Continent

Article

October 17, 2021

A continent is a very large land mass that is not or hardly connected to other land masses, and which is so large that there are places where there is a continental climate or transitional climate. This only considers land and water, not the water depth, undersea ridges or the continental shelf. The following continents are located on Earth, arranged from largest to smallest: Eurasia (consisting of the continents of Asia and Europe), Africa, America, Antarctica and Australia.

Island, peninsula and continent

A land mass that is too small to be called a continent is an island. In general, Greenland is considered the largest island and Australia (four times the size) the smallest continent. This choice is quite arbitrary. A relatively small landmass connected to another landmass by an isthmus is a peninsula. Although the same (continent) in English, a distinction is sometimes made in Dutch between continent and continent. A continent is then a geopolitical and not a geological division. Sometimes a continent includes a continent, including the surrounding islands, such as the continent of Africa equals the continent of Africa plus Madagascar, among others. Sometimes a continent is part of a continent, like the continent of Europe is part of the continent of Eurasia, plus some islands. When the British talk about mainland Europe, they usually say the continent.

Limit

By the definition given, North America and South America are separate continents. They are each big enough and they are only connected by a narrow isthmus. Africa is also considered a separate continent. The continent of Eurasia is separated from Africa by the Suez Canal. The border of the two Americas and the border of Africa are not exactly fixed. It can be said that the Panama Canal (between North and South America) and the Suez Canal (between Eurasia and Africa) mean that the continents are completely separated from each other by water. The border then runs through the man-made channels. If it is considered that an artificial waterway does not count, then the border is placed at the place where the isthmus is narrowest (which is about the same) or, for practical reasons, at a land border (i.e. between Panama and Colombia and between Israel and Egypt). .

Other definitions

double continent One also distinguishes double continents, such as America (North and South America together). supercontinent Supercontinents, such as Africa-Eurasia, are also distinguished. Examples of supercontinents throughout Earth's history include Rodinia, Pannotia, Pangea, Laurasia, and Gondwana.

Limitations

The concepts of continent and continent are a mnemonic for those who are introduced to the world map for the first time; as such, they are useful aids in the teaching of geography to young children. They are, however, rather superficial: their use for more profound classifications in physical or social geography or in other sciences imposes on the observed environment a frame of mind that prevents objective conclusions. In physical geography it makes little sense to assign a fundamentally different role to the African and Indian landmasses; and in social geography it does not seem useful to regard the Arab and Sub-Saharan populations of Africa as one group, and then to contrast that group with, say, the European population. In commercial and socio-economic reporting, reference is therefore made more often to (supranational) regions, for example Latin America as a cultural and economic unit instead of South America as a continent.

Geology of continents

Geologically, it is not the coastline that defines the boundary between continents and oceans, but the extent of the continental shelf. The continental shelf also includes the seas and coastal waters where the

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