Third largest of the seven continents, including Canada (the 2nd largest country in area in the world), the United States (3rd largest), and Mexico (14th largest). The continent also includes Greenland, the largest island, as well as the small French overseas department of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and the British dependency of Bermuda (both made up of small islands in the Atlantic Ocean). With 524 million inhabitants (2007 estimate), Canada and the United States have technologically developed early modern economies, and Mexico, although less technologically developed than its neighbors, contains some of the world's greatest deposits of petroleum and natural gas.
Brazil's problems -- poverty, crime, environmental recklessness -- can seem larger than life, too. Although it is one of the industrial powerhouses of South America, Brazil has trouble feeding all its people. And deforestation of the Amazon basin proceeds at an ominous rate. But in fits and starts, the country is taking on some of its seemingly insoluble problems. Most noticeably, improvement is being made in the dangerous crime situation in Rio: A special branch of "tourist police" now keeps tourist sites -- particularly the beaches of Zona Sul -- relatively safe.