Continents are large land masses on Earth that have been divided by the earth's crust into smaller sections called plates. The Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia are all continents. The word is derived from the Latin word for "to stretch out". Continents can be made up of one or two large pieces of land or many pieces of land. These pieces collectively form a continental plate which rests on the mantle. Continental plates ride on top of tectonic plates and these in turn ride over convection currents within the mantle.