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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Old World (green) as distinguished from the New World (grey).

The Old World consists of those parts of Earth known to Europeans[note], Asians and Africans in the 15th century. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World".

^ Note: The Old World does not include the lands of the Americas known by Scandinavians before the 15th century. Greenland was discovered in the late 10th century by Scandinavians, and what is now Canada a few years later — see the Viking expansion.


Areas of the Old World

The Old World includes Africa, Asia, and Europe (collectively known as Afro-Eurasia), plus surrounding islands. The term is in distinction from the New World, meaning the Americas and Australasia.

Normally, it is divided at the Suez Canal into Eurasia and Africa, the former of which can be subdivided into Europe and Asia. It can be divided alternatively into Eurasia-North Africa and Subsahara for cultural and historical reasons.[1]

The mainland of Afro-Eurasia (excluding islands such as the British Isles, Japan, Madagascar and the Malay Archipelago) has been referred to as the World Island. (The term may have been coined by Sir Halford John Mackinder in The Geographical Pivot of History.[2])

Geographically, Europe is the westernmost peninsula of the continent of Eurasia; its limits are well defined by sea to the North, South and West. The Ural mountains are usually taken as the eastern limit of Europe, along with the Ural River, and the Caspian Sea. Europe can be considered bounded to the southeast by the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Europe's eastern and southeastern extent are discussed below.[3]

Medieval Europeans considered Asia as a continent – a distinct landmass. The European concept of the three continents in the Old World goes back to Classical Antiquity, but during the Middle Ages was notably due to Isidore of Sevilla (see T and O map). The demarcation between Asia and Africa (to the southwest) is the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. The boundary between Asia and Europe is conventionally considered to run through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to its source, and the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea near Kara, Russia. While this interpretation of tripartite continents (i.e., of Asia, Europe, and Africa) remains common in modernity, discovery of the extent of Africa and Asia have made this definition somewhat anachronistic. This is especially true in the case of Asia, which would have several regions that would be considered distinct landmasses if these criteria were used (for example, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia).

Africa is the largest of the three great southward projections from the main mass of the Earth's exposed surface. Separated from Europe by the Mediterranean Sea, it is joined to Asia at its northeast extremity by the Isthmus of Suez (transected by the Suez Canal), 163 km (101 miles) wide.[4] (Geopolitically, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula east of the Suez Canal is often considered part of Africa, as well. [5] [6]) From the most northerly point, Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia (37°21' N), to the most southerly point, Cape Agulhas in South Africa (34°51'15" S), is a distance of approximately 8,000 km (5,000 miles);[7] from Cape Verde, 17°33'22" W, the westernmost point, to Ras Hafun in Somalia, 51°27'52" E, the most easterly projection, is a distance of approximately 7,400 km (4,600 miles).[8]

See also


  1. ^ Diamond, Jared (1997), Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Norton & Company, ISBN 0-393-03891-2 
  2. ^ See Francis P. Sempa, Mackinder's World
  3. ^ Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007. ""Europe"". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2007-12-27. 
  4. ^ Drysdale, Alasdair & Gerald H. Blake. (1985) The Middle East and North Africa, Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-503538-0.
  5. ^ Atlas - Xpeditions @
  6. ^ The Atlas of Canada - Africa:
  7. ^ Lewin, Evans. (1924) Africa, Clarendon press.
  8. ^ (1998) Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary (Index), Merriam-Webster. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-87779-546-0.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun

Old World

  1. The Eastern Hemisphere, especially Europe and the Near East
  2. The known world before the discovery of the Americas


Derived terms


Old World

  1. Of, or relating to the Old World
  2. pre-Columbian

Simple English

Old World is a term about the world before Christopher Columbus.

About 1492-1506

Spain sent Columbus to go to the New World. They found what we call now Indians, and then they became friends and traded.

They had foods and animals Indians have not seen before, like sugarcane, pigs, horses, and more. But, they did not know that they were also giving sickness. They accidentally killed many Indians. But, they did also kill many of them on purpose, so that it would be easier to build their new cities.[needs proof]

After that Time

The Old World called North America as well as South America the New World.


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