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A continent is a large area of the land on Earth that is joined together. In general it is agreed there are seven continents: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Australasia or Oceania, and South America.
Some sources say that Australia is one of the seven continents. Others say that Australia is part of Oceania. Oceania is a region which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The third alternative is the term Australasia, which includes at least all countries on the Australian continental plate. This includes the islands of New Guinea, Tasmania, New Zealand and a number of smaller islands. It is on the south-eastern side of the Wallace Line, with distinct differences in its biology from the Asian side of the line.
- "It includes all the islands of the Malay Archipelago... as well as the various groups of islands in the Pacific. The term has been used in very different senses".
North and South America
North America and South America are often described as "the Americas". This has the advantage of including Central America and the Caribbean islands. Otherwise, Central America is counted as part of North America.
Eurasia is not really an alternative, it is a recognition that the landmass of Europe and Asia are continuous, and some of its largest countries are in both continents. Russia extends from eastern Europe to the far east of Asia without a break. The Ural Mountains, which run roughly north/south, are the traditional dividing-line between Europe and Asia. For many purposes is is convenient to consider the great landmass as a single continent, Eurasia.
When British people talk about "the Continent" (or "Continental" things) they mean the European mainland. This meaning is not used as much as it used to be, but is still seen in phrases like "Continental breakfast" (rolls with cheese, jam etc. as distinct from an "English breakfast" which is a cooked breakfast).
Continents not only move but also sometimes move against each other. The Indian subcontinent has been colliding with the Eurasian continent for a while now. As these continents push against each other, they buckle and bend. Because of this, the Himalaya Mountains, where Mount Everest is, are still being made today.
- Either are accepted terms
- Continent (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 12 December 2009.
- "Continents: What is a Continent?". National Geographic. http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/continents/. Retrieved 2009-08-22. "Most people recognize seven continents—Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia, from largest to smallest—although sometimes Europe and Asia are considered a single continent, Eurasia."
- World fact book - Australia
- Worldatlas.com - Australia
- Wallace, Alfred Russel 1893. Australasia, vol 1. London: Stanford. Chapter 1: Definition.
- "Encarta World English Dictionary". Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.. 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwRKDyZ6. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- Earth Science. United States of America: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 2001. pp. 211. .