What Continent is New Zealand in?

New Zealand is located on a submerged continent called Zealandia. It is a part of the wider region called Oceania (which is not a continent).

Some people argue that New Zealand should be considered a part of the Australian continent, or even that it is an island without a continent.

This article outlines the main arguments, and contains information about the submerged continent of Zealandia.

Is New Zealand a continent called Zealandia?

New Zealand is a part of a submerged continent called Zealandia. It is the largest part of the continent that is above water.

This topographical map shows the extent of the Zealandia continent. The parts in green are islands. The light blue represents the raised continental crust.

What Continent is New Zealand in

The two ridges that extend North East of New Zealand are Alpine ridges – they extend into New Zealand where they become the Southern Alps. Although the eastern coast of Australia is shown, it is not a part of Zealandia.

Today, almost all of Zealandia, which broke away from Gondwanaland 83 million years ago, is submerged under the Pacific Ocean. The few parts which are above the sea include New Zealand (population: 4.7 million), New Caledonia (pop: 252,000), Norfolk Island (pop: 2,302), the Lord Howe Island Group (pop: 347) and the unpopulated Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.

TerritoryPart ofPopulationArea (square miles)
New ZealandNew Zealand4.7 million103,483
New CaledoniaFrance252,0007,172
Norfolk IslandAustralia2,30213.3
Lord Howe Island GroupAustralia3475.62
Elizabeth and Middleton ReefsAustralia0n/a

New Zealand itself was isolated from the rest of the world until 800 years ago, when the first humans (Maori) arrived. Because of this isolation it developed a unique environment free of natural predators.

Is New Zealand a part of Australia?

Some geologists argue that, because Zealandia is a continental fragment that broke away from the Australian continent, New Zealand should really be considered to be a part of Australia.

Leaving aside geography, politically New Zealand has very close ties with its close neighbour Australia. Because the geographical boundaries of continents are not clearly defined and subject to dispute, some people believe that the political argument that New Zealand is so closely linked to Australia means that – for practical purposes at least – it would be simplest to say that New Zealand is a part of the Australian continent.

Is New Zealand part of Oceania

New Zealand is a part of the Oceania region – although it is important to note that Oceania is not a continent. Instead, Oceania is a grouping of countries and islands spread across the Pacific Ocean.

Oceania Map

New Zealand is the second largest country in Oceania, after Australia, and plays a leading role in the region. Traditionally, New Zealand has the most influence in Polynesia, and Australia has the greater influence in Melanesia.

In most regional sports, New Zealand competes in Oceanian sporting competitions.

Is Australia a Country or a Continent?

Australia is both a country and a continent. The country called Australia is a part of the continent that is also called Australia.

Australia is also a part of the region called Oceania, which is not technically a continent. It is also a part of the region called Australasia, which is a sub-region of Oceania.

This article provides further information about how the continent of Australia is defined. It also answers questions about Oceania and Australasia. At the end of the article is a list of countries in Australia.

What continent is Australia in?

Australia (the country) is in Australia (the continent). However, experts disagree about what exactly constitutes the continent of Australia. Some argue that Australia (the continent) just includes the island of Australia and its surrounding islands. Others argue that the continent is much larger.

Australia Continent

At the lower end of the scale, are those who argue that the continent of Australia is comprised of just two major parts – the islands of Australia and Tasmania – plus a number of smaller islands scattered around their coasts.

Those who argue for Australia as a large continent include not just Australia itself, but the islands of New Guinea, Seram and Timor to the north, and even parts of New Zealand to the east.

There are also others who argue that, which Australia is a large continent, New Zealand should not be considered a part of the Australian continent. Instead, it should be considered as part of its own continent – a submerged continent called Zealandia.

The most commonly accepted definition is that Australia (the continent) is comprised of Australia (the country), plus New Zealand, New Guinea and Seram (an island in Indonesia). We have used this definition in compiling the list of countries in Australia that you will find at the end of this article.

Australia – the oldest continent

Australia is known as the oldest continent.

This is partly because, although Australia was formed at the same time as other continents, the rocks that make up its landscape are far older than the rocks that make up the landscape of other continents.

It is also because Australia was so distant from the rest of the world that its ecology was able to develop without much interference from the rest of the world. As a result, Australia’s ecology is very different to the ecologies of much of the rest of the world.

And, finally, it is because Australia was the last continent to be discovered by humans (aborigines first landed more than 40,000 years ago, although Europeans didn’t discover Australia until the early 17th century).

Is Oceania a Continent?

No. Oceania is not a continent. Instead, Oceania is a region.

The region of Oceania is usually divided into three smaller regions – Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.

Others prefer a broader geographical definition which includes all of the Pacific Islands (for example Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands and more), New Zealand, Australia and even the Malay Archipelago.

Here is a map that shows Oceania – it uses the broadest possible definition of what countries are in Oceania.

Oceania Map

The most common definition of Oceania (used by the UN and IOC) includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the small Pacific Island nations.

Is Australasia a Continent?

No, Australasia is not a continent.

Australasia is a region. It is made up of the part of Oceania that includes Australia, New Zealand, Guinea and a number of smaller islands.

The term Australasia is often used as a shorthand to refer to Australia and New Zealand at the same time.

How many countries are there in Australia?

As noted above, working out how many countries are in the Australian continent depends very much on what definition you use.

Australia continent 2

For the purposes of the list of countries below, we have taken a broad definition of the continent, including New Zealand, Timor and Seram (both in Indonesia) and New Guinea (split between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

List of Countries in Australia

Using the definition above, there are four countries in the continent of Australia. Three of these are full countries and one (Indonesia) is partly in Australia.

CountryPopulationArea (sq m)
Papua New Guinea7,619,321462,840
Indonesia (Seram and Western New Guinea)4,797,982467,640
New Zealand4,528,526268,021

Note: This table is sorted by population. It includes the population of Seram and Western New Guinea, two regions of Indonesia. The total population of Indonesia is 257,563,815. 

What continent is India in?

India is a country in the continent of Asia. It is the second largest country in Asia, both in terms of population (1.2 billion people) and area (1.27 million square miles).

India is located in South Asia, in an area that is also commonly referred to as the Indian subcontinent. Major countries on its borders include China in the North East, Pakistan in the North West and Bangladesh in the East. Until 1947, both India and Bangladesh were a part of India.

World map with magnifying on India. Blue earth globe with India flag pin. Zoom on India map. Vector Illustration

This article goes into more detail about what continent India is in. It also explains what it means when people refer to India as a subcontinent (and explains why India is not a continent in its own right.

Is India in Asia?

Yes. India is a part of Asia.

India has a population of 1.2 billion people, making it the second most populated country in Asia after China (as well as the second most populated country in the world. India has a total area of 1,269,346 square miles (3,287,263 km2) which makes it the second largest country in Asia by area, and the seventh largest country in the world by area.

India has strong cultural, historical and political links with other countries in Asia although, because the Himalayas acted as a boundary between India and much of the rest of the continent, it also developed its own distinct culture and languages during its early history.

Today India sees itself as a rising power. It has good relations with many other Asian countries and is a member of many Asian international organisations, including ASEAN, the Asian Development Bank and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

India’s relationships with some of its continental neighbours are strained, though. It has particularly poor relations with Pakistan and China. India’s borders with each of these two countries are disputed, and it has fought wars against both countries during the last fifty years.

India used to be a part of the British Empire, and is still a member of the Commonwealth. Because of this, it also has strong ties with other Commonwealth countries.

Is India a continent?

No, India is not a continent in its own right. It is a part of the content of Asia.

Because of its size, though, India is sometimes referred to as a ‘continent masquerading as a country’.

One reason why people sometimes talk about India as if it were a continent in its own right (and sometimes call it a subcontinent – see below) is because it sits on its own tectonic plate – called the Indian tectonic plate.

The Indian tectonic plate used to be a part of the Gondwana supercontinent. But 75 million years ago it broke off from Gondwana and gradually began to move northwards. Eventually it crashed (very slowly!) into the Eurasian tectonic plate. Here is an animated video showing how the force of the impact created the Himalaya mountain range.

Why is India called a subcontinent?

A large landmass which is part of a larger continent, but is geographically distinct and self-contained, is often called a subcontinent.

India is one example of a subcontinent; Greenland and the Arabian Peninsula are other examples.

The Indian subcontinent exists because it is effectively separated from the rest of Asia by three mountain ranges – the Himalayas. the Hindu Kush, and Karakorum. Because India also sits on its own tectonic plate (see above) the argument that India is a subcontinent has added weight.

The most common definition of the Indian subcontinent is the land covered by the countries of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan (all of which were, before 1947, part of one country).

When India was part of the British Empire, it was widely referred to as the Indian Subcontinent, so the term is particularly widely used in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries.

But when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan and Bangladesh, it made people think that a broader definition of the subcontinent might be appropriate.

Academics and news organisations have begun to move away from calling the region the Indian subcontinent. Instead, they often use other related terms, such as the Asian subcontinent or South Asia.

A good example is the UN’s official definition of Southern Asia which includes not just India, but also Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

What continent is France in?

Metropolitan France is in Europe. However, France is a Trans-Continental country. It has Overseas Regions (which are an integral part of France) in three other continents – North America, South America and Africa.

France also has a number of additional Overseas Collectives and Overseas Territories spread across the world – four in North America, three in Oceania, and one in Antarctica. These do not have quite the same status as France ‘proper’ but have been included for completeness.

What Continent is France in

In this article we explain where Metropolitan France, its Overseas Regions, Collectives and Territories are located around the world. At the end of the article you will find a list of each part of France and its continent.

Metropolitan France

Ask most people ‘What continent is France in’ and you’ll get a slightly puzzled look followed by the answer ‘Europe, of course.’

But really its only Metropolitan France that is in Europe.

Almost all of the population of France (64.6 million people in 2016) is located in the European (Metropolitan) part of France. That’s 96% of the total population.

Metropolitan France also makes up 82% of the total amount of French territory worldwide.

Paris, the capital city, and the 20 largest cities in France are all in Metropolitan France.

France Overseas Regions by Continent

France has five Overseas Regions. They are French Guiana (South America), Guadeloupe and Martinique (North America), Mayotte and Réunion (Africa). Together they are home to 2.1 million people and 18% of French territory.

France Overseas Regions Map

Each of these five regions is considered an integral part of France. The French constitution and laws apply and each region has exactly the same powers as a region in Metropolitan France. Each region also elects representatives to serve in the French Parliament (National Assembly) and French Senate.

France’s five overseas regions also elect a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), and have the Euro as their currency. They, along with one other French Overseas Community (Saint-Martin – see below), two Portuguese autonomous regions and one Spanish autonomous region, are classified by the EU as Outermost Regions. They are considered to be an integral part of the European Union.

Saint-Denis, in Reunion, is the 21st largest city in France, with a population of 142,244 people.

France Overseas Collectives and Territories by Continent

France also has a number of Overseas Collectives and Territories.

They are different to Overseas Regions in that they are not considered to be an integral part of France. They have different levels of autonomy and local government. You can see a full list in the table below.

French Polynesia, in the South Pacific Ocean (Oceania) has perhaps the most autonomy. It has its own President and Assembly, and has been designated an Overseas country inside the French Republic. However, France still retains a great deal of administrative control. It has strong links to France, in that it can vote in French elections and elect MPs, but it also has a strong independence movement.

New Caledonia, also in the South Pacific (Oceania) also has a great deal of autonomy, alongside representation in the French Parliament and Senate. It held an independence referendum in 1987, which was rejected. A further referendum on independence is expected to take place in 2018.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon is unusual in that it is the only French territory to the north of Metropolitan France. A group of islands with a population of just 6,080 people, it is located just off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

France also controls Clipperton Island, a small uninhabited island to the west of Mexico in North America, and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, a collection of uninhabited islands off the north coast of Antarctica plus a slice of mainland Antarctica known as Adélie Land.

Metropolitan France and Overseas France by Continent

Here is a table listing each part of France, its location, its continent and its population.

Metropolitan FranceEuropeMetropole66,689,000
RéunionAfricaOverseas Region844,944
GuadeloupeNorth AmericaOverseas Region403,355
MartiniqueNorth AmericaOverseas Region394,173
French PolynesiaOceaniaOverseas Collective268,270
New CaledoniaOceaniaSpecial Collectivity258,958
French GuianaSouth AmericaOverseas Region229,040
MayotteAfricaOverseas Region212,600
Saint MartinNorth AmericaOverseas Collective36,979
Wallis and FutunaOceaniaOverseas Collective13,135
Saint BarthélemyNorth AmericaOverseas Collective8,938
Saint Pierre and MiquelonNorth AmericaOverseas Collective6,081
French Southern & Antarctic LandsAntarcticaOverseas Territorynone
Clipperton IslandNorth AmericaState Private Propertynone


What continent is Armenia in?

Armenia is a country in Asia. Located in the Caucasus region, Armenia used to be a part of the Soviet Union but is now an independent country.

Although Armenia is geographically located in Asia it could be argued that Armenia has closer political, cultural and linguistic ties with Europe than Asia.

Where is Armenia located?

Armenia is in the Caucasus, which consists of three independent countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, plus parts of Russia (in the north) Iran and Turkey (in the south).

What continent is Armenia in - Map

Image source: Jeroenscommons

The country is landlocked, sandwiched between Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran. It has a difficult relationship with Azerbaijan, and territorial disputes between the two countries erupted into the Nagorno-Karabakh war in the 1990s.

Is Armenia in Asia?

Geographically, yes, Armenia is in Asia.

The Caucasus, along its coast with the Black Sea, is considered by many to mark one of the unofficial borders between Europe and Asia. Because of this, most geographers consider the entire Caucasus region, including Armenia, to be a part of Asia rather than Europe.

Armenia is a member of a number of Asian political and economic organisations, including the Asian Development Bank. As we will see in the next section, however, its closest political relationships are with European organisations.

Is Armenia in Europe?

Setting geography aside, Armenia is in many ways much more of a European country than an Asian country.

In terms of recent history, of course, Armenia was a part of the Soviet Union (and the Russian Empire before that). As we have discussed in another article (‘What Continent is Russia in?’) Russia and the Soviet Union were split culturally and geographically between Europe and Asia, although in terms of culture, were both perhaps slightly more heavily dominated by their European heritage. It would be fair to say that Armenia’s Soviet experience has had a heavy impact on its culture and outlook today.

Armenia’s closest political relationships are with organisations in Europe – for example, it is a member of the Council of Europe and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, it has a close relationship with NATO and, until recently, it was working towards signing an Association Agreement with the European Union.

The Armenian language is an Indo-European language. Although it is a distinct branch of the language group in its own right, it has many characteristics of Greek and Albanian, as well as some Indo-Iranian influences. Its alphabet draws heavily on the Greek alphabet.

In terms of sport, Armenia is more likely to compete in European events than in Asian events. It is a member of UEFAand a member of the European Olympic Committee rather than the Olympic Committee of Asia.

What continent is Israel in?

Israel is a country in Asia. It is located on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, in the region known as the Middle East.

Although Israel is geographically located in Asia, the country has strong historical, cultural, sporting and economic links with Europe. Additionally, one of its neighbours is one of the largest countries in Africa.

Even the Israeli government adds to the confusion sometimes – in an article about Israel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains that Israel “lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.”

So it is not surprising that many people ask the simple question – just what continent is Israel in? In this article we provide the definitive answer, as well as respond to a number of misconceptions.

Is Israel in Asia?

Yes. Israel is geographically located in Asia.

The continent itself spreads from Turkey in the far West, through to Japan and Russia in the East of Asia; and from Arctic Russia in the North to the islands of Indonesia in the South. Here is a map of Asia, including Israel in the far left:

Asia Map

Although the exact border between Europe and Asia is not clearly defined, most geographers agree that it runs south from the Ural Mountains, along the coasts of the Caspian and Black Seas, and the far eastern coast of the Mediterranean.

Politically, Israel doesn’t have particularly close ties with the rest of Asia (or the Middle East for that matter – see below). Until its exclusion in the mid-1970s, for example, Israel competed in Asian sporting competitions. However, since the 1990s, Israel has more commonly participated in European sporting contests – for example it is a member of UEFA.

Did you know? The highest temperature ever recorded in the continent of Asia was in Israel – in 1942 a temperature of 54.0 °C / 129.2 °F was recorded in Tirat Zvi.

Is Israel in the Middle East?

Yes, Israel is a geographically a part of the Middle East, a region which runs from the far East of Europe (Cyprus), through to Iran in the East and Egypt, which is in both Africa and Asia.

Politically and culturally, however, Israel does not have close relations with its Middle Eastern neighbours. Since its foundation in 1948, Israel has been in a more or less continuous state of conflict (including numerous wars) with many of its Arab neighbours in the Middle East.

At its root (and at great risk of over-simplification) the conflict is between two religious groups, both of whom claim the same territory as their homeland – both geographically and religiously. Click here for more detail on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Is Israel in Europe?

No. Israel is not geographically a part of Europe.

It does, however, have close ties with the continent – historical, cultural, sporting and economic.

Most Jewish people who live in Israel today either emigrated directly from Europe to Israel, or had ancestors who emigrated during the last century. Prior to this mass emigration (known as Aliyah) the vast majority of Jews in the world lived as a part of the Jewish diaspora, spread primarily across Europe and the United States.

Because of this, Israel has strong cultural, historical and economic ties to Europe – all of which have a strong influence on Israel today.

Partly because of this, but more importantly because of poor relations with other countries in the Middle East and Asia, has close ties with European political and sporting organisations.

Israel has close links with the European Union and, although perhaps not realistic in the short term, there are many people who support the idea of Israel joining the EU.

In the sporting arena, since its exclusion from competition in Asia, Israel competes primarily in Europe. For example, Israel’s route to qualification for the football World Cup is through UEFA. It also competes in the Eurovision Song Contest (although arguably with the introduction of Australia, this is now a global contest!).

Is Israel in Africa?

No. Israel is not in the continent of Africa. It shares a border with Egypt, a country which is in both Africa and Asia.

A small minority of people argue that because, in the Bible, Israel used to be called the land of Canaan, Israel should be considered to be African. Canaan was the son of Ham, who is considered by many to be the father of Africa – in the Bible, Egypt is called the “land of Ham.”

What continent is Jerusalem in?

Geographically, Jerusalem is in Asia.

Jerusalem is considered a holy city by three religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Although it is claimed as the capital city by both Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem is currently occupied entirely by Israel.

With a population of 850,000 people, Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel.

Beijing population 2016

At the start of 2016, the population of Beijing was 21,700,000.

Beijing is the capital city of China, the second largest city in China (after Shanghai), and the third largest city in the world (after Shanghai and Karachi).

Beijing has always been one of the world’s largest cities. From 1425 to 1650, and then again from 1710 to 1825, it was the largest city in the world. It was also the first city in the modern era to reach a population of more than one million people – a feat it achieved in 1775.

Population of Beijing map

The population of Beijing has grown rapidly in recent years, but Chinese authorities have plans to limit the city’s growth in the near future.

How many people live in Beijing today?

The latest official population data was outlined in the Chinese Government’s most recent (2016-2020) five year plan.

It reported that at the end of 2015 / beginning of 2016, the population of Beijing was 21.7 million people.

The majority of people living in Beijing (13 million) are permanent residents and hold an official Hukou permit. The other 8 million are temporary residents who have migrated to Beijing from other parts of the country, often looking for better opportunities for work.

Permanent residents13 million
Migrants9 million

Beijing population growth

Beijing’s population has grown rapidly in the past sixty years. In 1953, when China held its first post-war census, the population of Beijing was recorded at just 2.7 million people. Today, the population is more than eight times as high.

In the 25 years since China’s market reforms began in earnest, the number of people living in Beijing has more than doubled – from 10.8 million people in 1990 to 21.7 million people today.

Here is a table that lists the Beijing population during selected years, from 1953.


Recent population growth has been driven primarily by migration. The birth rate in the city is quite low, at 8.93 births per thousand population per year.

Improved health care has meant that people in Beijing are also living longer. The average life expectancy in Beijing is now 81.95 years. This is well above the national average of 75.15 years, although below the average in some other major Chinese cities, such as Shanghai where life expectancy recently hit 84.8 years.

Beijing life expectancy81.85 years
China life expectancy75.15 years
Shanghai life expectancy84.8 years

Although population growth is slowing, it is still causing concern in the Chinese and Beijing government. Continued population rises can put strain on a city’s infrastructure, and Beijing’s residents suffer from problems with pollution – particularly the dangerously toxic Beijing smog which often shrouds the city.

To address this problem the city has plans to limit population growth in Beijing in the next few years and, potentially, to even reduce the city’s population.

As a part of its five year plan, the government plans to limit Beijing’s population to a maximum of 22 million people in 2016 and 23 million by 2020.

It is not certain that the government will be able to achieve this ambition, however. It has set targets aimed at limiting growth in the past, none of which have been met.

Beijing population density

1,322 people live in every square kilometer of Beijing.

This figure was calculated by taking the 2016 population of Beijing (21.7 million) and dividing it by the size of the city (16,411 km sq).

The bulk of the population in Beijing is concentrated in its central areas, and more than half of the residents of China’s capital city live in just six of its sixteen administrative districts.

For example, the two central districts of Chaoyang and Shijingshan are each home to more than three million people. These two districts, respectively, have a population density of 7,528 people per square mile and 7,701 people per square mile.

Beijing1,322 people per sq km
Chaoyang district 7,528 people per sq km
Shijingshan district7,701 people per sq km

This puts immense pressure on the city’s infrastructure and limits people’s quality of life. To address this the city government, as a part of its five year plan, intends to redistribute some the city’s population from the centre to the suburbs. They hope that the population of Beijing’s six central districts will fall by 15% by 2020.

Ethnic groups in Beijing

Han Chinese are the largest single ethnic group in Beijing. They make up 95.69% of the city’s population (2010 census data).

Other groups with significant numbers in the city are Manchu (1.84%) and Hui (1.74%).

Han Chinese95.69%

There is also a large number of foreign residents in Beijing. Although their numbers are not reliably captured in census data, there were thought to be at least 90,000 foreign residents in Beijing at the time of the 2010 census.

Beijing demographics

Reflecting its status as a city of internal migrants, many of whom have come to the capital to find work, Beijing has a higher ratio of males:females than the rest of the country. At the time of the 2010 census, the city’s gender balance was 51.6% male and 48.4% female.

Male 51.6%Female 48.4%

The majority of the city’s population is also of working age. According to data from 2004, when the population was much lower at 14.2 million people, the number of residents aged 0-14 was 1.4 million (10%), the number of residents aged 15-64 was 11.2 million (79%) and the number of residents aged over 65 was 1.6 million (11%).

0-14 years1.4 million (10%)
15-64 years11.2 million (79%)
Over 65 years1.6 million (11%)

It is likely that the percentage of people who are of working age has increased slightly over the decade since these figures were released.

Where is Beijing?

Beijing is a city in northern China, located near the coast.

Population of Beijing map

It is surrounded by Hebei province in the north, south and west. Tianjin province is to the south east of Beijing and, sandwiched between Beijing and the coast, acts as the city’s port.

Beijing has been the capital city of China for most of the last eight hundred years.

The name Beijing means ‘Northern Capital’. It was previously known outside of China as Peking.

What continent is Russia in?

When a country has borders with Poland in the West and Japan in the East, it gives rise to the question – just what continent is Russia in? Is Russia in Europe or Asia? Or is it in both continents at the same time?

The quick and simple answer is that, because the Ural Mountains form the boundary between the two continents and mark the unofficial border between Asia and Europe, Russia is a part of two continents – Russia is in both Europe and Asia.

But the detailed answer is slightly more complex that just considering where is Russia located geographically. To deal with it properly we need to look more carefully at Russia’s geography, its history, its politics and its culture.

Last updated: 27 June 2016.

Is Russia in Europe or Asia geographically?

Although Russia is thought of by many people as a European country, almost three quarters of its landmass is actually in Asia, east of the Urals. A more pertinent question might be – is Russia in Asia?

It is usually accepted that the Ural Mountains mark the border between Europe and Asia. Anything to the west of the Urals is considered to be in Europe and everywhere on the Eastern side of the range is considered to be in Asia.

What continent is Russia in
European Russia is shaded gray, Asian Russia is shaded red.

Russia is a massive country – 17,098,242 square kilometres in size. But only about 4 million square kilometres of Russia are in Europe, west of the Urals. The remaining 13 million square kilometers, including Siberia and the Russian Far East are in Asian Russia.

European Russia is much more densely populated than the rest of Russia, though. About 75% of the Russian population lives in European Russia. Population density in European Russia is around 27 people per square kilometer, whereas in Asian Russia contains just 2.5 people per square kilometer.

There are some how believe that Europe and Asia are not actually separate continents. Instead, the European and Asian continents should be treated as one mega-continent called Eurasia. This is because, geographically, there is no real border between Europe and Asia – the choice of the Ural Mountains was largely arbitrary and based on history and politics. If Eurasia existed, it would be the largest single continent in the world, with a population of around 4 billion people – almost a half of the world’s population.

What other countries are in more than one continent?

Russia is one of a select number of countries in the world that are located in more than one continent. The other famous example of a transcontinental state is Turkey, which is also in both Europe and Asia. Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, is one of the few examples of cities which are located in multiple continents.

There are also quite a few other, less well known, transcontinental states. Examples include France, which has territory on almost every continent, Egypt, which because it straddles the Suez Canal is in both Africa and Asia, and Greece, which is mostly in Europe, but has a couple of islands near Turkey, in Asia.

Did Russia once span three continents?

Historically, Russia is one of the few countries in the world that has held territory in three continents at the same time.

As well as its European and Asian territory, Russia held territory in North American in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, through the auspices of the Russian American Company. Quite a few Russian colonies were founded in Alaska, as well as a number of others along the western seaboard of North America, going as far south as Fort Russ (now Fort Ross) in California.

Russia gave up its American territories in 1867, when it sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million in a sale known as the Alaska Purchase, or Seward Purchase.

How has Russian territory changed over the years

Watch this video to see how Russia’s borders have ebbed and flowed over the centuries. It shows whether Russia is in Europe or Asia with an animated map.

At times the Russian government has controlled only small amounts of territory in European Russia, often around the Moscow area. Whereas, at other times, its reach has expanded into Poland in West and North America in the East.

Is Russia a part of Europe or Asia politically and culturally?

The split between two Russia’s two identities has been a major factor in Russian politics and has shaped its relations with the outside world for hundreds of years. Russia has never quite decided whether it is a European country, or an Asian country.

Under Peter the Great, Russia became a great European power.
Under Peter the Great, Russia became a great European power.

The confusion goes back to the times of Peter the Great, who was one of the great modernisers of Russian history. Until Peter’s arrival, Russia was a landlocked, and generally not well respected country.

Peter believed that Russia could not hope to be a great power without looking outwards, and so he traveled across Europe to learn about new technologies and ways of organising society. He took many of these new developments back to Russia, and his vision was instrumental in turning Russia into a strong country and a major player in 16th century Europe.

The debate became formalised, and entrenched, in 1840s and 1850s when two opposing intellectual movements began to take shape. On the one hand were the Westernizers, who advocated building Russian society along Western, European lines. And, on the other hand were the Slavophiles, who wanted Russia to accept its uniqueness and develop its own, distinct way of doing things – their vision was a more traditional, less individualistic society.

Since then, every Russian leader has faced the dilemma of whether to build closer links to Europe, or Asia, and Russia has often see-sawed between the two approaches. As a result, Russia has developed in a way that doesn’t quite fit either vision.

A modern example of this tension is the different approaches taken by two of Russia’s most recent Presidents – Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. While Yeltsin adopted Western free-market economic policies at the end of the Cold War, Putin’s Russia is characterised by a more centralised form of State Capitalism, combined with an assertive foreign policy.

Perhaps this tension is one of the reasons why many in the West are so fascinated by Russia – we can see how similar it is to us in so many respects, but also how different.

Is Moscow in Europe or Asia?

Moscow, the capital city of Russia, sits at the Western point of Russia, close to the country’s borders with Ukraine, Belarus and Estonia and with the Ural Mountains several hundred miles to the east.

So, the answer to the question ‘is Moscow in Europe or Asia?’ is that Moscow is comfortably in the European part of Russia.

Is Moscow in Europe or Asia
Moscow is in European Russia

The majority of major Russian cities lie to the west of the Ural Mountain range – for example, St Petersburg, Samara and Kazan are all comfortably in European Russia.

A number of other cities lie just to the East of the Urals. The most prominent example is Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia, which is home to 1.5 million people. It lies just 30 miles east of the mountain range that separates the two continents. This leads many to claim that Novosibirsk is a city on the border between Europe and Asia.

The only other major city on the border between Europe and Asia is actually in Turkey. Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus Strait, another geographical boundary between Europe and Asia, and has its northern sector in Europe and its southern sector in Asia.

Is Russia in the EU?

No. Russia is not a member of the EU (European Union) and has no plans to join the EU.

Russia and the EU have strong trading links, and in 2014 50% of Russia’s exports were sent to EU states – notably in the form of gas and oil exports.

At the time of writing (2016), EU-Russia relations are tense because of the conflict. The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia and, in return, Russia has imposed a ban on importing food from EU member states. The sanctions have not dramatically affected trade between Europe and Russia, however.

Formal relationships between Russia and the EU are governed by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which was signed in June 1994.

Is Russia in NATO?

No. Russia is not a member of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

The relationship between Russia and NATO was positive in the 1990s and early 2000s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A number of Western and Russian leaders even suggested that Russia should join NATO.

Russia did join the NATO Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and in 2002 a Russia-NATO council was formed to handle joint security issues.

In recent years, however, relations between the two organisations have soured and on 1 April 2014 NATO suspended co-operation with Russia. Relationships have further worsened during the conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian government has instead focused on developing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security, military and political organization whose members are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

World Leaders 2017

Updated: 24 January 2017

This page contains a list all world leaders, including a list of all Presidents, Prime Ministers and Monarchs for every country in the world that is a member of the UN or an observer at the UN. It includes the names of the head of state and head of government of each country.

It also includes a list of the heads of significant global and regional organisations – for example, the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank or NATO.

The data is accurate as of April 2016.

List of world leaders

This table contains a list of heads of state and heads of government. Where the two roles are combined, only one person is listed.

Where we have written an article about a person included in this list, you can click on a link to visit that article.

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What is the difference between head of state and head of government?

The head of state is almost always an individual. They are often elected but not always – for example, some heads of state are monarchs. Their main role is to act as the representative of that state – for example meeting foreign dignitaries, opening parliaments, or calling elections.

The head of government is usually a prime minister, who leads the government and the legislature. They are responsible for implementing laws and ensuring that the country’s bureaucracy runs smoothly.

Most countries separate the two roles, and appoint a different person to fulfil each function. However some countries, usually in countries with a Presidential system of government, allow one person to fulfil both roles.


Elizabeth II is the only person to be head of state of more than one country. This is because many countries that used to be a part of the British Empire have kept her as their head of state. In total, she is Queen of sixteen countries. She is also head of the Commonwealth of Nations. In countries other than the United Kingdom, she is represented by a Governor-General.

Bhumibol Adulyadejs, also known as Rama IX, is the longest serving head of state. He is also the longest serving current monarch. He has reigned as King of Thailand since 9 June 1946. This is more than five years longer than Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 5 February 1952.

The longest serving head of state who is not a monarch is Paul Biya of Cameroon. He took office on 30 June 1975.

Three countries have more than one head of state. These countries are Switzerland, where members of the federal council take it in turns to take on the role of President, San Marino, which is led by two Captains-Regent, and Bosnia & Herzegovina, which has a three-member Presidency with one member drawn from each of its three nations.

List of organisation leaders

This table contains a list of the leaders of selected international organisations.

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