Continent – Concept, number of continents and oceans

We explain what a continent is and how many continents there are. Also, some of its characteristics and what the oceans are.

Continents - World - Earth
The continents were formed from the cooling of the earth’s crust.

What is a continent?

When we talk about the continents we mean the great extensions of the earth’s crust that are emerged from the oceans, and that considerably exceeds in size even the largest of the islands.

The word continent comes from the Latin continent, derived from terra continents or “continuous lands”. But the criteria for defining what a continent is or is not is of a historical and cultural nature, which is why it has varied over time, as well as has varied, although throughout the millennia of the planet’s geological history. , the location of the continents and the distance that separates them. In fact, in prehistoric times all the continents made up various supercontinents, known as Pangea, Pannotia, etc.

From a geographical point of view, the continents They are the world’s great land organizations, in which the islands that are more or less close to its coasts have a place.

The continents were formed from the cooling of the earth’s crust, and are composed mainly of granite and associated rocks, unlike the oceanic crust, where basalt and gabbro predominate. Their initial appearance seems, as suggested by their current forms, to have occurred in a very different way, since over the millennia continental drift has successively moved, separated, gathered and moved them away, modifying both the climate and the visible appearance of the land. surface of the planet.

How many continents are there?

Continents - Planet - Earth - World
There are models that identify 4, 5, 6 and 7 continents.

There is no single way to list the continents, as each continental model offers its own vision in this regard. Thus, there are models that identify 4, 5, 6 and 7 continents, the latter being the most recognized in English-speaking countries (Africa, Antarctica, South America, Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania); while in other regions the number 6 is used (unifying America); and in specific areas of geology, 5 is accepted, more similar to plate tectonics (linking Europe and Asia on the same continent, Eurasia).

In recent times (2017) the theory was proposed that there is an additional continent called Zealandia, which would have been submerged in the waters of the Pacific Ocean millennia ago.


Africa - African Continent
Africa has about a billion inhabitants spread over 54 countries.

The “black continent”, as it is nicknamed due to the racial predominance of its population, is the original continent of humanity, where Homo sapiens first saw the world. This continent is joined to Asia by the Isthmus of Suez and separated from Europe by the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. Its oceanic limits are: the Atlantic to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east. It has a total area of ​​30,272,922 km2 (20.4% of the world’s emerged lands) on which 15% of the world’s population lives, about one billion inhabitants, spread over 54 countries.


South America - Continents
America is the second largest land mass on the globe.

Traditionally separated into three geographical regions: North, Central and South America, and made up of 35 countries, this continent is nicknamed the “new”, because its existence became known in Asia and Europe only in the fifteenth century, millennia after it was populated from Asia by primitive humanity. Geographically, America borders the Glacial Arctic Ocean in the north, is separated from Antarctica by the Drake Passage in the south, and is surrounded by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the east and west respectively. The second largest land mass on the globe, it has a total area of ​​43,316,000 km2 (equivalent to 30.2% of the emerged surface) on which about 12% of humanity lives.


Asian continent - Asia
Asia is located in the eastern half of the Northern Hemisphere.

The largest and most populated continent in the world, with an area of ​​almost 45 million km2 (more than 30% of the emerged surface) and a population of 4 billion inhabitants (69% of the world population) spread over 49 countries, It is located in the eastern half of the Northern Hemisphere, bordered to the north by the Glacial Arctic Ocean, the Indian Ocean to the south, and to the east by the Pacific Ocean. Although geographically it constitutes a separate continent, forms a single land mass with Europa, and once formed the Supercontinent of Eurasia with it. Asia is separated from Africa by the Suez Isthmus and encompasses a huge number of islands between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Follow in: Asia


European Continent - Europe
Europe has a population of 743,704,000 inhabitants.

United to Asia in the same continental mass, but geographically located in the north-central part of the Northern Hemisphere, is the European continent, with its 10,530,751 km2 of total surface (6.8% of the landmass) and its population of 743,704 .000 inhabitants (barely 11% of the world’s population) spread over 50 countries. Europe is bordered to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by Asia and the Middle East, and to the north by the Baltic Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Despite its small size, Europe has played an important role in the destiny of humanity from classical times of Antiquity, especially as a result of its imperial doctrines from the 15th to the 19th centuries.


Oceania - Oceanic Continent
Oceania is home to some 40,117,432 inhabitants spread over 15 countries.

This island continent, located in the southeastern region of the Southern Hemisphere, It is the smallest of all, with just 9,008,458 km2. However, it is home to some 40,117,432 inhabitants, spread over 15 countries, between the continental shelf (Australia) and its smaller islands in the Pacific (New Zealand, New Guinea, Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia). Its limits are with the Indian Ocean to the west, the Pacific to the east, the Antarctic to the south, and the islands of South Asia to the north.


Antarctica - Antarctic continent
Antarctica was the last continent to be discovered and colonized by humanity.

The southernmost continent on the planet, located almost at the south pole, is a land mass of 14,000,000 km2 of which only 280,000 km2 are exposed to ice during the summer. It is, then, the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the worldas well as the highest of all. For that reason, it was the last continent to be discovered and colonized by humanity, and it lacks its own population, barely being visited by scientists, soldiers and specialists who do not exceed 5,000 people, spread over 60 bases belonging to 30 different countries.

Continents and oceans

Contrary to the emerged continents, the ocean surface is the portion of the earth’s crust that is under seawater, forming in its greatest extensions what we know as oceans: the great extensions of salt water that separate the continents from each other, covering 71% of the planet. In the world we recognize five different oceans:

  • Atlantic Ocean. Separating America and Europe to the north and America and Africa to the south, it has a maximum length of 14,700 km (NS) and houses a water volume of 354,700,000 km3.
  • Indian Ocean. Located south of the Indian subcontinent, between Asia, Africa and Oceania, it has a maximum width of 10,000 km and houses a volume of water of about 292,131,000 km3.
  • Pacific Ocean. The largest of all oceans, it is found separating America from Asia to the north or America and Oceania to the south. Its surface reaches 155,557 km2 and its maximum length is 15,000 km. It contains about 714,839,310 km3 of water.
  • Arctic Ocean. As its name implies, it is located in the northern circumpolar region, and it is the smallest ocean on the planet. Its area is barely 14,056,000 km2 and it separates the north of North America from Asia and Europe.
  • Antartic Ocean. Located around the continental coast of Antarctica, it is the southernmost ocean on the planet and has a surface area of ​​20,327,000 km2, bordering the southern part of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.