The Largest Continent Is Also the Most Populated

By: Yara Simón  | 
Can you name all seven continents from smallest to largest? FatCamera / Getty Images

If you are looking at a traditional world map, you won't get an accurate idea of the size of the seven continents; depicting a sphere onto a flat surface means that something will end up distorted. For that reason, you may not truly understand something like the size of the largest continent.

If you don't have a globe handy, read on to learn about where the continents rank by land area.


What Are Continents?

Continents are "large, discrete land masses," according to The World Factbook. There are between four and seven continents, depending on how you categorize them. In the United States, for example, you will likely learn there are seven continents: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania/Australia and Antarctica.

Some group North and South America — while also including Central America and the Caribbean — as the Americas. This leaves you with six continents: the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania/Australia and Antarctica.


Others group another two continents — Europe and Asia — as one, so you end up with five: the Americas, Eurasia, Africa, Oceania/Australia and Antarctica.

The four-continent model combines even more continents together: AfroEurasia, America, Antarctica and Oceania/Australia.



Before the seven continents (or four, or however you decide to count them), there was one supercontinent: Pangea.

"Pangea first began to be torn apart when a three-pronged fissure grew between Africa, South America and North America," according to U.S. Geological Survey.


The 7 Continents by Size

Here are the seven continents by size, in descending order.

7. Oceania/Australia

Located in the Pacific Ocean, Oceania — made up of 16 countries, including Australia, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and other island countries — is the smallest continent. It is also one of the least populated continents.


At 7,310 ft (2,228 m) above sea level, Oceania's highest elevation is Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.

6. Europe

At nearly 10,000,000 sq km (3,861,021 sq mi), Europe is the second smallest continent. Europe has 49 countries, including Portugal, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.

Its most populous cities are Istanbul, Turkey; Moscow, Russia; and London, United Kingdom. Russia, a part of Eastern Europe, is also partially in Asia.

5. Antarctica

Antarctica is about 13,209,000 sq km (5,100,021 sq miles) and the least-populated continent. It has no countries, but it is home to some of the coldest places on Earth.

4. South America

The fourth-largest continent is approximately 17,8400,000 sq km (6,890,000 sq mi). Hundreds of millions live in South America, with São Paulo, Bogotá and Lima among the most populous cities. The continent has 12 countries.

3. North America

South America's neighbor, North America is the third largest continent. It is 24,709,000 sq km (9,450,000 sq mi) and stretches from the Aleutian Islands to Panama. There are 23 countries in North America.

2. Africa

Africa is 30,365,000 sq km (11,724,000 sq mi). With 54 nations making up the land mass, it has more countries than any other continent. Africa is the only continent in the four hemispheres.

1. Asia

Asia spans about 44,614,000 sq km (17,226,000 sq mi). It is the biggest and most populous continent, with 59 percent of the world's population.

India, located in Southern Asia, boasts the biggest population on the planet. The continent also has three other nations on the list of most populated countries in the world, including Indonesia in Southeast Asia. The continent shares borders with both Europe and Africa.