Portal:Asia

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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 3.9 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, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas.

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 or common history 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 the second largest nominal GDP of all continents, after Europe, but the largest when measured in purchasing power parity. As of 2010, the largest economies in Asia are China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia. Based on Global Office Locations 2011, Asia dominated the office locations with 4 of top 5 were in Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, London and Shanghai. Around 68 percent of international firms have office in Hong Kong. According to Citigroup in The Wealth Report 2012 stated that Asian centa-millionaire 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

Luang Prabang, Laos
Credit: Benh Lieu Song

Panorama of the city of Luang Prabang in northern Laos, as seen from Phu Si hill. The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name, and after Laos's independence from France, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. This view features the Nam Khan river on the left, and Luang Prabang International Airport on the very far left.

Featured picture

Bathhouse Women
Credit: Torii Kiyonaga

Onna yu ("Bathhouse Women"), a late-eighteenth century Japanese woodblock print in the ukiyo-e style, depicting women at a sentō, or Japanese public bath house. Commercial bath houses in Japan date to at least 1266 and became especially popular immediately after World War II, due to the devastation caused by the war.

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

Core area of Western Chalukya architectural activity in modern Karnataka state, India
Western Chalukya architecture is the distinctive style of ornamented architecture that evolved during the rule of the Western Chalukya Empire in the Tungabhadra region of central Karnataka, India, during the 11th and 12th centuries. Western Chalukyan political influence was at its peak in the Deccan Plateau during this period. The centre of cultural and temple-building activity lay in the Tungabhadra region, where large medieval workshops built numerous monuments. These monuments, regional variants of pre-existing dravida (South Indian) temples, defined the Karnata dravida tradition. Temples of all sizes built by the Chalukyan architects during this era remain today as examples of the architectural style.Most notable of the many buildings dating from this period are the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in the Koppal district, the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi in the Gadag district, and the Mallikarjuna Temple at Kuruvatti and the Kallesvara Temple at Bagali, both in the Davangere district.Other monuments notable for their craftsmanship include the Siddhesvara Temple at Haveri in the Haveri district, the Amrtesvara Temple at Annigeri in the Dharwad district, the Sarasvati Temple in Gadag, and the Dodda Basappa Temple at Dambal, both in the Gadag district.The surviving Western Chalukya monuments are temples built in the Shaiva, Vaishnava, and Jain religious traditions. None of the military, civil, or courtly architecture has survived; being built of mud, brick and wood, such structures may not have withstood repeated invasions.


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