What Are the Names of the Seven Continents?

names-seven-continents Credit: ricardo/CC-BY 2.0

The names of the continents are Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica and Australia. Asia has both the largest area and the largest population, with about 3.8 billion people as of 2015.

Earth consists of two main hemispheres along an imaginary line of longitude at 180 degrees east and west. To the right of this line are the continents of the Eastern Hemisphere. The Eastern Hemisphere includes Europe, Asia, Australia, most of Africa and about half of Antarctica. The Eastern Hemisphere includes North and South America and the other half of Antarctica.

Africa is the world's second largest continent and also the hottest. The climate is wildly variable, with 0 inches of rainfall per year in the Sahara Desert to over 374 inches a year in the rainforests near Mount Cameroon.

The third largest continent is North America, which contains the United States, Canada and Mexico. The fourth largest continent is South America, and the fifth largest continent is Antarctica.

Europe is the sixth largest continent. It's made up of 47 countries, with the largest being Ukraine, and the smallest being Vatican City. In the interests of precision, some people do not believe that Europe is its own continent at all but is part of the Eurasian landmass. Still, Europe is considered a separate continent because its cultures are very different from those found in much of Asia.

Australia is the smallest continent. Unlike the other continents, it contains only one country, which is Australia.

Russia is such a large country that the part west of the Ural Mountains is in Europe, while the rest is in Asia.

The Earth has not always had the same number of continents it does today. Almost 300 million years ago, all of Earth's continents collided to form a single giant continent called Pangaea. Eventually, plate tectonics caused the break-up of Pangaea and brought the continents to their current locations.