Teaching Kids About Seven Continents

What is a Continent?

A continent is a large uninterrupted landmass, separated from other continents by water or other geographical features. Approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, and the remaining 29% is land. This land makes up the seven continents we know and study today. The seven continents are:

  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • North America
  • South America
  • Australasia/Oceania
  • Antarctica

The names of the continents, from smallest to largest in surface area, are as follows: Australia, Europe, Antarctica, South America, North America, Africa, and Asia. Amazingly, these continents make up a total of 57 million square miles of land.

How was the Continents Formed?

The world’s seven continents have been formed over millions of years through the movement of tectonic plates. The outer part of the Earth is made up of tectonic plates, and these large, irregular slabs of rock are always moving. This constant movement is known as plate tectonics, which led to the land movement and the continents’ formation.

Seven continents make up Earth’s land surface area. So the next question is how do we determine which countries make up which continent?

There are two points to consider when placing countries within a particular continent. These two points are the proximity to the region and tectonic plates.

Geographers usually include all the islands in the same region as part of a continent. Hence, this is why Madagascar is part of Africa, and the United Kingdom is part of Europe.

Each continent also has a geological distinction where tectonic plates play a part. Countries that share a tectonic plate will be on the same continent; this is why Antarctica, an island on its tectonic plate, is described as a separate continent. While Greenland, also one of the world’s largest islands, is part of the North American continent. This island shares the same tectonic plate as North America!

What was Pangaea?

The Earth is constantly changing. For example, if you look at a map of the continents millions of years ago, it would look very different from today’s maps.

About 240 million years ago, much of the land on Earth formed a single, colossal continent. This supercontinent is called Pangaea (also spelled Pangea), which means ‘all the Earth’ in Greek.

Forces known as plate tectonics began to break the continent apart into separate smaller continents. The continents then moved in different directions. This movement is called continental drift.

The idea of plate tectonics is that the Earth’s upper crust is made up of different sections floating on a sea of melted rock. Like cookies floating on jelly. These sections or plates making up the continental crust move very slowly; as they move, they can separate or collide.

Scientists believe in another 250 million years; the continents will join together again. We’ll then have to draw a new continent map.

What is the biggest continent in the world

The world’s biggest continent is Asia, which occupies a whopping four-fifths of the Eurasian landmass.

Diversity In Asia

In addition to being the biggest continent in the world, Asia is also the most diverse. This diversity can be seen geographically, as Asia is home to the highest and lowest points of the Earth and has the longest coastline of any continent. Asia is also highly diverse regarding its climate, as it experiences climatic extremes on both ends of the scale; this, in turn, helps to produce various plant and animal life across the continent. The diversity of Asia is also true of its inhabitants, as the people of Asia have the widest variety of human adaptation of any continent in the world.

How Did Asia Get its Name?

The name Asia can be traced back to ancient history, as the Greeks referred to the lands located east of them. In terms of its derivation, it is believed that the name ‘Asia’ comes from the Assyrian word, ‘asu,’ which means east; this is just one theory, however. Another theory suggests that the name ‘Asia’ is derived from a local name given to the plains of Ephesus. The ancient Greeks and Romans then broadened the scope of this term to refer to Anatolia, the most western parts of mainland Asia, and every aspect of the world east of the Mediterranean Sea. Finally, when explorers from the west traveled to South and East Asia in early modern times, they broadened the name further to encompass all of the vast landmasses we now know as Asia.

The Boundaries of Asia

Asia has borders with many different oceans. For instance:

  • To the north, Asia is bordered by the Arctic Ocean
  • To the east, it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean
  • To the south, it is bordered by the Indian Ocean
  • To the southwest, it is bordered by the Red Sea and some inland seas of the Atlantic Ocean

To the west, Asia is bordered, not by an ocean, but by Europe. The border between Asia and Europe is a line that runs south from the Arctic Ocean along the Ural Mountains. The border then turns southwest and travels along the Emba River to the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. West of the Caspian Sea, the border travels along the Kuma-Manych Depression to the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait of the Black Sea; this dictates the isthmus between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, which contains the Caucus mountain range, is classified as part of Asia. An isthmus is ​​a tight strip of land that unites two larger land masses and separates two bodies of water.

How Big is Asia?

So, we know that Asia is the biggest continent in the world, but how big is it? The total surface area of Asia, excluding the island of New Guinea, amass a total of 17,226,200 square miles; this makes up around one-third of the Earth’s total surface area. In addition to its mainland, Asia encompasses various islands, including Taiwan, Japan, Asian Russia, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, and more. The total surface area of these islands is 1,240,000 square miles, which makes up about 7 % of Asia’s total surface area.

The Elevation of Asia

The largest continent, Asia, also has the highest average elevation of all of the continents. Asia is home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 29,035 feet (ca. 9 km). In contrast, the continent is also home to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on the Earth’s land surface, at an elevation of around 1,410 feet (0.43 km) below sea level. Asia also encompasses the deepest continental trough in the world, which Lake Baikal occupies. This trough is 5,315 feet (1.62 km) deep, and its bottom is an impressive 3,822 feet (1.16 km) below sea level.

These extremes in elevation, the vast amount of mountain belts and plateaus in Asia, have come about due to the collision of tectonic plates. As a result, Asia encompasses several different landmasses and areas that have come together over time to form the continent we see today.

The Different Regions of Asia

Asia is typically divided into eight different regions, each of which is huge in its own right and encompasses a variety of countries. These regions of Asia are:

  • North Asia, which encompasses the majority of Siberia and the northeastern edges of Asia.
  • East Asia encompasses the continental section of the Russian Far East region of Siberia, the East Asian islands, Korea, and eastern and northeastern China.
  • Central Asia includes the Plateau of Tibet, the Junggar and Tarim basins, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, the Gobi, and the Sino-Tibetan ranges.
  • Middle Asia includes the Turan Plain, the Pamirs, the Gissar and Alay ranges, and the Tien Shan.
  • South Asia includes the Philippine and Malay archipelagoes, peninsular Southeast Asia and India, the Indo-Gangetic Plain, and the Himalayas.
  • West Asia encompasses the West Asian highlands (Anatolia, Armenia, and Iran), the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula.

There are some discrepancies to note when discussing the regions of Asia. For instance, the Philippines, the Malay Archipelago, and peninsular Southeast Asia are classified as Southeast Asia.

The Climate in Asia

As it is the largest continent in the world, Asia has a vast range of climates. The majority of Asia experiences a continental climate, which is relatively dry, with sweltering summers and frigid winters; this is because the air reaching Asia from the Atlantic Ocean passes through Europe and Africa first. During this time, the ocean absorbs moisture from the air, producing the continental air that is common in Asia. Arctic air travels across the continent from the north, while tropical and equatorial air masses dominate in the south. However, these tropical air masses are blocked from reaching Central Asia by the ridges of the mountainous belt, which extends from the highlands of West Asia through the Himalayas to the mountains of southern China and

Southeast Asia.

There are several different climate regions found in Asia. They are as follows:

  • Polar climate
  • Subarctic climate
  • Temperate climate
  • Arid climate
  • Highland climate
  • Grassland climate
  • Tropical climate

In Asia’s northern and northeastern fringes, you will find polar, subarctic, and temperate climates. However, the arid and highland climates dominate Asia’s interior and southwestern regions. Finally, along the southern edge of Asia, you will find a combination of grassland and tropical rainforest climates.


Due to its massive size, it makes sense that Asia is home to a wide range of different languages. It is estimated that, amongst the 4.46 billion people living in Asia, 2,300 languages are being spoken. Furthermore, the majority of the individual countries in Asia each contain more than one native language. For example, there are over 800 languages spoken in India, more than 600 languages spoken in Indonesia, and an estimated ​​302 living languages in China.


In keeping with its diverse culture, Asia is home to many of the major religions in the world. The five primary beliefs that are practiced around the globe are all found in Asia. These religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Chinese folk religion (Confucianism and Taoism), and Buddhism.

Each region of Asia is home to a diverse selection of religions. What’s more, different religions are more prominent in some areas of Asia than in others. For example, let’s look at how religion is practiced in South Asia.

  • South Asia

South Asia is home to many religions, the oldest of which is Hinduism. Hinduism is an essential religion in South Asia, particularly regarding its influence on Indian culture and society.

In the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.E., Jainism and Buddhism emerged as a reaction to the dominance of Hinduism across South Asia; Jainism was never popular enough to spread or have a massive significance in the world. However, its moral teachings on non-violence and asceticism (an extreme form of self-discipline involving avoiding all indulgence) have greatly influenced Indian culture. On the other hand, Buddhism became extremely popular to the point where it was regarded as the universal alternative to hierarchical religion in northeastern India.

Towards the end of the 15th century C.E., Sikhism was established in the Punjab state of India. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that has dramatically impacted Punjab society and is still the primary religion in the state today.

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