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Geography of the World
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of the World

Geography: Realms, Regions & Concepts
Geography: Realms, Regions & Concepts

Origins: Evolution of Continents
Evolution of Continents, Oceans
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The Continents Educational Geography Posters & Prints
for the geography and social studies classrooms.

geography > CONTINENTS | landforms < social studies

Continents Posters
Continents Posters


Central America
Middle East
North America
South America

A continent is one of several very large land masses on Earth.

They are generally identified by agreement rather than any strict criteria. The seven regions commonly regarded as continents are, from largest to smallest in size: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

Seven Continents Poster Set with Activity Packet
Seven Continents Poster Set
with Activity Packet

Map of the Continents 7 Poster Set
Map of the Continents
7 Poster Set

The Continents Art Print
The Continents
Art Print

Bulletin Board Continents of the World Set
Bulletin Board Continents
of the World Set

Africa Continent Poster
Africa Continent Poster

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no longer available.

Continent of Africa
Poster Text:
Many people think of Africa as all jungle, but there is as much desert as jungle on the continent. Deserts cover two-fifths of Africa. The Sahara Desert, the largest desert in the world, stretches across 3 1/4 million square miles of northern Africa. Much of Africa is also covered by grasslands called savannas. Africa has the largest tropical area of any continent. Dense tropical rain forests surround the Congo River Basin in West Central Africa. The world's longest river, the Nile, flows for 4,145 miles through East Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly all of Africa has a hot climate, but the humidity and rainfall vary greatly. The highest temperature ever recorded, 136ºF, was in the African nation of Libya in 1922. Tropical areas can get more than 100 inches of rain a year, but the Sahara Desert averages less than 10 inches a year. Rain falls year-round in the Congo Basin, but most of the continent experiences a season of heavy rainfall followed by a dry period.
RESOURCES: Africa is a leading producer of cocoa beans, cashews, vanilla beans, and yams. Much of Africa's cultivated land is used for subsistence farming – growing local crops for the farmer and his family's own use. Africa has large deposits of diamonds, gold, copper, and petroleum, but nearly all its mineral wealth is clustered in just a few countries. Mining has played a large part in the development of Africa and accounts for more than half of its exports. South Africa is the world's leading producer of gold, and both Libya and Nigeria are leading producers of petroleum.
WILDLIFE: Africa has thousands of species of mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds, and insects. Herds of antelope, giraffes, and zebras roam the grasslands. Large cats such as leopards, cheetahs, and lions stalk these animals as prey. Some herds of elephants can still be found in the east and southeast. Chimpanezees, monkeys, and gorillas live in the forests, and hippopotamuses and crocodiles live in the tropical rivers. Because of overhunting, many of these animals are now endangered. The plant life in Africa varies greatly due to differences in climate and rainfall. Palm trees, fruit trees, and hardwoods like mahogany and ebony are found in the rain forest. Drought resistant grasses and the thick-trunked baobah tree grow on the savannas.
HISTORY/PEOPLE: The earliest evidence of human existence, dating back two million years, was found in East Africa. One of the world's first great civilizations – Ancient Egypt – sprang up along the banks of the Nile River more than 5,000 years ago. Many other empires also developed in Africa. In the 1400s, Europeans began exploring Africa and setting up trading posts. Over the next several centuries, Europeans captured Africans and shipped them to Europe and the Americas as slaves. By the 1800s, as many as 10 million Africans had been enslaved and brought to Europe and the New World. Many European nations, including Belgium, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, fought for control of Africa. By the early 1900s, these countries had made colonies af all but two nations in Africa. In the mid-1900s the demand for African independence grew and most nations were freed from European rule. The people of Africa now have various backgrounds. Some are descendents of the continent's original inhabitants, others are descended from people who came originally from Europe, East Asia, or India. There are more than 50 countries in Africa, and more than 800 languages are spoken there. Most Africans come from small ethnic groups that have their own languages and religions. In addition, Arabic-speaking Muslims are common in northern Africa, and many Christians can be found in Ethiopia and Egypt.

Africa posters
Black History posters

Antarctica Continent Poster
Antarctica Continent Poster

Continent of Antarctica
Poster Text:
Ninety-eight percent of the continent of Antarctica is covered with ice and snow. This icecap is 746 million cubic miles* in size, extending beyond the land of the continent itself, and is on average about 7,100 feet thick. The icecap provides 70 percent of Earth's fresh water. If it were to melt, it would raise sea levels and flood coastal cities around the world. The Antarctic icecap is left over from glaciers that began to form 30 million years ago. The weight of the icecap causes it to slide outward toward the coasts, moving general hundred feet each year. Occassionally, huge chunks of the icecap break off into the sea. The Antarctic winter lasts form May through August. Temperatures in most of Antaratica rarely rise above freezing, even in summer. The world's lowest temperature, -129ºF, was recorded in Antarctica on July 21, 1893*. Inland Antarctica has one of the driest climates on Earth, receiving on average of less than 2 inches of rain or snow each year.
RESOURCES: In 1959, twelve countries signed a treaty agreeing to use Antarctica mainly for research. Scientists from around the world maintain year-round research stations on the continent. Several nations have claimed parts of Antarctica in hopes of controlling mineral resources there, but most nations refuse to recognize these claims. Copper, gold, iron, lead, coal, and other minerals have been found in Antarctica, but mostly in amounts too small to be mined. Geologists have also found evidence of petroleum off shore.
WILDLIFE: Very few animals or insects can survive inland Antarctica's harsh conditions. However, the coasts and surrounding waters support a variety of life. Mosses cling to the rocky coasts. Algae can make the snow look pink or green. Only two kinds of flowering plants grow in Antarctica. Small, shrimp-like creatures called krill swarm in huge masses in the Antarctica Ocean, appearing red by day and glowing blue-green at night. Many sea creatures depend on the krill for food. Several kinds of whales migrate to the Antarctic waters for the summer. Gulls, terns, and albatrosses spend summers there, as well. Various kinds of penguins and seals also live on the Antarctic coasts.
HISTORY/EXPLORATION: No one knows who first spotted the Antarctic continent, but many explorers tried to navigate the rough waters around it in the 1800s. A British Navy expedition first went inland in 1901. In 1910, a race to reach the South Pole began between two expeditions. The team lead by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached the pole on December 14, 1911. The second team, lead by British Navy Captain Robert Scott, reached the pole a month later. Weakend by cold, hunger, and exhaustion, all five members of Captain Scott's team died on the return trip. Today, scientists and others are still exploring the harsh continent.

• more Antarctic posters

Asia Continent Poster
Asia Continent Poster

Continent of Asia
Poster Text:
Asia is a huge continent with an incredible variety of climates and land features, ranging from tropical jungles to the frozen Arctic. The highest and lowest points on any continent – Mount Everest and the Dead Sea – can both be found in Asia. There are six major land regions in Asia. North Asia is covered largely with forest, but much of the region stays frozen throughout the year. Central Asia is mainly made up of high, rocky plateaus and dry, grassy plains. East Asia and Southeast Asia have fertile soil, Southeast Asia has a tropical climate, South Asia includes the Himalayan Mountains, but also fertile farmland. Monsoons bring heavy rains to both South and Southeast Asia. Southwest Asia is mainly desert and some mountains.
RESOURCES: Three-fifth of the peoples in Asia make a living farming. The main crops in Asia are rice and wheat. In addition, much of the world's natural rubber and tea come from Asia. Other important crops include cotton and sugar cane. Asia's coasts provide some of the world's most abundant fishing. Minerals are also an important Asian resource. Southwest Asia provide a large portion of the world's oil, and Southeast Asia produces much of the world's tin. China, Japan, and South Korea produces large portions of the world's manufactured goods.
WILDLIFE: The wildlife in Asia is as diverse as its many climates. Reindeer, bears, and seals can be found in the Arctic north. The southwest is home to camels and other desert creatures. Tigers, cobras, and elephants are native to India, while the giant panda and the yak live in China. Water buffalo, orangatans, and Komodo dragrons are native to Southeast Asia. Plant life covers the spectrum from fir and spruce in the north to palm trees in the southwest to poppies and bamboo in the southeast.
HISTORY/PEOPLE: Civilization began in Asia more than 5,000 years ago. Ancient Asian civilizations made huge advances to science, technology, and culture. Asia is home to the world's first cities, and the first systems of law, writing, and literature were invented there. The world's major religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hindusim, and Buddhism, among others – started in Asia. The people of Asia differ greatly in their cultures, languages, religions beliefs, and ways of life. They can be classified into three main groups. One group includes Arabs, Jews, and most of the peple west of India. Another group includes the people of Pakistan and India. A third group includes the people of China, Japan, and most of the people of Southeast Asia. More Asians practice Hinduism than any other religions. The second most popular religion is Islam. Buddhism is prevalent in Southeast Asia. Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and the dialects of India and Southeast Asia are among the many languages spoken by the people of Asia.

• more Asia posters
• more Middle East posters

Australia Continent Poster
Australia Continent

Continent of Australia
Poster Text:
Australia lies completely below the equator, so its seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer lasts from December through February, while winter lasts from June through August. The climate in Australia is generally warm and dry. The majority of the continent is desert. Along with the eastern coast, summers are warm, winters are cool, and rainfall is moderate. Heavy rainfall from storms and cyclones cause floods along the north coast during the rainy season, from November to April. Droughts are a problem in nearly all parts of the continent. The Australian Alps, a small mountain range in the south, is the only area that gets snow in the winter. The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, extends for aobut 1,500 miles along Australia's northeast coast.
RESOURCES: Because of a lack of water, Australia has little land that can be farmed. However, the continent is the world's top producer of wool and a large producer of beef. Australia also has rich mineral deposits. It is the leading supplier of bauxite, an important ore used in making aluminum. Australia is a leading producer of diamonds, lead, coal, copper, gold, and other minerals. Petroleum and natural gas are drilled in off-shore wells. The continent also has large depostis of uranium.
WILDLIFE: Experts believe that at one time, all seven continents were part of one large land mass. But Australia has been separated from the rest of the world by huge oceans for about 60 million years. Because of this, its animals evolved differently from those on the other continents. Australia has more than 150 varieties of marsupials – mammals were tiny young develop in their mothers' pouches. These marsupials include kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, and wombats. The platypus and the echidna, which are also found in Australia, are the only mammals that hatch their young from eggs. Eucalyptus and acacia are two of the continent's most common native plants.
HISTORY/PEOPLE: Native Australian, known as Aborigines, lived in Australia for 40,000 years before the first white settlers arrived. In the late 1700s, the British settled Australia as a prison colony. Many of the aborigianl Australians were killed or forced from their homes by these settlers. Until the mid-1900s, almost all immigrants to Australia were from England or Ireland. After World War II, people left homeless by the war were encouraged to settle there. Today, less than 1 percent of the population of Australia is made up of Aborigines. Most Australians are European immigrants or the children of European immigrants. About 4 percent of the population is Asian. The majority of the people in Australia live along the southeast coast, because the inland climate is too dry to support a sizeable population.

* The island of New Zealand is not considered part of the continent of Australia, New Zealand and many other Pacific islands are not geographically part of any continent. The collective name for these islands is Oceania.

Australia posters

History of Europe, The Major Turning Points Map, 1983, Poster
History of Europe, The Major Turning Points Map, 1983, Poster

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no longer available

Continent of Europe
Poster Text:
Some people consider Europe and Asia to be one continent called Eurasia, since the continents are not divided by a body of water. Europe's western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean, and its eastern boundary includes the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea in Russia. Everything east of this boundary is considered part of Asia. Europe has 37,877 miles of rugged coastline and peninsulas. The mountains of Europe are some of the oldest rock formations on Earth. The Alpine Mountain System includes the Alps, the Sierra Nevadas, the Pyrenees, the Carpathians, and several other mountain chains. The Caspian Sea, which straddles the border between Europe and Asia, is actually the world's largest saltwater lake. Most of Europe has a mild climate. This is due to winds blowing off the Atlantic that have been warmed by the Gulf Stream. Northern Europe generally has longer, colder winters and shorter, cooler summers than the south.
RESOURCES: Europe has many rich coal and iron ore deposits. European mines produce about half of the world's coal and a third of its iron ore and natural gas. The continent also has some of the most fertile farmland in the world, producing large amounts of wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and rye. More than half the land is Europe is used for raising crops of livestock. The fishing industry is also important to Europe: Norway and Russia are top fishing nations, European countries also produce steel, automobiles, and other goods.
WILDLIFE: Many of Europe's plants and animals can be found on other continents as well; very few are native only to Europe. Brown bears, foxes, and wolves are found in remote parts of northern Europe, as are elk and reindeer. Other wild animals common in Europe are moles, squirrels, rabbits, otters, and wild boars. Birds native to Europe include the falcon, eagle, finch, sparrow, owl, and raven. There are many kinds of fish on the Atlantic off the coast of Europe. Huge forests that once covered much of central and southern Europe were cut down for lumber and to make space for farms or cities, but northern Europe still has large forest of fir, pine, and spruce trees. Much of southeastern Europe is covered with grasslands, while mosses, lichens, and wildflowers grow in the mountains.
HISTORY/PEOPLE: The first European civilizations developed on Crete and other islands in the Aegean Sea around 3000 BCE Greek civilization reached its height between 500 and 300 BCE. The next great civilization was the Roman Empire, which was founded in 753 BCE and lasted until 476 CE. After the fall of the Roman Empire the Middle Ages began, and much of Europe was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. In the mid-1399s, about a quarter of the population of Europe died from a disease called bubonic plague in an epidemic known as the Black Death. Great advances in science, art, philosophy, and other disciplines were made in Europe in the 1400s and 1500s, during a period known as the Renaissance. Europe today has a wide variety of ethnic groups. Most Europeans are descended from tribal peoples, such as the Celts, the Danes, and the Saxons, who lived on the continent in ancient times. But since the 1950s, many people form Asia and Africa have moved to countries in Europe as well. About 50 different languages are spoken in Europe. Over the centuries differences among proups had lead to fighting, but economic and other political developments in the 20th century have had a unifying effect, especially in Western Europe.

Europe posters

North America Map Poster
North America Continent Poster

(series image no longer available)

Continent of North America
Poster Text:
North America's longest river system is the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio. This system is about 4,700 miles long. It drains almost all of the land between the Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Superior, one of the Great Lakes, is the world's largest freshwater lake. The western edge of North America is lined with several mountain ranges that run from the far north to the far south of the continent. Only one mountain range, the Appalachian, can be found in the eastern part of continent. North America is the only continent in the world that has every possible climate. Far north of Arctic Circle the temperatures rarely rise above freezing while the climate in the much of the south is steamy and tropical. In general, the central part of the continent has a seasonal climate with cool to cold winters and warm to hot summers.
RESOURCES: North America is a major source of the world's soybeans, wheat, and corn. Large cattle and sheep ranches can be found in the west. North America has large deposits of silver, nickel, and copper. Petroleum and natural gas are drilled in the Great Plains region, Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico.
WILDLIFE: Because of its diverse climate, North America supports a wide variety of plants and animals. Colorful tropical birds, monkeys, and jaguars can be found in the south, while polar bears, bison and caribou roam some parts of the north. The southwestern areas contain a variety of reptiles, including lizards and rattlesnakes. The only plants that can survive in the freezing temperatures of the far north are a few species of mosses and lichens. The rest of the continent has a huge range of plant life. From fir, maple, and redwood trees to Spanish moss and saguaro cactus, almost every variety of plant can be found in North America.
HISTORY/PEOPLE: The first people in North America probably came from Asia thousands of years ago. These people, who came to be called Indians, settled throughout North America. European explorers in the late 1400s and early 1500s conquered many of North American's Indian societies. Portuguese and Spanish explorers, including Columbus, Cortes, and Ponce de Leon, explored much of the southeast part of the continent. English and French explorers charted the northeast. The first blacks were brought to North America from Africa to work as slaves on Caribbean Island plantations. Immigrants have come to North America from every country in Europe. Asians began immigrating to the continent in the 1800s. English and Spanish are the common languages spoken in North America.
* In 1999, a major change took place in North America's largest nation, Canada. A 736,0000 square-mile area of land called Nunavut in the Northwest Territories became a separate nation** when it was handed over to the Inuit people of Canada as the result of Inuit land claims.

Mexico posters
United States posters
Central America posters

South America Continent Poster
South America Continent Poster

Continent of South America Poster
Poster Text:
South America is almost completely surrounded by water. Inland, the Amazon River is about 4,000 miles long, making it second only to the Nile in length. The Amazon carries one-fifth of the world's river water. The Amazon River Basin supports the world's largest tropical rain forest. The Andes Mountains, along the west coast, run the entire length of the continent. At 4,500 miles long, the Andes is the world's longest mountain range. Lake Titicaca, located 12,507 feet above sea level on the largest plateau in the Andes, is the world's highest navigable lake. The climate in South America ranges from tropical in the rain forest, to ... and wet in the highlands of the Andes. The Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the driest places on Earth.
RESOURCES: Mining is a large industry in South America, rich deposits of copper, gold, iron ore, bauxite, and petroleum. ...are also inland in South America. Coffee, bananas, and beef are the continent's chief agricultural products. The forest industry produces hardwoods such as mahogany, as well as latex from rubber trees. Clear cutting of the tropical rain forests of South America has created serious environmental problems for the continent, and the world.
WILDLIFE: The greatest variety of animals in South America can be found in the Amazon River Basin. This region supports thousand os species. Manatees, which are large water mammals, live in the Amazon River, as do piranha, a type of carnivorous fish. Many kinds of monkeys can be found in the rain forest. The anaconda, one of the world's largest snakes, is native to the region. So are flamingos, parrots, and toucans. Alpacas, llamas, and guinea pigs were all domesticated in South America. The rain forest also has more plant varieties than anywhere else in the world, including 2,500 types of trees and many exotic orchids.
HISTORY/PEOPLE: Many people in South America have mixed Indian, European, and African heritage. The Inca Empire was the first major civilization in South America. the Inca were skilled architects who also built a network of roads in their huge empire. Spanish and Portuguese explorers began arriving on the continent in the late 1400s. Much of South America was claimed by Spanish conquistadors like Francisco Pizarro, who conquered the Inca empire by killing the Inca leader Atahualpa. Africans were brought to the continent as slaves to work on Europeans plantations. Blacks now make up about 12 percent of South America's population. Today, most of the people of South America speak Spanish or Portugese. The majority live in large cities. A few native tribes still live in locations deep in the Amazon Rain Forest.

South America posters

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