How many countries are there in North America?

UPDATED JULY 2022. If you research how many countries are there in North America, you’ll find that the number 23 keeps coming up. Well, I agree. There are 23 countries in the North American continent. And I’ve been lucky enough to visit ALL of them. In fact, I’ve been to EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD! But that’s a whole other set of blog posts. So let’s focus on the countries in North America.

So how do we get to that 23 number? How do we differentiate between, say, Mexico and The US Virgin Islands? Are they both countries? Nope! Why? Read on.

In terms of the continents, the ‘New World’ (aka the Americas) is divided up into North and South American continents. It can be a little confusing because what about Central America. And how about the Caribbean? Are they included in North America? Yes. And I’ll explain that further down.

In this article, I’m focussing on the Continent of North America, if you want to check out how many countries in South America you’re in luck because I’ve just posted that list too.

Me Visiting every country in North America

From April 2016 to March  2017 I visited all 23 countries in North America. Starting in Mexico, and overlanding all the way down to Panama. From there, I flew to Colombia to study Spanish for a couple of months in Medellin and then started the overland process again. All the way down to Ushuaia where I took a boat to Antarctica.

After that, I flew from Ushuaia to Guiana and began to visit every country in the Caribbean. Quite the adventure, believe me.

So there are 23 countries in North America? What are they?

I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you that the ‘big 3’ in North America are Canada, USA and Mexico. Canada occupies the most amount of land and the USA has the largest population. From a continental perspective, North America also includes both the regions of Central America and the Caribbean islands too.

So, let’s look at all the countries in North America on my list of 23. 

  1. Antigua and Barbuda (Caribbean)
  2. Bahamas (Caribbean)
  3. Barbados (Caribbean)
  4. Belize (Central America)
  5. Canada
  6. Costa Rica (Central America)
  7. Cuba (Caribbean – don’t visit Cuba without experiencing the Havana Classic Car tour, so much fun!)
  8. Dominica (Caribbean)
  9. Dominican Republic (Caribbean)
  10. El Salvador (Central America)
  11. Grenada (Caribbean)
  12. Guatemala (Central America)
  13. Haiti (Caribbean)
  14. Honduras (Central America)
  15. Jamaica (Caribbean)
  16. Mexico
  17. Nicaragua (Central America)
  18. Saint Kitts and Nevis (Caribbean)
  19. Panama (Central America)
  20. Saint Lucia (Caribbean)
  21. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Caribbean)
  22. Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean)
  23. United States of America 

Have a look for yourself here on the North America Countries Map:

How many countries in North America
How many countries in North America
How many countries in North America
How many countries make up North America; Mexico! I visited Chichen Itza from Cancun, Mexico

Why is Central America and the Caribbean counted as North America?

Prepare to be confused!

Ok, sometimes people refer to North America and South America as Continental America. That means that together they makeup 1 landmass and therefore only 1 continent.

However, most of the world uses a 7 continent model. So that means North and South America are broken up and considered as 2 separate continents, separating at the southern Panama border.

With this in mind, the 11 countries in Central America can’t be considered their own continent. Although, it can be classed as a subcontinent since it lies within continental ‘America’.

Equally then, geographically speaking, the Caribbean falls on top of the same tectonic plate as the rest of the North American countries listed, thereby including all of it within ‘North America’ too. 

How many countries in North America
How many countries make in North America; Belize, Central America

Don’t Forget The 22 Dependent Territories In North America

If you’ve read some of my other articles then you’ll know all about territories that are dependencies of other countries.

If you want to remind yourself about the definition of what a country is versus what a dependent territory is, then click here to read my simple explanation. You’ll soon see that it’s not easy to figure out what constitutes as a country.

I know some people consider the following places countries, but unfortunately, they are not officially, or technically, countries!

The dependent territories in North America are:

  1. Anguilla (UK)
  2. Aruba (Netherlands)
  3. Bermuda (UK)
  4. Bonaire (Netherlands)
  5. British Virgin Islands (UK)
  6. Cayman Islands (UK)
  7. Clipperton Island (France)
  8. Curacao (Netherlands)
  9. Greenland (Denmark) – You maybe thought that Greenland was in Europe, but no, it’s in North America?
  10. Guadeloupe (France)
  11. Martinique (France)
  12. Montserrat (UK)
  13. Navassa Island (USA)
  14. Puerto Rico (USA)
  15. Saint Barthelemy (France)
  16. Saba (Netherlands)
  17. Saint Martin (France)
  18. Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)
  19. Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)
  20. Sint Maarten (Netherlands)
  21. Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
  22. US Virgin Islands (USA)
How many countries in North America
Me At the summit of Denali, North America’s highest point, and one of the seven summits

What’s Your Count of North America Countries?

I’m going to conclude that there are 23 countries in North America and 22 territories. How about you? It’d be interesting to hear what you guys think. And also let me know how many of the 45 places above you’ve visited. I still haven’t visited almost any of the dependent territories, to be honest. Maybe I’ll do them on a cruise. The lazy way! After my 10 year journey to every country in the world, that sounds like a dream.

Let me know what you’re thinking by popping your number in the comment section below along with your reasoning.

How many countries in North America
How many countries in North America? Guatemala, Central America

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