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A subcontinent is a large, relatively self-contained landmass forming a subdivision of a continent. By dictionary entries, the term subcontinent signifies "having a certain geographical or political independence" from the rest of the continent,[1] or "a vast and more or less self-contained subdivision of a continent."[2] With the exception of South Asia, there is currently no academic consensus regarding the name or geographic extent of any particular subcontinent.

Geographical map of the Indian subcontinent

Used on its own in English, the phrase "the Subcontinent" commonly refers to the Indian subcontinent.[3][4] Generally, the Indian subcontinent includes the countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The region constitutes a geoculturally distinct region within Asia or Eurasia and is separated from the latter continental landmasses my extensive and high mountain ranges. The region also contains desert, plateau, rain forest, and myriad languages, races, and religions. This very large peninsula lies on its own tectonic plate, as does the Arabian Peninsula.

When Eurasia is considered a single continent or supercontinent, Europe becomes a de-facto subcontinent [5] with a mountainous eastern boundary of a similar order to the mountain boundary that separates the Indian subcontinent from the rest of Asia or Eurasia.


  1. ^ rd English Dictionary 2nd edition. 1989. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. 2002. Merriam-Webster. retrieved 11 March 2007.
  3. ^ The history of India – By John McLeod
  4. ^ Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
  5. ^ Hans Slomp (2011). "Europe: A Political Profile". Retrieved 2014-09-10.