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To the south, the Kuma–Manych Depression was identified circa 1773 by a German naturalist, Peter Simon Pallas, as a valley that, once upon a time, connected the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and subsequently was proposed as a natural boundary between continents.By the mid-19th century, there were three main conventions, one following the Don, the Volga–Don Canal and the Volga, the other following the Kuma–Manych Depression to the Caspian and then the Ural River, and the third abandoning the Don altogether, following the Greater Caucasus watershed to the Caspian.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.Anaximander placed the boundary between Asia and Europe along the Phasis River (the modern Rioni) in the Caucasus (from its mouth by Poti on the Black Sea coast, through the Surami Pass and along the Kura River to the Caspian Sea), a convention still followed by Herodotus in the 5th century BC.The reason is historical, the division of Europe and Asia going back to the early Greek geographers.

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 boundaries between the continents of Earth are generally a matter of geographical convention. The number of continents is most commonly considered seven but may range as low as four when the Americas and Afro-Eurasia are each considered a single continent.According to the definition of a continent in the strict sense, an island cannot be part of any continent, but by convention and in practice most major islands are associated with a continent.At its nearest point, Spain and Morocco are separated by only 13 kilometres (8.1 miles).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.

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