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How Naming the Continents Works

Naming the Continents: Cheat Sheet

Stuff you need to know:

  • Scientists believe that 200 million years ago, there was just a single, connected land mass. They've named it Pangaea, which is Greek for "all lands."
  • Antarctica officially received its name in March 1904, derived from ant (opposite) and arctic (of the North Pole).
  • It's possible that "America" is not, in fact, named for Amerigo Vespucci. One lesser-known theory posits the continent is named for the Ameriqque Mountains in Nicaragua, which were believed to be rich in gold.
  • Until a few decades ago, experts were pretty sure "Australia" was coined in 1802. Then the National Library of Australia stumbled upon a map dated 1545 with the continent labeled "Australia."
  • Both Turkey and Russia reside on two continents, Europe and Asia, which aren't exactly continents because neither is completely surrounded by water. North and South America aren't technically continents, either.

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