The Odd Seven Continents Theory

Viewed from space, the Earth appears to have four or five major landmass areas depending on your viewpoint. Despite this, we hold on to the illusion there are more continents. As we all learned in grade school, there are seven continents. A quick look at a globe, however, reveals this basic assumption is just flat wrong. In particular, how can Europe be considered a continent when there is no clear division with Russia? To the surprise of many, the Arctic is not classified as a continent. Instead, it is divided up between North America and Asia. Yes, Asia because Russia is considered to be part of it in the seven continents model. Following are the accepted seven continents in alphabetical order. Africa is undeniably a continent by any definition. It is also the second largest one as a measure of landmass, covering over 11,700,000 square miles and making up 5.9 percent of the total surface of the Earth. As a measure of population, Africa is second most populous continent with over 840 million people. Antarctica is also considered a continent, if a particularly barren one. 98 percent of Antarctica is covered in ice and it is the only continent neither considered a country nor claimed by any other country. Based on sheer size, Asia is the dominant continent in the world. It has the largest landmass area and is home to over 60 percent of all humans. Talk about traffic jams! In truth, the measurements on Asia can be a bit misleading. Under the seven continents methodology, Asia extends over much of Russia, the Mideast and even parts of Egypt. Often referred to as the forgotten continent, Australia is the fourth continent. Incorrectly referred to as an island for significant periods of history, Australia is undoubtedly a continent. That being said, it is the smallest in landmass with just more than 4,000,000 square miles, but has a healthy population of over 20 million people. Europe is also considered a continent, but there is little geographic evidence supporting this claim. The continental designation is primarily a political and historical development. Regardless, Europe covers an area of 4 million square miles, but is heavily populated with over eleven percent of the world population at 705 million people. North America is our next continent. Once again, we run into the practical issue of boundaries. Using the seven continent methodology, North America extends into the arctic as expected, but is also considered to include much of Central America. The total landmass is 9.45 million square miles. 514 million people are estimated to live in North America. Our final continent is South America. Covering 6.9 million square miles, South America covers 3.5 percent of the total surface of the Earth. With a population of 371 million people, it ranks as the fifth most populous nation. The misleading nature of the seven continent theory has to do with Europe. If the countries of Europe weren’t such powerful entities through history, would we really consider it a continent? Not likely!

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