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How many continents are there?

Travel Forums General Talk How many continents are there?

1. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

In thread: Updates!, Fearless Leader (aka Sam) says:

Unfortunately that's not entirely true either. There's several different opinions on what constitutes a continent, let alone which continent a country would then belong to. Put it this way; are there 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 continents? I have heard all being argued with varied levels of success. I was always taught 7 but I know of tons of other people that were taught otherwise. The entire matter is really subjective, whether you're using regions or continents.

I was alwasy taught 7:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Antartica
  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Australia / Oceania

I can see getting 5 or 6 by combining the Americas into one continent, or combining Europe and Asia into Eurasia.

So, for those who were told 8 or 9, what are they?

Does Australia include New Zealand and other sundry South Pacific islands in your world, or are they continentless masses floating out in the nether regions?

And finally, where are the Falkland Islands? I always figured they were part of South America, but I notice that Sir Ranulph Fiennes considered them part of Antartica for his 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days adventure.

Greg

2. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

I learned the same 7 that you did, Greg...

Here's a link to a map similar to the ones we used in school: The Seven Continents

We were also taught that the continental dividing lines coincided with tectonic plates rather than actual country dividing lines: Tectonic Plates

3. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Quoting Isadora

We were also taught that the continental dividing lines coincided with tectonic plates rather than actual country dividing lines: Tectonic Plates

Though, interestingly, if you count the number of plates in that diagram, you get 10 (or 11, depending on the wrapping of some of the plates in the South). Which would suggest 10 continents, some of which are completely underwater!

4. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

Quoting GregW

Quoting Isadora

We were also taught that the continental dividing lines coincided with tectonic plates rather than actual country dividing lines: Tectonic Plates

Though, interestingly, if you count the number of plates in that diagram, you get 10 (or 11, depending on the wrapping of some of the plates in the South). Which would suggest 10 continents, some of which are completely underwater!

How right you are - but that's the map we used for the plates too. How about playing a game of pin the continent on the map - could make for some interesting changes in geography!

5. Posted by alextravel (Full Member 75 posts) 11y

there are actually two different types of plates. oceanic ones and continental ones. i assume the continents are the ones on the continental plates.

mmm, all that science i did in school actually amounted to something.....

6. Posted by cikusang (Respected Member 1361 posts) 11y

I can see getting 5 or 6 by combining the Americas into one continent, or combining Europe and Asia into Eurasia.

Eurasia is considered as 'supercontinent' in terms of geography, look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercontinent