In the United States, I was taught a geographical scheme comprising seven continents:

Africa (非洲), Antarctica (南极洲), Asia (亚洲), Australia (澳洲), Europe (欧洲), North America (北美洲), and South America (南美洲).

How do people in mainland China perceive the world continents? It seems quite different. For example, I have the impression that Oceania (大洋洲) dominates over Australia, while the subdivision of the Americas varies by model.

  • 1
    Historically there could have been concepts or a concept different from the Western demarcation, but for now the Chinese apply the same terminology: zh.wikipedia.org/zh-cn/%E6%B4%B2 Of course North vs. South America, or Oceania vs. Australia varies from author to author not only in China, but in other countries, too. There is no absolutely safe way to decide what is a continent. So this is not something special to the Chinese.
    – imrek
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:40
  • @DrunkenMaster Hmm... I was hoping there would be one "authoritative" model so-to-speak, at least by standards of PRC public education (not that I know much about that). Thankfully, there is a more conventional and commonly used scheme. Guess the plurality is unavoidable. Thanks a lot for the response!
    – Corellian
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


Geographically, Chinese people say seven continents, as you listed above, except Oceania(大洋洲), which stands for Australasia and almost all small islands in Pacific ocean.

  • Thanks. In the second half of your answer, are you just defining 大洋洲? Or is it also somehow included in the list of seven?
    – Corellian
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 3:52
  • Oceania is included. Australia or Australasia is not seen as a continent in China. P.S.: This is an official definition on almost all (if not all) occasions about natural geography in China. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 9:03
  • So with purely physical geography, are there seven continents? I ask because if 大洋洲 includes both Asia and Australia by definition, then there must be something else I'm missing for it to match the English scheme in number.
    – Corellian
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 21:03
  • The definition of Oceania is Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. It should be noted that Papua belongs to Oceania, though West Papua belongs to Indonesia, a typical Asian country. Commented Jan 27, 2016 at 9:27

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