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Eurasia is the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia, with the term being a portmanteau of its two constituents. Located primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean on the north, and by Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean to the south. The division between Europe and Asia as two different continents is a historical and cultural construct, with no clear physical separation between them; thus, in some parts of the world, Eurasia is considered the largest of five or six continents.
Eurasia covers around 52,990,000 square kilometres (20,460,000 sq mi), or around 36.2% of the Earth's total land area. The landmass contains around 4.6 billion people, equating to 72.5% of the human population. Humans first settled in Eurasia from Africa, between 60,000 and 125,000 years ago.
Physiographically, Eurasia is a single continent. The concepts of Europe and Asia as distinct continents date back to antiquity and their borders are geologically arbitrary, with the Ural and Caucasus ranges being the main delimiters between the two. The delineation of Europe as separate from Asia can be seen as a form of eurocentrism. Eurasia is connected to Africa at the Suez Canal, and Eurasia is sometimes combined with Africa as the supercontinent Afro-Eurasia.
Eurasia is inhabited by almost 5 billion people, more than 72.5% of the world's population: 60% in Asia and 12.5% in Europe.
Jared Diamond, in his book Guns, Germs and Steel, credits Eurasia's dominance in world history to the unique east-west extent of Eurasia and the availability of Eurasian animals and plants suitable for domestication. He included North Africa in his definition of Eurasia, due to it having a similar climate and peoples.
The Silk Road symbolizes trade and cultural exchange linking Eurasian cultures through history and has been an increasingly popular topic. Over recent decades the idea of a greater Eurasian history has developed with the aim of investigating the genetic, cultural and linguistic relationships between European and Asian cultures of antiquity, which had long been considered distinct.
Eurasia formed 375 to 325 million years ago with the merging of Siberia (once a separate continent), Kazakhstania, and Baltica, which was joined to Laurentia, now North America, to form Euramerica. Chinese cratons collided with Siberia's southern coast.
Every two years since 1996 a meeting of most Asian and European countries is organised as the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
A political and economic union of former Soviet states named the Eurasian Union is scheduled for establishment in 2015, similar in concept to the European Union. As of 2014 neither encompasses all states within Eurasia.
Use of term
History of the Europe and Asia division
In ancient times, the Greeks classified Europe (derived from the mythological Phoenician princess Europa) and Asia (derived from Asia, a woman in Greek mythology) as separate "lands". Where to draw the dividing line between the two regions is still a matter of discussion. Especially whether the Kuma-Manych Depression or the Caucasus Mountains form the southeast boundary is disputed, since Mount Elbrus would be part of Europe in the latter case, making it (and not Mont Blanc) Europe's highest mountain. Most accepted is probably the boundary as defined by Philip Johan von Strahlenberg in the 18th century. He defined the dividing line along the Aegean Sea, Dardanelles, Sea of Marmara, Bosporus, Black Sea, Kuma–Manych Depression, Caspian Sea, Ural River, and Ural Mountains.
Anthropology and genetics
In modern usage, the term Eurasian usually means "of or relating to Eurasia", or "a native or inhabitant of Eurasia".
The term "Eurasian" is usually used to describe people of mixed Asian and European descent.
West or western Eurasia is a loose geographic definition used in some disciplines, such as genetics or anthropology, to refer to the region inhabited by the relatively homogeneous population of West Asia and Europe. The people of this region are sometimes described collectively as West or Western Eurasians.
Located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Eurasia is considered a supercontinent, part of the supercontinent of Afro-Eurasia or simply a continent in its own right. In plate tectonics, the Eurasian Plate includes Europe and most of Asia but not the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Peninsula or the area of the Russian Far East east of the Chersky Range.
Eurasia is also sometimes used in geopolitics to refer to organizations of or affairs concerning the post-Soviet states, in particular, Russia, the Central Asian republics, and the Transcaucasian republics. A prominent example of this usage is in the name of the Eurasian Economic Community, the organization including Kazakhstan, Russia, and some of their neighbors, and headquartered in Moscow, Russia, and Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
The word "Eurasia" is often used in Kazakhstan to describe its location. Numerous Kazakh institutions have the term in their names, like the L. N. Gumilev Eurasian National University (Kazakh: Л. Н. Гумилёв атындағы Еуразия Ұлттық университеті; Russian: Евразийский Национальный университет имени Л. Н. Гумилёва) (Lev Gumilev's Eurasianism ideas having been popularized in Kazakhstan by Olzhas Suleimenov), the Eurasian Media Forum, the Eurasian Cultural Foundation (Russian: Евразийский фонд культуры), the Eurasian Development Bank (Russian: Евразийский банк развития), and the Eurasian Bank. In 2007 Kazakhstan's President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, proposed building a "Eurasia Canal" to connect the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea via Russia's Kuma-Manych Depression in order to provide Kazakhstan and other Caspian-basin countries with a more efficient path to the ocean than the existing Volga-Don Canal. This usage is comparable to how Americans use "Western Hemisphere" to describe concepts and organizations dealing with the Americas (e.g., Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).
- Asia-Europe Foundation
- Asia–Europe Meeting
- Borders of the continents
- Eurasia (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
- Eurasian (disambiguation)
- Eurasian Economic Community
- Eurasian Union
- Intermediate Region
- Laurasia, a geological supercontinent joining Eurasia and North America.
- List of Eurasian countries by population
- List of supercontinents
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- Vega expedition, the first voyage to circumnavigate Eurasia
- Lewis, Martin W.; Wigen, Kären (1997), The myth of continents: a critique of metageography, University of California Press, pp. 31–32, ISBN 0-520-20743-2 "While a few professionals may regard Europe as a mere peninsula of Asia (or Eurasia), most geographers—and almost all nongeographers—continue to treat it not only as a full-fledged continent, but as the archetypal continent."
- Nield, Ted. "Continental Divide". Geological Society. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "How many continents are there?". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2010-09-26. "By convention there are seven continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. Some geographers list only six continents, combining Europe and Asia into Eurasia. In parts of the world, students learn that there are just five continents: Eurasia, Australia, Africa, Antarctica, and the Americas."
- "What is Eurasia?". geography.about.com. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Hints Of Earlier Human Exit From Africa". Science News. doi:10.1126/science.1199113. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- Paul Rincon Humans 'left Africa much earlier' BBC News, 27 January 2011
- R. W. McColl, ed. (2005, Golson Books Ltd.). 'continents' - Encyclopedia of World Geography, Volume 1. p. 215. ISBN 9780816072293. Retrieved 2012-06-26. "And since Africa and Asia are connected at the Suez Peninsula, Europe, Africa, and Asia are sometimes combined as Afro-Eurasia or Eurafrasia."
- American Heritage Dictionary
- "Anthropologically, historically and linguistically Eurasia is more appropriately, though vaguely subdivided into West Eurasia (often including North Africa) and East Eurasia", Anita Sengupta, Heartlands of Eurasia: The Geopolitics of Political Space, Lexington Books, 2009, p.25
- "Pangaea Supercontinent". Geology.com. Retrieved 19 Feb 2011.
- "L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University". Emu.kz. 2010-07-29. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- "The Eurasian Media Forum". Eamedia.org. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- "Eurasian Development Bank". Eabr.org. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- "Eurasian Bank". Eurasian-bank.kz. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
- Canal will link Caspian Sea to world (The Times, June 29, 2007)
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