The world has seen great change since the end of the Cold War. For much of the past two millennia, political, military, and economic strength has been based in Eurasia. And, since the 1500s, mostly in Europe.
This is no longer true.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the world’s one top power has been in North America. North America is now the center of the international political system. Mainly because of the power of the United States.
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The US has the world’s top economy. It makes nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP. It has the strongest military, which patrols the world’s oceans. Mexico is a rising power in its own right. It will soon break into the top 10 largest economies in the world. Canada is already the world’s 10th top economy.
North America is walled on both sides by water. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans act as nearly perfect blocks to any outside threat. Save for Pearl Harbor, North America saw little of the damage from World Wars I and II.
This left them able to take advantage of the wake of Eurasia’s great wars and prosper.
Here are fives maps that explain the roots of North America’s wealth and why this region will continue to flourish as Eurasia falls. (Download my FREE eBook,The World Explain in Maps, to get more insights into the forces shaping our physical and financial worlds.)
How North America Was Populated
Despite the size of North America, its population centers are quite well marked.
Much of Canada is unlivable due to the harsh climate and the Canadian shield. Its big population centers are all 100 miles from the US. Mexico’s main population centers are in the south of the country around Mexico City.
Mexico’s north is more rugged and has seen the growth of unruled lengths of land. They are now used by Mexico’s drug cartels. This region goes to the United States.
It is a place where people, languages, and cultures mix. If not for the defeat of Santa Anna’s unlucky expedition in 1836, it might have been Mexico that dominated the continent.
North American Waterways Led to Its Wealth
The mix of the Louisiana Purchase and Santa Anna’s loss at the Battle of San Jacinto pushed the US to make Manifest Destiny come true. The US has main population centers on the east and west coasts. But there is a vast area between the two shown in the map below that is less lived in since it has less rain.
Still, none of the major cities—like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles—are the heart of the US. That is the Mississippi River complex.
The control of that river system via the Port of New Orleans was gained through the Louisiana Purchase and then threatened by Santa Anna in 1836.
The most amazing thing about this river complex is that it is navigable. Most of the land between the Rockies and Appalachians could produce agricultural products and minerals. Yet, the Mississippi made it possible to ship these products cheaply through the US and to Europe.
Neither Mexico nor Canada have a geographic feature like the Mississippi River system (see the map below).
Canada’s rivers lie outside the US river transport system, as do Mexico’s. Neither country has the kind of large, inter-navigable waterway system that led to the quite easy creation of wealth in the US in a short length of time in the 19th century.
One of the greatest moments in North American history was when Thomas Jefferson leapt at the chance to make the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon. That deal changed the US from a mix of motley colonies all clinging to the coast, to a potential global power with great economic wealth and strategic depth.
North America Will Flourish
One of the other great facts about North America is the relative lack of war. Since the Mexican American War in 1846–1848, no major wars have been fought between nations in North America.
There have been only civil wars, such as the American Civil War in 1861–1865 and the Mexican Revolution in 1910–1920.
No other region of the world has been as peaceful and stable as North America in recent years. Because there are no challengers in the world able to attack North America, this will go on.
As Eurasia goes deeper into crisis, the Western Hemisphere will stay more stable than other regions.
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