A continent is defined as a very large continuous landmass. There are seven commonly accepted continents in the world. Listing by area these are; Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. This makes Asia the largest continent by area covered. It is also the largest continent in terms of the population. Here is a look at how the different continents compare by area and by population –
|Continent||Area (in Sq. Miles)||Population (in million)||Percentage of World Population|
|Antarctica||5100000||No Permanent Residents||0|
Antarctica, to the extreme south, is the only continent with no permanent residents. Some 4,000 researchers from various countries live here during the summer months.
The criteria that define a continent are not rigid and the division of continents is largely based on convention. Thus, though one of the criteria for a landmass to be termed a continent is having its own tectonic plate, Europe and Asia are frequently considered to be separate continents though they share the Eurasian tectonic plate. A small number of geographers and scientists, however, consider Eurasia to be a single continent. If this is the view one takes then Eurasia, not Asia, becomes the largest continent – both in terms of area and population.
The seven continents of the world vary greatly in terms of their size, shape, physical features, and the societies and cultures that inhabit them. Another one of the criteria that is used to classify a continent is the fact that flora and fauna found in the continent be distinct from the bio life in other parts of the world. This too is not a clear definition, though.
In recent times, there has been a significant demand for Zealandia to be identified as a separate continent. Zealandia is a large tectonic plate that stretches from New Caledonia to New Zealand. Until we reach some consensus on that issue, we shall remain with seven continents, of which Asia is the largest.