List of transcontinental countries

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A map of transcontinental countries, countries that control territory in more than one continent.
  Contiguous transcontinental countries.
  Non-contiguous transcontinental countries.
  Countries whose transcontinental status depends on either the legal status of their claims or the definition of continental boundaries used.

This is a list of countries spanning more than one continent, known as transcontinental states (or more properly[dubious ] as intercontinental states). While there are many countries with non-contiguous overseas territories fitting this definition, only a limited number of countries have territory spanning 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 have remained in use well into the 20th century, but the now-prevalent convention, used for the purposes of this page, follows the Caucasus northern chain, the Ural River and the Urals. It has been in use by some cartographers since about 1850.[1] This convention results in a couple of Transcaucasian countries finding themselves almost entirely in "Asia", with a few small enclaves or districts technically in "Europe". These small mountainous nation states show no obvious signs of occupying two continents each. 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.

Colombia and Panama are generally considered to be entirely within South America and North America, respectively.

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

Contiguous boundary

Africa and Asia

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

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The land border between Asia and Africa is considered to go 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.


Two of 27 governorates of Egypt lie entirely on the Asian Sinai Peninsula and two are transcontinental: Ismailia Governorate is nearly equally divided by the Suez Canal, and Suez Governorate, which is coterminous with the transcontinental city of Suez, has a small portion east of the Canal.

Asia and Europe

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  Transcontinental states, European territory
  Transcontinental states, Asian territory

The modern conventional definition of Europe (e.g. National Geographic Society, CIA World Fact Book) has the Europe-Asia boundary follow the watershed of the Ural Mountains to the source of the Ural River, then follows that river to the Caspian Sea. The border then follows the Greater Caucasus watershed from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. According to this mainstream but not universally accepted definition (some geographers consider Europe and Asia a single continent, Eurasia),[2] there are five states with territory across the continental boundary:

  • Russia: with most of its population situated in Europe, has significant territory in Central and Northern Asia (Siberia in the Russian Far East). About 75% of the Russian population lives in the European part.
  • Turkey: mostly situated in Asia Minor, with some territory in Southeastern Europe (Turkish Thrace). About 88% of the Turkish population lives in the Asian part.
  • Kazakhstan: mostly situated in Central Asia, with the western parts of two of its provinces west of the Ural River in Europe. About 96% of the Kazakh population lives in the Asian part.
  • Azerbaijan: primarily situated in Asian Transcaucasia, with five northeastern districts ("rayons") in European Ciscaucasia, north of the Greater Caucasus watershed. About 98% of the Azerbaijani population lives in Transcaucasia.
  • Georgia: primarily situated in Asian Transcaucasia, with a small area in Europe just north of the Greater Caucasus watershed. More than 99% of the Georgian population lives in Transcaucasia.

A convention sometimes used in Russian geography draws the continental boundary along the Manych River to the Caspian, excluding Georgia and Azerbaijan from transcontinental status. A historical convention used in the 19th century followed the lower Volga instead of the Ural river, which would also exclude Kazakhstan from being transcontinental.


[3] The northeastern Azerbaijan district borders run mostly along the main Caucasus watershed. Five districts are entirely within Europe, and the transcontinental Khizi district is almost equally divided on the two sides of the watershed. The remaining 53 districts are within Asia. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe.


Topography of Georgia

The Terek and Sulak rivers both originate in Georgia and both empty into the Caspian Sea in Dagestan; their upper basins in Georgia are north of the Greater Caucasus watershed (the modern-day Europe-Asia divide), including northern parts of the Tusheti and Khevsureti historical regions and Kazbegi District. A total of 2,650 square kilometers, or 4% of Georgia's territory, is north of the Caucasus Mountains and thus in Europe. The remaining 96% of the country is in Asia.


Kazakhstan's provincial borders do not follow the Ural River, although some of its western district borders do so. Two of the provinces are transcontinental, Atyrau Province and West Kazakhstan Province. The capital of the former, Atyrau, is split by the mouth of the Ural and is a transcontinental city. Almost all of it is in Asia with a small portion in Europe. Two of Atyrau Province's districts are entirely in Europe, three of its districts are entirely in Asia, and its Inderskiy and Makhambetskiy districts are transcontinental.[4] Five of West Kazakhstan's districts and the province's capital city of Oral are entirely in Europe, five of its districts are entirely in Asia, and its Akzhaikskiy district is transcontinental.[5]


Russian regions' borders follow the continental divide (Ural Mountains and Ural River) more often than not. There is also the relatively small 2600 square kilometer Sochi area of Russia in Asia, bordering Georgia and located south of the main Caucasus watershed. Orenburg on the Ural River is a transcontinental city. More detail on the political divisions through which the intercontinental boundary runs can be found here. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe.


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The Bosphorus, Dardanelles, and Black Sea are the only linked salt-waterways that separate Europe and Asia. Consequently, Turkey is the only country on the conventional Europe-Asia boundary that shows any obvious appearance of being on two continents. Three of Turkey's provinces (Edirne, Kırklareli and Tekirdağ) are entirely in Europe, the province of Edirne also having a small territory in Western Thrace, while Çanakkale and Istanbul are transcontinental provinces. Three of Çanakkale's districts are entirely in Europe and its other nine districts are entirely in Asia. Nineteen of Istanbul's districts are entirely in Europe and its other twelve districts are entirely in Asia.

North and South America

See Borders of the continents for more details about the geographical border between the two Americas.


Asia and Europe

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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 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 the Danish territory and within the territory of the European Union, but voted for a larger autonomy and is now excluded from it.
  • Iceland: Iceland is on the fracture line splitting the Northern Atlantic Ocean between the North American plate and the Eurasian plate. Measuring to the North American island of Greenland, Iceland is much closer to North America than it is to Europe; however it is over twice as close to mainland Europe than to mainland North America. Using a plate tectonics definition, Iceland would qualify as a transcontinental country. However, "continents" are defined by conventions that predate any knowledge of plate tectonics, even though many of the plates are named for the continents that occupy them. Geographically, ethnically, historically, and culturally, Iceland is commonly considered to be European and not transcontinental. Iceland is a full member of the Council of Europe (but still not in the European Union, to which it could qualify).
  • The Netherlands are mostly in Europe. However, since the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, the country includes the three "special municipalities" of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (collectively known as the BES islands) in the Caribbean area.
  • 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 American plate. This might make Portugal a tricontinental country (with Madeira on the African plate) except for the fact that continents, as already noted, are not defined by tectonic plates.

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

Africa and Europe

See Borders of the continents for more details about the geographical border between Africa and Europe.

Asia and Africa

Asia and Oceania

North America, Oceania and Asia

North and South America

North American Caribbean islands belonging to South American countries:

South American Caribbean islands:

Other examples

These examples have integral parts associated with other continents. Norway, South Africa, and the United Kingdom may also be considered transcontinental by virtue of their distant island possessions or territories associated with a continent other than where the country is based.[clarification needed]

Antarctica: claims

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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 the Europe and Asia be drawn in textbooks from Baydaratskaya Bay, on the Kara Sea, along the eastern foot of Ural Mountains, then following the Ural River until the Mugodzhar Hills, and then the Emba River and the Kuma–Manych Depression (i.e. passing well north of the Caucasus); Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.; Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found., but most Soviet-era geographers did 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. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  4. Archived February 4, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Archived February 4, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
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External links