I read a sentence which was:

The forest movements of the South, in Mexico, Chile, Malaysia, Indonesia, continental Africa and India are faced with....

Why has "continental" been used before Africa? I mean we know that it is a continent. Has it been used to mark it distinct from South Africa or is it something else?

  • 1
    As a reminder, please include the complete context when asking about the meaning of a quotation. The names of continents are used in different ways, following different definitions, depending on whether the context is political, economic, geographic, geologic, and so on and so forth.
    – choster
    Mar 7, 2019 at 16:46
  • The ultimate source would appear to be Environmental Movements in Minority and Majority Worlds: A Global Perspective By Timothy Doyle, though perhaps the immediate source was the quotation of the phrase (without citation) in Oswaal CBSE Sample Question Papers for Class 12 Political Science
    – James K
    Mar 7, 2019 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


Continental Africa refers to the part of Africa that is attached to the main land mass. Excluding African islands like Madagascar and the Seychelles.

In the same way Continental Europe excludes UK, Ireland and Iceland. Oftentimes Scandinavia is excluded this way too, even if it is technically attached to the continent via Russia.

Since we don't have the full context in the question I can't say why they have chosen to use it in this specific case though.

  • I have seen medical articles about disease in "continental Africa", with coloured maps showing disease incidence, with Madagascar included. Mar 7, 2019 at 17:46
  • Continental Africa surely refers to the land mass itself rather than to a part attached to the land mass. Mar 7, 2019 at 19:07
  • @MichaelHarvey People are sometimes loose with the definition, including islands that are "close enough" by whatever metric they see fit.
    – SamBC
    Mar 7, 2019 at 20:17

Explicitly saying "continental" before the name of a continent makes it clear that you only mean to discuss the part of the continent that is actually on the main landmass of that continent. E.g. Excluding islands. Not sure without the context, but in the case of Africa, the author might have wanted to exclude Madagascar. South Africa would be part of "continental Africa."

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