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If we want to travel from Europe to America, we get on a ship or plane and reach our destination. That was not always so. The first dinosaurs were still able to walk from Europe to North America. Because today's continents didn't exist millions of years ago.

What is a continent?

2003 Most continentsA continent is also called the continent. It is a very large, coherent area of ​​land. In terms of size, there are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Australia together with Oceania, seven continents.

How many continents are there - 5 or 7?

Most continents are clearly separated from each other by oceans. Europe and Asia are an exception because there is no sea in between, but a mountain range, the Ural Mountains. Europe and Asia are therefore often called "Eurasia".

If you now see Europe and Asia as Eurasia and America as a double continent, you will only come across five continents together with Africa, Antarctica and Australia. Otherwise you count up to seven continents.

Some also speak of Oceania. But this is not a real continent, but an archipelago. Even so, Oceania is sometimes considered to be Australia. Because there are also political and economic divisions on our planet.

But we want to put on geography glasses here.

Have our continents always existed?

No, the continents didn't look like they used to. Millions of years ago they were a large land mass. This primary continent was called Pangea. Then they separated again, they "drifted apart".

In the media workshop you can take a look at how the continents have shifted.

Today you can see from the map that Africa and South America used to lie side by side. The east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa fit together. People have noticed this before. In 1915, researcher Alfred Wegener described that the continents have moved in his theory of continental displacement.

Perhaps you would like to create a puzzle from the continents? So you can surely remember the continents and their location on our earth soon. Feel free to drop by our today's craft/game ideas.

For many million years, the supercontinent, Pangea, initially formed two huge continents: Laurasia and Gondwana. But these continents did not exist either. North America, Europe and Asia emerged from northern Laurasia. Gondwana disintegrated in Africa, South America, Antarctica, India and Australia. Now the dinosaurs on the different continents were separated.

Why are the continents shifting?

The continents are shifting because the so-called earth's crust is not a whole. It consists of several plates. These float on a massive mass of viscous magma, the earth's mantle. Sometimes the plates drift apart, sometimes towards each other. This is how they move entire continents.

Even today, the plates of the earth's surface are still moving very slowly. If they crash against each other, there are earthquakes, volcanoes erupt, for example, or entire mountains slowly pile up.

If the continent movement continues as before, Australia will face Asia in about 60 million years. And researchers expect the formation of a new supercontinent in about 300 million years.

Characteristics of our different continents

Antarctica

One of the 7 continents is Antarctica. It is located at the South Pole and is the coldest of all parts of the world. Temperatures there average –50 degrees. The entire Antarctic is covered by thick layers of ice. Only a very small part of the surface is ice-free. That is why hardly any people live in this area. There are penguins and seals for that. The animals of the Antarctic mainly feed on the sea because there are hardly any plants. Many whales swim in the icy waters.

Africa

Africa is the warmest of the 7 continents and lies on the equator. This "imaginary" strip helps people to divide the earth into a northern and southern hemisphere. The equator spans the globe where it has the largest circumference. The sun's rays are particularly strong in this area. Therefore, the climate is hotter in countries near the equator. Many fascinating animal species have developed here. For example elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, zebras, baboons or even the kings among animals - the lions. In Africa there are also huge desert areas, such as the Sahara, the largest desert in the world. Our ancestors first appeared in Africa about 2 million years ago. Scientists found the oldest human skeleton in the world here. During its development, man invented knives and spears and learned to make fire. He was able to protect himself against the cold and was no longer dependent on the warm climate in Africa. So people spread all over the world.

Europe

In Europe, many people live in a relatively small area. More than 100 different languages ​​are spoken on this continent. From Norway to Greece, from Portugal to Russia - there are different peoples, cultures and landscapes to experience during a trip to Europe. Together with Asia, this part of the world forms a huge land mass.

Asia

Asia is the continent of "exaggeration". As the largest of all continents, it covers almost a third of the total land area. Most people live here. Over a billion people live in India alone - in China there are as many as 1.3 billion, according to Countryaah.com. Almost every fourth person is Chinese and Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. Asia is also home to the huge Himalayan Mountains with the highest mountain on earth - Mount Everest. At its summit (8848 meters) is the highest point on earth.

Australia/Oceania

The doctrine differs when it comes to whether the continent is called Australia, Oceania or Australia and Oceania. Australia is the smallest and flattest part of the world. Australia is like a huge island in the sea. When the first Europeans came in the 19th century, only aborigines lived here - the so-called Aborigines. They paid attention - and take care not to destroy nature and only take what they really need from the earth to survive. About 20 million people live on this part of the world today. Australia is famous for its exceptional wildlife. The best known are the kangaroos. Oceania includes the islands in the Pacific region north and east of Australia.

America (North/South)

America consists of 2 continents: North and South America. This continent has an incredible diversity of nature. In North America, all the world's climate zones are united - from the polar regions to the desert regions. There is still untouched nature here, but also big cities. For example, New York with about 20 million inhabitants. Until the 15th century, only Indians lived in North America. In South America there are still a relatively large number of Indian descendants. Some of these so-called Indians live in the largest jungle on earth: the rainforest, which is traversed by the giant Amazon.

In order to better imagine the size relationships of all continents, the following very clear hypothesis helps (cf. Steffe 2008). If the world were a global village with 100 inhabitants, the world's population would be composed of:

  • 61 Asians
  • 13 Africans
  • 12 Europeans
  • 9 South Americans and Caribbean
  • 5 Americans including Canadians

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