The 7 Continents Wiki
A continent is a large landmass that is joined by at least one body of water. Seven continents are generally recognized: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Antarctica.
The continents are built around stable regions called cratons, where ancient crystalline rock is well exposed. These cratons are less dense than oceanic crust, so they float higher on the dense underlying mantle.
Africa is the second largest and second-most populous continent in the world. It contains 54 fully recognized countries with a diverse array of landscapes, including deserts, tropical rain forests and rugged mountains.
Its flora and fauna are extraordinarily varied, with a rich heritage that dates back to the origins of humankind. It is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Timbuktu.
Geographers define a continent as an area of land that is surrounded by water and contains distinct, isolated regions with similar climates, rocks, plants, animals and culture. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
The world’s largest continent, Asia contains some of the fastest growing economies in the world and is home to some of the most ancient civilizations. Its geographical diversity is vast and varied from mountain systems to deserts and rainforests.
The world’s highest mountains are located in Asia and are among the planet’s seven summits. In addition, the Asian elephant, tiger and Bactrian camel can all be found here. Other notable fauna include the polar bear and the komodo dragon.
Australia is a country and continent in the southern Pacific Ocean. The continent is sometimes referred to as Australasia or Oceania. In geology, only seven continents are recognized on Earth: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Australia.
The criterion that defines a continent is that it be a large, discrete mass of land separated from the rest of the world by expanses of water. This criterion is not strictly adhered to, however, and many continental masses are joined together by stretches of water.
Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are often grouped together as the geographical region called Oceania. This term also encompasses the microcontinent Zealandia and the island groups of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
The second largest continent, Europe covers most of the western part of Eurasia. It is the birthplace of Western Civilization and home to diverse cultures dating back millennia.
The term continent is defined by convention rather than any strict criteria, and so the number of continents varies; some geologists recognise seven while others suggest only four. Continents may also include past geological landmasses called supercontinents, such as Vaalbara, Kenorland, Columbia, Rodinia and Pannotia. Other geological features such as rifts and peninsulas can also be considered continental landmasses. These can be recognised by geographic characteristics and a variety of cultural definitions. Alternatively, these can be considered microcontinents or islands.
Several different continent classification systems are in use. These differ in the number of continents recognised, how they are grouped together, and which countries are included.
A common model recognises seven continents. This includes the six traditional continents plus Australia and Antarctica. Australia is sometimes called a subcontinent, but this view has been criticised by geologists.
Some geologists restrict the term “continent” to cratons that have been relatively unaffected by mountain-building events. They include regions of ancient crystalline basement rock covered by more recent sedimentary material.
Other geographers group Africa, Asia, and Europe into a single continent dubbed Afro-Eurasia. This would produce a four-continent model when combined with the consolidation of the Americas into North and South America.
Many geographic regions are considered continents by different methods. For example, Greenland is sometimes regarded as a continent, but it is more commonly a peninsula on the periphery of North America. This view is justified by the fact that it is on different tectonic plates from Europe and Asia.
Some geologists only consider a continent to be land that has an unbroken stretch of continental crust and forms a distinct core, called a craton. These are usually thought to have formed from the larger supercontinents such as Vaalbara, Kenorland, Columbia, Rodinia, and Pangaea.
Despite these differences, there is agreement that there are seven recognized continents on Earth: Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, Asia, and South America.