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Why Australia Is a Continent, but Greenland Is Not

It’s a question that has probably plagued you since you were old enough to learn what geography is: at what point does an island become a continent? (As opposed to when you were old enough to learn about puns, and you wondered if an island could be incontinent. But that’s another story for another time.) Is Australia really an island? Is Antarctica? And if they are continents, why isn’t the similarly large Greenland also a continent?

Simon Whistler, of YouTube’s “Today I Found Out” channel, has the answer. Sort of. Because it turns out there isn’t an easy single answer, when we can’t even all agree how many continents there are (is “America” one, or two? Rational people disagree).

However, there are ways to narrow it down. And as every insecure male has ever been told, it’s not necessarily the size, but what you do with it that counts. In even more Freudian speak, you can conceivably answer the question, “Why aren’t we a continent?” with “Why do you believe you’re NOT a continent?” In the Matrix, you can’t just think you are…you have to know you are.

There’s more to it than that, but we’re not going to spoil every detail for you before you watch the thing. Whistler’s a charming fellow and he deserves your eyeballs (no, not like that! Keep them in your head, please!). But now that he’s done explaining why Greenland isn’t a continent, maybe the host can clear up which continent Greenland is actually a part of. Because there’s some dispute over that as well.

Are you satisfied with the answer? What geographical dilemmas still have you puzzled? Map them out for us in the comments.

Image: Today I Found Out

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