Researchers claim that it is difficult to measure the coastline. They refer to this phenomenon as coastline paradox. It is difficult to measure the coastlines because of their irregular shapes. However, with the advancement in technology, it is becoming more easy to measure coastlines. Some of the longest coastlines in North America include Canada, Greenland, the United States, Mexico, and the Bahamas among others.
North America's Longest Coastlines
Canada’s coastline is the longest in North America. It is about 202,080 km long. Its length can take a person walking on it 12 miles a day, 30 years to complete. The longest coastline is in Newfoundland and Labrador provinces measuring 18,000 miles (28,968km). On the other hand, Yukon province has the shortest coastline measuring 213 miles. The World Resources Institute and World Fact Book, give different measurements of Canada coastline. The World Fact Book gives measurements of 125,566 miles (202,079km) while World Resource Institute gives measurements of 164,988 miles (265,522km).
Greenland is an island without land boundaries. Its coast consists of many glaciers, high mountains, and high cliffs of 2,000 meters. It has coastline covering 44,087 kilometers. It possess world’s second largest ice sheet. All towns in Greenland and settlements are located on ice-free coast. The west coast is home to majority of Greenland’s population.
The US Census reports the measurement of the coastline as 19,924 km while the shoreline is 88,633 miles (142,641 km). However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gives the shoreline length as 95,471 miles (156,643 km). This estimate arrives on a larger figure by adding the shoreline from US territories. The territories include Puerto Rico, and the areas along all Great Lakes, and surrounding rivers. The measurements were taken in 1970. However, America has "a coastal state" having a coastline along a major water body. There are three oceans bordering the United States: Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean. United States has 23 states with an ocean coastline and 8 states with a Great Lakes shoreline. By June 2017, estimated coastal population was 252,771,773 people. New York serves as both an ocean state and a Great Lakes state.
Mexico’s coastline extends to 9,330 km. Mexico shares a 871 kilometer long border with Guatemala on the south. It shares its 251 kilometer long border with Belize. It has a 9,330 kilometer coastline. Out of this length, 2,805 kilometers face the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. The remaining kilometers face the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean. Mexico has an area of 1,972,550 kilometers including 6,000 square kilometers of Pacific Ocean Islands. On the north, Mexico shares its 5,000 kilometer long border with United States. The economic zone of Mexico extends 370 kilometers off each coast. Mexico’s landmass is narrow southeast towards United States. It later curves north 500 kilometers towards Yucatan Peninsula.
It has coastline stretching to 3,542 kilometers. Bahamas has a group of 700 islands and 2,500 islets. Andros Island is the largest, located 200 kilometers southeast from Florida coast. Mainland of Bahamas is Bimini that stretches 50 miles from south Florida coast. Other islands stretch 100,000 square miles off the ocean. They begin from north about 175 miles to East Palm Beach and Florida. Its winding continues 750 miles southeast towards Cuba and Hispaniola.
Other Long North American Coastlines
Other long coastlines across North America include Haiti at 1,771 km, Costa Rica at 1,290 km, Dominican Republic at 1,288 km, Jamaica at 1,022 km, and Nicaragua at 910 km.