Continent

The Coastline of the Various Continents

Europe  surpasses all the other continents in the magnitude of its indentations and projections. Three great peninsulas—the Balkan peninsula, Italy, and Spain, project into the Mediterranean; while Brittany, Denmark, and Scandinavia jut into the shores of the Atlantic. Even the British Isles are scarcely more than a projection of the continent.

Asia  is a second in the relative extent of its peninsula. Asia Minor on the west, Arabia, India, and Indo-China on the south, and China, Manchuria with Corea and Kamchatka, advancing into the waters of the Pacific, form a wide border of projecting lands, containing the richest regions of the continent.

North America  is considerably less indented. Florida, Nova Scotia and Labrador are more prominent on the Atlantic coast, and California Peninsula and Alaska on the Pacific.

The southern continents on the contrary, are nowhere deeply penetrated by the waters of the ocean. The Gulf of Arica in South America, the Gulf of Guinea in Africa, and the Great Australian Bight, are merely gentle bends in the coast line.

Location of the Continents

The greater part of the land on the earth's surface is grouped into two great hemispheres, the Old and the New World. The former and far larger of these consists of Eurasia in the north, separated by ill-defined boundaries from Europe to the west and Asia to the east, and of Africa in the south, united to Eurasia by the narrow neck of the isthmus of Suez. The hemisphere of the New World is divided into North America and South America, united by the long, narrow isthmus of Central America. The island of Australia is also reckoned as a continent. It is believed that an island continent, Antarctica, surrounds the South Pole. Of islands not reckoned as continents, the largest is the polar island of Greenland.

Certain Resemblances of the Continents

In comparing the continents, we at once notice certain resemblances. The first is the tapering to the south, which is seen in Greenland, North and South America, Africa, and Australia (Tasmania). Another is the southward-running peninsulas which characterize Europe and Asia. We may notice, too, that the general lines of the Old World, broad in the north, tapering in the south, resemble those of the New World, especially if we include Australia (Tasmania), and compare its position with that of South America. There is also a certain uniformity in the distribution of relief. Notice the so-called Mid-World and Pacific Mountain systems, which may be traced in the mountains of Central Europe, North Africa, Central Asia, the islands of the Pacific from Japan to New Guinea, and the lofty mountains of North, Central, and South America.

DIAGRAM SHOWING AVERAGE HEIGHT OF THE CONTINENTS

COMPARISON OF THE CONTINENTS

Continent Asia Africa North
America
South
America
Europe Australia All Land
Area (million square miles)16 .4 11 .1 7 .6 6 .8 3 .7 3 .0 55 .0
Average Height (feet)3,000 2,500 1,900 2,000  940  800 2,100
Highest Point (feet)29,000 18,800 18,200 22,400 18,500 7,200 29,000
Percentage at Various
Altitudes
 (feet)
       
Below Sea-Level 1 .4 0 .1 0 .05 0 .0 1 .8 0 .0 0 .6
0 to 600 feet 23 .3 12 .5 32 .25 40 .0 53 .8 29 .8 26 .7
600 to 1,500 feet 16 .0 34 .8 32 .1 26 .8 27 .0 64 .3 27 .8
1,500 to 3,000 feet 21 .7 27 .6 13 .3 16 .8 10 .0 4 .1 19 .3
3,000 to 6,000 feet 21 .8 21 .8 13 .2 7 .0 5 .5 1 .5 17 .0
6,000 to 12,000 feet 10 .0 2 .8 8 .4 5 .0 1 .7 0 .3 6 .0
Above 12,000 feet 5 .8 0 .4 0 .7 4 .4 0 .2 0 .0 2 .6