In Norwegian, we have two words: "verdensdel" and "kontinent". The former is a word that describes a geopolitical division of the world, "verdens" = "world's" ; "del" = "part". The latter is simply a word that describes a big land mass not connected to the other landmasses (being too large for merely an island status). So, a verdensdel is Europe, or Asia. A kontinent is Eurasia, or Australia. Australia is not a verdensdel, as it is only a country, a part of the verdensdel that is Oceania. But Australia is a kontinent, because of its size.

I think you get my point. Thing is, this distinction seems to be gone in English, as both of the words will simply translate to "continent". So, is there a word for verdensdel?

  • What’s the problem with the term “geopolitical”?
    – user 66974
    Jun 4, 2020 at 19:19
  • I think you need to give more information than you have. Can you give some examples of verdensdel? Does it include, for example, political units like the European Union? Is than a verdensdel? While Norway belongs to EFTA. Is that a verdensdel and do EFTA and EU make up the European Economic Area (EEA), and is that a third verdensdel? Is that how the word is used? Would North Africa be a Verdensdel?
    – Tuffy
    Jun 4, 2020 at 20:00
  • I think this interesting question points out a linguistic/cultural difference between English speakers and Norwegians. I grew up learning about the seven continents--those, unlike our 8 or 9 planets, have not changed--and about countries, which are geopolitical regions. I also know of islands and landmasses as in the answer below. But I am not sure the concept of a verdensdel is directly translatable to English.
    – RobJarvis
    Jun 4, 2020 at 21:38
  • For most English speakers, the word continent is defined by the closed list of seven continents. There is no single principle behind that list: the separateness of Europe and Asia is a matter of culture and history, while the separateness of the other five is a matter of physical geography. The list of the seven is, however, too well entrenched for anybody to be able to change it. Those of us who yearn for everything in the language to be orderly, can only envy Norwegians if they use kontinent in a more sensible way.
    – jsw29
    Jun 4, 2020 at 21:54
  • It's unclear how Asia is a "geopolitical division", in that there's very little unity between the countries
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 5, 2020 at 0:04

1 Answer 1


Oceania is generally referred to as a geographic region, though some see it as a continent, and some don't consider Europe and Asia to be separate continents.

Armed with "landmass", "island", "continent" and "geographic/geopolitical region" do we really lack a word?

  • I didn't say Australia ISN'T an island, I only said that it's size made so that it couldn't JUST be an island; or in my exact words, "too large for MERELY an island status".
    – A. Kvåle
    Jun 5, 2020 at 16:17
  • Perhaps I misunderstood you. I'll edit my answer. I don't really understand "an island status". Jun 5, 2020 at 20:46
  • With "island status" I simply mean "being considered an island". Australia is considered an island, but not a mere island. It is more. It is a continent.
    – A. Kvåle
    Jun 5, 2020 at 21:45
  • I read somewhere that a dispute over land had included tectonic plates...need to find it!
    – user414952
    Mar 2, 2021 at 22:16

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