A continent is a large body of land surrounded by water. There are seven continents found on the earth’s surface. Six of the seven are shown in the map above. Antarctica is not shown.
Image: The Continents (© DPP2012).
The most common view held today identifies seven continents. These seven landmasses are shown below.
- Antarctica (not displayed on the map)
- Australia (part of Oceania on the map)
- North America
- South America
Sometimes, Europe and Asia are combined into one continent known as Eurasia. This results in only six continents.
Comparison of Continents
The size of each continent is shown in the chart below. Continental size is shown in the millions of square kilometers. Asia is the largest continent. Australia is the smallest continent.
Geology of a Continent
A continent is part of the earth’s crust. It is made up of a lighter material than the ocean floor. A continent is part of a large tectonic plate that is moving slowly. These tectonic plates often collide. The collision of two plates create smaller landforms such as mountains and ocean trenches.
Population and the Continents
The population of a continent is related to its size. Asia and Africa have the largest populations. Today, over 4 billion people live in Asia. Africa has the second largest population with slightly more than 1 billion people. Antarctica and Australia have the smallest populations.
Asia and Europe are the most densely populated countries. Antarctica and Australia have the lowest population densities.
Improving Your Reading and Thinking Skills
Think for a few moments. Try to recall the major ideas in this article. When you are done, click the box below for a list of main ideas.
How did you do? With practice, you should be able to identify many of the major ideas. You may even discover some important ideas that aren’t listed.
Continents of the World, Nations Online.