How many continents are there?

Ok, the real question would be: ¿which is the most accepted division of continents?

I ask this because is the second time i see a post that states that ‘America’ as a whole continent is not correct, that the proper division is North America and South America as different continents.

Could someone enlighten me, please? :frowning:

The American (USA) view is 7

North America
South America

Sometimes you can connect Europe and Asia into Eurasia. Just because continents are connected by a small isthmus doesn’t mean they’re the same landmass. I mean Africa is more connected to Asia then North America is to South America.

Ask a Scientist answers your question too.

I always learned that the continents were:

  • Australia
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • North America
  • South America

And I’ve heard that some people throw Antarctica in there too.

I’ve heard of others who consider Europe and Asia to be the same continent, but I was taught that they were separate. But that was 20 years ago, ideas may have changed since then.

But I have never heard of anyone stating that both North and South America are the same continent.

I know we’ve discussed this before – it’s probably worth doing a search.

I can imagine viewing Eurasia as a single geographical unit (I tend to think of them as seperate for cultural and economic reasons, myself), but why wouldn’t you throw in Antarctica? It’s considerably larger than Australia.

Trouble is, it all comes down to how you choose to define the word “continent” and like any definitional argument, it’s unsolvable.

Cecil touched on this, here, and he says there are seven, total, if you count Europe and Asia individually.

I only ever heard of Eurasia as a landmass, not as a continent. It would be similar to saying, The Americas.

I thought Australasia was the continent… taking in the ‘other bits’. Australia being a country within that continent.

Also, I’ve always been led to believe that Antarctica was a continent too.

There’s my two p’enn’orth for what it’s worth.


But, of course, if you take in account the International Olympic Committee, there are only five continents (North and South America being one, and Antarctica out of the equation), which it represents in the five rings. Not that a lot of people believe the IOC anyway…
In any case, I’ve always learned of America being only one. The north and south divisions are of landmasses, after it was dicovered that they are geologically separated; Guess it’s teached differently in different places, similar to the states of matter…

I always thought the rings stood for colors on countries flags. One of the colors is on every flag.

Do you have a cite that says the rings represent continents?

Ishtar Terra and Aphrodite Terra…oh you mean the continents on earth not venus…okay.

No, the Color of the rings stand for the colors that can be found at least once in every countries flag.

The rings stand for the continents

I see now. Thanks!

Here you go:

It even assigns a color to each continent…

Couldn’t find somethingon the IOC site, though.

I’ve done a search, but the main issue i wanted to ask is the North-South America division, since, at least here in Argentina, teachers always introduce them as a single continents with subdivisions: North America, Central America an South America, being the limits USA-Mexico and Colombia-Panama frontiers.

However, as i’ve said, they show it as a whole continent. The Eurasia issue is mentioned, as well the Antarctica matter, even Greenland is in discussion! :confused:

But i’ve never heard of this specific division before, that’s why it shocked me.

Ok then, which would be the limits between North and South America?

In France, we’re taught there are 5 continents (plus possibly Antarctica), South and North America being only one. These divisions are arbitrary.

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answer to OP = 1

The Australian view seems to mesh with the US view:

North America
South America

I was quite insulted to hear in the Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony a reference to “Oceania”:

“Representing the five Olympic continents… Cathy Freeman: Oceania!”

I almost coughed up my Weetbix, so used was I to having a whole continent to ourselves. But it’s probably fair enough - New Zealand, Fiji, Tasmania, etc. all need a continent to belong to.

Here in Canada we always were taught that North America and south America were 2 different continents - but I never understood this. Only Canada, the US, and Mexico are ever refered to as being a part of North America - but looking at the map it seems obvious to me that South America doesn’t start until the Colombia / Panama border. So what happened to all those Central American countries? We refer to them as Central America - but that’s definitely not a continent. They can’t be part of South America, that would be just silly. But I’m pretty sure they are not with us. What the hell? I’m confused now.

Central America is a subcontinent. Well, why not?

Speaking as someone with a degree in geology — there is a fundamental difference between continental crust and oceanic crust. Australia has the former, and the Pacific Islands have the latter. Australia may constitute a continent in itself, but “Oceania,” never. (Did anyone else get confused reading about “Oceania” in Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell?) The basaltic rock of the Pacific Islands, instead of the mafic rock of the continents, is why Fiji water tastes so different from Evian.

Europe and Asia being separate continents just makes no sense at all, geologically. As Malcolm X noted, if you just look at a world map it’s obvious that Europe is nothing but a peninsula of Asia. Counting it as separate has nothing to do with geological facts and everything to do with Eurocentric cultural assumptions (blame it on ancient Greek racism and ignorance of world geography). I propose that Europe is a subcontinent of Asia.

If you say North America and South America are one continent because they’re joined by a little isthmus, then you must also think Chang and Eng, the Siamese Twins, were one person. Anyway, in geologic history NA & SA used to be disconnected (in the Cretaceous — breakup of Pangaea) and only very recently (in geologic time: the Miocene), thanks to continental drift, were they accidentally joined up.