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Author Topic: Why is Europe and Asia (as one land mass) regarded as two separate continents?  (Read 8436 times)

Offline P-Kasso2

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Conventionally, continents are understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated from other continents by expanses of water.

A quick glance at a globe will show even the dimmest English schoolboy that Europe and Asia make up one (admittedly very large) cohesive land mass.

But, despite this glaringly obvious fact, Europe is still seen as a totally separate continent even though knows it is joined to Asia in one continuous and unbroken lump of a mega continent that stretches almost 5,000 miles from Norway to far eastern China.

Why is Europe regarded as a separate continent when it is not? The same goes for Asia too.

And who first started this fallacy anyway?
« Last Edit: 26 April, 2014, 04:18:27 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline siasl

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Isn't it because it's on a different tectonic plate?  Hence the Himalayas

Offline antonymous

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Both Europe and Asia are located on the Eurasian Tectonic plate.  The Himalayan Mountains have formed due to the Indian Plate moving northwards onto this eurasian plate.
Geographically defined there is but one continent -  Eurasia, however religion, culture, and politics have intervened and split the two apart.
The eastern border of 'Europe'  has been shifted around over the millennia - originally 'europe' was simply what the Persians labelled western Turkey(Thrace) - i.e. that bit of land that stood between them and the wealth and treasures of ancient Greece.

The  consensus amongst geographers today is that the eastern border is defined by the western, northern and eastern shores of the Black Sea north of the Caucasus mountains, the western shore of the Caspian sea ,  and the Ural mountains up to the Arctic Ocean.
« Last Edit: 28 April, 2014, 02:01:14 PM by antonymous »
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Offline P-Kasso2

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Isn't it because it's on a different tectonic plate?  Hence the Himalayas



I was writing this reply when Ant stepped in...and I agree with every word he has to say. Here, rather than scrap it, is my now slightly redundant post.

I thought "Why didn't I think of that?" Then I realised I know virtually nowt in depth about tectonic plates so I thought I'd better take a look.

This (surprisingly to me at least) is what I found....


As you can see (especially if you enlarge the map 150%) the tectonic plate that we Europeans sit on is exactly the same one as the Asians sit on...the Eurasian Plate is one vast plate which stretches from miles west of Britain and Norway running through Iceland and spreading right out east until it is nudging the coast of distant Japan.

So, Europe and Asia aren't on different plates after all. And one plate = one continent?

I still don't see why Europe and Asia are judged to be 'two continents' when the landmass is one, not two and even the tectonic plates underneath Europe and Asia are one, not two.

Maybe we come clean and just refer to Eurasia as the whole single continent it is? And, when we want to cite Europe or Asia specifically, should we start getting used to saying "We Western Eurasians" and "Those Eastern Eurasians"?

How long has Europe been regarded as a totally separate continent despite the facts?
« Last Edit: 28 April, 2014, 11:59:25 AM by P-Kasso2 »
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Offline P-Kasso2

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Just been reading a little more about continents...and things are less straightforward than I'd thought.

Firstly, the continents aren't finite but are still evolving. And, secondly, there is the concept and the reality of a 'supercontinent' (which status is what I assume Europe and Asia currently share).

While this may change, it won't be the first time because of the moving, the merging and the colliding of continents in the millennia before scientists were invented.

Wiki neatly defines a Supercontinent as "....a landmass consisting of multiple continental cores. The following list includes the supercontinents known or speculated to have existed in the Earth's past:

Columbia
Euramerica
Gondwana
Kenorland
Laurasia
Nena
Pangaea
Pannotia
Proto-Gondwana
Proto-Laurasia
Rodinia
Ur
Vaalbara"


Most of those old continents may sound more like walk-on parts in Cadfael but they just show that what we have here today are not neatly defined and finite continents but simply 'work in progress'.

I think I'll stop worrying about why Europe and Asia are said to be two separate continents and start worrying about something else instead.


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