Why is India Called a "Sub-Continent"?

Yes, they teach this in school to this very day. But, what does that mean? And, why is it just India? The only possible explanation (by remote chance) is that some geophysicists claim the whole country is creeping into the Himalayas (by plate tectonics) and creates the massive earthquakes of that region.

Maybe I should first ask for a definition! What IS a sub-continent, anyhow? :dubious: And, if it is based on size and/or population, why should only India get this exclusive title? What about China, for example? - Jinx

Because of the way it sticks out into the Indian Ocean.

It’s not the only subcontinent out there, either. Indochina is a subcontinent; so is Scandinavia. “Sub-continent” is just a name for a really big peninsula. The reason the English refer to India as “the” Subcontinent is because they used to rule it.


“some” geophysicists? I’d love to meet the woorking geophysicist who didn’t agree.

Isn’t the theory not that India is creeping into the Himalayas, but rather that India is *creating *the Himalayas?

So you mean that the ground under my feet is actually rising? Damn, we have have enough mountains.

Raising the roof of the world…

That’s one way mountains are formed, and geology doesn’t stop just because humans are around to watch it. We all know volcanoes and earthquakes still happen but we don’t often realize continents that have been moving a few inches a year for the past few billion years are still moving, and will likely keep moving (barring some unimaginable catastrophe) until the Sun dies and takes us with it.

Mount Everest is several inches taller than it was back in 1953.

as for the OP, I always figured it was a subcontinent because in the not too distant past it was it’s own (small) continent unconnected to any other landmass. And then EurAsia got in the way…

It’s creating them by creeping into (i.e. towards) them.


The designation of India as a subcontinent, however, long predates any knowledge of plate tectonics, or the fact that India was once an isolated mini-continent. Basically it just refers to the fact that it is an enormous area with many different distinct environments, ranging from desert to high mountains, thus resembling a true continent. In addition, the Himalayas and other mountains isolate it from the rest of Asia.

Note also that India and Australia are attached to the same plate, which is virtually galloping northward. If this is right, that’s about 2½ inches/year.

I wondered about this too. As a result, I now refer to the ‘European subcontinent’ as well.

why do I have visions of some smartass dragging a step ladder to the very summit of everest… :slight_smile:

The Genie misheard.