Continents of the World
Continents of the world are large landmasses displaying continuity in their geographical extension. Different Continents of the World are part of larger tectonic plates and movements of these plates have led to their evolution to the present state. This process has taken millions of years. The study of the Continents of the World is to make understanding world geography simple. There are Seven Continents of the World. Each Continent of the World consists of a number of unique vegetation, climates, mountains, deserts, plateaus, rivers and their valleys and countries as political units.
Read about: Important Straits of the World
7 Continents of the World Map
The map of the world, as we know it today, is the result of a cycle of creation and destruction called the Wilson Cycle. The present arrangement of the 7 Continents of the World is the outcome of the breaking of two supercontinents called Gondwanaland and Angaraland. They broke due to the movement of tectonic plates.
7 Continents of the World
In total, there are seven Continents in the World. They together occupy 29% of the surface area of the world. More than two third of this continental mass is located in Northern Hemisphere. The list of seven continents of the world includes:
- North America
- South America
Largest Continents of the World
Here are some important facts regarding the Largest Continents of the World related to different Characteristics:
|Continent with the largest area||Asia|
|Continent with the largest population||Asia|
|Continent with the largest number of countries||Africa|
|Continent with the largest number of indigenous languages||Asia|
|Continent with the largest tropical forest area||South America|
|Continent with the largest desert||Antarctica|
|Continent with the largest coastline||Asia|
|Continent with the largest number of landlocked countries||Africa|
|Continent with the largest concentration of natural resources||Africa|
|Continent with the largest flat area||Australia|
|Continent that receives the largest amount of rainfall||South America|
|Continent with the largest river system (basin area)||South America (Amazon basin)|
Smallest Continents of the World
Here are some important facts regarding the Smallest Continents of the World related to different Characteristics:
|Continent with the smallest land mass||Australia|
|Continent with the smallest population||Antarctica|
|Continent with the smallest country||Europe|
|Continent with the smallest coastline||Africa|
|Continent with the least biodiversity||Antarctica|
Asia is often referred to as the continent of contrast because of the extremities of geographical features found here. It extends from the equator up to the arctic circle and accounts for nearly 30% of the total land area on earth. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean in the south, the Pacific Ocean in the east and the Arctic Ocean in the north. Nearly, half of the world’s population lives in this continent, Asia being the home of two of the most populous countries in the world – India and China. This continent is also considered the cradle of human civilization.
Some of the world’s highest mountain peaks are in Asia. Most of them are part of the Himalayan Mountains Ranges. Important rivers of Asia include Volga, Yenisey, Ob, Irtysh, Yangtze, Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and Chindwin. South East Asia archipelago is one of the largest in the world. This region is densely populated. The Indian subcontinent is rich in ferrous minerals, coal, and manganese while China has an abundance of rare earth minerals.
South Asia, East Asia, is known for intensive subsistence cultivation. The region is known for the cultivation of rice. Agriculture in the region is gradually getting mechanized. In the Steppes grasslands of Russia, extensive mechanized farming of wheat is practised. Important commercial crops of South Asia include cotton, silk, tobacco, and oil palm.
India, China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh are factories of the world. A large number of MNCs have their manufacturing units in these countries. East Asia Countries of Japan and South Korea specialize in high-end manufacturing and services. Russia is a prominent defence manufacturing hub. The economies of West Asia are oil-based. In recent times, they have started transitioning towards services. West Asia, including some part of Central Asia, are rich in oil and natural gas.
|Important Facts About Asia|
|Highest mountain peak||Mount Everest (Nepal)|
|Longest river system||Yangtze (China)|
|Largest country (area-wise)||China|
|Largest country (population-wise)||India|
|Largest desert||Gobi Desert (China)|
|Wettest place||Mawsynram, Meghalaya (India)|
|Longest railway network||Trans-Siberian railway (Russia)|
|Deepest point||Dead Sea (Jordan)|
|Countries of Asia which also lie in other continents||Turkey and Russia|
|Largest city (population-wise)||Tokyo|
|Biggest lake||Caspian Sea|
|Busiest waterways||Suez Canal|
Read about: Indian Ocean Dipole
Africa is an areawise second-largest continent of the world. With respect to population also, it ranks second in the world. Africa is also known as the Dark Continent because it has been unexplored for most of the past centuries. It was only in the 18th century that people from outside Africa started to venture here.
Africa is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Indian Ocean in the east. Atlas mountains form its northern border. The vast expanse of the Sahara desert is virtually dividing the continent into two parts present in its northern half.
Africa has rich natural resources. Rainforests along the valleys of the Congo river are among the densest in the world. Important rivers of Africa include the Nile, Congo, Zambezi, and Limpopo among others. The Plateau of Katanga is known for its abundance of non-ferrous minerals. Diamond mines in South Africa are the largest in the world. Africa has the largest number of mammals in the world. Africa also has the largest gold reserves in the world. Africa is poor in ferrous minerals.
Agriculture in Africa has not modernized. Intensive subsistence and subsistence type of agriculture along with animal rearing is practised here. Important commercial crops include cocoa, cotton, jute, tea, coffee and palm oil.
Africa is inhabited by a diverse tribal population. Some of the most famous tribes here are Masai, Zulu, Bushman and Pigmies. Most tribes follow animalistic religions.
|Important Facts About Africa|
|Highest mountain||Mount Kilimanjaro|
|River that crosses the Tropic of Cancer twice||River Congo|
|Largest lake||Lake Victoria|
|Longest river||River Nile|
|Largest dam||Kariba Dam|
|Country within a country||Lesotho|
|Desert formed due to cold current||Namib Desert|
|Lake, which has dried and turned into a desert||Lake Faguibine|
North American Continent
North America is also known as the New World because it was discovered by Europeans very late and the continent had no contact with others parts of the world.
The original inhabitants of this continent are called Red Indians. During colonial times, Negroes from Africa were taken here for plantation. Over the years, other migrating streams have come and settled here. It is often known as a melting pot of races, as these migrants have lived here as a unified society.
Along the western borders, the Rockies Mountains are a formidable structure. They are young fold mountains. Along the east, the Laurentian plateau is located. It is rich in metallic minerals. South of it, are the Appalachian mountains, which are old fold mountains and known for coal and petroleum reserves. Tennessee is an important river that originates from these mountains. Between east and west relief structures, great plains are located. They are formed as a result of alluvial soil or glacial deposits. Temperate grasslands of Prairies are located here. Other important rivers of North America include St Lawrence, Colorado, Missouri, Rio Grande and Yukon.
The Great Lakes region in the north is an important industrial region. The presence of the St Lawrence waterway connects this region to Europe and the rest of the world. Alaska region is known for the production of petroleum as well as gold. In the south, the valley of Mississippi is known for tobacco cultivation. Also, Chihuahua in Mexico is an important copper mining town. Among the islands of the Caribbean Sea, Cuba is famous for sugar production.
North America is highly urbanized. Some of the cities have achieved the status of global cities. These include New York and Los Angeles. They have headquarters of some of the biggest tech giants in the world including Apple, Google, and Amazon. Other important urban centres include Mexico City, Seattle, Montreal, San Francisco, Hamilton, Chicago and Boston.
Prominent languages spoken in North America include French in Canada, English along with Italian, German, Hindi, and Chinese in the USA, and Mexican and Spanish in Central American countries.
|Important Facts About North America|
|Highest mountain||Mount McKinley|
|Longest river||River Missouri|
|Largest desert||Chihuahua Desert|
|Largest canyon||Grand Canyon (Colorado River)|
|Largest state of Canada||Nuna Bhoot|
|Great Lakes of North America||Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie|
|Type of climate in California||Mediterranean climate|
|River, which forms a boundary between the USA and Canada||Rio Grande|
|Most populous city||Mexico City|
|Highest dam||Hover dam on River Colorado|
South American Continent
South America lies entirely in the Southern Hemisphere. It has the Pacific Ocean on its western side and the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern side. It is connected to North America via the Isthmus of Panama. Young fold mountains of Andes form its western boundary. Important rivers of South America include Amazon, Orinoco, Paraguay and Paraná. Another important geographical region of South America is the Patagonia Desert, which is formed as a result of the rain-shadow effect.
South America is rich in forest resources. The rainforests of the Amazon are the densest in the world. They are often referred to as the lungs of the earth. Locally, they are known as Selvas. South America also has temperate grasslands called Pampas. Gran Chaco is the warm temperate forests of South America.
The mineral profile of South America includes – petroleum reserves in Lake Maracaibo, metallic minerals in Brazilian highlands, copper deposits in Chile, bauxite deposits in Guyana and Suriname and tin deposits in Bolivia. Important agricultural and allied activities in South America include coffee production in eastern Brazil, dairy farming and wheat cultivation in Pampas, cultivation of citrus fruits in Chile and commercial fishing in Peru.
Important urban centres include São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima and Bogotá. Lapaz of Bolivia is the highest capital city in the world. Racially, the population of South America is a mix of European and indigenous people. For this reason, a large number of people here speak Spanish and Portuguese language.
|Important Facts About South America|
|Highest mountain||Mount Aconcagua|
|Longest river||River Amazon|
|Highest waterfall||Angel Fall|
|Largest tin mining centre||Potosí (Bolivia)|
|Highest navigable lake||Lake Titicaca|
|Largest copper mining town||Chiquicamata (Chile)|
|Only pass in the Andes mountain ranges||Uspallata pass|
|Most mineral-rich province||Minas Gerais (Brazil)|
|Largest reserves of natural phosphate (formed as a result of Guano bird droppings)||Peru|
|Tropical grasslands||Llanos (located in the valley of river Orinoco)|
Europe is considered the most developed continent in the world. It is bounded by the Arctic Ocean in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Ural Mountains in the east.
Physiography of Europe has a prominence on Alpine fold mountains which include Apennines Mountains, Pyrenees Mountains, and Caucasian Mountains among others. Other important physiographic units include Kjolen Mountain, the Scandinavian highland in the north, the Central Massif plateau of France and the Black Forest of Germany. Important rivers of Europe include Rhine, Rhone, Don, Danube, Volga and Moskowa. North European plains is a low-lying planes formed by alluvial and glacial deposits.
Most of the regions in Europe have a British type of climate except those along the Mediterranean Sea which has a Mediterranean type of climate characterized by winter rainfall and summer dryness. The Caspian Sea and Black Sea in the south, the White Sea and Baltic Sea in the north and Lake Ladoga in Central Europe are other important water bodies of Europe.
Agriculture in Europe is highly mechanized. Important regions include north European plains for wheat cultivation and the Mediterranean coast for citrus fruit cultivation and floriculture. The dairy industry of Switzerland is quite famous. The fishing industry is also well-developed, especially on the north European coast.
Europe is the first continent to be industrialized. It has a number of mineral-rich regions which include the Ruhr valley of Germany known for its coal deposits, Scandinavian highlands known for iron ore deposits, the Ural Mountains known for iron ore and coal, the Saar-Saxony region of Germany for iron ore deposits, Central part of British Isles for both iron ore and coal deposits (but most of this it has been exhausted) and foothills of Caucasian mountains for petroleum deposits.
Important Industrial regions of Europe include the Ural mountain regions for the defence industry, Central Germany for the automobile industry, Central Massif of France for the Aircraft industry and silk textile industry, the Iberian Peninsula for food processing and winemaking industry, Scandinavian highlands for the Iron and Steel, Automobile and Aircraft industry and the British Isles for textile, automobile, cutlery and arms making industry.
Most countries in Europe are politically administered as European Union, having a common currency and other laws. Because of its low area, Europe has a relatively high population density. However, most countries today have below-replacement-level fertility rates. This is creating the problem of population ageing. Migration from across the world towards Europe to fulfil the needs of the working-age population is also a perceptible phenomenon.
Indo-European languages which include English, languages derived from Latin and Slavic languages are most commonly spoken in Europe. Christianity is the religion of the majority of the population in Europe.
|Important Facts About Europe|
|Highest Mountain||Mount Blanc|
|Longest River||River Volga|
|City of five seas||Moscow|
|Low Countries||Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg also known as Benelux|
|Textile hub||Manchester (England)|
|Largest country area wise||Russia|
|Sea in which River Volga falls||Caspian Sea|
|Sea in which River Don falls||Black Sea|
|Important cities located along the Danube River||Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest|
Australia is located in the Southern and Eastern Hemisphere. It is also known as the ‘last frontier’ because it was considered a wasteland until the 18th century. Later Europeans migrated and settled here along with the indigenous population (in most cases displacing them).
Australia has a primarily flat topography with highlands on the north, west and east coast. The western region of Australia is particularly dry, marked by the presence of deserts. North-Eastern Australia has a monsoon type of climate, South-Eastern Australia has a British type of climate and the south-western part has a Mediterranean type of climate.
Australia has sparse vegetation, which is mostly concentrated in the eastern part and New Zealand island. The eastern part also has temperate grasslands called Downs. Murray, Darling and Paro are three important rivers in Australia.
Australia has coal, iron ore, bauxite, gold, petroleum and Uranium in abundance. Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie are two important gold mines in Australia. Similarly, Rum Jungle and Marie Kathleen are famous for Uranium mining.
It is often said that the economy of Australia rides on sheep’s backs. This is due to the fact that Australia is the largest producer of wool in the world. Also, it is one of the largest exporters of meat in the world. The Australian province of New South Wales is known for large sheep stations. Dairy farming is also well-developed in Australia.
The population of Australia is mostly concentrated in coastal areas. Important urban areas include Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth among others. Most population speak the English language. Most of them are descendants of people who migrated from the British Isles during the 18th century.
|Important Facts About Australia|
|Highest mountain||Mount Kosciusko|
|Largest desert||Great Victoria Desert|
|Longest river||River Murray|
|Largest lake||Lake Eyre|
|Highest motorable mountain||Great Dividing Range|
|Prominent soil type||Laterite soil|
|Man who discovered Australia||Captain Cook|
|Region with a maximum concentration of industries||Sydney|
Antarctica is also known as the white continent, as it is permanently covered with ice. It is located near the South Pole of the earth. All countries of the world under the United Nations have agreed to use Australia only for research and scientific purposes and not for resource exploitation.
It is divided into two parts by Trans-Antarctic ranges. Vinson Massif is the highest point in Antarctica. Prominent active volcanoes of Australia include Mt. Erebus. Antarctica is also famous for the phenomenon of shining light in the night sky called Aurora Australis.
Antarctica has low biodiversity. Native floral species include mosses and lichens. Prominent fauna species include penguins, seals and mites. This continent has undergone rapid changes in recent times due to phenomena like global warming and ozone layer depletion. In the recent past, heat waves were recorded for the first time in Antarctica.
Continents of the World UPSC
Earth can be divided into seven landmasses called continents. They together occupy approximately 30% of the surface area of the earth. They are the result of the movement of tectonic plates over a long period of time. Each continent has its unique physiography, climate, mineral profile, demographics, and economic and political structure.
The largest among all the continents is Asia, followed by Africa. Europe and North America are the most developed continents. Antarctica is a continent with minimum human interference and also minimum biodiversity. Australia is the smallest continent in terms of land area.