Greenland: Island or Continent?


Greenland and Australia: Continents or Not?

by Matt Rosenberg ThoughtCo

Why is Australia a continent and Greenland is not? The definition of a continent varies, so the number of continents ranges between five and seven continents. Generally, a continent is one of the major land masses on earth. However, in every accepted definition of continents, Australia is always included as a continent (or is part of an “Oceania” continent) and Greenland is never included.


While that definition might not hold water for some people, there is no official globally recognized definition of a continent. Just as some seas are called seas and others are called gulfs or bays, continents generally refer to the major land masses of earth.

Even though Australia is the smallest of the accepted continents, Australia is still more than 3.5 times larger than Greenland. There has to be a line in the sand between the small continent and the world’s largest island, and traditionally that line exists between Australia and Greenland.

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