Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent. It covers 8.6% of the Earth's total surface area (or 29.4% of its land area) and it contains more than 60% of the world's current human population.
Chiefly in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Asia is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Africa-Eurasia – with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe – lying east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean, to the south by the Indian Ocean, and to the north by the Arctic Ocean.
Given its size and diversity, Asia – a toponym dating back to classical antiquity – is more a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples than a homogeneous, physical entity (see Subregions of Asia, Asian (people)).
Template:Wiktionary The word Asia originated from the Ancient Greek word Ασία, first attributed to Herodotus (about 440 BC) in reference to Anatolia or, for the purposes of describing the Persian Wars, to the Persian Empire, in contrast to Greece and Egypt. Herodotus comments that he is puzzled as to why three women's names are used to describe one land mass (Europa, Asia, and Libya, referring to Africa), stating that most Greeks assumed that Asia was named after the wife of Prometheus but that the Lydians say it was named after Asias, son of Cotys who passed the name on to a tribe in Sardis.
Even before Herodotus, Homer knew of a Trojan ally named Asios, son of Hyrtacus, a ruler over several towns, and elsewhere he describes a marsh as ασιος (Iliad 2, 461). The Greek term may be derived from Assuwa, a 14th century BC confederation of states in Western Anatolia. Hittite assu- = "good" is probably an element in that name.
Alternatively, the ultimate etymology of the term may be from the Akkadian word Template:Unicode, which means "to go out" or "to ascend", referring to the direction of the sun at sunrise in the Middle East, and also likely connected with the Phoenician word asa meaning east. This may be contrasted to a similar etymology proposed for Europe, as being from Semitic erēbu "to enter" or "set" (of the sun). However, this etymology is considered doubtful, because it does not explain how the term "Asia" first came to be associated with Anatolia, which is west of the Semitic-speaking areas, unless they refer to the viewpoint of a Phoenician sailor sailing through the straits between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
Definition and boundariesEdit
Medieval Europeans considered Asia as a continent – a distinct landmass. The European concept of the three continents in the Old World goes back to Classical Antiquity, but during the Middle Ages was notably due to Isidore of Sevilla (see T and O map). The demarcation between Asia and Africa (to the southwest) is the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. The boundary between Asia and Europe is commonly considered to run through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to its source, and the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea near Kara, Russia. While this interpretation of tripartite continents (i.e., of Asia, Europe, and Africa) remains common in modernity, discovery of the extent of Africa and Asia have made this definition somewhat anachronistic. This is especially true in the case of Asia, which would have several regions that would be considered distinct landmasses if these criteria were used (for example, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia).
In the far northeast of Asia, Siberia is separated from North America by the Bering Strait. Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean (specifically, from west to east, the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and Bay of Bengal); on the east by the waters of the Pacific (including, counterclockwise, the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, and Bering Sea); and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Australia (or Oceania) is to the southeast.
Generally, geologists and physical geographers do not consider Asia and Europe to be separate continents. Physiographically, Asia is the major eastern constituent of the continent of Eurasia – with Europe being a northwestern peninsula of the landmass – or of Africa-Eurasia: geologically, Asia, Europe, and Africa comprise a single continuous landmass (save the Suez Canal) and share a common continental shelf. Almost all of Europe and most of Asia sit atop the Eurasian Plate, adjoined on the south by the Arabian and Indian Plates, and with much of Siberia on the North American Plate.
In geography, there are two schools of thought. One school follows historical convention and treats Europe and Asia as different continents, categorizing subregions within them for more detailed analysis. The other school equates the word "continent" with a geographical region when referring to Europe, and use the term "region" to describe Asia in terms of physiography. Since, in linguistic terms, "continent" implies a distinct landmass, it is becoming increasingly common to substitute the term "region" for "continent" to avoid the problem of disambiguation altogether.
Given the scope and diversity of the landmass, it is sometimes not even clear exactly what "Asia" consists of. Some definitions exclude Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia while only considering the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent to compose Asia. The term is sometimes used more strictly in reference to the Asia-Pacific region, which does not include the Middle East or Russia, but does include islands in the Pacific Ocean — a number of which may also be considered part of Australasia or Oceania, although Pacific Islanders are commonly not considered Asian.
'Asian' as a demonymEdit
The demonym 'Asian' is often used colloquially to refer to people from a subregion of Asia instead of for anyone from Asia. Thus, in British English, 'Asian' can mean South Asian, but may also refer to other Asian groups. In the United States, 'Asian American' can mean East Asian Americans, due to the historical and cultural influences of China and Japan on the U.S. up to the 1960s and in preference to the terms 'Oriental' and 'Asiatic'. However, the term is increasingly taken to include Southeast Asian Americans and South Asian Americans, due to the increasing numbers of them.
- See also: Geography of Asia, countries in both Asia and Europe, geographic criteria for the definition of Europe, orientalism.
Territories and regionsEdit
|Population:||3,958,768,100 (2006 Estimate)|
|GDP (PPP):||US$18.077 trillion|
|GDP (Currency):||$8.782 trillion|
|Annual growth of |
per capita GDP:
|Income of top 10%:|
|Millionaires:||2.0 million (0.05%)|
|Most numbers are from the UNDP from 2002, some numbers exclude certain countries for lack of information.|
|Template:World economy infobox footer|
Asia has the 3rd largest GDP of all continents, after North America and Europe. With its large population, it certainly has the potential to be the 1st within a few decades. As of 2007, the largest national economy within Asia, in terms of gross domestic product (PPP), is that of China followed by that of India and Japan. However, in nominal terms (which reflects economic reality and power), they rank as follows: Japan, China, South Korea, India, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Indonesia. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the economies of China and India have been growing rapidly, both with an average annual growth rate of more than 8%. Other recent very high growth nations in Asia include Vietnam, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and mineral rich nations such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman. Historically, Japan has had the largest economy in Asia and second-largest of any single nation in the world, after surpassing the Soviet Union (measured in net material product) in 1986 and Germany in 1968. (NB: A number of supernational economies are larger, such as the EU, NAFTA or APEC). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Japan's economy was almost as large as that of the rest of the continent combined. In 1995, Japan's economy nearly equalled that of the USA to tie the largest economy in the world for a day, after the Japanese currency reached a record high of 79 yen. Economic growth in Asia since World War II to the 1990s had been concentrated in quite a few countries of the Pacific Rim, earning their reputations as "Tiger" economies or "Asian miracle" economies. (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and S.Korea)
It is expected that China will surpass Japan to have the largest nominal and PPP-adjusted GDP in Asia within a decade. India may overtake Japan by 2030.
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- Asia-Europe Economic Meeting
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations
- Gulf Cooperation Council
- Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
- Commonwealth of Independent States
- South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Forestry is extensive throughout Asia, except in Southwest and Central Asia. Fishing is a major source of food in Asia, particularly in Japan.
Manufacturing in Asia has traditionally been strongest in East and Southeast Asia, particularly in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Japan and South Korea continue to dominate in the area of multinational corporations, but increasingly China, Taiwan, and India are making significant inroads. The industry varies from manufacturing cheap goods such as toys to high-tech products such as computers and cars. Many companies from Europe, North America, and Japan have significant operations in Asia's developing countries to take advantage of its abundant supply of cheap labour, relatively developed infrastructure, and hard work ethic.
Financial and other servicesEdit
Asia has three main financial centres: in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. Call centres and business process outsourcing (BPOs) are becoming major employers in India and the Philippines due to the availability of a large pool of highly-skilled, English-speaking workers. The rise of the business process outsourcing industry has seen the rise of India and China as other financial centres. Due its large and extremely competitive information technology industry, Bangalore is often dubbed as the Silicon Valley of India.
The coastal periphery was home to some of the world's earliest known civilizations, each of them developing around fertile river valleys. The civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and the Yangtze shared many similarities. These civilizations may well have exchanged technologies and ideas such as mathematics and the wheel. Other innovations, such as writing, seem to have been developed individually in each area. Cities, states, and empires developed in these lowlands.
The central steppe region had long been inhabited by horse-mounted nomads who could reach all areas of Asia from the steppes. The earliest postulated expansion out of the steppe is that of the Indo-Europeans, who spread their languages into the Middle East, India, and the borders of China, where the Tocharians resided. The northernmost part of Asia, including much of Siberia, was largely inaccessible to the steppe nomads, owing to the dense forests, climate, and tundra. These areas remained very sparsely populated.
The center and the peripheries were mostly kept separated by mountains and deserts. The Caucasus and Himalaya mountains and the Karakum and Gobi deserts formed barriers that the steppe horsemen could cross only with difficulty. While the urban city dwellers were more advanced technologically and socially, in many cases they could do little in a military aspect to defend against the mounted hordes of the steppe. However, the lowlands did not have enough open grasslands to support a large horsebound force; for this and other reasons, the nomads who conquered states in China, India, and the Middle East often found themselves adapting to the local, more affluent societies.
Languages and literatureEdit
Asia is home to several language families and many language isolates. Most Asian countries have more than one language that is natively spoken. For instance, according to Ethnologue, more than 600 languages are spoken in Indonesia, more than 415 languages spoken in India, and more than 100 are spoken in the Philippines. China has many languages and dialects in different provinces. Korea, however, is home to only one language, albeit one with high dialectal diversity.
The polymath Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali poet, dramatist, and writer from Santiniketan, now in West Bengal, India, became in 1913 the first Asian Nobel laureate. He won his Nobel Prize in Literature for notable impact his prose works and poetic thought had on English, French, and other national literatures of Europe and the Americas. He is also the writer of the national anthems of Bangladesh and India.
Tagore is said to have named another Bengali Indian Nobel prize winner, the 1998 laureate in Economics, Amartya Sen. Sen's work has centered around global issues including famine, welfare, and third-world development. Amartya Sen was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University, UK, from 1998-2004, becoming the first Asian to head an 'Oxbridge' College.
Other Asian writers who won Nobel Prizes include C.V.Raman (India, 1930), Yasunari Kawabata (Japan, 1966), Kenzaburo Oe (Japan, 1994), Gao Xingjian (China, 2000) and Orhan Pamuk (Turkey, 2006) Also,Mother Teresa of India and Shirin Ebadi of Iran were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially for the rights of women and children. Ebadi is the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize. Another Nobel Peace Prize winner is Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a military dictatorship in Myanmar. She is a nonviolent pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar (Burma), and a noted prisoner of conscience. She is Buddhist and awarded Nobel Prize in 1991. In 2006 Dr. Mohammad Yunus from Bangladesh and the Grameen Bank he established to lend money to poor people especially women in Bangladesh was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Dr. Yunus received his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University, United States. He is internationally known for the concept of micro credit which allows poor and destitutes with little or no collateral to borrow money. The borrowers typically pay back money within specified period of time and the incidence of default is very low.
The story of Great Floods find reference in most of the regions of Asia. The story is first found in Mesopotamian mythology, in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Hindu mythology tells about an avatar of God Vishnu in the form of a fish who warned Manu of a terrible flood. In ancient Chinese mythology, Shan Hai Jing, the Chinese ruler Da Yu, had to spend 10 years to control a deluge which swept out most of ancient China and was aided by the goddess Nüwa who "fixed" the "broken" sky through which huge rains were pouring. The story is also found in the Tanakh, Bible and Qur'an.
List of mythologies native to Asia:
- Hindu mythology
- Japanese mythology
- Korean mythology
- Mesopotamian mythology
- Canaanite mythology
- Persian mythology
- Philippine mythology
- Turkic mythology
Asian philosophical traditions originated in India and China and cover a large spectrum of philosophical thoughts and writings. Indian philosophy includes Hindu philosophy and Buddhist philosophy. They include elements of nonmaterial pursuits, whereas another school of thought from India, Carvaka, preached the enjoyment of material world.
During the 20th century, in the two most populous countries of Asia, two dramatically different political philosophies took shape. Gandhi gave a new meaning to Ahimsa, and redefined the concepts of nonviolence and nonresistance. During the same period, Mao Zedong’s communist philosophy was crystallized.
The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith originated in West Asia. The Dharmic religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated in South Asia. In East Asia, particularly in China and Japan, Confucianism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism and Shinto took shape. Other religions of Asia include the Zoroastrianism, Shamanism practiced in Iran and Siberia respectively, and Animism practiced in the eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia.
Today 30% of Muslims live in the South Asian regions of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The world's largest single Muslim community (within the bounds of one nation) is in Indonesia. Next, India constitutes the world's second highest number of Muslims. There are also significant Muslim populations in China, Iran, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia and most of West Asia and Central Asia.
In the Philippines and East Timor, Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion; it was introduced by the Spaniards and the Portuguese, respectively. In Armenia, Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion. Various Christian denominations have adherents in portions of the Middle East, as well as China and India.
A large majority of people in the world who practice a religious faith practice one founded in Asia.
Religions founded in Asia and with a majority of their contemporary adherents in Asia include:
- Ahmadi: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan.
- Animism: Eastern India, Japan, tribal Philippines.
- Bahá'í Faith: slightly more than half of all adherents are in Asia.
- Bön: Tibet.
- Buddhism: Tibet, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, parts of India and parts of central and eastern Russia (Siberia).
- Mahayana Buddhism: Bhutan, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, parts of the Philippines.
- Theravada Buddhism: Cambodia, parts of China, Chittagong Hill Tracts, West Bengal, Laos, mainly northern parts of Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, as well as parts of Vietnam.
- Vajrayana Buddhism: Parts of China, Mongolia, Tibet, parts of northern and eastern India, parts of central, eastern Russia and Siberia.
- Daoism: China, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam.
- Hinduism: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia Bali, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore and South Asian immigrants in West Asia.
- Islam: Central Asia, South Asia, and Southwest Asia, Maritime Southeast Asia, Mindanao Philippines, Southern Thailand, Rakhine State Myanmar.
- Jainism: India.
- Kejawen: Indonesia
- Shamanism: Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Siberia.
- Shinto: Japan.
- Sikhism: India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Canada and Indian immigrants in some African nations.
- Yezidi : Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey.
- Zikri: Pakistan, Iran.
- Zoroastrianism: Iran, India, Pakistan.
Religions founded in Asia that have the majority of their contemporary adherents in other regions include:
- Christianity: Armenia, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Syria.
- Judaism: slightly fewer than half of its adherents reside in Asia; Israel, India, Iran, Russia, Syria.
- Far East
- Flags of Asia
- Geography of Asia
- Asian Century
- Asian Currency Unit
- Asian people
- Asian dance
- Asian furniture
- Eastern world
- European Digital Archive on Soil Maps of the World
- ↑ "Asia". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
- ↑ "Asia". McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. 2006. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc.
- ↑ World University Service of Canada. Asia-WUSC WorldWide. 2006. October 7, 2006. <http://www.wusc.ca/expertise/worldwide/asia/>.
- ↑ BBC News 2006. September 9, 2006. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/>.
- ↑ American Heritage Book of English Usage. Asian. 1996. September 29, 2006. <http://www.bartleby.com/64/C006/007.html>.
- ↑ Color Q World. Clarifying the Definition of Asian. 2005. October 1, 2006. <http://www.colorq.org/PetSins/article.asp?y=2005&m=5&x=5_7>.
- ↑ Lee, Sharon M. Population Reference Bureau. Asian Americans Diverse and Growing. Accessed 2006-11-10.
- ↑ Continental regions as per UN categorisations (map), except 12. Depending on definitions, various territories cited below (notes 6, 11-13, 15, 17-19, 21-23) may be in one or both of Asia and Europe, Africa, or Oceania.
- ↑ Kazakhstan is sometimes considered a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe; population and area figures are for Asian portion only.
- ↑ The current state is formally known as the People's Republic of China (PRC), which is subsumed by the eponymous entity and civilisation. Figures given are for mainland China only, and do not include Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
- ↑ Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC.
- ↑ Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC.
- ↑ Figures are for the area under the de facto control of the ROC government. Claimed in whole by the PRC; see political status of Taiwan.
- ↑ Egypt is generally considered a transcontinental country in Northern Africa and Western Asia; population and area figures are for Asian portion only, east of the Suez Canal (Sinai Peninsula).
- ↑ Russia is generally considered a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe (UN region) and Northern Asia; population and area figures are for Asian portion only.
- ↑ Excludes Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australian external territories in the Indian Ocean southwest of Indonesia).
- ↑ Indonesia is often considered a transcontinental country in Southeastern Asia and Oceania; figures do not include Irian Jaya and Maluku Islands, frequently reckoned in Oceania (Melanesia/Australasia).
- ↑ The administrative capital of Myanmar was officially moved from Yangon (Rangoon) to a militarised greenfield just west of Pyinmana on 6 November 2005.
- ↑ Timor-Leste is often considered a transcontinental country in Southeastern Asia and Oceania.
- ↑ Includes Jammu and Kashmir, a contested territory among India, Pakistan, and the PRC.
- ↑ Armenia is sometimes considered a transcontinental country: physiographically in Western Asia, it has historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe.
- ↑ Azerbaijan is often considered a transcontinental country in Western Asia and Eastern Europe; population and area figures are for Asian portion only. Figures include Naxçivan, an autonomous exclave of Azerbaijan bordered by Armenia, Iran, and Turkey.
- ↑ The island of Cyprus is sometimes considered a transcontinental territory: in the Eastern Basin of the Mediterranean Sea south of Turkey, it has historical and sociopolitical connections with Europe. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), distinct from the de jure Republic of Cyprus in the south (with a predominantly Greek population), is recognised only by Turkey.
- ↑ Gaza and West Bank, collectively referred to as the "Occupied Palestinian Territory" by the UN, are territories partially occupied by Israel but under de facto administration of the Palestinian National Authority.
- ↑ Georgia is often considered a transcontinental country in Western Asia and Eastern Europe; population and area figures are for Asian portion only.
- ↑ In 1980, Jerusalem was proclaimed Israel's united capital, following its annexation of Arab-dominant East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. The United Nations and many countries do not recognize this claim, with most countries maintaining embassies in Tel Aviv instead.
- ↑ Turkey is generally considered a transcontinental country in Western Asia and Southern Europe; population and area figures are for Asian portion only, excluding all of Istanbul.</small>
- ↑ West Bank and Gaza, collectively referred to as the "Occupied Palestinian Territory" by the UN, are territories occupied by Israel but under de facto administration of the Palestinian National Authority.
- ↑ Five Years of China’s WTO Membership. EU and US Perspectives on China’s Compliance with Transparency Commitments and the Transitional Review Mechanism, Legal Issues of Economic Integration, Kluwer Law International, Volume 33, Number 3, pp. 263-304, 2006. by Paolo Farah
- "Asia". The Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online. 2005. New York: Columbia University Press.
- World Conflicts: Asia and the Middle East . Edited by Carl L. Bankston III. New York: Salem Press.
- (European Digital Archive on the Soil Maps of the World - EuDASM)
- Map Asia
- Maps of Asia from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library
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