|The continents were formed in the Precambrian
period, about 4.5 billion years ago, on tectonic
plates, which were initially grouped in an immense
territorial mass, the Pangea. The
millimetric movement of these earth blocks originated the
current continents. It is considered that the Earth
has six continents: America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania
The definition of the
term continent is not a consensus among
geographers. At least three versions can be considered. The
first and most used one considers that there are six
continents on the planet - extensive landmasses surrounded
by oceans and that shelter several countries. The second
considers the existence of only five continents - now
considering Antarctica as a non-continent, now considering
Europe and Asia as a single continent, Eurasia, because they
are located on the same tectonic plate. The third increases
the number of continents to eight, considering the
subdivisions of the American continent (North, Central and
South) as autonomous continents. In this text, we will use
the most accepted and usual definition of six continents.
The American continent has the largest
latitudinal extension in the world, occupying practically
all bands from north to south. This distribution allows the
continent to experience all climatic variations on the
planet, from the warmest layers in the equatorial region to
temperate zones and polar layers. Likewise, the most varied
expressions of vegetation, soil and relief are observed.
Its territorial extension is 42.550.000 km², and the
population is estimated at 1 billion inhabitants,
distributed in 35 countries and 16 territories. Its
geographical position completely isolates it from another
continent: to the west, by the Pacific Ocean; to the east,
by the Atlantic Ocean.
The total GDP of the American continent
is estimated at 20.3 trillion dollars. The United States
alone accounts for 65% of that amount. The other
economically prominent nations on the continent are: Brazil,
Argentina, Uruguay, Canada and Mexico.
With regard to the historical and cultural
aspects of the American continent, it can be
subdivided into two parts: Anglo-Saxon America
and Latin America. The first refers to the
portion of land occupied by the English and which was
constituted as settlement colonies. The second was colonized
by Portuguese and Spanish, in its majority, and was
constituted as colonies of exploitation. Considering that
the root language of the Iberian colonizers is Latin, these
countries became known as Latinos.
Another division can be made from the physical
and natural aspects of the continent and, in this
case, the breakdown occurs among North America,
Central America and South America.
This division considers that the continent is formed by two
land masses (North America and South America) connected by a
narrow strip (Central America). Check
Countryaah for list of countries in North
America, Central America and South America.
The European continent consists of 50
countries and 8 territories. Its borders have been changed
several times, with the advances and retreats of the empires
that conquered it over the centuries. Its borders are: to
the north, Arctic Glacial Sea; northwest, Norwegian sea; to
the east, the Atlantic Ocean; to the south, the
Mediterranean Sea; to the southwest, the Black Sea; and to
the northwest, the Ural Mountains.
The population of the European continent is estimated at
743.1 million inhabitants, spread over 10,180,000 km². Its
geographical location allows the continent to have different
climatic variations: from the severity of the cold climate
in the north, close to the Arctic Circle, and milder zones
of temperate climate in the south.
The relief of the European continent is
characterized by elevations of plateaus to the south, with
the Pyrenees Mountains and the Alps; to the northwest, with
the Scandinavian Mountains and, to the northeast, the Ural
Mountains. The rest of the territory is made up of plains.
The European continent has the best socioeconomic
indicators on the planet. The high collection and
concentration of income makes the countries of Europe the
object of desire of thousands of migrants. Currently, the
continent has experienced the migration of a huge population
that is fleeing risky situations in countries in the Middle
East and Africa.
The Asian continent has 48 countries and
six territories, spread over 44,580,000 km². The continent's
population is estimated at 4.436 billion inhabitants. This
is the most populous continent on the planet, with
highlights for China (1,376,048,943), India (1,311,050,527),
Pakistan (188,924,874) and Bangladesh (160,995,642).
The high number of inhabitants of the continent means
that social inequalities are extreme. While observing highly
developed countries, such as South Korea and Japan, others
remain in the lowest income brackets, on the poverty line,
such as Nepal and Bangladesh. It should be remembered that
in Asia are some of the main oil producers in the
world, such as Iran and Afghanistan. In addition,
there are countries that have an extensive industrial park,
such as China and India.
Among the physical aspects of the Asian continent,
it is possible to point out: in the south, there are the
plateaus, as well as in the central-west portion of the
continent; to the north and northwest, plains predominate.
Asia still has some inland seas, such as the Caspian Sea,
Aral Sea and Black Sea.
The climatic part of the Asian continent is also quite
diverse due to its longitudinal and latitudinal extension.
Thus, it is observed in the portions of lower latitudes hot
climates - equatorial, humid and desert tropical - and, in
the zones of greater latitudes, colder climates, such as
continental and polar.
The continent Africa has 54 countries and 9
territories. Its territorial extension is 30,370,000 km²,
and its population is estimated at 1,216,000 million
inhabitants. With an extensive latitudinal
distribution, the continent occupies part of the
northern hemisphere and part of the southern hemisphere,
being practically cut in half by the equator. Thus, only the
northern and southern ends escape the tropical zone, being
located in the temperate zone.
Historically, the continent has been characterized by a
set of conquests, cultural impositions, colonizations and
exploitation. Over the centuries, several countries,
especially European ones, have claimed part of the African
territory, as well as its wealth and its population. For
centuries, the European continent has benefited from
natural and human resources from Africa.
Despite a crystallized image of a poor continent, Africa
has important regional economic powers,
such as Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria. Algeria, Angola and
Libya stand out as major oil producers. In the vast
territory of the African continent, there are still varied
reserves of mineral resources, such as diamond (Botswana,
Congo and Angola) and gold (Ghana, South Africa and Sudan).
The warm climate and savanna vegetation
are characteristic of the African continent, which still has
extensive deserts, such as the Sahara and Kalarari. Most of
the continent's relief is formed by plateaus and depressions
- these accompany the main watercourses of the continent:
Nile, Congo, Chad and Niger.
The Oceania is the smallest continent on
the planet, with 8 526 000 km². Its territorial extension is
practically confused with the territory of Australia, of
7,692,000 km², that is, a little more than 90% of the
continent. Thus, some authors classify Australia as a
continental country. The remaining territory is distributed
between 14 micro countries and 11 territories.
Oceania's population is estimated at 21,292,893
inhabitants. Australia accounts for 60% of that amount.
Papua New Guinea (6.7 million people) and New Zealand (4.2
million) are the other populous nations in Oceania.
The micro countries that make up Oceania,
like Australia, are islands that spread across the Pacific
Ocean. They are classified in Melanesia, Micronesia and
- Melanesia is a group of islands
that form an area of approximately 500,000 km² and is
located close to Australia, such as Fiji, New Guinea and
Lusíadas. The skin color of the inhabitants of the
region served as an inspiration for his name, Melanesia,
given in 1832 by the Frenchman Jules Dumont d'Urville.
The word comes from the Greek melos (meaning
"black") and nesoi (meaning "islands").
“Melanesia” means, therefore, “black islands”. Due to
the diversity of peoples that occupy the region, it is
estimated that 250 different languages are spoken;
- Micronesia is a small independent
state in the South Pacific, located east of the
Philippines and north of Papua New Guinea. Its area is
- Polynesia comprises the set of most
distant islands in Australia, with four independent
states as main territories: Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and
The Antarctic or Antarctica, is the
latest to be explored and little is known about its main
features, fauna and flora. Its territorial dimension is
estimated at 14,000,000 km². Its population is basically
characterized by researchers, who take turns in the
intention of carrying out research and scientific work under
Currently, 29 research bases from different countries
exist in the Antarctic territory. The Brazilian base in
Antarctica is called Ferraz de Vasconcelos and was installed
By an international convention, it was defined that
the Antarctic territory does not belong to any
country, and cannot be claimed or invaded under any
pretext. Known as the Antarctic Treaty, it was signed on
December 1, 1959.
Antarctica is the coldest and driest continent in
the world. Its temperatures can reach -89ºC, and
its average precipitation is extremely low, around 30 mm to
70 mm. In this way, it can be said that the continent is an
immense cold desert.