From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Asia Portal
Main   Geography   Projects

Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area (or 30% of its land area) and with approximately 4.5 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population. It is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Africa-Eurasia lying east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains, south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea and east of the Mediterranean Sea.

The history of Asia can be seen as the collective history of several distinct peripheral coastal regions such as, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East linked by the interior mass of the Eurasian steppe.The coastal periphery was the home to some of the world's earliest known civilizations, with each of the three regions developing early civilizations around fertile river valleys, these valleys were fertile because the soil there was rich and could bear lots of root crops. The civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China shared many similarities and likely exchanged technologies and ideas such as mathematics and the wheel. Other notions such as that of writing likely developed individually in each area. Cities, states and then empires developed in these lowlands.The steppe region had long been inhabited by mounted nomads, and from the central steppes they could reach all areas of the Asian continent, the northern part of the continent, covering much of Siberia was also inaccessible to the steppe nomads due to the dense forests and the tundra. These areas in Siberia were very sparsely populated.The centre and periphery were kept separate by mountains and deserts, the Caucasus, Himalaya, Karakum Desert, and Gobi Desert formed barriers that the steppe horsemen could only cross with difficulty. While technologically and culturally the city dwellers were more advanced, they could do little militarily to defend against the mounted hordes of the steppe. However, the lowlands did not have enough open grasslands to support a large horsebound force, thus the nomads who conquered states in the Middle East were soon forced to adapt to the local societies.

The culture of Asia is human civilization in Asia. It features different kinds of cultural heritage of many nationalities, societies, and ethnic groups in the region, traditionally called a continent from a Western-centric perspective, of Asia. The region or "continent" is more commonly divided into more natural geographic and cultural subregions, including the Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia (the "Indian subcontinent"), North Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia. Geographically, Asia is not a distinct continent; culturally, there has been little unity for many of the cultures and peoples of Asia. Asian art, music, and cuisine, as well as literature, are important parts of Asian culture. Eastern philosophy and religion also plays a major role, with Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam; all playing major roles. One of the most complex parts of Asian culture is the relationship between traditional cultures and the Western world.

Asia has as big GDP as all the other continents together, when measured in purchasing power parity, and is the fastest growing. As of 2016, its largest economies are China, India, Japan and Indonesia. Tokyo is the richest metropolis in the world; Seoul, Osaka and Guangzhou-Shenzhen are as powerful as London. In Global Office Locations 2011, 4 of top 5 were in Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai. According to Citigroup in The Wealth Report 2012 stated that Asian centa-millionaires overtook North America's wealth for the first time as the world's "economic center of gravity" continued moving east, at the end of 2011, there were 18,000 Asian people mainly in Southeast Asia, China and Japan who have at least $100 million in disposable assets, while North America with 17,000 people and Western Europe with 14,000 people.

Selected panorama

A panoramic view of the Hong Kong skyline just after sunset
Credit: David Iliff

The night skyline of Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, as seen from Victoria Peak, the tallest mountain on Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong is located on China's south coast on the Pearl River Delta, and borders Guangdong province in the north and faces the South China Sea in the east, west and south. It has a population of 6.9 million people, and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Featured picture

Nagoya Castle
Credit: Samuel Louie

The main donjon of Nagoya Castle, a Japanese castle found in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. It was destroyed in World War II, but the donjon was reconstructed in 1959, and there are plans to also rebuild Honmaru Palace, which was also located within the castle walls.

Featured biography

Hasekura's portrait during his mission in Rome in 1615, by Claude Deruet, Coll. Borghese, Rome
Hasekura Rokuemon Tsunenaga was a Japanese samurai and retainer of Date Masamune, the daimyo of Sendai. In the years 1613 through 1620, Hasekura headed a diplomatic mission to the Vatican in Rome, traveling through New Spain (arriving in Acapulco and departing from Veracruz) and visiting various ports-of-call in Europe. This historic mission is called the Keichō Embassy , and follows the Tenshō embassy of 1582, on the return trip, Hasekura and his companions re-traced their route across Mexico in 1619, sailing from Acapulco for Manila, and then sailing north to Japan in 1620. He is conventionally considered the first Japanese ambassador in the Americas and in Europe, although Hasekura's embassy was cordially received in Europe, it happened at a time when Japan was moving toward the suppression of Christianity. European monarchs such as the King of Spain thus refused the trade agreements Hasekura had been seeking. Hasekura returned to Japan in 1620 and died of illness a year later, his embassy seemingly ending with few results in an increasingly isolationist Japan.Japan's next embassy to Europe would only occur more than 200 years later, following two centuries of isolation, with the "First Japanese Embassy to Europe" in 1862.

Featured article

Flag of Japan
The national flag of Japan is a white rectangular flag with a large red disk (representing the sun) in the center. This flag is officially called Nisshōki in Japanese, but is more commonly known as Hinomaru.The Nisshōki flag is designated as the national flag in Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem, which was promulgated and became effective on August 13, 1999. Although no earlier legislation had specified a national flag, the sun-disc flag had already become the de facto national flag of Japan. Two proclamations issued in 1870 by the Daijō-kan, the governmental body of the early Meiji Era, each had a provision for a design of the national flag. A sun-disc flag was adopted as the national flag for merchant ships under Proclamation No. 57 of Meiji 3 (issued on February 27, 1870), and as the national flag used by the Navy under Proclamation No. 651 of Meiji 3 (issued on October 27, 1870). Use of the Hinomaru was severely restricted during the early years of the American occupation after World War II, although restrictions were later relaxed.In early Japanese history, the Hinomaru motif was used on flags of daimyos and samurai. An old history Shoku Nihongi says that Emperor Mommu used a flag representing the sun in his court in 701, and this is the first recorded use of a sun-motif flag in Japan, the oldest existing flag is preserved in Unpō-ji temple, Kōshū, Yamanashi, which is older than 16th century, and an ancient legend says that the flag was given to the temple by Emperor Go-Reizei in the 11th century. During the Meiji Restoration, both the sun disc and the Rising Sun Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy became major symbols in the emerging Japanese empire. Propaganda posters, textbooks, and films depicted the flag as a source of pride and patriotism; in Japanese homes, citizens were required to display the flag during national holidays, celebrations and other occasions as decreed by the government. Different tokens of devotion to Japan and its emperor featuring the Hinomaru motif became popular during the Second Sino-Japanese War and other conflicts, these tokens ranged from slogans written on the flag to clothing items and dishes that resembled the flag.

Did you know...


In the news

Wikinews Asia portal
Read and edit Wikinews

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:






Learning resources

Travel guides