In order to understand our world and appreciate it when we travel, it’s important to have a grasp on geography. With geography, we can break the huge Earth down into parts and look at each type of area in more detail. Earth is a big place, complete with gigantic land masses, oceans, and many countries. In order to be good at geography, you’ll need to understand not only natural borders and land masses, but man-made ones too. Using the Internet as a resource, you can learn some really cool facts about the continents, oceans, countries, and states!

Continents

  • There are seven continents: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica.
  • Sometimes Europe and Asia are considered to be one huge continent called Eurasia.
  • These huge landmasses compose most of the land on the Earth and are constantly moving.
  • Most of the continents range in climate and population, except for Antarctica. It’s by far the coldest and least populated (with no permanent residents and less than 5,000 temporary residents).
  • The continents have moved and shifted over millions of years. About 250 million years ago, all of the continents formed one big “super-continent” called Pangea, which was the largest continent ever.
  • Today, the largest continent is Asia, which includes massive countries like China, India, and Russia.
  • Australia is the world’s smallest continent (though it also is the sixth largest country).

Countries

  • The word “continent” usually describes a land mass, but the word “country” describes land that is occupied by a group of people. Countries usually have their own governments, laws, and man-made borders.
  • How many countries are there? Though there are differing numbers depending on the source, the United Nations has recognized over 190 member states.
  • Russia is the largest country out there in terms of land mass.
  • The world’s smallest recognized country in terms of size is the Vatican City, the home of the Pope of the Catholic Church, which measures to be just 0.2 square miles.
  • In terms of population, the Vatican loses to the Pitcairn Islands, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and has a tiny population of 40-60 residents.
  • China is the most highly populated country in the world, followed closely by India. They both house more than a billion people.
  • The United States is the third most populated country, with over 300 million people.
  • An estimated 7 billion people occupy the world today.
  • Africa is the continent with the most countries: 47 mainland countries and one disputed territory.

Oceans and Bodies of Water

  • There is only one global ocean, though for convenience and mapping its commonly broken up in to 5 major oceans: the Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, Pacific, and Southern Oceans.
  • Because there’s really only one ocean, the boundaries around the oceans aren’t as strict. Between the Americas and Africa lies the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side of the globe is the much larger Pacific Ocean. Underneath the big continent of Asia is the Indian Ocean. The Arctic Ocean surrounds the north pole and the Southern Ocean surrounds the south pole.
  • The largest ocean is by far the Pacific Ocean, which covers roughly 60 million square miles.
  • The smallest ocean is the Arctic Ocean (but it’s still 1.5 times as big as the U.S.).
  • Oceans hold about 96.5% of all water on Earth.
  • People also refer to “the seven seas.” Seas are pretty similar to oceans, but smaller and often describe where the land and ocean meet. The seven seas often referred to in European literature are the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Black, Caspian, Persian, Arabian, and Red Seas. These seas are largely within or near the Eurasian land mass.
  • There are many other types of bodies of water, from ponds to lakes to lagoons to marshes to rivers.
  • The longest river on the planet is the Nile at more than 4,000 miles, followed closely by the Amazon and the Yangtze.
  • It’s been estimated that 71% of Earth’s surface is covered in water.
  • Despite its size, the ocean can be negatively affected by human beings. There’s a large mass of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean in the center of a rotating ocean current, or gyre. It’s larger than the size of Texas.
  • Parts of the ocean are deeper than Mount Everest is tall, according to NASA. The ocean floor also houses mountain ranges of its own.

The United States

  • There are fifty states within the United States, but there are also 16 other territories including Guam, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa.
  • The largest state by far is Alaska.
  • The smallest state is Rhode Island, at only about 1,500 square miles total.
  • The largest cities in the U.S. are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. New York City houses almost double the population of the next largest city.

Geography Games