Portal:Asia
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Portal:Asia
The Asia Portal
Asia (orthographic projection).svg

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...)

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150pxTaj Mahal world heritage site in Agra, India.
Credit: David Castor

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.

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Darvasa gas crater
Credit: Tormod Sandtorv
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 in Turkmenistan. The crater is a major tourist attraction, with hundreds of visitors arriving each year.

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Flag of Oman.svg

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...)

Featured biography

Bust of Shen at the Beijing Ancient Observatory

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...)

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Gonu 2007-06-04 0900Z.jpg

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...)

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Updated: 12:33, 20 April 2021

In the news

20 April 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Asia
COVID-19 pandemic in India
India reports a record 1,761 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, thereby bringing the nationwide death toll to 180,530. (Firstpost)
COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal
Nepal grants a conditional emergency use approval for the Russian Sputnik V vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. (The Kathmandu Post)
COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen

Updated: 6:33, 21 April 2021

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