Prior to the Sixty Minute War, the dominant country of North America was the American Empire which was once said to "rule the world". It was bordered by Canada to the north and its major cities included New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee. The American Empire's existence as a nation came to end during the Sixty Minute War when much of infrastructure and population was obliterated by nuclear weapons, orbital strikes, slowbombs and potentially biological and chemical weapons.
By the time of Predator's Gold, North America's landscape was largely covered in barren deserts, poison swamps and nuclear craters. The Plain of Craters was located on the vicinity of the former cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. However, its northern regions known as Vineland had managed to recover and regenerate into lush forests and grasslands dotted with lakes and rivers. Unlike the rest of North America, Vineland was able to sustain life but its existence was considered to be a rumour by many until its discovery by Anchorage—with the assistance of former Lost Boy Caul.
To the south lay South America which was the domain of the Nuevo-Mayan ziggurat cities during the Traction Era . The isthmus which linked South America to North America in ancient times had been destroyed by Slow Bombs during the Sixty Minute War, sparing the former the destruction and devastation inflicted on the latter.
Due to the destruction of many historical records during the Sixty Minute War, little details were known about North America by the rest of the world by the time of the Traction Era. According to Professor Nimrod Beauregard Pennyroyal, it was discovered in the year 1924 (1492 in the our timeline) by the famed explorer and detective Christopher Columbo. Over the following centuries, its most dominant nation was the American Empire which was said to rule the world.
Towards the end, the American Empire had developed several superweapons including the directed-energy weapon MEDUSA, the orbital particle cannon Orbital Defence INiative or ODIN and quantum energy beams that drew their power from parallel universes (Though this is just a hypothesis by traction era historians) During the Sixty Minute War, the American Empire was embroiled in a cataclysmic exchange with the rival superpower Greater China which devastated both nations and much of the world.
Much of North American's population was wiped out in the short-lived conflict and the aftermath due to exposure to various tailored plagues and radiation. A group of survivors fled the original Anchorage just prior to the outbreak and established a new settlement on a nearby island. They gradually developed over the following millennia into the small Traction city of Anchorage. Apart from Anchorage, it is possible that the Canadian whaling town escaped as well, as it is mentioned latter in the series.
Around the time of Mortal Engines, London's Guild of Engineers had retrieved and rebuilt MEDUSA and its computer, and mounted it on the top tier of London. It was used to destroy Panzerstadt-Bayreuth. London even attempted to use it to destroy the Anti-Traction League's Shield Wall and invade Asia. However, its computer was damaged by Katherine Valentine; subsequently causing it to overload and misfire, incinerating the weapon and London itself.
Although the Continent itself is not mentioned, it does refer to both the American Empire and MEDUSA.
In Predator's Gold, it plays a much larger role, being the destination and ultimate home of the city Anchorage. Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw went there in order to escape the attacking Green Storm fighter airships. It is also mentioned in two of Profesor Pennyroyal 's books; Journey to the Dead Continent and Predator's Gold.
A Darkling Plain
In A Darkling Plain it is only mentioned at the very end, while wren mentions wanting to return to Vineland, while the weapon ODIN is mentioned lots.
The dead continent makes appearances in both Web of Air and the Illustrated World of Mortal Engines, in Web Of Air it is theorised by Arlo Thursday and Fever Crumb that the Angels of Mayda at Worlds End migrate to the dead continent and back based off their map on Thursday island. It is unknown why the birds do this but may possibly be from when the birds had greater sentience and their reasons fell into habit of the decendant birds.
In IWOME the Dead Continent is given a map showing the inconsistencies with the various attempts by historians to map the continent as well as the trips taken by various aviators such as Snøri Ulverson or Reykjavík, Thaddeus Valentine on his American expedition and the accidental course the Jenny Hanniver took when it was blown over the east coast of the continent over what was once the states of Oregon and Californi.