What is the Difference Between Countries and Continents?

The difference between countries and continents is that a country is a piece of a continent. A continent is a large portion of the earth separated by oceans.

The world is divided into seven continents. Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia and Antarctica. There are 195 nations on these continents.

A country is an area of land that forms an independent political unit with its government. Countries are divided into states and provinces. In comparison, continents are divided into medium or huge size countries.

What is a country?

What Is A Country?

A country is a geographical area inside the continent. A country is a sovereign nation or an independent state. It is a big part of the earth with people who have decided to stay together and form one country.

A country is a large land area with a great population and government. Countries are further divided into smaller administrative units such as provinces and cities. 

Each country holds unique people, culture and history. It borders other countries and has national frontiers. A country can be minor or major. The size of a country can vary according to its population.

One government owns an entire nation. The people of a country must follow all laws passed by their government. All countries are members of a great international organization known as “The United Nations (UN)”

The function of the United Nations is to solve all issues and conflicts among other countries. The UN helps all countries to develop peace and prosperity with other countries and within their own borders.

What is a continent?

What Is A Continent?

The word ‘continent’ comes from the Latin word “continents”, that means “hold together”. Continents are referred to as large parts of land separated by sea. Continents covered one third part of the earth. All continents include at least one ocean.

There are seven major geographical areas on land known as continents. These are Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Australia, Antarctica and Europe.

Asia is the largest continent in the world. Asia occupies a great part of the earth. Asia is home to more than 46 billion people. It also has the highest mountain peak in the world.

Africa is the second largest continent in terms of land area and population. About 15% of the world’s population resides in Africa. Ethiopia, the world’s hottest region, also resides in Pakistan.

The key difference between countries and continents

The Key Difference Between Countries And Continents

The main difference between a continent and a country is that a country is a joining area of land surrounded by water. Continent is a large continuous body of land. 

On the other hand, a country is a state with its own government and borders. The government is responsible for the growth, peace and prosperity of a country. 

While continents and countries share the same physical characteristics. The key difference between a country and continent is their political boundaries. There may be some similarities between individuals living on the same continent.

There are seven continents on this planet. Each continent has its own distinct physical features, climate, wildlife and human population. In one continent, you can find more than one country. One country can have many cities.

In terms of laws, there are also some differences between countries and continents. Every country has its own provincial government. A country’s central law is applicable to all provinces and states. While “civil law” is practiced in half of the continents.

Basically, civil law is a set of guidelines and norms that are organized in codes and are applicable to every citizen. A civil law of a continent is an efficient system that gives clear understanding of rules and laws.

The Earth is a continuous planet, one that is continually evolving. Even today, continents are shifting and drifting apart. This incident is observed during volcanoes or earthquakes. Million years ago, all seven continents on this planet were joined together to form one “super continent” called Pangea.

Pangea was discovered in 1912 by a German meteorologist. According to Geography, the shape of Pangea was curved. A few years later, Pangaea started to split into many new continents due to seafloor spreading.

Seafloor spreading is a process in which the bottom of the ocean starts moving apart from one another and creates new oceans.

Highlighting the comparison between country and continent in the following table:

DefinitionA country is a small part of land in a continent consisting of urban and rural areas.A continent is a major portion of earth consisting of both dry land and oceans.
BarriersEvery country has its own political border line.Continents are vast geographical areas that are divided by seas.
GovernmentEvery country has a separated government and a country must follow international laws of UN organization.There is no specific government for a continent but a civil law has to be followed by each continent.
DependencyCountries depend on each other for the purpose of trade, export and import.Continents do not depend on each other.
NumberThere are numerous large and small countries in the world calculated as 190.There are 7 continents in the whole planet.
ExampleUSA, Canada, Brazil, India, Pakistan etc.Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia and Antarctica.
Comparison Between Country and Continent


The main difference between countries and continents is that continents comprise a large portion of the earth while countries are a small part located within the continents. Every country has their own system consisting of laws and regulations applicable to every citizen living in the country. In contrast, continents have to follow civil law in order to provide a secure and organized life to the people belonging to the continents.

Read more: What is the Difference Between Employee and Employer?

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  • Brandon Kelly

    Brandon Kelly, PhD in Geography from Harvey Mudd College, Los Angeles native, member of American Geographical Society. Passionate about geography, empowers through writing. Enhances our websites with insightful geography-related articles.

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