For some scientists, the planet Earth is composed of four large continental blocks: the largest is the Triple continent, formed by Africa, Europe and Asia (as they are considered to form a single landmass), America, Oceania and This is the result of the fragmentation of Pangea, promoted by the movement of tectonic plates millions of years ago.
This physical division of the emerged land portions takes into account only the structure of the land masses, therefore, it does not consider the different cultures, languages and customs found in each part of the continents.
Now, when we consider the political, economic, historical and cultural criteria, we are using the political division, that is, the division of emerged lands, created by human beings.
By political criteria, the Earth is divided into six continents: America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctica.
In short: the continental blocks result from the physical division of the emerged lands, imposed or determined by nature. The continents are the result of the political division created by human beings.
For the organization of our studies and, also, because the use of continents is more common, we will work with the political division.
Let’s look at some data from the six continents.
Observe the table:
The number of continents
|Continents||Area (km)||Number of countries||Population|
Analyzing the distribution of land emerged by continent, Asia has 29.13% occupying the first place, while America has 28.70%, Africa 20.26%, Antarctica 8.90%, Europe 7.11%, and Oceania 5.90%.
America is the most extensive continent in the north-south direction, with approximately 17,000 kilometers, from the northern tip of Canada and Greenland to the southern tip of Chile and Argentina. It is also the second largest continent on the planet in territorial area.
The countries of the American continent are marked by great economic and social differences. The United States and Canada have great industrialization and highly mechanized and productive agriculture. Both offer excellent quality of life for a large portion of the population.
The rest of the countries of America are not similar in terms of the economy and the quality of life of the population.
Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile have a large industrial park and diversified agricultural production. But there are countries, such as Haiti, Ecuador, Bolivia and Guatemala, where agriculture and mining are still the main economic activities and poverty is more marked.
It is noteworthy that the countries of America, with the exception of Canada and the United States, present serious social and economic problems.
The African continent has the largest number of countries. Some of them, such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Sierra Leone, have the highest levels of poverty in the world, with problems of hunger and disease affecting most of the population.
Millions of Africans are estimated to live on less than $ 1 a day. Despite this, there are prosperous regions in Africa, which is rich in natural resources such as iron ore, diamond, gold, oil and natural gas. Industrialization is restricted to a few countries, such as South Africa and Egypt.
Africa has a wide variety of natural landscapes, such as: the Congo Forest, which resembles the Amazon Forest; the Savannas, where there is the most exuberant fauna in the world; and the Sahara, the largest desert on the planet.
Large mammals inhabit the Savannas, including the lion, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the zebra and the hippopotamus. Many of these animals come close to extinction, due to uncontrolled hunting practiced for many years. Today hunting is no longer allowed, it is only possible to film and photograph the animals.
Antarctica is located in the coldest region of the world: the southern tip of the planet. On this continent is a huge layer of ice, with an average thickness of two kilometers, which concentrates the equivalent of 70% of all fresh water in the world.
Low temperatures, below 0ºC in summer and 80ºC in winter, make human life conditions practically impossible on this continent.
Due to the rigors of the climate, Antarctica is not inhabited by humans. There are only research stations from various countries, occupied by scientists for a short time, just enough to carry out their studies. Under the Antarctic treaties, an agreement signed between several countries, no natural resources can be explored on the frozen continent until 2050. Only fishing is allowed.
The Asian continent has the largest territorial area in the world and concentrates 60% of the entire human population on earth. The two most populous countries, China and India, are found in Asia.
Asia’s economy is very diverse. Some countries have great industrial development, such as Japan and South Korea, but most countries are poor, suffering from serious social problems, such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
It is on the Asian continent that the Middle East is located, a region where about 50% of the world’s oil reserves are concentrated. This region has great ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. Adding to this the problem of lack of water, we have the ingredients that make the Middle East a focus of tensions and conflicts.
South and Southeast Asia are very geologically unstable areas, subject to the influence of volcanoes and earthquakes that cause great tragedies. Recent examples of this were the December 2004 tsunami and the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, which caused many deaths and destruction.
Europe is a small continent, divided into several countries, some of which are very small, such as the Vatican, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino.
This continent has great importance in world history, since it was the Europeans who colonized most countries in America, Africa and part of Asia from the great sea voyages that began in the 15th century.
The great oceanic voyages and the conquest of lands in America, Asia and Africa resulted in the expansion of the values, languages and way of life of Europeans through the lands they occupied. This explains why, for example, Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in the world and Catholicism is the religion that has the largest number of adherents in our country.
Most countries in Europe, especially the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, have great economic development and good quality of life for most of the population, according to Countryaah. However, on the continent, there are also problems, such as conflicts between people of different cultures, religions and ethnicities, in addition to people living in poverty and high rates of unemployment.
Europe has an economic bloc called the European Union in which 25 of its countries participate. In this block, barriers to trade and movement of people between countries have been abolished. Some of these countries have already adopted a single currency, the euro. Thus, people can move freely, for example, between Portugal and Spain, using the same currency.
Oceania is made up of a continental mass (Australia), larger islands (New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) and numerous small islands.
Two countries on that continent have a high standard of living: Australia and New Zealand. The rest of the countries are considered poor and have an economy based on agriculture, fishing and tourism.
The 50 countries with the most arable land in the world
|Rank||Country||Agricultural acreage (%)|
|4||Sao Tome and Principe (Africa)||57.40|
|7||Marshall Islands (Australia-Oceania)||55.55|
|20||El Salvador (North America)||43.19|
|21||Wallis and Futuna (Australia-Oceania)||43.16|
|22||Palestinian Territories (Asia)||42.93|
|23||Czech Republic (Europe)||42.66|
|26||Haiti (North America)||39.62|
|27||Barbados (North America)||39.54|
|30||St. Vincent and the Grenadines (North America)||35.90|
|33||Grenada (North America)||35.29|
|37||Cuba (North America)||33.88|
|39||Dominican Republic (North America)||32.64|
|46||St. Lucia (North America)||29.51|
|47||Syria, Arab Republic (Asia)||29.23|
|48||Sri Lanka (Asia)||29.14|
|Area for agricultural production.|