How many continents are out there?
The different continents around the world are usually one of the first things that we learn about geography in school. However, the information about them changes depending on where you are around the globe. In addition to that, people can’t stop arguing about what these continents should be called in the first place.
One of the fascinating facts about the continents is that people seem to disagree on how many there are out there. Some believe that there are seven continents while others insist that there are only four. Interestingly, there seem to be more continents being made out there with each passing day. Here are five interesting facts about the continents.
Back in the day, everyone believed that there is a continent on the southern hemisphere. Although no one had seen it yet, it already had a name: terra australis incognita (“unknown southern land”).
Finally, both the Dutch and the British found the hidden continent but didn’t realize that they have found a completely different island. Luckily, Matthew Flinders saw their error and decided to call it Australia. The real Australia was found three decades later and was called Antartica because its name was already taken.
New Zealand is usually considered part of Australia. However, it looks like the islands actually belong to a completely different continent that is submerged underwater.
According to researchers, New Zealand is part of an underwater continent called Zealandia which is about two-thirds the size of Australia. It is believed to have sunk after breaking off from the supercontinent Gondwana 80 million years ago.
That’s a good question that nobody can truly answer. People argue that it is impossible for Europe and Asia to be two different continents when there is no sea between them and most countries lie on the same tectonic plates.
It’s certainly a problem for countries that are closest to the de facto border. This is why most people simply consider Europe and Asia as one continent called Eurasia.
Africa is a continent that could soon become two separate ones. The continent sits on two tectonic plates that are slowly tearing it apart.
If Africa does end up splitting into two, the eastern region will become a completely new continent. However, it may take millions of years before this will happen.
During the Late Cretaceous Period, North America was torn apart by rising sea levels. The two resulting continents were called Laramidia and Appalachia.
Although the two continents existed for millions of years, the North American tectonic plate would later move everything back into place as the Earth cooled down.
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