How many continents are there?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by invert_nexus, May 8, 2004.


How Many Continents Are There?

  1. Six

    5 vote(s)
  2. Seven

    38 vote(s)
  3. What's a Continent?

    6 vote(s)
  1. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

    Correct: the Urals are an old geological suture, where 2 ancient landmasses collided and pushed up a new mountain range. It long since ceased to be an active plate margin, like the Himalayas are now. I'm not sure what geologists call that event, but I believe it was roughly contemporary with the Caledonian Orogeny in Britain and North America - when the supercontinent of Laurasia was just coming together, probably Silurian-Devonian time.
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  3. SaPhZ Registered Senior Member

    Just as Dreamwalker pointed out, Tectonic plates do not define continents. The definition should seem to point to Asia and Europe being separate continents, no matter how long it has been that way.
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  5. invert_nexus Ze do caixao Valued Senior Member

    I wonder how literally to take that definition. If a continent was any basin surrounded by mountain chains, we'd have a lot more continents. We'd have east america (east of appalachians), the great plains of america (between Rockis and Appalachians), and west america (west of Rockies). And that's just in the US. There's got to be more criteria than that.

    It does make the decision to split Asia from Europe sensible though.

    The 7's still have it. And the original argument I heard was between 7 and 6, so we're the winners so far.

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  7. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

    I wonder how high the answer would be if you'd asked:

    "How many INCONTINENTS are there?"
  8. mza Registered Member

    im in the rest of the world (AU) and i was always taught 7. and never Australasia as a continent but only Australia, as australia is the biggest island continent, or something like that.

    p.s. for most mainland australians, we dont consider tasmania as part of our continent

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  9. Closet Philosopher Off to Laurentian University Registered Senior Member


    Alright, after viewing this link, these official sources say:

    7 continents

    "One of the principal land masses of the earth, usually regarded as including Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America."

    \Con"ti*nent\, a. [L. continens, -entis, prop., p. pr. of continere to hold together, to repress: cf. F. continent. See Contain.] 1. Serving to restrain or limit; restraining; opposing. [Obs.] --Shak.

    2. Exercising restraint as to the indulgence of desires or passions; temperate; moderate.

    Have a continent forbearance till the speed of his rage goes slower. --Shak.

    3. Abstaining from sexual intercourse; exercising restraint upon the sexual appetite; esp., abstaining from illicit sexual intercourse; chaste.

    My past life

    Hath been as continent, as chaste, as true,

    As I am now unhappy. --Shak.

    4. Not interrupted; connected; continuous; as, a continent fever. [Obs.]

    The northeast part of Asia is, if not continent with the west side of America, yet certainly it is the least disoined by sea of all that coast. --Berrewood.

    Princeton says: continent

    adj 1: having control over urination and defecation [ant: incontinent] 2: abstaining from sexual intercourse; "celibate priests" [syn: celibate] n 1: one of the large landmasses of the earth; "there are seven continents"; "pioneers had to cross the continent on foot" 2: the European mainland; "Englishmen like to visit the Continent but they wouldn't like to live there" [syn: Continent]

    Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

    Solved again by I Like Salt
  10. sevenblu feeling blu Registered Senior Member

    This is why I love this place...

    Until now, I had no idea that this subject was argued... What the Hell, isn't anything I've ever learned true?
  11. craterchains (Norval What will you know tomorrow? Registered Senior Member

    hmmmm and I had to say 6
    Think I'll have to look up the word continant.
  12. Ttomalss Registered Member

    Not really, most of what we learn are merely theories, upon which can be argued at anytime, although some are more difficult to argue than others because they've become so well-rooted in human knowledge. Other times, some theories are just agreed upon by a bunch of "officials" and schools around the world then just teach it to students who accept what these officials say.

    For example, how planets are in the solar system? It doesn't really matter, I know, but for the sake of knowledge, most people would think it's 9 because that's what's written in the books - and there are in fact nine. But one could easily say eight and be still correct. (Pluto as merely just a huge object in the Kuiper Belt)

    The word continent is ambiguously defined as "a principal landmass of the earth". But I still think Europe, Asia and Africa are one. North and South America as one. Australia. Antarctica. The islands in the sea would not be a part of any continent

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    Thus, New Zealand and Madagascar would be independent or simply miniature continents which we know as "islands".
  13. DerSteppenwolf Registered Senior Member

    Only in the USA North America and South America are considered two diferent continents. The rest of the world(the culturally independent one) and cartographers speak of one continent by the name of America. Since the US appropiated the word America to describe its country(maybe i should say the government, but i don't exactly now when did this happen,for sure it wasn't 'till after the 18th century) it came to teach there are two separate continents(North and South America). In this way the logical contradiction between a continent and a country with the same name is avoided. This is why you will get this version in all US sources.
    Still, i urge you to think; north and south implie a division of a whole, in this case they are used next to the word america, so logically, the whole is America. Is like speaking about eastern United States and Western United States. It's a geographicall division, that refers to whole which in this case would be the United States. It wouldn't make sense having a part of this whole(a state, for instance) also called United States, would it?

    I don't think i can convince you, but i just try to make you understand why others think this.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2004
  14. aw3524 Registered Senior Member

    I've been taught 7 too.
    North America
    South America
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I couldn't help myself. After watching this thread expand to an incredible three pages I had to give in and look.

    You people will debate absolutely anything!

    This has got to be one of the most unimportant questions I've ever seen asked, and certainly one of the least likely to find a consensus on an answer!

    Tectonic plates, surrounded by water, delimited by mountains, a certain minimum size, a certain minimum distance from the next continent, a certain shape. How can anybody ever agree on these parameters?

    Europe, Asia, and Africa are one connected land mass, as are North and South America, at least until the polar caps melt some more. By that rather sensible criterion there are only four continents.

    Wait, you're calling Australia an island? The difference in size between Australia and the next smaller "island," Greenland, is much greater (geometrically) than its difference from the next larger "continent," Antarctica. And no, it doesn't make sense in any paradigm to count nearby islands as part of a continent. Tasmania is not part of the continent of Australia any more than Hainan is part of the continent of Asia, or all those teeny Islands that comprise a third of Denmark are parts of Europe.
    Actually we also speak of "Central America". North America is only Canada, the USA, and Mexico. Everything from Belize to Panama is Central America. It may not qualify as a continent, but it's an indispensible concept when you're drafting legal documents with names like the "North American Free Trade Agreement." ^_^

    Now that you mention it, I don't know when Unitedstatesians began co-opting the name "Americans." It was well established by the end of the 19th century. Perhaps it was a politically correct movement in the aftermath of the Civil War to get people to stop saying "Yankees" and "Confederates" or even less polite words.

    The rest of the world has followed suit, in almost all the languages I can think of, we're called something akin to americano or amerikanyetz. Only Spanish is able to literally call us Unitedstatesians, using the tongue twister estadounidense.

    I suspect the Hungarians also have a way. They are the only people I know who treat "USA" as an acronym rather than an abbreviation. They pronounce it "OO-sha". It's probably not too hard for them to form an adjective from that.

    If you think its confusing for a country to have the same name as a continent. . . . We've also got a state with the same name as a country (Georgia) and a state with the same name as one of the islands that make it up (Hawaii).
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2004
  16. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

    You want to get wierder? The USA has a university with the same name as a country (Columbia). We define a continent with (almost) the same name as a Jovian Moon: Europa... if there are tectonic plates beneath Europa's icy shell, will they be named after European nations?

    Besides, Australia is both a single nation and an entire continent. Does that confuse anyone?
  17. Lemming3k Insanity Gone Mad Registered Senior Member

    7 Continents, and isnt the largest island continent antarctica as australasia(also called oceania) is the continent with oz in it along with new zealand, tazmania, the soloman islands and a couple other islands nearby oz.
    Struth what else do they teach you ozzy dingbats wrong(apart from how to play rugby)?

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    Its quite possible your thinking of oz being the biggest island country not continent, you cant forget the kiwi's their in the same continent, along with their sheep.
  18. DDD Registered Member

    As God created 7 days of week and 7 music notes. As Jesus held 7 stars in his hand in New Testament, and 7 circles of Hell in Divine Comedy of Dante. As there are 7 Deadly Sins and 7 colors of rainbow, there are 7 continents created by God - North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Antarctis.
  19. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    Well, I guess that settles it then!
  20. DDD Registered Member

    7 seals of King Solomon.
  21. Karmashock The Doomslayer Registered Senior Member

  22. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

    The interval notes of the octave are a creation of man - the basis of Western music. There are, of course, intermediate half-interval notes between them; the full octave being:

    C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B.

    That's 12 piano keys, not 8.

    Other musical traditions, such as those of India, subdivide the same range of frequencies into different numbers of notes...
  23. DDD Registered Member

    It can be true as u say, but speaking about the very basic, there are 7 notes - do re mi fa so la ti do

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