Is Greenland A Continent?

A glacier in Greenland.
A glacier in Greenland.

A continent is described as a discrete tract of land that is not only large but also continuous and is separated by a mass of water. There are seven continents in the world and arranged by size, they are: Australia, Europe, Antarctica, South America, North America, Africa and Asia. These continents geologically correspond to the areas on continental plates where areas of continental crust are found. In most cases, Islands are grouped with the neighboring continent.

Comparing Australia And Greenland

Australia is the smallest accepted continent, but is also a continent. Which might beg the question, why not group it to the closest continent like it has been done with other islands? It might seem like a big Island and not just a continent but there exists a line between the two.

To start with, Australia is 3.5 times bigger than Greenland. However, that is neither here nor there. We earlier said about these continents geologically corresponding to areas on the continental plates where continental crusts are found. While Greenland lies within the North American plate, Australia is found on its own major tectonic plate. This automatically qualifies the latter as a continent and the former as the world’s biggest island.

Many people in Australia view their country as a continent while the residents of Greenland view themselves as islanders.


Australia is sometimes referred to as Sahul, Meganesia or Australinea. This is to distinguish it from the mainland. As a continent, Australia consists of the mainland Australia, New Guinea, New Britain, Tasmania and some small close islands like Waigeo and Misool.

It is located in the geographical area of Oceania. Within the Australian continent are Australia, Papua New Guinea and in part Indonesia. Although close, New Zealand is not part of this continent but part of the submerged Zealandia. Both are however part of Oceania’s sub-region called Australasia. The largest cities in the continent include Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Newcastle and many more. The estimated population of the whole continent is 35,000,000 with its area approximately 8,600,000 km2 (3,300,000 sq. miles) As a country, Australia is the largest country in Oceania and the world’s sixth largest. The largest city is Sydney but the Capital is Canbera. It is about 7,617,930 square kilometres and has about 24,872,800 people.


Greenland is a constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark. It is located between Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Although it has politically and culturally been associated with Europe, it belongs to the North American continent. Majority of Greenland’s residents are Inuit, who can trace their ancestry back to Canada where their ancestors migrated from in the 13th century. It is the largest island in the universe, with more than seventy five percent of it enclosed by the permanent ice mass outside Antarctica. Records from 2013 indicate that it has about 56,480 people, making it the least densely populated territory. The capital city of Greenland is Nuuk, which also happens to be home to more than a third of the country’s population. Besides being the largest island, it is the third largest country in the North American Continent.


More in World Facts