We may very soon be able to visit a new continent on the planet earth! Yes, if the reports are to be believed, scientists have discovered a new, eighth continent on earth and they are calling it Zealandia. Located to the east of Australia, a team of 11 geologists found 5 million square kilometre land mass which includes part of New Zealand and New Caledonia. At 4.9 million square kilometres, Zealandia is touted to be Earth’s smallest continent with Asia as the largest continent. There are seven continents in the world and the latest discovery of the eighth continent, Zealandia is indeed an earth-shattering moment for all the inhabitants worldwide.
By convention, “continents are understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water.” According to geographical nomenclature, there are seven continents in the world – Asia, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Antarctica, with Zealandia all set to include as the eighth continent. A team of 11 geologists, published the paper, titled ‘Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent,’ in which they claimed Zealandia has all four attributes necessary to be considered a continent. The four characteristics are – Elevation, Geology, Crustal Structure and Limits and Area.
List of all eight continents on the earth
Earth’s surface is divided into two types of crust, continental and oceanic, and into 14 major tectonic plates. A continent is defined as “a large, continuous area of land on Earth”. Before the discovery of new continent, the eighth in number, Zealandia, the continents were – Asia, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Antarctica. Though in changing times, the zoologists and geographers insisted on referring to the number of continents as six, with Europe and Asia as one continent named Eurasia. Nevertheless, there has been no solid approval confirming the geographical change. We take a look at the list of eight continents in the world in brief.
Asia is earth’s largest and most populous continent with 44,579,000 square kilometres in area (about 30% of Earth’s total land area) and a population of 4,164,252,000. Mount Everest with its peak at 8,848 m is Asia as well as earth’s highest mountain. There are 48 United Nations members six other states part of Asia. The lowest point in the Asian continent is the Dead Sea, at −427m. By area, Russia is the largest country in Asia. Its capital is Moscow.
Africa is the second largest continent in the world in terms of land area of about 30.3 million square kilometres (20.4 % of Earth’s total land area). It is also earth’s second most populous continent with 1.2 billion people inhabiting as of 2016. Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest point at 5,895m, and Lake Assal in Djibouti at −155m is the lowest point in Africa. 54 countries make up Africa with Algeria as the largest nation in the land area.
3. North America
North America is the third largest continent in the world. Canada is the biggest country in North America with total land area of 9,984,670 square kilometers. North America includes 23 countries and dozens of possessions and territories. It is home to world’s largest island – Greenland. Denali (6,198m) and Death Valley (−86m), both in the United States are North America’s highest and lowest point respectively.
4. South America
South America is earth’s fourth largest continent in terms of total land area. Brazil with total land area of 8,514,877 sq km is South America’s largest country. 410,013,492 people inhabit South America and are the fifth most populous continent in the world. Aconcagua (6,960m) and Laguna del Carbón (-105m), both situated in the country Argentina are South America’s highest and lowest points.
The least populated continent with approximately temporary 5000 residents, Antarctica is world’s least inhabited places. Made up of permanent glaciers, Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, nearly double the size of Australia. Vinson Massif (4,892m) and Deep Lake, Vestfold Hills (-50m) are continent’s highest and lowest point respectively.
Europe is the second smallest continent in the world, but that might change with the inclusion of Zealandia in the revised list of continents. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe after the Soviet Union broke up into many fragments. Ukraine is followed by France, Spain and Sweden. Europe takes 6.8 percent of the world’s total land area and is home to 50 countries. Mount Elbrus (5,642m) and Caspian Sea (−28m), both in Russia are Europe’s highest and lowest point respectively.
Australia is single country continent. The country officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia comprises of the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and several smaller islands. It lies in the Indo- Australian Plate and is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. One of the least populated country/continents, Australia has the world’s 13th-largest economy. Mount Kosciuszko (2,228m) is the highest mountain peak on the Australian mainland while Lake Eyre (-15m) is the lowest point.
The paper argues Zealandia be considered as a continent. It writes: “New Zealand and New Caledonia are large, isolated islands in the south-west Pacific Ocean. They have never been regarded as part of the Australian continent, although the geographic term Australasia often is used for the collective land and islands of the southwest Pacific region. In the following sections, we summarize the four key attributes (Elevation, Geology, Crustal Structure and Limits and Area) of continents and assess Zealandia meets these criteria.”Zealandia could be earth’s smallest continent with 4.9 million kilometer landmass.