How to remember the countries of North America

Can you name all the countries in North America? Memorizing the countries may seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies and trusty maps, you can conquer this geographical challenge. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into effective techniques and tips to help you master the map of North America effortlessly. Start with the full region, then break into smaller regions, then each again into individual country components.

Step 1: Download maps of North America

Here is a map showing the whole of North America. You can download by holding your finger on the map then follow the option to Save

Map showing the countries of North America

Map showing the countries of North America and adjacent oceans and water bodies.

Step 2: Break down into smaller regions.

People generally read top to bottom or left to right, so we’ll follow that natural flow of thinking and define 3 regions.

Why do we do this? It’s much easier to remember the 3 regions than 23 sovereign states of North America.

Region 1 – Canada-US-Mexico

We’ll group the 3 largest countries of North America: Canada, US and Mexico

Thumbnail map of Canada-US-Mexico

Region 2 – Central America

Covers Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Thumbnail map of Central America

Region 3 – The Caribbean

Offshore nations in the North Atlantic Ocean, from the Gulf of Mexico to South America.

Thumbnail map of Caribbean islands

When reviewing, its good practice to continuously refer back and forth to the map for the 3 regions.

It’s rote learning, combined with spatial recognition.

Step 3: Look at each subregion and learn via an acronym, mnemonic or picture a familiar shape.

Region 1 – Canada-US-Mexico

Remember the north to south order with an acronym.

Thumbnail map of Canada-US-Mexico

CUSMA is a trade agreement between the 3 nations. With that recognized, we can then break down further into countries.

Region 2 – Central America

Remember as mnemonic from north to south:

Baby – Godzilla – Eats – Hotdogs – Not – Cocoa – Puffs

Thumbnail map of Central America

Belize – Guatamala – El Salvador – Honduras – Nicaragua – Costa Rica – Panama

Region 3 – The Caribbean

Lets start picturing as the group of islands south of the Gulf of Mexico.

Caribbean highlighted thumbnail

The Caribbean includes a lot of countries. To memorize we will break this down into smaller chunks.

To commit these names to memory its important to be consistent and persistent. Consistent with a specific technique for each region, and then consistently reminding yourself by repeating the exercise. If you want to delve further about a subregion then repeat the process.

From North to South we remember the countries via the acronym CUSMA. Now break region into individual countries with some location based facts

The countries of Canada, US and Mexico

Where is Canada?

The country of Canada is north of mainland USA, although it is east of Alaska and west of Greenland. It also borders the Arctic, Atlantic and north Pacific oceans.

To remember – read one items of text then refer to the map.

  1. ‘Canada is north of mainland USA’ then confirm that yourself by reviewing the labels on the map now do the same for the following text.
  2. East of Alaska.
  3. West of Greenland. Look at Greenland, then look at Canada
  4. Borders Arctic Ocean
  5. Borders Atlantic Ocean
  6. Borders North Pacific Ocean

Map of Canada with neighboring countries and oceans

Map of Canada and surrounding lands and water bodies

Next we move to the US

Where in the world is the USA?

The United States of America, or more simply US, is located north of the equator in the northern hemisphere.

What countries border the US?

The USA has Canada to the north, Mexico to the South and the Caribbean Islands in the south east. it is also surrounded by 2 oceans; North Pacific Ocean on the west coast and the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast. The state of Alaska borders the Arctic Ocean.

The USA is often divided based on location, often people refer to 5 subregions of the USA.

Map of USA showing location within North America

Map of US and surrounding lands and water bodies

Continuing south lets talk about Mexico

Is Mexico in North America?

The short answer is Yes.

Mexico is a large county located to the south of the USA between the North Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico of the Atlantic Ocean. It has Guatemala and Belize at its southern borders which are also in North America. People often think Mexico is in Central America as it’s a Latin country, but it is wholly based in North America.

Map of Mexico showing neighboring countries, and oceans

Map of Mexico and surrounding lands and water bodies

Remember the countries of Central America

What continent is Central America in?

Here is a map showing the countries of Central America including Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It has the North Pacific Ocean to the west and North Atlantic Ocean to the east. It is most commonly referred to as being within North American Continent.

Map showing the countries of Central America and oceans

Map of Central America and surrounding lands and water bodies

Download a worksheet to help remember the countries of Central America

Central America countries labelled

Remember the countries by the mnemonic

Now check if you recall the countries by their location. Look at the table to review

Write the names on the map from memory

Step 7: Learn about countries of the Caribbean

The Caribbean Islands consist of Cuba, Bahama, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Dominica, Anguilla, St Martin, St Marten, St Barthelemy, Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Barbados, St Vin and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Aruba and Curacao.

Lets start with some description on the location

What is considered in the Caribbean?

The region of the Caribbean (also known as the West Indies) is located in the Caribbean Sea of the North Atlantic Ocean. It can be considered part of the North American region. The West Indies is bounded by Mexico to the west, USA to the North, Central America to the southwest and South America to the south.

Map showing the countries and territories of the Caribbean Islands

Map showing the countries of The Caribbean including their sovereign status

Break the Caribbean into smaller chunks to make easier to remember

The islands of the Caribbean are sorted into three main groups: The Bahamas, the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles

The Bahamas

The Greater Antilles: chain of larger islands north of the Caribbean Sea comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola Island which has Haiti on the west and Dominican Republic on the east and Puerto Rico

 The Lesser Antilles: a chain of islands located on the eastern Caribbean Sea, and further broken into Windward Islands and Leeward Islands 

the Leeward Islands are the northern group

Learn geography through rote learning.

Rote learning is a very common and reliable method to memorize items. It’s essentially constant repetition which can be boring and difficult.

North America is most commonly referred to as a continent in the Northern Hemisphere that contains the countries of Canada, USA, Mexica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and those in the Caribbean Sea. It also contains territories of Denmark, France, Netherlands, Venezuela and Colombia. The continent borders Atlantic Ocean to the east, Pacific Ocean on its west, Arctic Ocean to the north and South America to the south.

Scroll to Top