Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor and support life. About 29.2% of Earth’s surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is covered with water, mostly by oceans, seas, gulfs, and other salt-water bodies, but also by lakes, rivers, and other freshwater, which together constitute the hydrosphere. Much of Earth’s polar regions are covered in ice. Earth’s outer layer is divided into several rigid tectonic plates that migrate across the surface over many millions of years, while its interior remains active with a solid iron inner core, a liquid outer core that generates Earth’s magnetic field, and a convective mantle that drives plate tectonics


A world map is a map of most or all of the surface of Earth. World maps, because of their scale, must deal with the problem of projection. Maps rendered in two dimensions by necessity distort the display of the three-dimensional surface of the earth. Many techniques have been developed to present world maps that address diverse technical and aesthetic goals.[

Charting a world map requires global knowledge of the earth, its oceans, and its continents. From prehistory through the Middle ages, creating an accurate world map would have been impossible because less than half of Earth’s coastlines and only a small fraction of its continental interiors were known to any culture.

Maps of the world generally focus either on political features or on physical features. Political maps emphasize territorial boundaries and human settlement.


The world religions paradigm was developed in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, where it was pioneered by phenomenological scholars like Ninian Smart. It was designed to broaden the study of religion away from its heavy focus on Christianity by taking into account other large religious traditions around the world. The paradigm is often used by lecturers instructing undergraduate students in the study of religion and is also the framework used by school teachers in the UK and other countries.

Since the late twentieth century, the paradigm has faced critique by scholars of religion like Jonathan Z. Smith, some of whom have argued for its abandonment. Critics have argued that the world religions paradigm is inappropriate because it takes the Protestant variant of Christianity as the model for what constitutes religion; that it is tied up with discourses of modernity, including modern power relations; that it encourages an uncritical understanding of religion; and that it makes a value judgement as to what religions should be considered “major”. Others have argued that it remains useful in the classroom, so long as students are made aware that it is a socially constructed category.


In sociolinguistics, a world language is a language that is geographically widespread and makes it possible for members of different language communities to communicate. The term may also be used to refer to constructed international auxiliary languages such as Esperanto.

English is the foremost—and by some accounts only—world language. Beyond that, there is no academic consensus about which languages qualify; Arabic, French, Russian, and Spanish are other possible world languages. Some authors consider Latin to have formerly been a world language.


World history or global history as a field of historical study examines history from a global perspective. It emerged centuries ago; leading practitioners have included Voltaire (1694-1778), Hegel (1770-1831), (1818-1883) and Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975). The field became much more active (in terms of university teaching, text books, scholarly journals, and academic associations) in the late 20th century.

It is not to be confused with comparative history, which, like world history, deals with the history of multiple cultures and nations, but does not do so on a global scale. World history looks for common patterns that emerge across all cultures. World historians use a thematic approach, with two major focal points: integration (how processes of world history have drawn people of the world together) and difference (how patterns of world history reveal the diversity of the human experience).