Islands and continents

So when I was quite young, I was quite unclear on many things, as quite young people are; and one thing that troubled me was: “What’s the difference between an island and a continent?”

Fueled by extrapolation from bad data I came to the conclusion that the difference was this: “Continents are earth all the way down, while islands, obviously being situated in very deep water, do not reach down to the bottom of the sea, but are floating thingies instead. Because elsewise they would be some sort of huge underwater mountains, which is just stupid.

(“It’s a waste of earth-rock-stuff! And inelegant! They would erode away in an instant! And why would people call them ‘islands’ if they’re nothing but stupid miniature continents? Clearly this is a foolish and untenable position.”)

Like I said, bad data: or more accurately, one point of data, an episode of Alfred J. Kwak I think; but it was a very convincingly animated diving scene, with absolutely no flashing banner of “THIS IS NOT HOW ISLANDS REALLY WORK”, or even “NOT A REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE”.

Since then, I’ve learned the difference between islands and continents is actually that, uh, continents are bigger.

One Response to “Islands and continents”

  1. mirrass Says:

    The difference between islands and continents is that continents are arbitrary groupings of land, and islands are bits of land surrounded by sea that are not continents or super-continents.

    Also, nobody agrees on which exact arbitrary groupings are the continents. Is it America or South America and North America? Is it Europe, Asia and Africa, or Eurasia and Africa, or Afro-Eurasia? Is it Oceania, or Australia plus a bunch of islands?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continent#Number_of_continents

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