How Many Continents Are There?
Two plus two equals four the world's Brown. There are seven continents on earth. But that last one isn't quite so cut and dried here. In the United States students learned that there are seven continents North, America. South America Europe Asia. Africa, Australia and Arctic. But that's hardly the last word on the matter and much of Europe students learn that there are six continents Africa. America Antarctica Asia Australia slash. And Europe. There's a five continent model which lists Africa. Europe Asia America and Oceana Slash Australia, and that's by the way why there are five rings on the Olympic, flag. And, some experts think that four is the way to go using as their criteria landmasses. Separated by water rather than manmade So Afro Eurasia America and Arca and. As recently as the eighteen hundreds, some people said there were just too. It's the old including Europe Africa and Asia and the new encompassing north and South America. So what really makes a continent continent? We spoke by email with Dan Montello. A geography professor at the University of California Santa Barbara he said nothing really determines a continent except historical convention, a bit of an overstatement, but mostly valid a certain factors make a landmass more or less likely to be called a continent at various times in history by various people, but nothing can be said to determine continent tally, a completely principled, non arbitrary way. Take for example, the vast country of Russia six point, six million square miles or seventeen million square kilometers a why has often been counted as part of Europe, rather than Asia Montello explained. The Euro Mountains are taken to separate Asia and Europe. But only because Russians wanted their great city of Moscow to be European, so the euros were a convenient marker for that arbitrary decision. Continents are mostly spatially contiguous collections of landmasses larger than countries, but smaller than hemispheres of course cotton's do not necessarily fit entirely within single earth hemispheres, and thus cannot be defined by ranges of latitude or longitude. Okay, so how about plate tectonics if certain landmasses are constrained to one of those massive shifting hulks? Can we safely call it? A continent Montello Says No. Quote Plate tectonics has nothing to do with it historically, and it certainly could not provide a principal basis for continents now. Nearly every continent includes parts of multiple plates. The. Same goes for climate after all continents contain multiple climates as evidenced by Alaska's Arctic. Chill compared with Florida's humid heat. They're both part of North, America. Mountain ranges and coastlines are useless to as our culture and politics. Montella said neither ethnicity race culture nor politics has ever defined continents except by conventional theories that were largely mythical such as old and fallacious ideas about correspondences between races and continents. Politically Hawaii is part of the US but is in Oceania rather than north. America Greenland is controlled by Denmark for now, but is considered part of the North American continent. So really it boils down to whom and when you ask Montello, said no one can say as a matter of principle fact, how many cotton's there are because the decisions are largely based on convention and convention that goes in and out of fashion over time, and is still debated today. He concedes these days. Many geographers would opt for a list of