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A well-known intercontinental country (a country that exists in two or more continents) is Egypt.

It has been divided to two parts by the man-made Suez Canal. The Sinai peninsula which is at the east side of the Canal is contiguous with Asia, and the rest of the country is contiguous with Africa.

Also, in the case of Panama there is a man-made canal (Panama Canal) which divides the country to two parts. The eastern part is contiguous with South America and the western part is contiguous with North America.

So why isn't Panama considered an intercontinental country like Egypt is?

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  • $\begingroup$ According to Wikipedia it is an intercontinental country. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Jul 8, 2023 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ The patterns on geography quizzes, at least Sporcle, on the other hand (as far as I have seen) tend to not have Panama... or Egypt... as intercontinental countries in general. Only Russia and Turkey (and France...) $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2023 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JeopardyTempest Why France? $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2023 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @SnackExchange short answer: 5 of their territories are considered the equivalent of states (see here for more). Though looks like the Netherlands may be the same. I thought it was just French Guyana, but it's a larger set. And looks like Sporcle, because of them, does increase the count of French bordering countries, but actually doesn't use them on the countries on continents quizzes?? Confusing! I enjoy the EU video more anyways :-p $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2023 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JeopardyTempest Oh, you're right. I had forgotten about French Guyana. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2023 at 10:25

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Basically the reason is we say it isn't intercontinental.

Panama differs from Egypt in two ways relevant to this question. First, even without the Suez Canal a clearly defined narrow neck exists between the "Asian" and "African" parts of Egypt, making the proposed intercontinental boundary a plausible natural one. With Panama the neck is less prominent; southern North America tapers much more gradually from Mexico to the canal.

Second, eastern Panama has a much more definitive geographical feature that could serve as a boundary. The Darien Gap, with its jungle and mountains, is one of the most rugged regions on Earth. It therefore makes a good candidate for a boundary that effectively separates the continents of North and South America, like the Ural Mountains in Russia. No part of Panama is on the eastern side of this region; instead the Darien Gap spills over into northwestern Colombia and therefore all the way into "South America".

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  • $\begingroup$ According to the map in the Wikipedia articl of Darién Gap, this gap is a region, not a line. The western boundary of this gap is inside Panama and the eastern boundary is inside Colombia. Which of these boundaries is separating the continents? If it's the western boundary then Panama should be considered an intercontinental country. If it's the eastern boundary then Colombia should be considered one. But none of the two countries are considered intercontinental. How come? $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2023 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ A region, like the Ural Mountains, within which the line is drawn. In the Darien Gap case the line is also the border between Panama and Colombia. $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2023 at 23:10
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The boundary between North and South America is usually considered to be at (or very close to) the Colombia-Panama border. See e.g., conflictingly, Wikipedia on continent boundaries

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