Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.
In general terms, Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. The border of Asia with Europe is a historical and cultural construct, as there is no clear physical and geographical separation between them. It is somewhat arbitrary and has moved since its first conception in classical antiquity. The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East-West cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The most commonly accepted boundaries place Asia to the east of the Suez Canal separating it from Africa; and to the east of the Turkish Straits, the Ural Mountains and Ural River, and to the south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas, separating it from Europe.
China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1800 CE. China was a major economic power and attracted many to the east, and for many the legendary wealth and prosperity of the ancient culture of India personified Asia, attracting European commerce, exploration and colonialism. The accidental discovery of a trans-Atlantic route from Europe to America by Columbus while in search for a route to India demonstrates this deep fascination. The Silk Road became the main east-west trading route in the Asian hinterlands while the Straits of Malacca stood as a major sea route. Asia has exhibited economic dynamism (particularly East Asia) as well as robust population growth during the 20th century, but overall population growth has since fallen. Asia was the birthplace of most of the world's mainstream religions including Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, as well as many other religions. (Full article...)
The Taj Mahal (Hindi: , from Persian/Urdu: "crown of palaces") is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles.
The Darvaza gas crater
, also called the "Door to Hell" or the "Gates of Hell" by locals, a crater of natural gas that has been burning since 1971, is located in the Karakum Desert
. The crater is a major tourist attraction, with hundreds of visitors arriving each year.
Oman ( oh-MAHN; Arabic: ?Um?n ['ma:n]), officially the Sultanate of Oman (Arabic: ? Sal?anat(u) ?Um?n), is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia and the oldest independent state in the Arab world. Located in a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the country shares land borders with the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest, and shares marine borders with Iran and Pakistan. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Oman on the northeast. The Madha and Musandam exclaves are surrounded by the UAE on their land borders, with the Strait of Hormuz (which it shares with Iran) and the Gulf of Oman forming Musandam's coastal boundaries.
From the late 17th century, the Omani Sultanate was a powerful empire
, vying with the Portuguese Empire
and the British Empire
for influence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. At its peak in the 19th century, Omani influence or control extended across the Strait of Hormuz to modern-day Iran and Pakistan, and as far south as Zanzibar
. When its power declined in the 20th century, the sultanate came under the influence of the United Kingdom. For over 300 years, the relations built between the two empires were based on mutual benefits. The UK recognized Oman's geographical importance as a trading hub that secured their trading lanes in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean and protected their empire in the Indian sub-continent. Historically, Muscat
was the principal trading port of the Persian Gulf region. Muscat was also among the most important trading ports of the Indian Ocean. (Full article...
Shen Kuo (Chinese: ; 1031-1095) or Shen Gua, courtesy name Cunzhong () and pseudonym Mengqi (now usually given as Mengxi) Weng (), was a Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman of the Song dynasty (960-1279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, entomologist, anatomist, climatologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, medical scientist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, geographer, geophysicist, mineralogist, encyclopedist, military general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, economist, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, philosopher, art critic, poet, and musician. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021-1085).
In his Dream Pool Essays
or Dream Torrent Essays
; Mengxi Bitan
) of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass
, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam
in 1187). Shen discovered the concept of true north
in terms of magnetic declination
towards the north pole
, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian
determined by Shen's [astronomical] measurement of the distance between the pole star
and true north". This was the decisive step in human history to make compasses more useful for navigation, and may have been a concept unknown in Europe for another four hundred years
(evidence of German sundials made circa 1450 show markings similar to Chinese geomancer compasses in regard to declination). (Full article...
Super Cyclonic Storm Gonu was an extremely powerful tropical cyclone that became the strongest cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea. The second named tropical cyclone of the 2007 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Gonu developed from a persistent area of convection in the eastern Arabian Sea on June 1, 2007. With a favorable upper-level environment and warm sea surface temperatures, it rapidly intensified to attain peak winds of 240 km/h (150 mph) on June 4, according to the India Meteorological Department. Gonu weakened after encountering dry air and cooler waters, and early on June 6, it made landfall on the easternmost tip of Oman, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the Arabian Peninsula. It then turned northward into the Gulf of Oman, and dissipated on June 7, after making landfall in southern Iran, the first landfall in the country since 1898.
Intense tropical cyclones like Gonu are extremely rare in the Arabian Sea, and most storms in this area tend to be small and dissipate quickly. The cyclone caused 50 deaths and about $4.2 billion in damage (2007 USD) in Oman, where the cyclone was considered the nation's worst natural disaster. Gonu dropped heavy rainfall near the eastern coastline, reaching up to 610 mm (24 inches), which caused flooding and heavy damage. In Iran, the cyclone caused 28 deaths and $216 million in damage (2007 USD). (Full article...
Did you know...
- ... that Kolkata, the smallest by area of India's six cities, has the country's largest suburban rail system by track length and number of stations?
- ... that after traveling through India, Tibet, and the Qing Empire for more than 20 years, 18th-century Dutch explorer Samuel van der Putte ordered his notes and journals to be burned rather than accept their misuse?
- ... that the remains of missing Israeli soldier Zechariah Baumel were discovered in a cemetery in the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, Syria, nearly 37 years after he disappeared in the 1982 Lebanon War?
- ... that a print of Badnam Basti, often described as India's first gay film, was discovered in 2019 after having been lost for 40 years?
- ... that a section of Japan National Route 105 is named after a group of hunters?
- ... that HMS Stonehenge disappeared with all hands in the Indian Ocean in 1944, and her exact location is still unknown?
- ... that Alasdair Geddes worked on the WHO's smallpox-eradication programme in Bangladesh five years before diagnosing the world's last fatal case of smallpox in Birmingham, England?
- ... that LaVon Mercer, who was homeless as a teenager, played in the Israeli Basketball Premier League for 14 years and was its 1980-81 season MVP?
- ... that the Israeli video game Piposh, to be released in 2019, will be a reboot of the original 1999 game of the same name?
- ... that instead of attending Columbia University, Taiwanese engineer Ye Qingyao joined the February 28 rebellion, was jailed, and then escaped to China on a sampan?
Updated: 12:33, 20 April 2021
In the news
The following are images from various Asia-related articles on Wikipedia.
The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, Taiwan, which was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010.
The Qing Empire in 1820, marked the time when the Qing began to rule these areas.
Byzantine and Sassanian Empires in 600 AD
East Asian cultural sphere
Language families in South Asia
The global contribution to world's GDP by major economies from 1 AD to 2003 AD according to Angus Maddison's estimates. Before 18th century, China and India were the two largest economies by GDP output.
The third Inter-Korean Summit, which was held in 2018, between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un. It was a historical event that symbolized the peace of Asia.
Korean peninsula in 476 AD. There are three kingdoms and Gaya Union in the picture. This picture shows the heyday of Goguryeo
The Russian Znamensky Cathedral in Tyumen built in 1768
Daian-ji temple at Nara, Japan
Population concentration and boundaries of the Western Zhou dynasty in China
Projected GDP of 7 largest economies in 2050.
Chicken tikka, a well-known dish across the globe, reflects the amalgamation of South Asian cooking styles with those from Central Asia.
Map of Asia for early 20th century
The Taj Mahal, Agra, India
A Confucian ritual ceremony in Jeju, South Korea
Projected shares of global GDP by region to 2050
Here a Jesuit, Adam Schall von Bell (1592-1666), is dressed as an official of the Chinese Department of Astronomy.
Detail of Chinese silk from the 4th century BCE. The characteristic trade of silk through the Silk Road connected various regions from China, India, Central Asia, and the Middle East to Europe and Africa.
Sun temple at Konarka, Odisha
Contemporary political map of Asia
Map of Marco Polo's travels
India's middle-class population of 300 million is growing at an annual rate of 5%. Shown here is an upmarket area in South Mumbai.
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