Do know for sure how many continents are there on Earth? Five, six or seven? Well, let's improve your knowledge about the continents of the world.
How many continents are there on Earth? The answer to this question depends on which country you went to school in.
In China, India and most English-speaking countries people think that there are seven continents (Europe and Asia in this model are two different continents). In the countries of the former USSR and Japan everybody knows about the six continents (they combine Europe and Asia into Eurasia). In Latin America, Portugal, Greece and Spain people believe that there are six continents too, but instead of combining Europe and Asia, they combine North and South America into one continent.
The international Olympic Committee, in its turn, takes into account only inhabited continents (excluding, thus, Antarctica), and its logo is five rings symbolizing Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America.
Finally, if you combine not only two Americas, but also Eurasia and Africa (resulting in Afroeurasia), then there will be four continents on Earth.
So, let’s suppose that there are six continents and talk about each of them specifically.
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Africa is the second largest continent of the Earth after the Eurasia. The equator crosses the territory of Africa almost in the middle. Africa is washed by the Indian and Atlantic oceans, Mediterranean and red seas, and on the western part of the continent there’s the Gulf of Guinea. The Suez canal separates Africa from Asia, and the Strait of Gibraltar separates it from Europe. The largest island of the continent is Madagascar; the largest peninsula is Somalia. The coast of the mainland high, a little rugged and steep. Africa is the hottest continent of the Earth. Its position relative to the equator is in the tropical zone, which provides large quantities of solar radiation. According to the natural conditions of Africa can be divided into four major areas: Northern, Central, Eastern and southern. Political map of Africa is very complex: there are more than 50 countries.
North America is washed by the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The movement of the tectonic plates resulted in the rugged coast line of the mainland with a large number of bays, straits and islands. The largest island is Greenland. The central part of the continent is occupied by a vast plain. On the western coast there are the Cordillera Mountains, and on the east coast there are Appalachian Mountains. All the climatic zones are presented, except for equatorial, which results in a variety of natural areas. Most of the rivers and lakes are located in the northern part. The largest river is the Mississippi. The indigenous population are Indians and Eskimos. Currently, there are 23 countries situated in this continent, of which only three (Canada, US and Mexico) are on the mainland, the rest are situated on the islands.
South America is washed by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Along the West coast stretches the world's longest mountain system, the Andes, or it is sometimes called South American Cordillera. Plateaus, plains and lowlands occupy the remaining area of the continent. It is the wettest continent, as most of it is located in a zone of equator. Amazon, the largest and most abundant river in the world, is situated on this continent. The indigenous population are Indians. Currently on the territory of the mainland, there are 12 independent countries.
Eurasia is the largest continent, which occupies 1/3 of the land. It consists of two parts of the world: Europe and Asia. The border between them passes along the line of the Ural Mountains, Black sea and Sea of Azov, and the straits linking the Black and Mediterranean seas. It is the only continent that is washed by all the oceans. The coastline is indented, it forms numerous bays, peninsulas, and islands. The mainland is located on six tectonic platforms, and that’s the reason why the terrain of Eurasia is incredibly diverse. Here are situated the vast plains, the highest mountains (the Himalayas with mount Everest), the deepest lake (Baikal). It's the only continent, where are represented all climatic zones (and thus all the natural areas), from the Arctic, with its permafrost to Equatorial, with its scorching deserts and jungles. The mainland is home to ¾ of the world's population, there are 108 countries.
Australia is the only continent, on the territory of which there’s only 1 country of Australia. In Australia, there’s hot dry climate with large annual and daily temperature fluctuations. That is why most of the continent is desert and plains, while the mountains are located only along the coast. The flora and fauna of Australia is not rich, but very one of a kind. Many species of plants and animals of this continent are not presented on other continents of the Earth. Australia is located in three climatic zones and is a unique continent with the largest number of animals and plants that are endemic. Indigenous people are the Australian aborigines or the Bushmen.
Antarctica is the most southern continent, completely covered with ice. The average thickness of the ice cover is 1,600 m, and the highest is 4,000 m. If ice in Antarctica melts, the global sea level will rise 60 meters! Most of the continent is a frozen desert with a glimmer of life only on the coasts. Antarctica is the coldest continent. In winter, the temperature goes down to –90ºC and in summer goes up to 20ºc.
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