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List of transcontinental countries

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This is a list of countries located on more than one continent, known as transcontinental states or intercontinental states. While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory straddling an overland continental boundary, most commonly the line that separates Europe and Asia.

The boundary between Europe and Asia is purely conventional, and several conventions remained in use well into the 20th century. However, the now-prevalent convention, used for the purposes of this list, follows the Caucasus northern chain, the Ural River and the Ural Mountains. It has been in use by some cartographers since about 1850.[1] This convention results in several countries finding themselves almost entirely in "Asia", with a few small enclaves or districts technically in "Europe". Notwithstanding these anomalies, this list of transcontinental or intercontinental states respects the convention that Europe and Asia are full continents rather than subcontinents or component landmasses of the larger Eurasian continent.

Listed further below, separately, are countries with distant non-contiguous parts (overseas territories) on separate continents.


Criteria for inclusion

The lists within this article include entries that meet the following criteria:

  • Transcontinental states are sovereign states that are divided between one geographical continent and another.[2]
  • In this article, states are divided between Contiguous and Non-contiguous transcontinental states.[3]
  • Contiguous transcontinental states are states that contain a portion of their territory on one continent and a portion of their territory on another continent, while having these two portions connected via a natural geological land connection (e.g. Russia) or the two portions being immediately adjacent to one another (e.g. Turkey).[4][5]
  • Non-contiguous transcontinental states are states that contain a portion of their territory on one continent and a portion of their territory on another continent, while having these two portions separated by a significant enough distance, or body of water, to not be considered adjacent.[4][5]
  • For the purposes of the lists within this article, a seven-continent model is assumed.[6]
  • Debate exists on the degree to which many non-contiguous transcontinental states can be considered 'transcontinental', due to portions of their territory often lying on distant islands that can be considered to be, or to not be, a part of a nearby secondary continent. The boundaries between the continents can be vague and can be subject to interpretation. For the purposes of the lists in this article, a state that has such a situation where this could be applicable is to nevertheless be included in the lists. (e.g. Socotra, Yemen and Madeira, Portugal)
  • Debate exists on the degree to which states that have claimed territory within the Antarctic treaty system can have actual control of that claimed territory. They are included in these lists. (e.g. Chilean Antarctic Territory, Chile)
  • Debate exists on the degree to which states that have territory on another continent that is an autonomous region, and is not constitutionally an indistinguishable part of the parent state (a dependent territory), can be considered to be transcontinental. They are nevertheless included in these lists. (e.g. British Overseas Territories, the United Kingdom)
  • Debate exists on the degree to which states that only have uninhabited island territory as a part of another continent can be considered transcontinental. They are nevertheless included in these lists. (e.g. Isla Aves, Venezuela)


  • Micronations, dependent territories, autonomous regions, and sub-national entities of sovereign states, if they are in themselves transcontinental, are to be excluded from the lists in this article as a separate entry from a controlling state.
  • States that have territory across sub-continental boundaries, and plate boundaries internal to continents, are excluded from these lists as these do not constitute being transcontinental in the seven-continent model.
  • States with limited recognition are excluded from the lists in this article, and any entry must be a UN member state or a part of the UN system.

Contiguous boundary

The Americas

Map of the Darién Gap at the border between Colombia and Panama

The conventional boundary between South America and North America is at some point on the Isthmus of Panama, with the most common demarcation in atlases and other sources following the Darién Mountains watershed that divides along the Colombia–Panama border where the isthmus meets the South American continent (see Darién Gap). This area encompasses a large watershed, forest and mountains in the northern portion of Colombia's Chocó Department and Panama's Darién Province.

There is also a gap in the Pan-American Highway that begins in Turbo, Colombia and ends in Yaviza, Panama, and is 106 km (66 miles) long. Roadbuilding through this area is expensive and the environmental cost is high. Political consensus in favor of road construction has not emerged.

The geography of the Darién Gap on the Colombian side is dominated primarily by the river delta of the Atrato River, which creates a flat marshland at least 80 km (50 mi) wide. The Serranía del Baudó range extends along Colombia's Pacific coast and extends into Panama. The Panamanian side, in sharp contrast, is a mountainous rainforest, with terrain reaching from 60 m (197 ft) in the valley floors to 1,845 m (6,053 ft) at the tallest peak (Cerro Tacarcuna, in the Serranía del Darién).

Asia and Africa

  African land part of Egypt
  Asian land part of Egypt
  The rest of Africa
  The rest of Asia

The modern convention for the land boundary between Asia and Africa runs along the Isthmus of Suez and the Suez Canal in Egypt. The border continues through the Gulf of Suez, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. In antiquity, Egypt had been considered part of Asia, with the Catabathmus Magnus escarpment taken as the boundary with Africa (Libya).

  • After the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, Israel briefly became a transcontinental country as it occupied territory on the African side of the Suez Canal, in addition to the entirety of Sinai. The land was returned in 1975 per the Sinai Interim Agreement.

Asia and Europe

Conventions used for the boundary between Europe and Asia during the 18th and 19th centuries. The red line shows the modern convention, in use since c. 1850.
  historically placed in either continent

The conventional Europe-Asia boundary was subject to considerable variation during the 18th and 19th centuries, indicated anywhere between the Don River and the Caucasus to the south or the Ural Mountains to the east. Since the later 19th century, the Caucasus–Urals boundary has become almost universally accepted. According to this now-standard convention, the boundary follows the Aegean Sea, the Turkish Straits, the Black Sea, along the watershed of the Greater Caucasus, the northwestern portion of the Caspian Sea and along the Ural River and Ural Mountains to the Arctic Ocean.[7][8]

According to this convention, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia have territory both in Europe and in Asia.


The Americas

  • Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Trinidad and Tobago: The sea islands division of South America and North America is complicated. All Caribbean islands are often labeled as North American, but the Kingdom of the Netherlands countries of Aruba and Curaçao, and the Dutch special municipality of Bonaire lie on the continental shelf of South America, and can be considered South American as well. What complicates it even further is that the islands of Trinidad and Tobago lie on two continental shelves. The southern half of Trinidad lies in South America and the northern half of Trinidad, and Tobago, lie on the Caribbean plate. All these islands have closer cultural ties with North America.
  • Colombia: Mainland Colombia is located within northern South America (see explanation in "The Americas", under "Contiguous boundary" above) and the Malpelo Island in the Pacific Ocean is also associated with South America, but the nation also controls the San Andrés and Providencia archipelago, 640 kilometres (400 mi) WNW of Colombia's Caribbean coast, in North America.

North American Caribbean islands belonging to South American countries:

South American Caribbean islands:

Asia and Europe

Europe and North America

  • Greenland: Greenland is a country within the Kingdom of Denmark, fully located on the North American tectonic plate and close to the mainland, and is considered to be geographically part of North America. Although it is politically associated with Europe and internationally represented by a European country (including in the Council of Europe), it is autonomous. Historically and ethnically, its native population is of North American tradition, although it also shares cultural links with other native peoples bordering the Arctic Sea in Northern Europe and Asia (today in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), as well as in North America (Alaska in the U.S., Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada). Greenland was part of Danish territory and within the territory of the European Union, but voted for more autonomy and is now excluded from the EU.
  • Portugal: Continental Portugal is in Europe, while the Azores archipelago (also associated with Europe) has two islands (Corvo and Flores) that are part of the North American plate. This might make Portugal a "tricontinental country" geologically (with Madeira on the African plate) except that continents, as already noted, are not defined by tectonic plates.

Europe and South America

Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, Africa and Antarctic

Africa and Europe

  • Italy: Italy has a number of small islands south of Sicily which, geographically can be considered part of the African continent, due to their proximity to Tunisia. The closest land to Pantelleria and the Pelagie Islands (Lampedusa, Linosa and Lampione) is Tunisia on the African mainland. Nevertheless, Pantelleria and Linosa are considered part of Europe, Lampedusa and Lampione part of Africa.
  • Portugal: Continental Portugal is in Europe, while the archipelago of Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal (including Porto Santo Island, the Desertas Islands and the Savage Islands), is associated with Africa. If we consider that the Azores autonomous region of Portugal has two islands (Flores and Corvo) that are part of North American tectonic plate (see Europe and North America section above), Portugal would be a transcontinental country geologically except for the fact these plates are not defined as continents.
  • Spain: Although its mainland is in Europe, Spain has territory including two provinces and two autonomous cities in Africa. Close to 5% of Spain's population live on the African continent. Territories include the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, the cities of Ceuta and Melilla on mainland North Africa and its Plazas de soberanía close to those cities) that are geographically part of Africa. The Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla are three of the 19 autonomous communities and cities that form Spain, while the Plazas de Soberanía are under different military status. The African Mediterranean island of Isla de Alborán belongs to the transcontinental city of Almería and the transcontinental province of Almería.

Asia and Africa

Asia and Oceania

North America, Oceania, and Asia

Other examples

Antarctica: claims

A number of nations claim ownership over portions of the continent of Antarctica. Some, including Argentina and Chile, consider the Antarctic land they claim to be integral parts of their national territory. Some nations also have sub-Antarctic island possessions north of 60°S latitude and thus recognized by international law under the Antarctic Treaty System, which holds in abeyance land claims south of 60°S latitude.

See also


  1. ^ The question was treated as a "controversy" in British geographical literature until at least the 1860s, with Douglas Freshfield advocating the Caucasus crest boundary as the "best possible", citing support from various "modern geographers" (Journey in the Caucasus, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, Volumes 13–14, 1869). In 1958, the Soviet Geographical Society formally recommended that the boundary between Europe and Asia be drawn in textbooks from Baydaratskaya Bay, on the Kara Sea, along the eastern foot of the Ural Mountains, then the Ural River to the Mugodzhar Hills, the Emba River, and the Kuma–Manych Depression (i.e. passing well north of the Caucasus); "Do we live in Europe or in Asia?" (in Russian).; Orlenok V. (1998). "Physical Geography" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2011-10-16.. Nevertheless, most Soviet-era geographers continued to favour the boundary along the Caucasus crest. (E. M. Moores, R. W. Fairbridge, Encyclopedia of European and Asian regional geology, Springer, 1997, ISBN 978-0-412-74040-4, p. 34: "most Soviet geographers took the watershed of the Main Range of the Greater Caucasus as the boundary between Europe and Asia.")
  2. ^ "transcontinental". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  3. ^ "contiguous". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b Misachi, John (25 April 2017). "Which Countries Span More Than One Continent?". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b Ramos, Juan (19 March 2018). "What Continent Is Egypt Officially In?". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Continent". National Geographic. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  7. ^ National Geographic Atlas of the World (9th ed.). Washington, DC: National Geographic. 2011. ISBN 978-1-4262-0634-4. "Europe" (plate 59); "Asia" (plate 74): "A commonly accepted division between Asia and Europe ... is formed by the Ural Mountains, Ural River, Caspian Sea, Caucasus Mountains, and the Black Sea with its outlets, the Bosporus and Dardanelles."
  8. ^ World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.
  9. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Kazakhstan, Retrieved: 8 May 2016
  10. ^ World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency. Kazakhstan: Geography
  11. ^ "Socotra". 6 May 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  12. ^ Evans, Mike. "Islands east of the Horn of Africa and south of Yemen". Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Papua New Guinea asks RP support for Asean membership bid". GMA News. Retrieved 15 July 2014.

External links