North America

The three countries that dominate North America

– the United States, Canada and Mexico – each have a different historical background that influences their culture and governance systems. The U.S. and Canada are of Anglo-Saxon origin, while Mexico has Spanish heritage. The U.S. declared its independence from Britain in the late 18th century, while Canada remained in the British Empire until 1867 and is still a member of the Commonwealth. Once independent, the U.S. expanded to the west and south, partially through land purchases from France and Russia, and partially by the conquest of territory previously held by Mexico and Native Americans.

The three countries are very closely intertwined economically, with the U.S. in the dominant position. The U.S. is the world’s largest economy and strongest military power. North America offers a natural strategic advantage: the continent is shielded by oceans to the east and west. The U.S. effectively projects its power globally by having direct naval access to both the Atlantic and Pacific.

The continent is so rich in natural resources that it is practically self-sufficient. Its big internal markets make its economies less dependent on exports.

The North Atlantic area, comprising Europe and North America, has been the world’s biggest economic zone for the past 200 years. Although this is still the case, the Asia-Pacific region is catching up quickly.

Europe’s self-destruction through two world wars and its increasingly socialist politics in recent decades have given the U.S. the uncontested role of global hegemon. Recently, however, the North American superpower has found itself challenged by China.

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See our reports on North America

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Dr. Andrew Selee
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The U.S.-China trade tug-of-war, status report

U.S. President Trump’s administration may find it possible to clinch the first phase of a comprehensive trade deal with China as a way to harvest the low-hanging fruit. The real challenge will be completing Phase Two, which will cover more contentious issues, especially as the presidential campaign gains speed in 2020.

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