Different views on continents

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For criticism see Criticism of Different views on continents
See also Continent.

There are different views on how many continents there are:

  • whether Antarctica counts
  • whether America is one continent or two
  • whether Eurasia is one continent or two

Geographers themselves don't take the concept very seriously.[1] Most reference books say there are seven continents:

  • Asia
  • Africa
  • North America
  • South America
  • Antarctica
  • Europe
  • Australia

However, among the general public, continents are much more often numbered as five:[2]

  • Asia
  • America
  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Australasia, Australia or Oceania

This is used officially by, for example, the United Nations ([5]) and the International Olympic Committee ([6]; as symbolized by the five rings of its logo).

An older system, little used now, recognized only two continents, the Old Continent and the New. Australia and Antarctica, unknown at the time, might be added.

Grouping of countries into continents

Central America and the Caribbean island nations are included in North America. Most of the scattered island nations of the Pacific are included in the continent variously called Australasia, Australia or Oceania.

Countries disputed between continents

The UN includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Georgia, Israel and Turkey in Asia, while the IOC[3] includes them in Europe.

Countries divided between continents

The UN and IOC count each country as belonging to just one continent.

The World Gazetteer recognizes six countries as divided between continents: Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Spain, Turkey and the USA.[4] In addition, the BBC and the [[[CIA]] recognize France as partly outside Europe.[5]

Original research?

For unsourced arguments from Wikipedia for classifying a number of other countires as disputed or divided, see wp:List of countries spanning more than one continent.


  1. Wiley-Blackwell Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th ed, 2009, page 113
  2. Google search on "five continents of the world" compared with "seven ..." and "six ..."
  3. Go to [1], click on All continents, scroll down to Europe and click on that, then click Go. The world map will then display only the flags of those countries the IOC counts in Europe.
  4. [2]
  5. [3], [4]