Difference between Island and Continent

Island vs. Continent

What is Difference between Island and Continent? A map or any globe shows portions of earth and different bodies of water around them. Although almost everyone knows that there are about six or seven continent (quantity and other details vary depending on where the observer resides) and several islands; the truth is that many have no idea what is what makes them different. Below this post is all about the difference between island and continent.

Difference between Island and Continent

A list of elements must be taken into account to distinguish a continent from an island and doubtless that in this case size counts, and much; although it is not in the last instance what makes the difference, since for example, Australia is considered an island and also a continent. If you have doubts about what is the difference between a continent and an island or just looking for a little more information to complement what you already know, then continue reading, because below we explain everything you need to know around this interesting topic.


An island is a piece of land surrounded by water and usually much smaller than a continent. Although this definition is correct, it is rather limited and makes no mention of other distinctive factors. Small portions of land surrounded by water could also be islets, cays, among other things.

Very often, islands are found in groups, and these groups of geographically and geologically related islands make up what is known as the archipelago. The islands can be formed in various ways and are classified depending on how they were formed. The different types of islands are: continental, volcanic, oceanic, tropical and desert. The continental ones are like Greenland and Long Island; islands separated of a continent and formed in the majority of cases by separations of earth.

Some islands are even artificial creations of humans. The Isle of Palms in Dubai would be a good example of this. Around the world there are about 18,995 known islands. Some are independent countries with self-government.


On the other hand, it is called continent to any of the great masses of earth that exist in this planet. They are not always divided equally, which is why some say they are seven, others six … But these are usually mentioned: America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctica (which is more a continental mass not inhabited). The continents are defined as large, continuous and discrete masses of land, ideally separated by stretches of water. However, some of the most recognized continents are not discrete land masses nor are they separated by water.

Finally, before all the continents separated, there was a single mass known as Pangea; but because of the movement of tectonic plates, the continents are as we know them now. One of the details that contribute most to differentiate the continents from the islands (besides size) is the fact that the former have very diverse cultures, fauna, flora and even climates. In addition, continents cannot be created artificially; the islands themselves.

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