America has gone enormous change in size, geographic distribution, and ethnic composition over the past several Centuries. It has grown from a few million, largely rural inhabitants on the eve of Columbus’s arrival to approximately million, substantially urban residents at the end of the twentieth century. From once composed entirely of Native Americans, the population now changed the structure and now includes most ethnic groups from around the globe.

These changes were caused by substantial immigration from Europe, Africa, and Asia, and by significant shifts in fertility and mortality. Life expectancy has substantially increased and this has marked impact on structure of the populace.

Population growth and redistribution have had numerous implications for economic, political, and social history. For example, the aboriginal population was decimated by disease and warfare following the arrival of Europeans and their colonial empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Conflict within the United States and between the United States and other countries accompanied westward expansion in the nineteenth century. And women took on new roles inside and outside the home during the transition from a high-fertility rural way of life in the nineteenth century to low-fertility urban living in the twentieth century.

The U.S. and Canada have been shaped by immigration – the movement of people into one country from another. Most people in US and Canada are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Native Americans are believed to have  first came to North America from Asia thousands of years ago through the Berring Land Bridge.

Due to the impact of migration,U.S. and Canada are among the most diverse populations in the world. The people of United States often called it the ‘Melting Pot’

Some of the reasons why people came to U.S. and Canada:

  • Religious or political freedom
  • Fleeing wars or natural disasters
  • Greater economic opportunities
  • Sought rich natural resources of the region

 Population Concentrations


 (Click here for the population distribution of North America)

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 have major 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.

Most Populous 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 , 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. The region has  15% of World Population.

Canada has 8 people per mile.

The growth history of Canada’s population is interesting and has been influenced in many different ways, such as indigenous populations, expansion of territory, and human migration. Canada has been predisposed to be a very open society with regards to immigration, which has been the most important factor in its historical population growth.Canadians comprise about 0.5% of the world’s total population,with an estimated population of 36,286,425  in 2016.90% live along the border with the US.

Despite the fact that Canada’s population density is low, many regions in the south such as Southern Ontario, have population densities higher than several European countries. The large size of Canada’s north has low carrying capacity and low population density.. Therefore, the population density of the habitable land in Canada can be modest to high  depending on the region.


  • U.S. has about 75 people per mi²

As of October 15, 2016, the United States has a total resident population of 324,707,000, making it the third most populous country in the world. It is very urbanized, with 81% residing in cities and suburbs as of 2014 (the worldwide urban rate is 54%). California and Texas are the most populous states, as the mean center of U.S. population has consistently shifted westward  and southward.New York City is the most populous city in the United States.

The American population almost quadrupled during the 20th century—at a growth rate of about 1.3% a year—from about 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000. It reached the 200 million mark in 1968, and the 300 million mark on October 17, 2006.Population growth is fastest among minorities as a whole, and according to the Census Bureau’s estimation for 2012, 50.4% of American children under the age of 1 belonged to minority groups.


  • The current population of Mexico is 129,171,384 as of Wednesday, November 2, 2016, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • Mexico population is equivalent to 1.73% of the total world population.
  • Mexico ranks number 10 in the list of countries by population.
  • The population density in Mexico is 66 per Km2 (171 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 1,943,082 Km2 (750,228 sq. miles)
  • 78.1 % of the population is urban (100,696,829 people in 2016)
  • The median age in Mexico is 27.8 years.Some Notable Points 
    • Northeast and Great Lakes area most densely populated areas
    • Sunbelt (mild climate – SW) is the fastest growing area of the S.
    •  80% of Americans and 60% of Canadians live in metropolitan areas – large cities with outlying communities called suburbs.
    • US. and Canada have low birth rates; most population growth comes from mobility, or the ability to move from place to place

Link(s) and Source(s):


World Population Review


About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
This entry was posted in Class Notes, Countries, earth, Population. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Population Patterns of North America:Where Did the First People in North America Came From

  1. lenrosen4 says:

    Hi Rashid, In terms of the original human inhabitants of North America the migration hypotheses also include a coastal migration route that would have paralleled the land bridge connecting Asia and North America. There is growing evidence of this migration as we explore the submerged coastline that was Western North America in the late Pleistocene when sea levels were significantly lower than today.We may discover three sources of migration explain the early settlement of North and South America: a land invasion, a coastal invasion and a Trans-Pacific invasion.


  2. Pingback: An Overview of Inter-linkage of Migration and Tourism | Rashid's Blog: An Educational Portal

  3. Pingback: Urban Morphology: Gentrification for Better and Worse | Rashid's Blog: An Educational Portal

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