Why the ‘People from United States’ call themselves ‘Americans’?

This is the question I ask myself several years ago, let’s say since childhood. I always listened to people say

“The Americans …”
“You’re going to America?”
“The American Dream”
“Nationality? American “
In movies they talk about the “American” … and many more examples.

Then? What do we do? So when someone mentioned to me the “American”, I ask them, “ok, what country of America?” Then people would change the terms for “North Americans”, to which I would answered them “ahhh, Canadian” , to which they responded to me “The United States of America”, and where I stood.

And there has always yield the confusion. I started to check the famous Atlas of geography to clarify, and I’ve actually always found that America IS A CONTINENT discovered for the old European world in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, but there are theories that the Vikings arrived here first, and has its name from the studies made by Amerigo Vespucci, who was the one who maintained that they were not Indian, but a new continent.


This piece of land that is home to many countries, which has 42 million km2, bounded on the north and south to the Arctic and Antarctica and on the west and east by the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

It consists of the following countries: Canada, USA, Mexico, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Granada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

So here’s my question, why Americans call themselves “Americans” if they know very well that America is the whole continent and they are one country.

Hence I have several theories, for me the strongest is that of Mexico, as they are the ” Mexican United States” and called Mexico, then the gringos who are “United States” call themselves Americans. It seems totally absurd….

For now, I’ve seen that in several media are correcting this error, for example, CNN in Spanish always mention to the north country as “North Americans”, but in English the CNN referred to as “Americans”.

For my part, I asked a question in August of 2003 to Richard Stallman’s GNU and FSF movement when I went to LAC-Free that year in Cusco, and the thinker said, “if you find something better to call a citizen of the United States of America, let me know, meanwhile we remain Americans.”


The Spanish translation was provided in the February edition.

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