How Many Continents Are There? The Surprisingly Complicated Answer

TLDR The number of continents is a complex question, with different definitions and criteria leading to varying answers. While the standard list includes seven continents, some argue for six or even nine continents based on cultural, geographic, and geological factors. Ultimately, there is no definitive answer, as it is largely a matter of convention and interpretation.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The answer to the question of how many continents there are is surprisingly complicated.
01:22 Continents are defined as large land masses with clearly defined boundaries and separated by oceans, and the standard list of continents includes Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and Antarctica.
02:44 The division of continents into separate entities, such as Asia and Europe, is primarily based on cultural rather than geographic or geological factors, and therefore there should be 6 continents instead of 7.
04:04 Australia is not considered a microcontinent because it is large enough to be considered a continent, and if it is not included, there would only be three continents: Afro-Eurasia, the Americas, and Antarctica.
05:27 Plate tectonics and the difference in composition between continental and oceanic crust help determine which land masses should be considered continents.
06:40 Using the approach of dividing land masses based on tectonic plates, there would be nine continents, including the separation of Africa into the Somali plate and the inclusion of Southeast Asia as separate plates.
07:52 There is no definitive answer to how many continents there are because it is largely based on convention and there is no ultimate authority, so it is pretentious for anyone to claim they have an authoritative answer.
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