Animated, color-coded map showing the various continents.
Depending on the convention and model, some continents may
be consolidated or subdivided: for example, Eurasia is often
subdivided into Europe and Asia (red shades), while North and
South America are sometimes recognized as one American con-
tinent (green shades).
Dymaxion map by Buckminster Fuller shows land masses with
minimal distortion as nearly one continuous body.
A continent is one of several large landmasses on Earth.
They are generally identified by convention rather than
any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly re-
garded as continents – they are (from largest in size to
smallest): Asia, Africa, North America, South America,
Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.
Plate tectonics is the geological process and study of
the movement, collision and division of continents,
earlier known as continental drift.
The term "the Continent", used in Great Britain, Ire-
land, Sardinia, Sicily and the Scandinavian Peninsula,
means mainland Europe.
Definitions and application
"Continents are understood to be large, continuous, dis-
crete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of
water." However, many of the seven most commonly
recognized continents are identified by convention
rather than adherence to the ideal criterion that each be
a discrete landmass, separated by water from others.
Likewise, the criterion that each be a continuous land-
mass is often disregarded by the inclusion of the contin-
ental shelf and oceanic islands. The Earth’s major land-
masses are washed upon by a single, continuous World
Ocean, which is divided into a number of principal
oceanic components by the continents and various geo-
Extent of continents
The narrowest meaning of continent is that of a continu-
ous area of land or mainland, with the coastline and
any land boundaries forming the edge of the continent.
In this sense the term continental Europe is used to refer
to mainland Europe, excluding islands such as Great Bri-