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The name America comes from the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, one of the earliest European explorers of the New World. The term America originally was applied only to South America, but the designation soon was applied to the entire landmass. Because Mexico and Central America share an Iberian heritage with nearly all of South America, this entire region frequently is grouped under the name Latin America. The Americas (also collectively called America; comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.
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South America is bounded by the Caribbean Sea to the northwest and north, the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast, east, and southeast, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. In the northwest it is joined to North America by the Isthmus of Panama, a land bridge narrowing to about 50 miles (80 km) at one point. Drake Passage, south of Cape Horn, separates South America from Antarctica.Relatively few islands rim the continent, except in the south. These include the glaciated coastal archipelagoes of Argentina and Chile. The Falkland (Malvinas) Islands are east of southern Argentina. To the north, the West Indies stretch from Trinidad to Florida, but those islands usually are associated with North America. Of the remainder, most are small oceanic islands off the coasts of South America, including the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean.
South America has a total area of about 6,878,000 square miles (17,814,000 square km), or roughly one-eighth of the land surface of Earth. Its greatest north-south extent is about 4,700 miles, from Point Gallinas, Colombia, to Cape Horn, while its greatest east-west extent is some 3,300 miles, from Cape Branco, Brazil, to Point Pariñas, Peru.
Baja California, bounded to the north by the United States (California and Arizona), to the east by the state of Sonora and the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez), to the west by the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by the state of Baja California Sur.
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