North America has plentiful oil and mineral deposits and fertile soils and fresh water that promote forest growth and the timber industry and highly successful agriculture. It is the third-largest continent and has the most climate variation.
Oil, natural gas and mineral extraction constitute a major part of the North American economy, generating millions of dollars in wages and profits.
From the Arctic to the southern Gulf of Mexico, North America has huge deposits of oil and natural gas. Canada, Mexico and the United States rank among the top countries in these resources. Companies now drill deeper and in more remote areas to extract because oil and natural gas are becoming tapped out in more accessible areas.
Millions of people are employed in mining nickel, much of which is exported to make steel elsewhere; bauxite for aluminum; copper and iron for construction; and gold, silver, mercury and potash. North American miners extract huge amounts of coal for energy production.
Forestry and timber are such major businesses in North America that over-harvesting is a concern. Companies export American and Canadian lumber worldwide. Some of the continent's biggest mills for paper, fiberboard and cardboard operate in temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest.
North America's climates vary more than any other continent, from deep freezes in the north to steamy heat all year in the far south. The corresponding variety of ecosystems gives rise to a plethora of agricultural industries, including cattle ranching and production of dairy goods, grain and corn, tobacco, cotton and hemp. North American farmers also produce vegetables, fruits, cocoa and coffee.