By Ashraf Naushahi

World in the 21st century is divided into hundreds of countries, however, geographically it is made of only seven contents: Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia and Antarctica. Each continent covers a large surface area on the planet Earth. Coasts of all these seven continents are on a single and continuous World-Ocean. World ocean is then divided into various oceans and seas. According to scientific theories, 250 million years ago, the whole world was made of only one continent surrounded by an ocean. Then geological changes occurred during millions of years, dividing that one continent into seven separate continents. In the science of geology, these continents are named as seven tectonic plates. These tectonic plates are moving in different directions, bringing changes in the surface areas of continents.

By studying scientific and geological theories, we can understand why some continents are connected while others are separate. Asia, Europe and Africa are three connected continents. Similarly, North America and South America are two connected continents. Australia and Antarctica are two separate continents. 

The surface area of Antarctica is almost twice the surface area of Australia. It is the continent that contains the South Pole of the planet Earth. Its surface area is 98 percent covered by ice. There are more than 70 lakes covered by icy sheets. Also it is the driest and coldest continent. There is no human habitation and hence no countries, cities or villages in the icy deserts of Antarctica. At present it is the continent of scientific research continued since its discovery in the 19th century. No wonder scientists and other staff working at scientific research stations are the only people dwelling in present day Antarctica.  

Australia is the smallest in surface area. In the geographic map of the present day world, it looks like an island having a large ocean around. Its surface area is of various types as plains, plateaus, small mountains and dry deserts. It is the lowest from the sea level, and also the flattest in surface continent. Its central parts have warm dry climate and there are many grasslands and deserts. In its northern and coastal parts are various tropical and rain forests. It is the only continent which is also an island and a country.   

Asia is the largest continent. Its surface area is more than 44 million kilometers (which is almost equal to 17 million miles). It is also the most populated continent having almost 60 percent of present day world population. There is a diversity of languages and cultures in Asia. Climate is also diverse; cold icy in northern parts, warm rainy in southern regions, cold mountainous and warm desert climate in its central parts. Its southwestern parts are mostly deserts. In its southeast, rainy season is long and strong winds in the monsoon season bring heavy rainfall. Also there are many mountainous regions and plateaus in Asia. The Himalaya Mountains are spread in its central regions. More than fifty (50) high peaks and mountains are parts of the Himalayas. Some large rivers of the world start from these mountainous regions.

Africa is the second largest and populated continent in the 21st century world. Its surface area is more than 30 million square kilometers which is almost equal to 11 million square miles. It is connected to Asia in its east. Its northern parts are arid deserts. Southern and central parts are plains and rain forests. Its more than 60 percent surface area is desert. Africa is the continent of warmest temperatures. Almost 1000 languages are spoken in this continent.    

North America is the continent third in surface area and fourth in population. It is a continent of diverse climates as icecap, tundra, cold continental, temperate continental, warm continental, equatorial, monsoon, tropical savanna, arid-desert and humid subtropical climate.   

South America is the continent fourth in surface area and fifth in population. It is the southern portion of Americas. The largest river "the Amazon" flows in this continent. The longest mountain ranges in the world "the Andes" are situated in it. Also in it, is the largest rain forest "the Amazon rain forest". Useful minerals, gold, silver, iron ore, and petroleum are obtained from mines in South America. Its climate is milder than that of North America, so less cold in winter but warmer in summer. In its some parts climate is humid and warm 

Europe is situated in the west of Asia. In this continent, there are many mountain ranges and "the Alps" spread in its many parts. Forests of various kinds are found in Europe because there are various temperate climate zones in it. It is the only continent where there is no desert. When winter comes, climate is usually severely cold in European regions. Its surface area is mostly covered with snow in most weather seasons of a year.   

Published in Young Nation Magazine on November 11, 2017