Asia is the largest continent in the world, which occupies about 60% of the earth’s population. It is chiefly located in the eastern and northern hemispheres. To be more accurate, it lies east of the Suez Canal, the Ural River, and the Ural mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Indian Ocean to the south and the Arctic Ocean to the north.
It hosts a wide range of geographical features and has the most diverse climate. Interestingly, Siberia comes under the Arctic and subarctic regions, whereas a tropical climate exists in Southeast Asia as well as southern India. However, the interior regions of the continent remain dry throughout the year. The major moisture belt exists only in the southeast areas. Western Asia experiences the greatest daily temperature ranges on Earth. The Himalayas, which is the tallest mountain range between India and China, gives rise to a monsoon cycle across the southern and eastern regions, causing the thermal development of low-pressure belts during the hot season. As the monsoon transfers the moisture from the Indian Ocean, heavy rainfall is favored across the Philippines and southern China into Japan. The Arabian Desert occupies most of the Middle Eastern countries, but the Gobi desert covers only parts of northern and northwestern China. The third longest river in the world, Yangtze River, runs through China.
Some of the classic ancient civilizations of Asia had been brought to the fertile river valleys by invaders. Historical studies have found a great deal of resemblance between the civilizations in Indus Valley, Huanghe, and Mesopotamia in terms of scientific technologies and ideas. Various forms of writing may have developed in various regions of the continent. Some of the famous cities, states as well as empires have developed in the lowlands. It is also believed that the horse-mounted nomads had made a good use of the central steppe region for traveling to different regions of the continent. The steppes have also played an important role in spreading Indo-European languages to South Asia, China, and the Middle East. The presence of dense forests and adverse climate made Siberia inaccessible to the nomads. For this reason, Siberia still remains a sparsely populated land. Mountains and deserts were primarily responsible for separating the peripheries from the center. The herdsmen were also subjected to great difficulty while crossing the Caucasus, Himalayas and Gobi deserts. The military potential of the urban residents was put to test on several occasions. As time went by, the steppe nomads began to imbibe the social culture of the cities, particularly in India, China, and the Middle East. In the 7thcentury, the Middle East and Central Asia were completely occupied by the Islamic Caliphate. The Mongol empire emerged during the 13th century that stretched from Eastern Europe to the Sea of Japan, covering large sections of Siberia, India, Iran, and the Middle East.
Although Asia has the world’s second-largest economy by nominal GDP, it is the biggest in purchasing power parity (PPP). Keeping both nominal and PPP gross domestic product in mind, Japan, China, Russia, India, Turkey, South Korea and Indonesia have the largest economies in Asia. It also has a wide number of natural resources such as forests, petroleum, water, fish, copper, silver and rice. Manufacturing is concentrated primarily in the Eastern and Southeastern Asia. Some of the major multinational corporations are situated in South Korea and Japan. Nowadays, a large number of companies from North America, Europe, Japan, and South Korea are making the best use of the cheap labor in some of Asia’s developing countries, including India. It has been able to accumulate nearly US$4 trillion of foreign exchange reserves with the aid of fast economic growth and trade supplies.
Driven by the burgeoning wealth of countries like South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan, tourism in Asia is growing faster and better. It is still an attractive destination for travelers hailing from different countries despite the cut-throat competition in the tourism industry.
It has a population of over 4 billion as a major chunk of the Asians reside in China and India. The strongest overall Human Development Index (HDI) improvement has been recorded in East Asia. So far, Japan, China, and South Korea have been ranked highest on the HDI list. A myriad of languages is normally spoken throughout Asia, which mainly comprises of families and isolates. Surprisingly, in most Asian countries the natives speak multiple languages. In addition to this, countries like India and China have dialects in various regions. Some of these language families include:
- Great Andamanese
Islam is the most widely practiced religion in Asia. In fact, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population followed by Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, southern Philippines, China, and Russia are some of the other countries with a significant Muslim population. The twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina are revered by most followers of Islam. As a matter of fact, during Hajj and Umrah season people from around the world visit these pilgrim cities. Jerusalem is the third most sacred city visited by Muslims. Philosophical characters and traditions are commonly observed in most Asian religions. For example, Hindu and Buddhist philosophy exists in Indian philosophy. Hinduism is the dominant religion in the Indian subcontinent and represents nearly 25% of Asia’s population. Besides India, Hinduism prevails in Nepal and parts of Bali, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. Apart from Hinduism, South Asia is home to various other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Natives of China and Japan are staunch followers of Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. Christianity is also followed in many Asian countries. In several parts of the continent, an array of religions has manifestations in the form of complex mythologies. In Israel, Judaism, the oldest Abrahamic religion, is practiced by many people. On the other hand, Roman Catholicism is widely followed in East Timor and Philippines. It is believed that the Spaniards and the Portuguese were responsible for introducing this religion. Eastern Orthodoxy is, however, predominant in Georgia, Cyprus, Russia, and Armenia.