List of transcontinental countries

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This is a list of countries with territory that straddles more than one continent, known as transcontinental states or intercontinental states.[1]

Contiguous transcontinental countries are states that have one continuous or immediately-adjacent piece of territory that spans a continental boundary, most commonly the line that separates Asia and Europe. By contrast, non-contiguous transcontinental countries are those states that have portions of territory that are separated from one another either by a body of water or by other countries (such as in the case of France). Most non-contiguous transcontinental countries are countries with dependent territories like Denmark with Greenland, but can be countries that have fully integrated former dependent territories in their central states like France with its overseas regions.[1]

For the purposes of this article, a seven-continent model is assumed based on common terms of reference by English language geographers.[2] Combined continents like "the Americas" and "Eurasia" are not acknowledged or referenced. The boundary between Asia and Europe is largely conventional (much of it over land), and several conventions remained in use well into the 20th century. However, the now-prevalent convention—which has been in use by some cartographers since about 1850—follows the Caucasus northern chain, the Ural River and the Ural Mountains, is used for the purposes of this list.[3] This convention results in several countries such as in the case of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey finding themselves almost entirely in 'Asia', with a few small enclaves or districts technically in 'Europe'. Notwithstanding these anomalies, this list of transcontinental or intercontinental states respects the convention that Europe and Asia are full continents rather than subcontinents or component landmasses of a larger Eurasian continent.

Listed further below, separately, are countries with distant non-contiguous parts (overseas territories) on separate continents.

Definition

The lists within this article include entries that meet the following criteria:

  • Transcontinental or intercontinental states are sovereign states that have some portion of their territory geographically divided between at least two continents.[1][4]
  • Transcontinental states can be classed as either contiguous or non-contiguous transcontinental states.[5]
    • Contiguous transcontinental states are those countries that have one continuous or immediately adjacent piece of territory that spans a continental boundary. More specifically, they contain a portion of their territory on one continent and a portion of their territory on another continent, while having these two portions connected via a natural geological land connection (e.g. Russia) or the two portions being immediately adjacent to one another (e.g. Turkey).[6][7]
    • Non-contiguous transcontinental states are those that have portions of territory that are separated from one another either by a significant body of water or by other land.[6][7] Most non-contiguous transcontinental countries are countries with overseas territories.[1]

The boundaries between the continents can be vague and subject to interpretation, making it difficult to conclusively define what counts as a 'transcontinental state'.

Contiguous boundary

Contiguous transcontinental states are those countries that have one continuous or immediately adjacent piece of territory that spans a continental boundary. More specifically, they contain a portion of their territory on one continent and a portion of their territory on another continent, while having these two portions connected via a natural geological land connection (e.g. Russia) or the two portions being immediately adjacent to one another (e.g. Turkey).[6][7] In other words, someone can travel to another continent without changing the country (without crossing a border).

Africa and Asia

  African land part of Egypt
  Asian land part of Egypt
  The rest of Africa
  The rest of Asia

The modern convention for the land boundary between Asia and Africa runs along the Isthmus of Suez and the Suez Canal in Egypt. The border continues through the Gulf of Suez, Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden. In antiquity, Egypt had been considered part of Asia,[citation needed] with the Catabathmus Magnus escarpment taken as the boundary with Africa (Libya).

Asia and Europe

Conventions used for the boundary between Asia and Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. The red line shows the most common modern convention, in use since c. 1850.
  Asia
  Europe
  historically placed in either continent

The conventional Asia-Europe boundary was subject to considerable variation during the 18th and 19th centuries, indicated anywhere between the Don River and the Caucasus to the south or the Ural Mountains to the east. Since the late 19th century, the Caucasus–Urals boundary has become almost universally accepted. According to this now-standard convention, the boundary follows the Aegean Sea, the Turkish Straits, the Black Sea, along the watershed of the Greater Caucasus, the northwestern portion of the Caspian Sea and along the Ural River and Ural Mountains to the Arctic Ocean.[8][9]

According to this convention, the following countries have territory in both Asia and Europe.

North America and South America

Map of the Darién Gap at the border between Colombia and Panama

The conventional boundary between North America and South America is at some point on the Colombia–Panama border, with the most common demarcation in atlases and other sources following the Darién Mountains watershed where the Isthmus of Panama meets the South American continent (see Darién Gap). This area encompasses a large watershed, forest and mountains in the northern portion of Colombia's Chocó Department and Panama's Darién province.

Some geographers prefer to use the Panama Canal[22] as the physical boundary between North and South America instead.[23][full citation needed] Under this convention, its capital Panama City is classified as a South American city. Given the competing claims, the Panamanian sports governing bodies affiliate to differing continental/regional confederations: its athletics federation to South America's, its soccer federation to North, Central America and Caribbean's; its Olympic committee to both South America's and Central America's.

Non-contiguous

North America and South America

The special case of Caribbean islands adjacent to the South American coastline:

  •  Trinidad and Tobago: The state of Trinidad and Tobago lies on two tectonic plates. The southern half of Trinidad lies on the South American Plate while the northern half of Trinidad and the island of Tobago lie on the Caribbean Plate. However, these geological features do not necessarily qualify Trinidad and Tobago as a transcontinental state, as the whole territory is often labeled geopolitically as part of North America.
  • Leeward Antilles (Collectively Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao of the Netherlands; Nueva Esparta of Venezuela; and the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela, excluding Aves Island): The Caribbean islands division of North America and South America is complicated. Geopolitically, all Caribbean islands in the West Indies are often labeled as North American islands, but geologically, the islands of the Leeward Antilles lie on the continental shelf of South America, and can be considered South American as well. Excluding the geographically North American Aves Island, the remaining Venezuelan islands of the Federal Dependencies are islands situated in the Caribbean on the continental shelf of South America. These islands are north of the Venezuelan mainland and are akin to the location of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Trinidad and Tobago. Similarly, the islands of the State of Nueva Esparta (Margarita Island, Coche Island, and Cubagua) are also situated in the Caribbean Sea just to the north of the Caribbean coastline of the Venezuelan mainland. However, all of the non-Venezuelan islands in this area are typically considered North American rather than South American.[26]

Caribbean Island locations

North American Caribbean islands administered by South American states:

Caribbean islands considered North American or South American:

South America and Oceania

Europe and North America

Comparison map: Greenland, the Faroe Islands (enlarged) and Denmark differ significantly in size. The Danish Realm is spread across the North Atlantic Ocean and North Sea.
  •  Kingdom of Denmark: As a constituent part of the Danish Realm, Greenland is a non-sovereign country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Fully located on the North American tectonic plate, and close to the mainland, Greenland is considered to be geographically a part of North America,[29] with the United Nations categorizing them as such.[30] Although it is politically associated with Europe and internationally represented by a European state (including in the Council of Europe), it is autonomous. Historically and ethnically, its native population is of North American tradition, although it also shares cultural links with other native peoples bordering the Arctic Sea in Northern Europe and Asia (today in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), as well as in North America (Alaska in the U.S., Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northern parts of Quebec and Labrador in Canada). Greenland was part of Danish territory and within the territory of the European Union, but voted for more autonomy and is now excluded from the EU.[31]

Europe, North America, and South America

  •  Netherlands: Though most of the Kingdom of the Netherlands' landmass is in Europe, it also includes six island territories in the Lesser Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean: the Dutch Caribbean. Within the Lesser Antilles archipelago, three territories are in the Leeward Islands group (considered part of the continent of North America) and three in the Leeward Antilles group (on the South American continental shelf). Since the dissolution of the Dutch Antilles in 2010, the sovereign Kingdom of the Netherlands has been administratively divided into four non-sovereign constituent "countries": Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands — the last of which includes the islands of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (collectively known as the BES islands or the Caribbean Netherlands) as "special municipalities", making it a non-sovereign transcontinental constituent country within the Kingdom.

North America, Oceania, and Asia

Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, Africa, and Antarctica

Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, Africa, Asia, and Antarctica

Africa and Europe

Asia and Africa

Asia and Europe

Asia and Oceania

Antarctica and other continents

Sub-Antarctic region

  • Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, and the United Kingdom: These eight states have overseas island possessions in the Subantarctic region between 46°S and 60°S latitude. Subantarctic islands that are north of 60°S latitude but south of the Antarctic Convergence and that are recognized by international law as being full sovereign possessions of an administering state are: Bouvet Island (Norway), Heard Island and McDonald Islands (Australia), the Kerguelen Islands (France), and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (United Kingdom). The United Nations categorize Bouvet Island and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands as part of South America, and Heard Island and McDonald Islands as part of Oceania.[30] South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is sometimes considered to be geographically within the bounds of South America;[59][60] however, the other islands are among the most isolated locations in the world. Human activity is very limited on Bouvet Island and Heard Island and McDonald Islands; for example, the McDonald Islands have only ever been visited twice throughout their entire recorded history, with the last visit being in 1980.[61] The World Factbook categorize Bouvet Island and Heard Island and McDonald Islands as part of Antarctica rather than South America/Oceania.[62][63]

Antarctic region

  • Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom: These seven states claim portions of the Antarctic mainland (some of them overlapping),[b] as well as its associated islands south of 60°S latitude. Some, including Argentina and Chile, consider the Antarctic land they claim to be integral parts of their national territory. However, none of these claims are recognized by the United Nations and the international community.[c] Since 1961, the Antarctic Treaty System has held in abeyance all land claims south of 60°S latitude, including Antarctica's ice shelves and Antarctic islands.

Countries formerly and/or never widely or officially considered as transcontinental countries

Asia and Oceania

North America and Oceania

  •  Costa Rica and  Mexico: Oceania at times is considered to encompass all oceanic islands in the Pacific Ocean.[25][50] Oceanic islands are defined as islands that were never connected to a continental landmass, and which formed through volcanic activity in the ocean.[25] Mexico administer the oceanic Guadalupe Island and Revillagigedo Islands, and the oceanic islet of Rocas Alijos, while Costa Rica administer the oceanic Cocos Island. All of these islands were uninhabited prior to European discovery,[71] and none lie on the North American or South American tectonic plates; the Mexican islands lie on the Pacific Plate with most of Oceania, and Cocos Island lies on the self-named Cocos Plate, which contains no other islands besides Colombia's Malpelo Island. Furthermore, the Mexican state of Baja California, despite being physiologically connected to the American landmass, is in fact part of the Pacific Plate. Guadalupe Island and Rocas Alijos are rarely categorized with other Pacific Islands, as they are only 250 to 300 kilometers removed from Baja California. Revillagigedo's most remote island, Clarion, is 700 kilometers from Mexico's coast, and Cocos Island is 550 kilometers from Costa Rica's coast. These islands are more frequently associated with the term Pacific Islands,[72] and occasionally have been included as part of Oceania.[73][24][71] Remoter islands such as France's Clipperton (1,100 kilometers from Mexico's coast) are even more commonly associated with Oceania, with such islands usually having stronger biogeographical affinities to the central Pacific or south Pacific.[74]

South America and Oceania

  •  Ecuador: The Pacific Ocean archipelago of the Galápagos Islands, about 1,000 kilometers from continental Ecuador, is sometimes considered part of Oceania.[56][50][75][76][73] This is because of the distance separating them from mainland South America, and their oceanic geology.[25][28] The islands lie on the Nazca Plate with Easter Island, which is considered to be separate to the South American Plate, and they additionally border the Pacific Plate.[77] The Galápagos Islands did not have any known human ties to South America during the pre-Columbian era;[78][79] however, they also do not fit into a cultural subregion of Oceania and the Pacific, as is the case with Easter Island, which historically was Polynesian.[80][79]

Europe and North America

  •  Iceland: Among the most frequently cited features of Iceland's geography is its location atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs through the island. This ridge is formed by the plate boundary separating North America and Eurasia in the North Atlantic, thus geologically dividing Iceland between the two continental plates. Though Iceland has colonial origins, having been settled in the 9th century, the country identifies with Europe for political and economic reasons.[81]

Notes

  1. ^ Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  2. ^ The Antarctic claims of Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom overlap to some degree.
  3. ^ Australia, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom recognize each other's Antarctic claims (which do not overlap).[64]

See also

References

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