America is not a country – America is a whole continent, er, hemisphere

I recently joined Facebook, to be able to view photos friends were posting. It’s crazy how many different ways have been devised to keep in touch with people: We use Yahoo Chat to keep up with quite a few of our Colorado friends, and we have to have AOL IM for one (yes Jim, that’s you), we have Windows Live Messenger, and now I also am registered with Facebook. And there are so many of these Facebook type applications, LinkedIn etc… It’s a world gone crazy.

Anyway, while on Facebook this morning I came across this and thought I’d put it out as ‘Food for Thought’


“AMERICA” is not U.S.A. – AMERICA is the name for a whole continent.
America is not a country – America is a whole continent – Since when did US citizens start using the word “America” to refer to their country? It is an outrage and a mistake. America is a full continent divided into 3: North America (Canada, USA and Mexico), Central America (Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, etc.) and South America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, etc.). Imagine the Germans saying that they make the best cars in their country “Europe” are making the best cars? …

I have in the past been guilty of this innaccuracy; Especially when asked Nationality, I always say “I’m an American”, with full pride in all that stands for. Well, in full fairness Canadians are American, and Mexicans are Americans as well.

So in the effort of promoting International Understanding I am posting this little tidbit as ‘Food for Thought’

About Debi in Merida

I moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA to Merida, Yucatan, MX in January 2006. I love to read, garden, travel, and hang out with friends.
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22 Responses to America is not a country – America is a whole continent, er, hemisphere

  1. Anonymous says:

    You should check before you say something, the official name of Mexico is not “United States of Mexico”, it's UNITED MEXICAN STATES. The name America was given to the WHOLE landmass in the 1500's, 270 years before the USA existed, so all people in America are Americans, people of US are USians, US is IN America but not a country called America, I am Mexican, Mexico is in America and that makes me American.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You are just United Statians, and your contry's name is only “United States” not United States of AMERICA, if it's, mine's that is Argentina become to Argentina de AMERICA, so I'm American too like u, u already are taken offense to the all America contienent to want to be the only ones to be called “americans”

    So… remember all people in the american CONTINENT are americans, don't be ignorant anymore

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm South American and yes, it kind of bothers me that usaians (?) call themselves Americans. Maybe if it wasn't for historical policy of colonialism and believing their country is the best of the world, and that the US has the right to do things other countries don't… it wouldn't bother me the word americans. But as you can see, it implies much more.
    On the other hand I understand that the country has more a description than a singular name. But it's quite nice to see people trying to show respect for the rest of the continent by finding a new word.

  4. Reason says:


    I totally agree with your views. Why don't people from U.S. start to cultivate their own identity and profile the good stuff they have developed?

    Seen from outside, it looks like the self claimed “free-world-leader”- role has taken attention away from the reflection about what is unique and good with the U.S. culture. When time goes by, they will have to find their place in a more balanced democratic world where all people and countries claim their fair share of power and attention.

    I feel that a good start to regain respect and trust, is to name themselves after their own land – USAnian – (and not the American continents). That will show that they respect all the other American populations, like e.g.: Canadian, Brazilian, Mexican, Columbian, Argentinian, …..

    Have a look at: There you see that USAnians are appr. 4.5% of the worlds population. That's slightly more than e.g. Indonesians, but only 1/4 og populations like Chinese and Indians.


  5. EJA says:

    Debi,What’s your Facebook moniker? I’d like to “Friend” you.I’ll be down in March. Hope to see you and Tom again.— Josh

  6. I was born in México, so I am Mexican.I dont care the way other people like to be called.But it would make me angry if somebody tries to tell me that I am not an AMERICAN or should avoid saying that.I am not European, nor African, nor Asian. I am Mexican AND American. Which are perfectly correct statements.There was a famous phrase in the 19th century: “America for the Americans”, used for USA to prevent future intervention of european power in the western Hemisphere, so latin american countries didn’t really like the misconception of the entire continent (America) left only for use of the United States (America)That reinforced the idea that every citizen of north, central and south america is an AMERICAN, not a privilege exclusive of only one country.

  7. Norm says:

    When I was in school I took some classes in Latin American studies, it was the first thing the teachers would ask:who or what is an American? Their point was that we that live in the Americas are all Americans. I for one would like to see more political unity between our nations of the Americas. More freedom to live and work where we please without all the hoop jumping.

  8. Joanne says:

    Theresa makes a good comment – “Or better yet, start refering to Mexicans and Canadians as Americans and see how far you get.” While many people don’t have a problem with Canadians or Mexicans calling themselves American, as a Canadian I would prefer to be called just that – Canadian.The whole world understands that American means citizen of the United States of America. I think Americans, Canadians and Mexicans all have reasons to be proud of their countries and should be proud to use the names that they use now – American, Canadian or Mexican. These are all great nations and I don’t want to see any of their names diluted.

  9. Tom and Debi says:

    Oh I love this kind of exchange – I spent years being over-sensitized to all types of ‘words’.Now, in my new life you can call me ‘honey’, you can call me ‘little lady’, and I won’t cringe or flare. I still don’t like being called a ‘chick’, but ‘chiquita’ doesn’t seem too bad…It seems we (US Aians) have become over-sensitive AND over-critical. And sometimes ‘words’ can have a demeaning and hurtful nature.Calling all members of the Americas, Americans might just bring us closer together.It’s worth the discussion. Thanks to all that participate!I still don’t know exactly where I stand, but this is how we learn and grow!Debi

  10. Great topic. I am on the fence, and can go either way. Theresa makes a good point. So does the article. I guess it just doesn’t bother me either way….

  11. glorv1 says:

    This is a hot topic, I better stay out of it. By the way, I am Mexican/American. Is that right or wrong? I was born in the good old USA and will die in the good old USA and I’ll still have been a Mexican/American. Chicana soy yo.:)))) joshing around, but it is a hot topic.

  12. Jonna says:

    This is a hot topic, I am like Theresa and get rather irritated with the politically correct who want to change language to fit their political views. It’s another form of bashing the USA, I don’t believe there would be any problem with Mexico using the word or Canada. Primarily, this is only a problem in English because there are legitimate words for us in other languages. In English, the word used for citizens of the USA is American and it has been that for a couple hundred years at least. I just want to say “get over it” to those who object, use another word or don’t but stop trying to make it into a huge deal when it is not. Theresa is right that the complete name for Mexico is Estados Unidos de Mexico and **in English** citizens are called Mexicans. The complete name for the US is United States of America, and **in English** we are called Americans. Seems the same to me. The word Unitedstatsian will never become common in English, it’s almost impossible to pronounce for one thing and it sounds ridiculous for another. Plus, it is not needed. We have a perfectly good term that the entire English speaking world understands. These PC idiots should #1) get a life and #2) get over it.

  13. Gary Denness says:

    I do hear this point raised all the time and I also think it’s a bit of a non issue, for a whole range of reasons. Not least the simple use of the English language. What is language? At it’s basest form it’s a range of words that have a meaning to which people subscribe to. That the words can mean something else is a bit irrelevant. If a builder shows you his screwdriver, will you give him a perplexed look, because there is no visible sign of sex taking place, nor a driver – be it a car driver, train driver etc.If other nationalities within the Americas really think it is such an issue, there is nothing to stop them from referring to themselves as Americans instead of Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians etc.

  14. roni says:

    Yo soy estado unidenseSometimes, I learned as a young man in Brasil in the 1960’s, it might be wise to claim one is a Canadian 🙂I use Google blogger id because name/link is not avaible, but my real blog is at and not at the link in the name

  15. Calypso says:

    When referring to the U.S. I never use America – living in Mexico has made me see that differently. I am from the United States and live in Mexico – both are in North America or America.

  16. rgl says:

    Well, to add to the input here, while I was teaching in China, we often refered to “Americans” as USAnians, a term that I would suggest is probably the best of terms that could be used.rgl –

  17. Tom and Debi says:

    MCM – Exactly, we all, in the American hemisphere are Americans, That’s my point! GraciasDebi

  18. mcm says:

    Geology, topography, political geography, culture and history combine to make this an interesting topic.Thank you Debi, for raising the topic that seems to be a “hot button” for some, and especially to Theresa for injecting some facts and common sense.To add to the mix, here’s a link to a plate tectonic map of the world — you’ll note, for example, that Cuba is part of the North American plate, whereas the rest of the Greater Antilles and lesser Antilles sit on the Caribbean plate… line — saying that you’re an “American” sounds accurate, however you look at it (nationally, continentally, hemispherically, tectonically)….

  19. Debi,I didn’t mean you personally felt guilty for being an American, and I am sorry that my original comment implied that.It is just a hot button for me, that I didn’t realize that what I wrote could be taken that way. I think that if someone wanted to be general they can say that you are from North America, just like I can say that my parents came from Central America if I didn’t want to say Cuba. So in North America, we have Canadians, Americans who used to live in New Spain or New France or??? but now live in the USA and Mexicans, who also used to live in New Spain. In Central America we have a whole passel of countries and and in South America the same, none of those people refer to themselves as Americans, I just think it’s someone with a bone to pick and wanting to find fault with the USA. I am not making real sense, here and maybe someone else has another take on this.regards,Theresa

  20. Tom and Debi says:

    Bob – Good point, hemisphere. I hadn’t thought that globally. I was just sent on a ponder of our (we from the USofA) ‘appropriation’ of the term American to refer to just us! When in fact all members of this hemisphere are ‘Americans’. Hoping to bring about the thought that we are more alike than different.Theresa – I don’t feel guilty saying I’m American, in fact it is with pride (most of the time), but it is innacurate in that American can refer to anyone of the landmass known as America. I now typically say I am ‘from’ the USofA which seems more accurate.I was just thinking about breaking down the barriers of separation, fear, anger, and hate.Apparently the first use of the term America for thte landmass was in 1507, here’s a link to a really cool map bringing up thought and conversation!Debi

  21. Actually, the name of our country is the United States of America. Saying you are an American is not wrong, since every one understands that it is shorthand for I am a citizen of the United States of America. The Mexicans sometimes call us Estadiunidenses but really that is just as inaccurate, Since Mexico is the United States of Mexico, they too are Estadiunidenses. Germans do refer to themselves as European, and I am sure that they think that they make the best cars in Europe.They are comparing apples to oranges. So if you feel guilty about calling yourself an American, then what are you going to call yourself? A citizen of the country called the USA? I am sure that someone will take offense at that too.This stuff makes me angry. To answer the person’s question the USA started to use the word “America” and the rest of the world started using it in ummm 1776? probably before. That is just someone with too much time on their hands and nothing real to complain about.Or better yet, start refering to Mexicans and Canadians as Americans and see how far you get. The whole issue is a non-issue unless you want to change the name of our country?regards,Theresa

  22. Bob Mrotek says:

    Debi,I think that if you include South America we are talking about a “hemisphere” and not a continent. That really doesn’t matter as much as the lock that people in the U.S. seem to have on the word “America”. I was just talking to my friend Alfredo ( about this before I read your post. As a matter of fact, in the early years of Mexican Independence before the word “Mexico” was firmly established to differentiate this country from “New Spain”, many Mexicans referred to themselves as “Americans” and you will occasionally find this reference in old books. Thanks for this post. You brought up a very good point. I am also bothered by the way that Americans tend to refer to Mexico as part of “Central America” when it is clearly part of the “North American” continent.

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