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The 7 Continents
For Kids and Teachers

For Kids

There are 7 continents on planet Earth. Only seven. They are Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. Before we go any further, watch this video: How to remember the 7 continents - a great and crazy video for kids.

What is the definition of a continent? A continent is simply a huge landmass to which geographers have given a name and a border. The continent of Europe for example shares a border with the continent of Asia.  Geographers wanted to organize the Earth into a few big pieces of land so it would be easier to study. While they were at it, they also identified huge big pieces of water called oceans and seas.

They did a great job. Still, some places were left out. They were not big enough to be called a continent. To fix that, geographers also agreed to divide the world into regions. For example, both Australia and New Zealand are island countries. Australia is a continent. New Zealand is not. However, Australia and New Zealand are part of the same world region called Oceania, which is a region in the South Pacific Ocean. Regions are defined by certain similar characteristics. 

Once geographers had divided all of planet Earth into continents, oceans, and regions, they could more easily study and compare them.

The question I had when I was a kid was: If both Australia and New Zealand are big island countries, why is Australia a continent and New Zealand is not? Thanks to the internet, out of curiosity, I looked it up. Here is what I found:  "Geologically, New Zealand is part of the continent Zealandia. This was discovered recently so it may not be mentioned in older geography books." Helene Hogsbro Thygesen, PhD, University of Amsterdam (2006)  I give you Zealandia, a continent that mostly sunk about a million years ago. Since it is mostly underwater, geographers do not count it as a continent. If they did, Zealandia would be the 8th continent. But, since they don't count it, there are only 7 continents on planet Earth (at this time.)  

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