The 7 Continents Ranked by Size and Population

A gif of the continents comparing size
Comparing the Continents. Illustration by Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo. 

What is the largest continent on earth? That's easy. It's Asia. It's the biggest in terms of size and population. But what about the rest of the seven continents: Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America? Find out how these continents rank in area and population and discover fun facts about each of them.

Largest Continents Ranked by Area

  1. Asia: 17,139,445 square miles (44,391,162 square km)
  2. Africa: 11,677,239 square miles (30,244,049 square km)
  3. North America: 9,361,791 square miles (24,247,039 square km)
  4. South America: 6,880,706 square miles (17,821,029 square km)
  5. Antarctica: About 5,500,000 square miles (14,245,000 square km)
  6. Europe: 3,997,929 square miles (10,354,636 square km)
  7. Australia: 2,967,909 square miles (7,686,884 square km)

Largest Continents Ranked by Population

  1. Asia: 4,406,273,622 
  2. Africa: 1,215,770,813
  3. Europe: 747,364,363 (includes Russia)
  4. North America: 574,836,055 (includes Central America and Caribbean)
  5. South America: 418,537,818   
  6. Australia: 23,232,413
  7. Antarctica: No permanent residents but up to 4,000 researchers and personnel in the summer and 1,000 in the winter.

In addition, there are more than 15 million people who don't live on a continent. Almost all of these people live in the island countries of Oceania, a world region but not a continent. If you count six continents with Eurasia as a single continent, then it remains number 1 in area and population.

Fun Facts About the 7 Continents

  • Asia has the highest and lowest points on earth. Mt. Everest is the highest point on earth at 29,035 feet above sea level. The lowest point is the Dead Sea, which is more than 1,400 feet below sea level.
  • Africa is home to the longest river in the world, the Nile. It stretches 4,258 miles from Sudan to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • North America boasts the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Superior. One of the Great Lakes, Superior covers more than 31,700 square miles between the U.S. and Canada.
  • South America has the longest mountain range in the world. The Andes Mountains stretch 4,300 miles from Venezuela south to Chile.
  • Europe lays claim to the largest and smallest nations in the world. Russia is the biggest at 6.6 million square miles, while Vatican City is the smallest at 109 acres.
  • Australia is the smallest continent and the only one to be a single nation.
  • Antarctica is covered in more ice than any other continent. Nearly 98 percent of this southernmost continent is ice-bound.


  • Merriam Webster's Geographical Dictionary
  • U.S. Census Bureau's International Data Base (estimates from mid-year 2017)