In the modern sense of the term "continent", Eurasia is more readily identifiable as a "continent", and Europe has occasionally been described as a subcontinent of Eurasia.
The threefold division of the Old World into Europe, Asia and Africa has been in use since the 6th century BC, due to Greek geographers such as Anaximander and Hecataeus.
This is the convention used by Roman era authors such as Posidonius, Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 18th century, the traditional division of the landmass of Eurasia into two continents, Europe and Asia, followed Ptolemy, with the boundary following the Turkish Straits, the Black Sea, the Kerch Strait, the Sea of Azov and the Don (ancient Tanais).
The question was still treated as a "controversy" in geographical literature of the 1860s, with Douglas Freshfield advocating the Caucasus crest boundary as the "best possible", citing support from various "modern geographers".The Portuguese Atlantic island possession of the Azores is 1,368 km (850 mi) from Europe and 1,507 km (936 mi) from Africa, and is usually grouped with Europe if grouped with any continent.By contrast, the Canary and Madeira islands off the Atlantic coast of Morocco are much closer to, and usually grouped with, Africa (the Canary Islands are only 100 km (62 mi) from the African coast at their closest point, while Madeira is 520 km (320 mi) from Africa and 1,000 km (620 mi) from Europe).The boundary between Europe and Asia is unusual among continental boundaries because of its largely mountain-and-river-based characteristics north and east of the Black Sea.The reason is historical, the division of Europe and Asia going back to the early Greek geographers.
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