North America

North America
Image from Steve Bowers
Since the onset of the Gaiacene Ice Age the sea level has become lower, exposing more land around the Florida Penisula and elsewhere.

A continent of Old Earth, formerly a part of the Laurasian supercontinent; bordered by the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, and connected by a narrow land bridge to South America as well as by another land bridge to Asia that is submerged during interglacial periods. With an area of 24,709,000 square kilometres it is the third largest continent of Old Earth after Asia and Africa. Its indigenous nations and tribes were conquered and largely destroyed through military action, introduced diseases, and an influx of settlers and their ideas in the centuries after the first European explorers found the continent. The resulting, largely European-derived, cultures and polities had a powerful influence in the Industrial and Information ages, especially through the United States of America, and had a formative influence on the Interplanetary Age powers, though with the breakup of the USA, the rise of newer powers on the planet, and the general rise of offworld polities the direct influence of North America had waned considerably by the time of the Great Expulsion.

Human presence in North America dates back to at least 14,000 BT (12,000 BC); agriculture was well established by 5500 BT (3500 BC). Major urban civilizations grew in Central America, and later in the eastern half of the continent, but these civilizations came to an abrupt halt with the arrival of European invaders after about 500 BT (1500 AD). The Europeans' Late Agricultural Age soldiers and diseases destroyed even the most advanced of the Early Agricultural Age polities of the day, and together with an influx of European settlers and associated African slaves, and the memeplexes both brought with them, destroyed or profoundly altered the surviving indigenous cultures and peoples. In the southernmost portions of the continent the indigenes were numerous enough that they remained a large portion of the population, and some significant fragments of their cultures survived; most of the others were entirely overwhelmed culturally and numerically and often physically exterminated. Nations that arose in the aftermath, most notably the United States of America, which was to be a world superpower, were in the forefront of planetary development through the Industrial and Information ages. That the most widespread calendrical system currently in use in the Terragen sphere is based on a single expedition mounted by a North American polity, the United States of America, to Old Earth's natural satellite Luna, is a measure of the continent's importance in world affairs at the time.

North America continued to rise in power and prosperity right up to the Nanoswarms, but its relative importance diminished as other regions of Old Earth rose to match the North American powerhouse, and of course North America diminished in importance along with the rest of Old Earth as the newer offworld social and economic powerhouses, some of them former colonies, grew during the Interplanetary Age. As in many other regions of the world, its once-powerful nation-states experienced some significant setbacks as the megacorporations, international trade zones, cultural associations, and regional ecological cooperation zones rose in importance. The Californian secession from the USA, and the similarly significant, though less violent, alignment of former political subunits with new eco-economic units like Cascadia, or cultural organizations like Mayapan were symbolic of this. Nevertheless, many portions of the Inner Sphere, even today, show the imprint of the ancient North American polities and cultures.

Since the Great Expulsion, North America has been returned to the full ecological glory of its pre-human Pleistocene flora and fauna, apparently to the exclusion of the many introduced species and the inclusion of megafauna that became extinct shortly after the arrival of the first humans on the continent. There are few traces of the former cities, arcologies, and mines, outside of a few cultural sites, some of which are open to pilgrims or researchers. The thin population consists primarily of nearbaseline humans, many of them resembling the ancient Amerindian peoples, and various rianths.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss
Ice Age Earth texture by Don Edwards
Initially published on 20 June 2010.