A continent is one of several large landmasses on Earth. The Dymaxion map of the Earth is a projection of a global map onto the surface of a Polyhedron, which can then be unfolded to a net Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller ( July 12, 1895 &ndash July 1, 1983) was an American Architect, Author Not to be confused with Land mass. A landmass is a large continuous area of land. EARTH was a short-lived Japanese vocal trio which released 6 singles and 1 album between 2000 and 2001 They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, but seven areas are commonly regarded as continents – they are (from largest in size to smallest): Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. South America is a Continent of the Americas, situated entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a 
Plate tectonics is the geological process and study of the movement, collision and division of continents, earlier known as continental drift. Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere Geology (from Greek γη gê, "earth" and λόγος Logos, "speech" lit Continental drift is the movement of the Earth 's Continents relative to each other
The term "the Continent" (capitalized), used predominantly in the European isles and peninsulas, such as the British Isles, Sardinia, Sicily and the Scandinavian Peninsula, means mainland Europe, although it can also mean Asia when said in Japan. The British Isles (Irish variously Na hOileáin Bhriotanacha, Oileáin Iarthair Eorpa, Éire agus an Bhreatain Mhór; Ellanyn Goaldagh Eileanan Sardinia (sɑrˈdɪnɪə Sardegna Sardigna or Sardinnya is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily) Sicily ( Italian and Sicilian: Sicilia) is an autonomous region of Italy. The Scandinavian Peninsula is a geographic region in northern Europe, consisting principally of the Mainland territories of Norway and Sweden Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the Continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics.
"Continents are understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water. " However, many of the seven most commonly recognized continents are identified by convention rather than adherence to the ideal criterion that each be a discrete landmass, separated by water from others. Likewise, the criterion that each be a continuous landmass is often disregarded by the inclusion of the continental shelf and oceanic islands. The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each Continent and associated Coastal plain, which is covered during interglacial periods such An island (ˈaɪlənd or isle (/ˈaɪl/ is any piece of land that is completely surrounded by water in two dimensions above high tide and isolated from other significant The Earth's major landmasses are washed upon by a single, continuous World Ocean, which is divided into a number of principal oceanic components by the continents and various geographic criteria. The World Ocean, world ocean, or global ocean is the interconnected system of the Earth 's Oceanic (or marine) Waters An ocean (from Greek, ''Okeanos'' (Oceanus) is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the Hydrosphere. 
The narrowest meaning of continent is that of a continuous area of land or mainland, with the coastline and any land boundaries forming the edge of the continent. In this sense the term continental Europe is used to refer to mainland Europe, excluding islands such as Great Britain, Ireland, and Iceland, and the term continent of Australia may refer to the mainland of Australia, excluding Tasmania. Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the Continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European An island (ˈaɪlənd or isle (/ˈaɪl/ is any piece of land that is completely surrounded by water in two dimensions above high tide and isolated from other significant See also Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain (Breatainn Mhòr Prydain Fawr Breten Veur Graet Breetain is the larger of the two main islands Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɾlənd/ Éire) is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world Iceland, officially the Republic of Iceland ( ( Ísland or Lýðveldið Ísland ( Tasmania is an Australian island and state of the same name It is located south of the eastern side of the Continent, being separated from it by Bass Similarly, the continental United States refers to the 48 contiguous United States in central North America and may include Alaska in the northwest of the continent (both separated by Canada), while excluding Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The term continental United States refers to the 48 contiguous states located on the North American continent south of the border with Canada plus the District The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Alaska ( Аляска Alyaska) is a state in the United States of America, in the northwest of the North American continent Country to "Dominion of Canada" or "Canadian Federation" or anything else please read the Talk Page The State of Hawaii ( or həˈwaɪʔiː Hawaiian: Mokuāina o Hawaii) is a state in the United States located on an Archipelago in the The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth 's Oceanic divisions
From the perspective of geology or physical geography, continent may be extended beyond the confines of continuous dry land to include the shallow, submerged adjacent area (the continental shelf) and the islands on the shelf (continental islands), as they are structurally part of the continent. Geology (from Greek γη gê, "earth" and λόγος Logos, "speech" lit Physical geography (also known as geosystems or physiography) is one of the three major subfields of Geography. The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each Continent and associated Coastal plain, which is covered during interglacial periods such An island (ˈaɪlənd or isle (/ˈaɪl/ is any piece of land that is completely surrounded by water in two dimensions above high tide and isolated from other significant  From this perspective the edge of the continental shelf is the true edge of the continent, as shorelines vary with changes in sea level.  In this sense the islands of Great Britain and Ireland are part of Europe, and Australia and the island of New Guinea together form a continent (Australia-New Guinea). New Guinea, located just north of Australia, is the world's second largest island, having become separated from the Australian mainland when the area now known
As a cultural construct, the concept of a continent may go beyond the continental shelf to include oceanic islands and continental fragments. An island (ˈaɪlənd or isle (/ˈaɪl/ is any piece of land that is completely surrounded by water in two dimensions above high tide and isolated from other significant In this way, Iceland is considered part of Europe and Madagascar part of Africa. Iceland, officially the Republic of Iceland ( ( Ísland or Lýðveldið Ísland ( Madagascar, or Republic of Madagascar (older name Malagasy Republic) is an Island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern Extrapolating the concept to its extreme, some geographers take Australia, New Zealand and all the islands of Oceania (or sometimes Australasia) to be equivalent to a continent, allowing the entire land surface of the Earth to be divided into continents or quasi-continents. Australasia is a Region of Oceania: New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and neighbouring Islands in the Pacific 
The ideal criterion that each continent be a discrete landmass is commonly disregarded in favor of more arbitrary, historical conventions. The borders of the continents are the limits of the several Continents of the Earth, as defined by various geographical cultural and political criteria This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, sometimes referred to as transcontinental states. Of the seven most commonly recognized continents, only Antarctica and Australia are separated from other continents.
Several continents are defined not as absolutely distinct bodies but as "more or less discrete masses of land".  Asia and Africa are joined by the Isthmus of Suez, and North and South America by the Isthmus of Panama. The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Both these isthmuses are very narrow in comparison with the bulk of the landmasses they join, and both are transected by artificial canals (the Suez Canal and Panama Canal, respectively) which effectively separate these landmasses. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas Canals are artificial channels for water There are two types of canals water conveyance canals which are used for the conveyance and delivery of water and Waterways The Suez Canal is a Canal in Egypt. Opened in 1869 it allows Water transportation between Europe and Asia without circumnavigation The Panama Canal is a man-made Canal in Panama which joins the
The division of the landmass of Eurasia into the continents of Asia and Europe is an anomaly, as no sea separates them. For the superstate in George Orwell 's novel see Nations of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The distinction is maintained for historical and cultural reasons. An alternative view is that Eurasia is a single continent, one of six continents in total. This view is held by some geographers and is preferred in Russia (which spans Asia and Europe). Russia (Россия Rossiya) or the Russian Federation ( Rossiyskaya Federatsiya) is a transcontinental Country extending
North America and South America are now treated as separate continents in much of Western Europe, India, China, and most native English-speaking countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Western Europe at its most general meaning means 'all the countries in the West of Europe ' India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country Talk People's Republic of China) PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA ARTICLE GUIDELINES English is a West Germanic language originating in England and is the First language for most people in the United Kingdom, the United States The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Country to "Dominion of Canada" or "Canadian Federation" or anything else please read the Talk Page For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Australia topics. New Zealand is an Island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island Furthermore, the concept of two American continents is prevalent in much of Asia. However, in earlier times they were viewed as a single continent known as America, but currently to avoid ambiguity with the United States of America, as the Americas. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World, consisting of the Continents of North America and South America Note however that North and South America are viewed as a single continent known as America, one of six in total, in some parts of Europe, and much of Latin America.
When continents are defined as discrete landmasses, embracing all the contiguous land of a body, then Asia, Europe and Africa form a single continent known by various names such as Afro-Eurasia. Afro-Eurasia or less commonly Afrasia or Eurafrasia Normally it is divided at the Suez Canal into Eurasia and Africa the former of which can be subdivided This produces a four-continent model consisting of Afro-Eurasia, America, Antarctica and Australia.
When sea levels were lower during the Pleistocene ice age, greater areas of continental shelf were exposed as dry land, forming land bridges. Mean sea level (MSL is the average (mean height of the Sea, with reference to a suitable reference surface The Pleistocene ('plaɪstəsin is the epoch from 18 million to 10000 years BP covering the world's recent period An ice age is a period of long-term reduction in the Temperature of the Earth 's surface and atmosphere resulting in an expansion of continental Ice sheets A land bridge, in Biogeography, is an Isthmus or other land connection between otherwise separate areas which allows Animals and Plants At this time Australia-New Guinea was a single, continuous continent. Likewise North America and Asia were joined by the Bering land bridge. The Bering land bridge was a Land bridge roughly 1000 miles (1600 km north to south at its greatest extent which joined present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia Other islands such as Great Britain were joined to the mainlands of their continents. See also Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain (Breatainn Mhòr Prydain Fawr Breten Veur Graet Breetain is the larger of the two main islands At that time there were just three discrete continents: Afro-Eurasia-America, Antarctica, and Australia-New Guinea.
There are numerous ways of distinguishing the continents;
The seven-continent model is usually taught in Western Europe, Northern Europe, Central Europe, Southeastern Europe, China and most English-speaking countries. South America is a Continent of the Americas, situated entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a For the superstate in George Orwell 's novel see Nations of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World, consisting of the Continents of North America and South America Western Europe at its most general meaning means 'all the countries in the West of Europe ' Northern Europe is a term for the northern part of Europe. The United Nations defines Northern Europe as (Finland Central Europe is the Region lying between the variously and vaguely defined areas of Eastern and Talk People's Republic of China) PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA ARTICLE GUIDELINES English is a West Germanic language originating in England and is the First language for most people in the United Kingdom, the United States This is a list of Countries of the world sorted by the total English -speaking population in that Country. The six-continent combined-Eurasia model is preferred by the geographic community, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Japan. Russia (Россия Rossiya) or the Russian Federation ( Rossiyskaya Federatsiya) is a transcontinental Country extending Eastern Europe is a general term that refers to the Geopolitical region encompassing the easternmost part of the European continent. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics. The six-continent combined-America model is taught in Latin America, Iran and some parts of Europe including Iberian Peninsula and Greece. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Iran topics. The Iberian Peninsula, or Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe, and includes modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorra Greece (Ελλάδα transliterated: Elláda, historically, Ellás,) officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία This model may be taught to include only the five inhabited continents (excluding Antarctica) — as depicted in the Olympic logo. 
The names Oceania or Australasia are sometimes used in place of Australia. Australasia is a Region of Oceania: New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and neighbouring Islands in the Pacific For example, the Atlas of Canada names Oceania, as does the model taught in Latin America and Iberia. Ibero-America is a term which started to be used in the second half of the 19th century to refer collectively to the countries in the Americas which were formerly colonies 
|Continent||Area (km²)||Approx. population|
|North America||24,490,000||515,000,000||8%||21. 0|
|South America||17,840,000||371,000,000||6%||20. South America is a Continent of the Americas, situated entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a 8|
|Antarctica||13,720,000||1,000||0. 00002%||0. 00007|
|Oceania||9,010,000||33,552,994||0. 6%||3. 7|
|Australia-New Guinea||8,500,000||30,000,000||0. 5%||3. 5|
|Australia mainland||7,600,000||21,000,000||0. 3%||2. 8|
The total land area of all continents is 148,647,000 km², or approximately 29. 1% of earth's surface (510,065,600 km2).
Certain parts of continents are recognized as subcontinents, particularly those on different tectonic plates to the rest of the continent. This article deals with the geophysical region in Asia For geopolitical treatments see South Asia. Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere The most notable examples are the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula. This article deals with the geophysical region in Asia For geopolitical treatments see South Asia. The Arabian Peninsula (in Arabic: شبه الجزيرة العربية šibh al-jazīra al-ʻarabīya or جزيرة العرب jazīrat al-ʻarab) Greenland, on the North American Plate, is sometimes referred to as a subcontinent. Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat meaning "Land of the Greenlanders" Grønland is a self-governing Danish Province located between the The North American Plate is a Tectonic plate covering most of North America, Greenland and part of Siberia. Where America is viewed as a single continent, it is divided into two subcontinents (North America and South America) or various regions. 
Some areas of continental crust are largely covered by the sea and may be considered submerged continents. The continental crust is the layer of granitic, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks which form the Continents and the areas of shallow seabed Notable examples are Zealandia, emerging from the sea primarily in New Zealand and New Caledonia, and the almost completely submerged Kerguelen continent in the southern Indian Ocean. Zealandia (ziːˈlæːndiə also known as Tasmantis or the New Zealand continent, is a nearly submerged Continent or Microcontinent that New Zealand is an Island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island For the former North American fur-trading district see New Caledonia (Canada, and for the Scottish colony in Panama see Darien scheme. The Kerguelen Plateau (kɚˈɡeɪlən ˈkɝɡələn is an underwater Volcanic Large igneous province (LIP in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's Oceanic divisions covering about 20% of the water on the Earth 's surface
Some islands lie on sections of continental crust that have rifted and drifted apart from a main continental landmass. While not considered continents because of their relatively small size, they may be considered microcontinents. Continental crustal fragments or microcontinents are fragments of continents thought to have been broken off from the main continental mass forming distinct islands possibly Madagascar, the largest example, is usually considered part of Africa but has been referred to as "the eighth continent". Madagascar, or Republic of Madagascar (older name Malagasy Republic) is an Island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern
The first distinction between continents was made by ancient Greek mariners who gave the names Europe and Asia to the lands on either side of the waterways of the Aegean Sea, the Dardanelles strait, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus strait and the Black Sea. Strabo ( Greek: Στράβων 63/64 BC – ca AD 24 was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher. A T and O map or O-T or T-O map ( orbis terrae, orb or circle of the earth is a type of Medieval World map, sometimes also called Noah (or Noe, Noach;; Nūḥ; Arabic: نوح; "Rest") was according to the Bible, the tenth and last of Shem (; Greek: Σημ, Sēm; Arabic: ar سام; Ge'ez: ሴም Sēm; "renown prosperity name" Japheth (ˈdʒeɪfɪθ Hebrew. יפת Greek Ιάφεθ, Iapheth, Latin Iafeth or Iapetus Arabic يافث Ham (; Greek Χαμ, Cham; Arabic: ar حام, xam, "hot" according to the Table of Nations in Genesis, was a The term ancient Greece refers to the period of Greek history lasting from the Greek Dark Ages ca Etymology In ancient times there were various explanations for the name Aegean. See also [[Hellespont]] The Dardanelles ( Turkish: Çanakkale Boğazı Greek: Δαρδανέλλια Dardanellia) formerly The Sea of Marmara ( Turkish: Marmara Denizi, Greek: Θάλασσα του Μαρμαρά or Προποντίς, Bulgarian The Bosporus or Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait, (İstanbul Boğazı (Βόσπορος is a Strait that forms the boundary between the The Black Sea is an inland Sea bounded by southeastern Europe, the Caucasus and the Anatolian peninsula ( Turkey  The names were first applied just to lands near the coast and only later extended to include the hinterlands.  But the division was only carried through to the end of navigable waterways and ". . . beyond that point the Hellenic geographers never succeeded in laying their finger on any inland feature in the physical landscape that could offer any convincing line for partitioning an indivisible Eurasia . . . "
Ancient Greek thinkers subsequently debated whether Africa (then called Libya) should be considered part of Asia or a third part of the world. Division into three parts eventually came to predominate.  From the Greek viewpoint, the Aegean Sea was the center of the world; Asia lay to the east, Europe to the west and north and Africa to the south.  The boundaries between the continents were not fixed. Early on, the Europe-Asia boundary was taken to run from the Black Sea along the Rioni River (known then as the Phasis) in Georgia. Phasis redirects here For the Butterfly Genus, see Phasis (butterfly. Georgia ( საქართველო, Sakartvelo) is a Transcontinental country in the Caucasus region situated at the dividing line between Later it was viewed as running from the Black Sea through Kerch Strait, the Sea of Azov and along the Don River (known then as the Tanais) in Russia. Cimmerian Bosporus redirects here For the ancient state see Bosporan Kingdom; for its rulers see Kings of Cimmerian Bosporus. The Sea of Azov (Азо́вское мо́ре - Azovskoye more; Азо́вське мо́ре - Azovs'ke more, Azaq deñizi is the world's shallowest sea linked The Don (Дон is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 Kilometres southeast from Tula, southeast Russia (Россия Rossiya) or the Russian Federation ( Rossiyskaya Federatsiya) is a transcontinental Country extending  The boundary between Asia and Africa was generally taken to be the Nile River. The Nile (النيل, Ancient Egyptian iteru or Ḥ'pī, Coptic piaro or phiaro) is a major north-flowing River Herodotus in the fifth century BC, however, objected to the unity of Egypt being split into Asia and Africa ("Libya") and took the boundary to lie along the western border of Egypt, regarding Egypt as part of Asia. Herodotus of Halicarnassus ( Greek: Hēródotos Halikarnāsseús) was a Greek Historian who lived in the 5th century BC ( 484 BC&ndash This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics. He also questioned the division into three of what is really a single landmass, a debate that continues nearly two and a half millennia later.
Eratosthenes, in the third century BC, noted that some geographers divided the continents by rivers (the Nile and the Don), thus considering them "islands". Eratosthenes of Cyrene ( Greek; 276 BC - 194 BC was a Greek Mathematician, Poet, athlete, Geographer and Others divided the continents by isthmuses, calling the continents "peninsulas". An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas These latter geographers set the border between Europe and Asia at the isthmus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and the border between Asia and Africa at the isthmus between the Red Sea and the mouth of Lake Bardawil on the Mediterranean Sea. The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged Sea. The Red Sea is a Salt water Inlet of the Indian Ocean between Africa and Asia. 
Through the Roman period and the Middle Ages, a few writers took the Isthmus of Suez as the boundary between Asia and Africa, but most writers continued to take it to be the Nile or the western border of Egypt (Gibbon). In the Middle Ages the world was portrayed on T and O maps, with the T representing the waters dividing the three continents. A T and O map or O-T or T-O map ( orbis terrae, orb or circle of the earth is a type of Medieval World map, sometimes also called By the middle of the eighteenth century, "the fashion of dividing Asia and Africa at the Nile, or at the Great Catabathmus [the boundary between Egypt and Libya] farther west, had even then scarcely passed away". Libya ( ليبيا ar-Latn Lībiyā; Libyan vernacular: Lībya; Amazigh:) officially the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab 
Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the West Indies in 1492, sparking a period of European exploration of America. Christopher Columbus (1451 &ndash May 20 1506 was an Italian Navigator, colonizer The Caribbean (ˌkærəˡbiən kæ'rəbiən Cariben|Caraïben or Caraïben; Caraïbe or more commonly Antilles; Caribe is a Region consisting But despite four voyages to America, Columbus never believed he had reached a new continent – he always thought it was part of Asia.
In 1501, Amerigo Vespucci and Gonçalo Coelho attempted to sail around the southern end of the Asian mainland into the Indian Ocean. The Explorer and Cartographer Amerigo Vespucci ( March 9, 1454 - February 22, 1512) was the first person to demonstrate Gonçalo Coelho (15th century/16th century Portuguese explorer of the South Atlantic and of the South American coast (expedition to Brazil The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's Oceanic divisions covering about 20% of the water on the Earth 's surface On reaching the coast of Brazil, they sailed a long way south along the coast of America, confirming that this was a land of continental proportions and that it extended much further south than Asia was known to. |utc_offset = -2 to -4 |time_zone_DST = BRST |utc_offset_DST = -2 to -5 |cctld  On return to Europe, an account of the voyage, called Mundus Novus ("New World"), was published under Vespucci’s name in 1502 or 1503, although it seems that it had additions or alterations by another writer.  Regardless of who penned the words, Mundus Novus attributed Vespucci with saying, "I have discovered a continent in those southern regions that is inhabited by more numerous people and animals than our Europe, or Asia or Africa", the first known explicit identification of part America as a continent like the other three.
Within a few years the name "New World" began appearing as a name for America on world maps, such as the Oliveriana (Pesaro) map of around 1504–1505. Maps of this time though still showed North America connected to Asia and showed South America as a separate land. 
In 1507 Martin Waldseemüller published a world map, Universalis Cosmographia, which was the first to show North and South America as separate from Asia and surrounded by water. Martin Waldseemüller (Latinized Martinus Ilacomilus or Hylacomylus, c The Waldseemüller map, Universalis Cosmographia, is a wall map of the world drawn by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller originally A small inset map above the main map explicitly showed for the first time America being east of Asia and separated from Asia by an ocean, as opposed to just placing America on the left end of the map and Asia on the right end. In the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio, Waldseemüller noted that the earth is divided into four parts, Europe, Asia, Africa and the fourth part which he named "America" after Amerigo Vespucci's first name. Cosmographiae Introductio ( Saint-Dié, 1507) was a book published in 1507 to accompany Martin Waldseemüller 's map of the world and  On the map, the word "America" was placed on part of South America.
From the 1500s the English noun continent was derived from the term continent land, meaning continuous or connected land and translated from the Latin terra continens.  The noun was used to mean "a connected or continuous tract of land" or mainland. Mainland is usually the Continental part of a region as opposed to the Islands nearby  It was not applied only to very large areas of land — in the 1600s, references were made to the continents (or mainlands) of Kent, Ireland and Wales and in 1745 to Sumatra. KENT (1400 AM) is a Radio station broadcasting a Adult Standards/MOR format Ireland (pronounced /ˈaɾlənd/ Éire) is the third largest island in Europe, and the twentieth-largest island in the world Sumatra (also spelled Sumatera) is the sixth largest island in the world (approximately 470000 km² and is the largest island entirely in Indonesia (two  The word continent was used in translating Greek and Latin writings about the three "parts" of the world, although in the original languages no word of exactly the same meaning as continent was used. 
While continent was used on the one hand for relatively small areas of continuous land, on the other hand geographers again raised Herodotus’s query about why a single large landmass should be divided into separate continents. In the mid 1600s Peter Heylin wrote in his Cosmographie that "A Continent is a great quantity of Land, not separated by any Sea from the rest of the World, as the whole Continent of Europe, Asia, Africa. Peter Heylin or Heylyn ( 29 Nov 1599 &ndash 1662) was an English ecclesiastic and author of many polemical historical political " In 1727 Ephraim Chambers wrote in his Cyclopædia, "The world is ordinarily divided into two grand continents: the old and the new. Ephraim Chambers (c 1680 - 15 May 1740) was an English writer and Encyclopedist, who is primarily known for producing the Cyclopaedia The Old World consists of those parts of Earth known to Europeans Asians and Africans in the 15th century The New World is one of the names used for the non-Eurasian/non-African parts of the Earth specifically the Americas and Australia. " And in his 1752 atlas, Emanuel Bowen defined a continent as "a large space of dry land comprehending many countries all joined together, without any separation by water. Thus Europe, Asia, and Africa is one great continent, as America is another. " However, the old idea of Europe, Asia and Africa as "parts" of the world ultimately persisted with these being regarded as separate continents.
From the late 18th century some geographers started to regard North America and South America as two parts of the world, making five parts in total. Overall though the fourfold division prevailed well into the 19th century. 
Europeans discovered Australia in 1606 but for some time it was taken as part of Asia. By the late 18th century some geographers considered it a continent in its own right, making it the sixth (or fifth for those still taking America as a single continent).  In 1813 Samuel Butler wrote of Australia as "New Holland, an immense island, which some geographers dignify with the appellation of another continent" and the Oxford English Dictionary was just as equivocal some decades later. Samuel Butler, FRS ( 30 January 1774 - 4 December 1839) was an English Classical scholar and schoolmaster at New Holland is a historic name for the Island Continent of Australia. The Oxford English Dictionary ( OED) published by the Oxford University Press (OUP is a comprehensive Dictionary of the English 
Antarctica was sighted in 1820 and described as a continent by Charles Wilkes on the United States Exploring Expedition in 1838, the last continent to be identified, although a great "Antarctic" (antipodean) landmass had been anticipated for millennia. Charles Wilkes ( April 3, 1798 &ndash February 8, 1877) was an American naval officer and explorer. The United States Exploring Expedition was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean ("the Southern Seas" conducted by the United States Navy from An 1849 atlas labelled Antarctica as a continent but few atlases did so until after World War II. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including 
From the mid-19th century, United States atlases more commonly treated North and South America as separate continents, while atlases published in Europe usually considered them one continent. However, it was still not uncommon for United States atlases to treat them as one continent up until World War II.  The Olympic flag, devised in 1913, has five rings representing the five inhabited, participating continents, with America being treated as one continent and Antarctica not included. The Olympic symbols are the icons Flags and symbols used by the International Olympic Committee to promote the Olympic Games. 
From the 1950s, most United States geographers divided America in two — consistent with modern understanding of geology and plate tectonics. Geology (from Greek γη gê, "earth" and λόγος Logos, "speech" lit Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere With the addition of Antarctica, this made the seven-continent model. However, this division of America never appealed to Latin America, which saw itself spanning an America that was a single landmass, and there the conception of six continents remains, as it does in scattered other countries.
However, in recent years, there has been a push for Europe and Asia—traditionally considered two continents—to be considered one single continent, dubbed "Eurasia" - consistent with modern understanding of geology and plate tectonics. For the superstate in George Orwell 's novel see Nations of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Geology (from Greek γη gê, "earth" and λόγος Logos, "speech" lit Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere In this model, the world is divided into six continents (if North America and South America are considered separate continents).
Geologists use the term continent in a different manner than geographers, where a continent is defined by continental crust: a platform of metamorphic and igneous rock, largely of granitic composition. The continental crust is the layer of granitic, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks which form the Continents and the areas of shallow seabed Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere In Geology, a crust is the outermost solid shell of a planet or moon Metamorphic rock is the result of the transformation of an existing rock type the protolith, in a process called Metamorphism, which means "change Igneous rocks (etymology from Latin ignis, fire are rocks formed by solidification of cooled Magma (molten rock Granite (ˈɡrænɪt is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, Felsic, igneous rock. Some geologists restrict the term 'continent' to portions of the crust built around stable Precambrian "shield", typically 1. The Precambrian ( Pre-Cambrian) is an informal name for the supereon comprising the eons of the Geologic timescale that came before the current 5 to 3. 8 billion years old, called a craton. A craton ( Greek kratos / κρἀτος ( neut. "strength" is an old and stable part of the Continental crust that has survived The craton itself is an accretionary complex of ancient mobile belts (mountain belts) from earlier cycles of subduction, continental collision and break-up from plate tectonic activity. Accretion is a process by which material is added to a Tectonic plate. In Geology, a subduction zone is an area on Earth where two tectonic plates meet and move towards one another with one sliding underneath the other Continental collision is a phenomenon of the Plate tectonics of Earth. Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere An outward-thickening veneer of younger, minimally deformed sedimentary rock covers much of the craton. Sedimentary rock is one of the three main rock types (the others being igneous and Metamorphic rock) The margins of geologic continents are characterized by currently-active or relatively recently active mobile belts and deep troughs of accumulated marine or deltaic sediments. A delta is a Landform where the mouth of a River flows into an Ocean, Sea, Estuary, Lake or another river Sediment is any particulate matter that can be transported by fluid flow and which eventually is deposited as a layer of solid particles on the bed or bottom of a body of Beyond the margin, there is either a continental shelf and drop off to the basaltic ocean basin or the margin of another continent, depending on the current plate-tectonic setting of the continent. The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each Continent and associated Coastal plain, which is covered during interglacial periods such Basalt (bəˈsɔːlt ˈbeisɔːlt ˈbæsɔːlt is a common Extrusive Volcanic rock. Hydrologically an oceanic basin may be anywhere on Earth that is covered by Seawater, but geologically ocean basins are large geologic basins A continental boundary does not have to be a body of water. Over geologic time, continents are periodically submerged under large epicontinental seas, and continental collisions result in a continent becoming attached to another continent. The current geologic era is relatively anomalous in that so much of the continental areas are "high and dry" compared to much of geologic history.
Some argue that continents are accretionary crustal "rafts" which, unlike the denser basaltic crust of the ocean basins, are not subjected to destruction through the plate tectonic process of subduction. The continental crust is the layer of granitic, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks which form the Continents and the areas of shallow seabed This accounts for the great age of the rocks comprising the continental cratons. By this definition, Europe could be regarded as a distinct continental mass from the rest of Eurasia because it has a separate ancient shield area. The East European craton is the core of the Baltica proto- plate and consists of three crustal regions/segments Fennoscandia to the northwest Volgo-Uralia A younger mobile belt (the Ural Mountains) marks the boundary between Europe and the block to the east. Riphean redirects here For the time period see Riphean stage The Ural Mountains (Ура́льские го́ры Uralskiye
There are many microcontinents that are built of continental crust but do not contain a craton. Continental crustal fragments or microcontinents are fragments of continents thought to have been broken off from the main continental mass forming distinct islands possibly Some of these are fragments of Gondwanaland or other ancient cratonic continents: Zealandia, which includes New Zealand and New Caledonia; Madagascar; the northern Mascarene Plateau, which includes the Seychelles; etc. Gondwana (ɡɒnˈdwɑːnə originally Gondwanaland) was a southern Supercontinent that existed about 500 to 200 Ma ago Zealandia (ziːˈlæːndiə also known as Tasmantis or the New Zealand continent, is a nearly submerged Continent or Microcontinent that Physical geography New Zealand has two main islands in Oceania located in the South Pacific Ocean at. New Caledonia is a group of Islands in the South Pacific Ocean, to the east of Australia, in Oceania. Madagascar is an island in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of southern Africa, east of Mozambique. The Mascarene Plateau is an undersea Plateau in the Indian Ocean, north and east of Madagascar. Seychelles (seɪˈʃɛl or /seɪˈʃɛlz/ in English and seʃɛl in French) officially the Republic of Seychelles (République des Seychelles Creole Other islands, such as several in the Caribbean Sea, are composed largely of granitic rock as well, but all continents contain both granitic and basaltic crust, and there is no clear boundary as to which islands would be considered microcontinents under such a definition. For the region see Caribbean. The Caribbean Sea (kəˈrɪbiən or /ˌkærɨˈbiːən/ is a tropical Sea in the Western Hemisphere The Kerguelen Plateau, for example, is largely volcanic, but is associated with the breakup of Gondwanaland and is considered to be a microcontinent, whereas volcanic Iceland and Hawaii are not. The Kerguelen Plateau (kɚˈɡeɪlən ˈkɝɡələn is an underwater Volcanic Large igneous province (LIP in the Indian Ocean. Iceland is the second-largest Island in Europe. The island is located east of Greenland and immediately south The Hawaiian Islands, once known as the Sandwich Islands, form an Archipelago of 19 Islands and Atolls numerous smaller The British Isles, Sri Lanka, Borneo, and Newfoundland are margins of the Laurasian continent which are only separated by inland seas flooding its margins. The British Isles (Irish variously Na hOileáin Bhriotanacha, Oileáin Iarthair Eorpa, Éire agus an Bhreatain Mhór; Ellanyn Goaldagh Eileanan Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka ( Sinhalese:, இலங்கை known as Ceylon before 1972 is an Island Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located at the centre of Maritime Southeast Asia. Newfoundland — ˈn(jufənˌlænd (Terre-Neuve Talamh an Éisc — is a large island 15 km off the east coast of Laurasia (lɔˈreɪʃiə lɔˈreɪʒə was a Supercontinent that most recently existed as a part of the split of the Pangaean supercontinent in the late Mesozoic
Plate tectonics offers yet another way of defining continents. Plate tectonics (from Greek τέκτων tektōn "builder" or "mason" describes the large scale motions of Earth 's Lithosphere Today, Europe and most of Asia comprise the unified Eurasian Plate which is approximately coincident with the geographic Eurasian continent excluding India, Arabia, and far eastern Russia. The Eurasian Plate is a Tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia (a landmass consisting of the traditional Continents of Europe India contains a central shield, and the geologically recent Himalaya mobile belt forms its northern margin. North America and South America are separate continents, the connecting isthmus being largely the result of volcanism from relatively recent subduction tectonics. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas Plate tectonics and hotspots Divergent plate boundaries At the North American continental rocks extend to Greenland (a portion of the Canadian Shield), and in terms of plate boundaries, the North American plate includes the easternmost portion of the Asian land mass. The Canadian Shield &mdash also called the Laurentian Plateau, or Bouclier Canadien (French &mdash is a large geological shield covered by Geologists do not use these facts to suggest that eastern Asia is part of the North American continent, even though the plate boundary extends there; the word continent is usually used in its geographic sense and additional definitions ("continental rocks," "plate boundaries") are used as appropriate.