Mexico-the name evokes associations of barrenness and cacti, pyramids and palm beaches, indigenous cultures and scorching sun. Most of the country belongs to the North American continent, extending over 3200 km (2000 mi), from the border with the USA in the north to the Caribbean coast on the Yucatán peninsula in the southeast. The huge barren plateau, which makes up most of the country, is criss-crossed by rugged mountains between which rivers and waterfalls roar. Altogether, more than 11000 km (7000 mi) of coastline border the country, with the Pacific to the west and the Atlantic in the east. More than 40,000 archaeological sites bear witness to the country's pre-Columbian past and the rich heritage of the Maya and Azteca. Today more than 120 million people live within an area of nearly 2 million km2 (over 760,000 sq.mi). In addition to the modern metropolis of Mexico City, the numerous colonial cities impress with their historical flair. Since the habitats rangs from desert and sand dunes in the north to subtropical rainforest in the south, flora and fauna is more diverse than almost anywhere else: Mexico is one of the 17 designated megadiverse countries on Earth-with more than 200,000 plant and animal species, i.e. about twelve percent of all species worldwide.