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spinning globe

If we look at a globe or simple map of the world the first thing we notice is that it is two different colors.  These colors are usually green and blue, like the globe above.  The green area is land, and the blue area is water.

One way to look at the world is by looking at a globe.  A globe is a round model of the Earth.  By looking at a globe and spinning it around, we can see all the areas of land and water in scale, so they are exactly true to their real shapes and sizes.  Scale is the way that mapmakers reduce the real size of land masses, oceans, rivers, and other landforms to sizes that fit on a map or globe.  Having a true scale is an advantage of using a globe.  We can not however, see all of the world at the same time.  We can not see what is on the back of the globe, while we are looking at the front.  This is one disadvantage of using a globe.

world image

Another way to see the world's land masses and bodies of water is by looking at a flat map. With a flat map, we can see the entire world at one time. This is an advantage of using a flat map.  Because the world is round and not flat, a flat map can not show the exact scale of the shape or size of the land and water areas. This is one disadvantage of using a flat map.  

 Whether we are using a globe or flat map of the world, we will find that all of the world's land is broken up into seven main sections.  These very large areas of land are called continentsThe seven continents are:

                                   continent image      
North America,
                       continent image           South America,
                       continent image        Europe,
                      continent image           Asia,
                      continent image           Africa,
                       continent image      Australia/Oceania, and
                        globe image         Antarctica.

The United States is located on the continent of North America.

world map with continents and oceans

Oceans make up most of the world's surface area.  There are five oceans that separate the continents from one another.  They are the

  Atlantic Ocean,
   Pacific Ocean,
  Indian Ocean
  Arctic Ocean and the
  Southern Ocean.


The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean, while the Arctic Ocean is the smallest. The Southern Ocean became the 5th official ocean in the year 2000.  Until that year, only 4 oceans were recognized.  The Southern Ocean is very far south, and some of its water, like the waters of the Artic Ocean, are frozen.

Can you locate the seven continents and five oceans
on the map above?

Compass   compass rose     Rose

Let's take a look at where the continents and oceans are located in comparison to each other.  We will use the world map and a compass rose.  The compass rose will remind us of the directions: north, south, west, and east.

North America

compass rose   world map with continents and oceans   globe of North America

North America lies between two great bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean.  It is east of the Pacific Ocean, and west of the Atlantic Ocean.  The continent of North America is also attached to another continent by a small strip of land.  That continent is . . .

South America

compass rose   world map with continents and oceans  globe of South America

South America also lies between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.   South America is attached to North America by a small strip of land.  Just like North America, the continent of South America sits to the east of the Pacific Ocean, and to the west of the Atlantic Ocean. It is north of the Southern Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean separates South America from another large continent to its east.  That continent is . . .


compass rose    world map with continents and oceans   globe of Africa

Africa is surrounded on three sides by oceans.  Africa lies east of the Atlantic Ocean, west of the Indian Ocean, and north of the Southern Ocean.  The continent of Africa sits directly to the south of another continent.  The continent directly to the north of Africa is . . .


compass rose    world map with continents and oceans    globe of Europe

Europe sits to the east of the Atlantic Ocean, and south of the Arctic Ocean.  The Atlantic Ocean separates Europe from North America.  The continent of Europe shares its eastern border with another continent.  This giant land mass is . . .


compass rose    world map with continents and oceans  globe of Asia Asia is the largest of the continents.  Asia is located east of Europe, so it shares its western border with Europe.  To the east of Asia, lies the Pacific Ocean, which also separates Asia from North America.  South of Asia, lies the Indian Ocean.  The Indian Ocean separates Asia from another continent.  That continent is . . .


compass rose world map with continents and oceans    globe of Australia

Australia/Oceania is the smallest of the continents.  For many years it has been called simply Australia.  The continent is made up of many islands, however.  Together we call them the continent of Australia/Oceania.  Australia is by far the largest island on the continent.  New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, are just a few of the other islands in Australia/Oceania.  Australia is surrounded by three oceans.  To the west of Australia lies the Indian Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the east. South of Australia is the Southern Ocean.  If we travel south across the Southern Ocean, we will find the last of the seven continents.  That continent is . . .


compass rose  world map with continents and oceans  Globe of Antarctica

Antarctica is the southernmost of the seven continents.  In fact, the entire continent of Antarctica lies further south of any piece of land on any other continent!  Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Oceans.  All of the other oceans lie to the north of Antarctica, and of course, all of the other six continents are also north of Antarctica.

Let's review the names of the
seven continents and five oceans.


North America

South America








Atlantic Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Indian Ocean

Arctic Ocean


Southern Ocean


Click on the globe below to play a review game.

Spinning globe

Maps courtesy of
Spinning globe courtesy of:


continent: one of the seven very large areas that make up all of the earth's land
oceans: the large bodies of salt water that make up most of the earth's surface area

compass rose:  a guide to directions on a map


Spinning globe

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