Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemisphere. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area (or 30% of its land area) and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population. During the 20th century Asia's population nearly quadrupled.
Asia is defined according to similar definitions presented by the Encyclopedia Britannica and the National Geographic Society as 4/5 of the landmass of Eurasia – with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe – located to the 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 on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Given its size and diversity, Asia "is more a cultural concept" incorporating diverse regions and peoples than a homogenous physical entity. Asia differs very widely among and within its regions with regard to ethnic groups, cultures, environments, economics, historical ties and government systems.
Geography in Asia is rather complicated, while Asia is the largest continent on Earth, and Asia is neighboring with Europe, Africa, and Oceania. While neighboring with the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. It contains 48 countries in its region, with 2 of them (Russia and Turkey) having part of their land in Europe.
|Source: "UN report 2004 data" (PDF).|
East Asia had by far the strongest overall Human Development Index improvement of any region in the world, nearly doubling average HDI attainment over the past 40 years, according to the report’s analysis of health, education and income data. The People's Republic of China, the second highest achiever in the world in terms of HDI improvement since 1970, is the only country on the “Top 10 Movers” list due to income rather than health or education achievements. Its per capita income increased a stunning 21-fold over the last four decades, also lifting hundreds of millions out of income poverty. Yet it was not among the region’s top performers in improving school enrollment and life expectancy.
Nepal, a South Asian country, emerges as one of the world’s fastest movers since 1970 mainly due to health and education achievements. Its present life expectancy is 25 years longer than in the 1970s. More than four of every five children of school age in Nepal now attend primary school, compared to just one in five 40 years ago.
Japan and South Korea ranked highest among the countries grouped on the HDI (number 11 and 12 in the world, which are in the “very high human development” category), followed by Hong Kong (SAR)(21) and Singapore (27). Afghanistan (155) ranked lowest amongst Asian countries out of the 169 countries assessed.
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 800 languages spoken in India, and more than 100 are spoken in the Philippines. China has many languages and dialects in different provinces.
Asian mythology is complex and diverse. The story of the Great Flood for example, as presented to Christians in the Old Testament, is first found in Mesopotamian mythology, in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Hindu mythology tells about an Avatar of the god Vishru in the form of a fishwho 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 Nuwa who literally fixed the broken sky through which huge rains were pouring.
Almost all Asian religions have philosophical character and Asian philosophical traditions 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. Christianity is also present in most Asian countries.
The Abrahamic religion of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i Faith originated in West Asia. Judaism, the oldest of the Abrahamic faiths, is practiced primarily in Israel (which has the world's largest Jewish population),though small communities exist in other countries, such as the Bene Israel in India. In the Philippines and East Timor, Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion; it was introduced by the Spaniards and the Portuguese, respectively. In Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia and Russia, Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion. Various Christian denomination have adherents in portions of the Middle East, as well as China and India. The world's largest Muslim community (within the bounds of one nation) is in Indonesia. South Asia (mainly Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) holds 30% of Muslims. There are also significant Muslim populations in China, Iran, Malaysia, southern Philippines(Mindanao), Russia and most of West Asia and Central Asia. The Bahá'í Faith originated in Asia, in Iran (Persia), and spread from there to the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, India, and Burma during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh. Since the middle of the 20th century, growth has particularly occurred in other Asian countries, because the Bahá'í Faith's activities in many Muslim countries has been severely suppressed by authorities.
Dharmic and Taoist
The religion of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism originated in India, South. In East Asia, particlarly in China and Japan, Confusionism, Taoism and Zen Buddhism took shape.
Over 80% of the populations of both India and Nepal adhere to Hinduism, alongside significant communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bali. Many overseas Indians in countries such as Burma, Singapore and Malaysia also adhere to Hinduism.
Buddhism has a great following in mainland Southeast Asia and East Asia. Buddhism is the religion of the majority of the populations of Cambodia (98%), Thailand (95%), Burma (89%), Japan (84–96%), Bhutan (75%), Sri Lanka (69%), Laos (67%–98%), and Mongolia (50%). Large Buddhist populations also exist in Singapore (42.5%), Taiwan (35.1%–93%), South Korea (23.2%), Malaysia (19.2%), Nepal (10.7%), Vietnam (9.3–80%), People's Republic of China(8–80%), North Korea (4.5%–60%), Indonesia (<2%); and small communities in India and Bangladesh.
In many Chinese communities, Mahayana Buddhism is easily syncretized with Taoism, thus exact religious statistics is difficult to obtain and may be understated or overstated. The Communist-governed countries of China, Vietnam and North Korea are officially atheist, thus the number of Buddhists and other religious adherents may be under-reported.
Jainism is found mainly in India and in oversea Indian communities such as India and Malaysia. Sikhism is found in Northern India and amongst overseas Indian communities in other parts of Asia, especially Southeast Asia. Confucianism is found predominantly in Mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan and in overseas Chinese populations. Taoism is found mainly in Mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. Taoism is easily syncretized with Mahayana Buddhism for many Chinese, thus exact religious statistics is difficult to obtain and may be understated or overstated.