An economic continuum is a method of categorizing parts of the economy, starting with those parts closest to the natural environment and flowing to those parts furthest away from it, according to About.com Geography. More developed countries have longer continua.
The economic continuum starts with the primary sector, with a focus on raw materials, mining and food production. It flows to the secondary sector, which includes the production of manufactured goods and finished products. The tertiary sector encompasses service industries and includes sales, health care, hospitality, entertainment, banking, insurance, transportation and law. The quaternary sector is found primarily in developed countries. It includes intellectual activities, such as education, research, culture and information technology. The quinary sector includes decision-making individuals and organizations at the top of the quaternary sector.