As land area, land mass or continent is in geosciences (especially geography ) denotes that part of the earth's surface, which rises above the sea level and is not covered by the waters of the oceans even at high tide.

The land area of ​​the Earth is approximately 149.4 million kilometers ² - ie 29.3 % of the Earth - and mainly relates to the continents: Eurasia ( geographical- geological term for Europe and Asia), Africa, the Americas ( North America, Central America, South America), Antarctica and Australia.

This is called continental ( contiguous ) land masses as mainland. This is less than the associated continental lithospheric plates, because the continents and their coastal margins, the shelf areas belong. Land, bordering the ocean, coastlines hot or formerly shores. In contrast, the inland country, on all sides far away from the sea land area.

Small and scattered land within waters are called islands and the mainland are not counted. For larger groups of islands, the main island and the mainland is called the main island upstream offshore islands than smaller islands.

Land as opposed to water surfaces react very quickly and strongly to a varying sunlight because they have a lower specific heat than water. Therefore, from the land cools faster than the sea overnight and warms up faster in the day. This often considerable diurnal variation in temperature differences are the cause of many regional wind systems. The same applies to the annual cycle of temperature in the course of the seasons. The larger the land mass is, the more clearly shows this effect and is typical of a continental climate.

See also:

  • Geology, earth's crust, lithosphere
  • Mountains, basins ( geomorphology )
  • Kraton
  • Shield (geology), plain, plateau
  • Terraferma (Italian for " mainland", Venice's land )
  • Geomorphology
  • Climatology