Australia’s an amazing place, a diverse landscape, and an all-around institution—those are basically three unanimous Australia facts.
Is Australia a continent? Is Australia an island? Is it both? And where does the country of Australia coincide with the geographical designation of Australia?
Here are all your questions answered:
Australia the Continent
Is Australia a continent?
Defining continents and what constitutes a continental boundary is a hotly debated topic. Still, Australia is one of the world’s continents by most definitions.
The continent of Australia refers to all the landmasses which stand on the Australian continental plate. As such, the continent of Australia includes the Australian mainland, the island of New Guinea (shared by both Papua New Guinea and Western New Guinea of Indonesia), the island of Tasmania, and many smaller islands.
In the traditional 7-continent system, Australia is the smallest continent in the world. Australia is 8.6 million km² (3.3 million mi²), which is just over half the size of the second-smallest continent, Antarctica, which is 14.2 million km² (5.5 million mi²).
To differentiate the continent of Australia from the mainland or the sovereign country, the continent of Australia is also known as Australinea, Sahul, or Meganesia. Also, the continent of Australia is part of the mega region known as Oceania, which includes Micronesia, Polynesia, New Zealand, and more.
Read further: How Many Continents Are There?
Australia the Island
When talking about a single island, geographically, many people think of Australia as the world’s largest island.
But, is Australia an island?
The main portion of the Australian continent (and the country of Australia) is the big landmass, this “island” is known as mainland Australia or continental Australia (not to be confused with the continent of Australia). Mainland Australia makes up 98.7% of Australia the country in terms of area, and it is home to about 98% of the country’s population. It does not include Tasmania and other islands.
Because Australia is a continent, most geographers and other scientific experts agree that it does not get grouped with islands. Though many people, including Dauntless Jaunter, sometimes refer to Australia as an “island continent,” experts consider those terms to be completely different things. So, Australia is NOT the largest island in the world, as Australia is not an island. The largest island in the world is Greenland.
Australia the Country
And now Australia, the country.
As a country, Australia is a sovereign nation officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia.
The country of Australia controls mainland Australia (the big “island”), Tasmania, Melville Island, Groote Eylandt, Kangaroo Island, Bathurst Island, Fraser Island, and other smaller islands. Actually, Australia has within its borders more than 8,200 islands.
As a nation, Australia is the 6th largest country in the world by area, measuring in at almost 7.7 million km² (2.97 million mi²). However, with only just over 25 million people (2020 estimate), Australia does not rank in the top 50 countries by population count.
Read further: How Many Countries Are There On Each Continent?
Well, that’s our short guide on whether Australia is a continent or an island, and we hope you found it easy to comprehend and useful! If you have any feedback, questions, or more points to add on Australia being a continent, island, or nation, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!