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“Continents are understood to be large, continuous, discrete
masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water.
They are generally identified by convention rather than any
strict criteria, with up to seven regions commonly regarded
as continents. These are—from largest in size to
smallest: Asia, Africa, North America, South
America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
In geology, continents are described by means of tectonic
plates. Plate tectonics is the process and study of the
movement, collision and division of continents, earlier
known as continental drift.
Asia is the world's largest and most
populous continent, located primarily in
the eastern and northern hemispheres.
It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and
comprises 30% of its land area.
With approximately 4.3 billion people, it hosts 60% of
the world's current human population. Asia has a high
growth rate in the modern era.
Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-
populous continent. At about 30.2 million km (11.7 million
sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers six percent of
the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total
With 1.1 billion people as of 2013, it accounts for
approximately 15% of the world's human population. The
continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the
north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai
Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast,
and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The continent includes Madagascar and
various archipelagoes. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign
states ("countries"), 9 territories and two de
facto independent states with limited or no recognition.
North America is the third largest continent by area . It is
a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and
almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere.
It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by
the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific
Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and
the Caribbean Sea.
North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square
kilometers about 4.8% of the planet's surface or about 16.5%
of its land area. As of July 2008, its population was estimated
at nearly 529 million people across 23 independent states,
representing about 7.5% of the human population.
Most of the continent's land area is dominated by Canada,
the United States, and Mexico, while smaller states exist in
the Central American and Caribbean regions
South America is a continent located in the Western Hemisphere,
mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small
portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It is bordered on the west by
the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east by the Atlantic
It includes twelve sovereign states
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Pa
raguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela – and two nonsovereign areas – French Guiana, an overseas region of France,
and the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory.
South America has an area of 17,840,000 sq km
and population as of 2005 has been estimated at more than
Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, containing the
geographic South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of
the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic
Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest
continent in areaThere are no permanent human residents, but
anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the
year at the research stations scattered across the continent.
Only cold-adapted organisms survive, including many types
of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals,
such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades.
Vegetation where it occurs is tundra.
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface
area, covering about 10,180,000 square kilometers
(3,930,000 sq mi) or 2% of the Earth's surface and about 6.8%
of its land area.
Europe has approximately 50 countries and is is the third-
most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with
a population of 733 million or about 11% of the world's
Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north,
the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the
south, and the Black Sea and connected waterways to the
It is the smallest of the seven traditional continents. Australia is
a continent comprising mainland Australia, Tasmania, New
Guinea, Seram, possibly Timor, and neighboring islands.
The continent of Australia lies on a continental shelf overlain by
shallow seas which divide it into several landmasses —
the Arafura Sea and Torres Strait between mainland Australia
and New Guinea, and Bass Strait between mainland Australia
With a total land area of 8,560,000 square kilometers
(3,310,000 sq mi), the Australian continent is the smallest and
lowest-lying human-inhabited continent on Earth.