|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?
A 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
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
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
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
Characteristics of our different continents
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
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.
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 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.
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 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