A continent is defined by being a large continuous area of land that is generally separated by a body of water. Continents are made up of many countries and have millions and in some cases billions of people that call it home. There are 7 continents on planet Earth: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America. Some combine the continent of Europe with the continent of Asia and refer to it as Eurasia. Others combine North America and South America and refer to it as the Americas or American continent. So which is the biggest, smallest, largest, tiniest, etc?
The simple question of what is the largest continent or the smallest continent can be slightly more complicated than it seems. There are two popular ways in which to rank the continents including using the land area of the continent or using the population of that continent. Below you will find the both the largest and smallest continents data looking at it from both a population and a land area perspective.
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What is the Largest Continent?
Largest Continent by Land Area: Asia
Biggest Continent by Population: Asia
What is the Smallest Continent?
Smallest Continent by Land Area: Australia
Smallest Continent by Population: Antarctica
If you want to see full countdown lists from largest to smallest continents by both land area and population read on below to find infographics, table lists, and more!
Biggest Continent to Smallest Continent by Land Area / Mass
The largest continent by land area is Asia with 43,800,000 (km2) and represents more than 29% of the total land area on planet earth. The smallest continent by land area is Australia with 9,008,000 (km2) which represents just 6% of the total land area in the world.
This infographic above counts down from the biggest continent to the smallest showing the outline of each continent along with the land area in square kilometers and square miles. It also includes a calculation of what portion of the world’s land area each continent represents. A chart below offers the data used for the infographic. Select the name of the continent to learn more about it.
|Continent||Area (km²)||Area (mi²)||% World’s Land Mass|
Largest Continent to Smallest Continent by Population
When looking at the size of the continents by population, the rankings of biggest to smallest continents get re-ordered. In addition to being the largest continent by land area, the largest continent by population is Asia with more than 4.46 billion people living within its boundaries. Asia currently has 62% of the world’s population.
The smallest continent by population is Antarctica. Due to the harsh conditions, Antarctica does not have any permanent residents but at any given time there are a few thousand researchers, scientist, or tradesmen staying on the continent
The chart below lists the continents in order from largest to smallest along with each continent’s total population. Be sure to select the continent if you want to learn more about it.
|Continent||Population||% World’s Population|
Largest Continent Compared to Smallest – % Land Area vs % Population
The largest and smallest continents list is not the same when comparing the land area to the population. For this reason, we built the chart above to show which continents feature the largest land area vs population by the percentage of world’s total. This should give you an idea of how densely populated a continent is. For example, take the continent of Europe, it has 6.82% of the world’s land area but has 8.41% of the world’s population. Compare that to the continent of Asia which has 29.32% of the world’s land area but a staggering 62% of the world’s population.
It is important to note that the continents are ever-changing and this list will change eventually. The largest continent today could break apart in the future and become one of the smallest. This is exactly what happened to the super continent of Pangea. At one point in Earth’s history there was a single continent and over 175 million years ago it began to break apart to give us the seven continents we know now. How many new continents might there be in another 175 million years?