Things To Know About Geography

Land Masses: Continents, Islands, and Countries

CONTINENTS       The 7, ranked in order, with percent of land mass, are:
Asia (32%), Africa (20%), North America (16%), South America (12%), Antartica (10%), Europe (8%), Australia.

Asia is the largest of the 7, with 32% of the planet's land mass, and 60% of the planet's people. It may surprise you to know that Israel, and all of the Middle East, are on the continent of Asia. It is the least defined of the 7 continents, having an irregular border where it collides with the continent of Europe, generally along the Ural Mountain chain.

Africa is second, with 25% of the planet's land mass, and 25% of Africa is desert - the Sahara. Eight hundred languages are spoken on this continent. Though the tallest Mountain in Africa - Mt. Killimanjaro (in Tanzania) - is near the equator, it is always snow-capped.

Antartica is fifth in size among continents, and is perpetually covered by ice more than a mile thick. Minus 128 degrees F has been recorded there. No one has ever made a legitimate "claim" to it, possibly because no one has ever been able to sink a flag into real earth.

Australia is the smallest continent and is the only one occupied by a single country. The surrounding land masses like New Zealand and New Guinea are not included in it, although they are included in the area name "Oceania".

The continent of South America is all EAST of Savannah, Georgia.
Don't believe it? Look at a globe.

What is the "Continental Divide"? Most people think it is an imaginary line which runs down the center of a continent. It is, rather, that line in a continent, along which rivers flow in opposite directions: to the west of it, rivers run west, and to the east of it, rivers run east. It seldom falls in the center of a continent. In America, the Continental Divide is high in the Rocky Mountains, running from Alberta to New Mexico.

ISLANDS       Largest in the world, ranked in order, are:
Greenland, New Guinea, Borneo, Baffin, Madagascar, Sumatra, Honshu, Great Britain, Victoria, Ellesmere, Java, Newfoundland, Cuba, Iceland.
(Island groups like the Phillipines are not included in this list.)

Greenland is an island and not a continent because it has never had enough occupants to lobby for "continent" status. There is more ice in Greenland than Iceland, and more green in Iceland than in Greenland.

COUNTRIES       Ranked in order of size, are:
Russia, Canada, China, United States, Brazil, Australia, India.

Prior to the breakup in 1991 of the Soviet Union - which was commonly called "Russia" - it was the largest country. Since the breakup, Russia alone still is the largest.

Most people think that China is either number one or number two, since the country holds more people than any other. Nope, it is third behind Canada, which is very large and has very few (relatively) people, most of whom live along the US border.

Surprised at Brazil in position 5? It is larger than the 48 states, but with Alaska, the US grabs 4th place.

There are only three "Baltic Countries" (not to be confused with the "Balkan Countries") - Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Almost no one will be able to name the "Baltic Countries" and even fewer will know the names of the capitals of these three countries, which secured independence when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. The capitals are, in order: Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn.

The Phillipines have claim to the "most islands in a country", having more than 7,000 of them.

The smallest independent country in the world? The Vatican. Second is Monaco, third is San Marino (located in the mountains of central Italy).