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East Asia

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East Asia
Area11,840,000 km2 (4,570,000 sq mi) (3rd)
Population1.6 billion (2023; 4th)
Population density141.9 km2 (54.8 sq mi)
GDP (PPP)$47.6 trillion (2024)[1]
GDP (nominal)$25.7 trillion (2024)[1]
GDP per capita$16,000 (nominal)[1]
DemonymEast Asian
Time zonesUTC+7, UTC+8 & UTC+9
Largest citiesList of urban areas:[6]
UN M49 code030 – Eastern Asia
East Asia
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese东亚/东亚细亚
Traditional Chinese東亞/東亞細亞
Tibetan name
Korean name
Mongolian name
Mongolian CyrillicЗүүн Ази
ᠵᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠠᠽᠢ
Japanese name
Uyghur name
Uyghurشەرقىي ئاسىي

East Asia is a region of Asia, which is defined in both geographical and ethno-cultural terms.[7][8] The modern states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North and South Korea, and Taiwan.[2][3][4][5] Hong Kong and Macau, two coastal cities located in the south of China, are autonomous regions under Chinese sovereignty. The economies of Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are some of the world's largest and most prosperous economies.[9] East Asia borders Siberia and the Russian Far East to the north, Southeast Asia to the south, South Asia to the southwest, and Central Asia to the west. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the southeast is Micronesia (a Pacific Ocean island group that is classified as part of Oceania).

East Asia has long been a crossroads of civilizations, as the region's prominence has facilitated the transmission of ideas, cultural exchanges, commercial trade, scientific and technological cooperation, and migration, as its position and proximity to both the Pacific Ocean and the Continental Asian landmass makes it strategically significant for facilitating international maritime trade and transportation. The contemporary economic, technological, political, and social integration of East Asia coupled with its rich history of diversity, division, and divergent development have all contributed to its enduring complexity, scientific and technological advancement, cultural richness, economic prosperity, and geopolitical significance on the world stage. With the region having been home to various influential empires, kingdoms, and dynasties throughout history, each leaving its mark on the region and transforming the region's geopolitical landscape ranging from distinct dynastic kingdoms to colonial possessions to independent modern nation-states. East Asia, especially Chinese civilization, is regarded as one of the earliest cradles of civilization. Other ancient civilizations in East Asia that still exist as independent countries in the present day include the Japanese, Korean and Mongolian civilizations. Various other civilizations existed as independent polities in East Asia in the past but have since been absorbed into neighbouring civilizations in the present day, such as Tibet, Baiyue, Khitan, Manchuria, Ryukyu (Okinawa) and Ainu, among many others. Taiwan has a relatively young history in the region after the prehistoric era; originally, it was a major site of Austronesian civilization prior to colonisation by European colonial powers and China from the 17th century onward. For thousands of years, China was the leading civilization in the region, exerting influence on its neighbours.[10][11][12] Historically, societies in East Asia have fallen within the Chinese sphere of influence, and East Asian vocabularies and scripts are often derived from Classical Chinese and Chinese script. The Chinese calendar serves as the root from which many other East Asian calendars are derived.

Major religions in East Asia include Buddhism (mostly Mahayana),[13] Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism, Taoism,[14] ancestral worship, and Chinese folk religion in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Shinto in Japan, and Christianity, and Musok in Korea.[15][16][17] Tengerism and Tibetan Buddhism are prevalent among Mongols and Tibetans while other religions such as Shamanism are widespread among the indigenous populations of northeastern China such as the Manchus.[18] Major languages in East Asia include Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Major ethnic groups of East Asia include the Han (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), Yamato (Japan) and Koreans (North Korea, South Korea). Mongols, although not as populous as the previous three ethnic groups, constitute the majority of Mongolia's population. There are 76 officially-recognized minority or indigenous ethnic groups in East Asia; 55 native to mainland China (including Hui, Manchus, Chinese Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs and Zhuang in the frontier regions), 16 native to the island of Taiwan (collectively known as Taiwanese indigenous peoples), one native to the major Japanese island of Hokkaido (the Ainu) and four native to Mongolia (Turkic peoples). Ryukyuan people are an unrecognized ethnic group indigenous to the Ryukyu Islands in southern Japan, which stretch from Kyushu Island (Japan) to Taiwan. There are also several unrecognized indigenous ethnic groups in mainland China and Taiwan.

East Asians comprise around 1.7 billion people, making up about 33% of the population in Continental Asia and 20% of the global population.[19][20][21][needs update] The region is home to major world metropolises such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taipei and Tokyo. Although the coastal and riparian areas of the region form one of the world's most populated places, the population in Mongolia and Western China, both landlocked areas, is very sparsely distributed, with Mongolia having the lowest population density of a sovereign state. The overall population density of the region is 133 inhabitants per square kilometre (340/sq mi), about three times the world average of 45/km2 (120/sq mi).[when?][citation needed]


China was the first region settled in East Asia and was undoubtedly the core of East Asian civilization from where other parts of East Asia were formed.[22] The various other regions in East Asia were selective in the Chinese influences they adopted into their local customs. Historian Ping-ti Ho famously labeled Chinese civilization as the "Cradle of Eastern Civilization", in parallel with the "Cradle of Middle Eastern Civilization" along the Fertile Crescent encompassing Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt[23] as well as the Cradle of Western Civilization encompassing Ancient Greece[a] and Ancient Rome.[b]

Map of Asia
Map showing the boundary of the 13th century Mongol Empire compared to today's Mongols
The Qing conquest of the Ming and expansion of the empire
Colonies and influence zones in East Asia and Oceania, circa 1914

Chinese civilization existed for about 1,500 years before other East Asian civilizations emerged into history, Imperial China would exert much of its cultural, economic, technological, and political muscle onto its neighbours.[39][40][41][42] Succeeding Chinese dynasties exerted enormous influence across East Asia culturally, economically, politically and militarily for over two millennia.[42][43][44] The Imperial Chinese tributary system shaped much of East Asia's history for over two millennia due to Imperial China's economic and cultural influence over the region, and thus played a huge role in the history of East Asia in particular.[45][46][41] Imperial China's cultural preeminence not only led the country to become East Asia's first literate nation in the entire region, it also supplied Japan and Korea with Chinese loanwords and linguistic influences rooted in their writing systems.[47]

Under Emperor Wu of Han, the Han dynasty made China the regional power in East Asia, projecting much of its imperial power on its neighbours.[42][48] Han China hosted the largest unified population in East Asia, the most literate and urbanised as well as being the most economically developed, as well as the most technologically and culturally advanced civilization in the region at the time.[49][50] Cultural and religious interaction between the Chinese and other regional East Asian dynasties and kingdoms occurred. China's impact and influence on Korea began with the Han dynasty's northeastern expansion in 108 BC when the Han Chinese conquered the northern part of the Korean peninsula and established a province called Lelang. Chinese influences were transmitted and soon took root in Korea through the inclusion of the Chinese writing system, monetary system, rice culture, philosophical schools of thought, and Confucian political institutions.[51] Jomon society in ancient Japan incorporated wet-rice cultivation and metallurgy through its contact with Korea. Starting from the fourth century AD, Japan incorporated the Chinese writing system which evolved into Kanji by the fifth century AD and has become a significant part of the Japanese writing system.[52] Utilizing the Chinese writing system allowed the Japanese to conduct their daily activities, maintain historical records and give form to various ideas, thoughts, and philosophies.[53] During the Tang dynasty, China exerted its greatest influence on East Asia as various aspects of Chinese culture spread to Japan and Korea.[54][55] The establishment of the medieval Tang dynasty rekindled the impetus of Chinese expansionism across the geopolitical confines of East Asia. Similar to its Han predecessor, Tang China reasserted itself as the center of East Asian geopolitical influence during the early medieval period which spearheaded and marked another golden age in Chinese history.[56] During the Tang dynasty, China exerted its greatest influence on East Asia as various aspects of Chinese culture spread to Japan and Korea.[54][55] In addition, Tang China also managed to maintain control over northern Vietnam and Korea.[57]

As full-fledged medieval East Asian states were established, Korea by the fourth century AD and Japan by the seventh century AD, Japan and Korea actively began to incorporate Chinese influences such as Confucianism, the use of written Han characters, Chinese style architecture, state institutions, political philosophies, religion, urban planning, and various scientific and technological methods into their culture and society through direct contacts with Tang China and succeeding Chinese dynasties.[54][55][58] Drawing inspiration from the Tang political system, Prince Naka no oe launched the Taika Reform in 645 AD where he radically transformed Japan's political bureaucracy into a more centralised bureaucratic empire.[59] The Japanese also adopted Mahayana Buddhism, Chinese style architecture, and the imperial court's rituals and ceremonies, including the orchestral music and state dances had Tang influences. Written Chinese gained prestige and aspects of Tang culture such as poetry, calligraphy, and landscape painting became widespread.[59] During the Nara period, Japan began to aggressively import Chinese culture and styles of government which included Confucian protocol that served as a foundation for Japanese culture as well as political and social philosophy.[60][61] The Japanese also created laws adopted from the Chinese legal system that was used to govern in addition to the kimono, which was inspired from the Chinese robe (hanfu) during the eighth century AD.[62] For many centuries, most notably from the 7th to the 14th centuries, China stood as East Asia's most advanced civilization and foremost military and economic power, exerting its influence as the transmission of advanced Chinese cultural practices and ways of thinking greatly shaped the region up until the nineteenth century.[63][64][65][66]

As East Asia's connections with Europe and the Western world strengthened during the late nineteenth century, China's power began to decline.[39][67] By the mid-nineteenth century, the weakening Qing dynasty became fraught with political corruption, obstacles and stagnation that was incapable of rejuvenating itself as a world power in contrast to the industrializing Imperial European colonial powers and a rapidly modernizing Japan.[68][69] The U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry would open Japan to Western ways, and the country would expand in earnest after the 1860s.[70][71][72] Around the same time, Japan with its rush to modernity transformed itself from an isolated feudal samurai state into East Asia's first industrialised nation in the modern era.[73][74][71] The modern and militarily powerful Japan would galvanise its position in the Orient as East Asia's greatest power with a global mission poised to advance to lead the entire world.[73][75] By the early 1900s, the Japanese empire succeeded in asserting itself as East Asia's most dominant power.[75] With its newly found international status, Japan would begin to challenge the European colonial powers and inextricably took on a more active geopolitical position in East Asia and world affairs at large.[76] Flexing its nascent political and military might, Japan soundly defeated the stagnant Qing dynasty during the First Sino-Japanese War as well as vanquishing imperial rival Russia in 1905; the first major military victory in the modern era of an East Asian power over a European one.[77][78][79][80][70] Its hegemony was the heart of an empire that would include Taiwan and Korea.[73] During World War II, Japanese expansionism with its imperialist aspirations through the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere would incorporate Korea, Taiwan, much of eastern China and Manchuria, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia under its control establishing itself as a maritime colonial power in East Asia.[81] After a century of exploitation by the European and Japanese colonialists, post-colonial East Asia saw the defeat and occupation of Japan by the victorious Allies as well as the division of China and Korea during the Cold War. The Korean peninsula became independent but then it was divided into two rival states, while Taiwan became the main territory of de facto state Republic of China after the latter lost Mainland China to the People's Republic of China in the Chinese Civil War. During the latter half of the twentieth century, the region would see the post war economic miracle of Japan, which ushered in three decades of unprecedented growth, only to experience an economic slowdown during the 1990s, but nonetheless Japan continues to remain a global economic power. East Asia would also see the economic rise of Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, in addition to the respective handovers of Hong Kong and Macau near the turn of the twentieth century. The onset of the 21st-century in East Asia led to the integration of Mainland China into the global economy through its entry in the World Trade Organization while also enhancing its emerging international status as a potential world power reinforced with its aim of restoring its historical established significance and enduring international prominence in the world economy.[2][82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89] Despite the absence of armed conflicts in East Asia for decades, the stability of the region remains delicate due to the presence of North Korea's nuclear program and Chinese geopolitical encroachment and provocations occurring in Taiwanese waters. These tensions have emerged from the contentious relationship between Mainland China and Taiwan, as the former seeks to reunify with Mainland China while the latter strives to maintain its sovereign independence and preserve the prevailing geopolitical order.


Three sets of possible boundaries for the Central Asia region that overlap with conceptions of East Asia

In common usage, the term "East Asia" typically refers to a region including Greater China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia.[83][90][91][92][93][94][95][96][97][98]

China, Japan, and Korea represent the three core countries and civilizations of traditional East Asia - as they once shared a common written language, culture, as well as sharing Confucian philosophical tenets and the Confucian societal value system once instituted by Imperial China.[99][100][101][102][103] Other usages define Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan as countries that constitute East Asia based on their geographic proximity as well as historical and modern cultural and economic ties, particularly with Japan and Korea having strong cultural influences that Japan and Korea.[99][103][104][105][106][107] Some scholars include Vietnam as part of East Asia as it has been considered part of the greater Chinese sphere of influence. Though Confucianism continues to play an important role in Vietnamese culture, Chinese characters are no longer used in its written language and many scholarly organizations classify Vietnam as a Southeast Asian country.[108][109][110] Mongolia is geographically north of Mainland China yet Confucianism and the Chinese writing system and culture had limited impact on Mongolian society. Thus, Mongolia is sometimes grouped with Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.[108][109] Xinjiang (East Turkestan) and Tibet are sometimes seen as part of Central Asia.[111][112][113]

Broader and looser definitions by international agencies and organisations such as the World Bank refer to East Asia as the "three major Northeast Asian economies, i.e. Mainland China, Japan, and South Korea", as well as Mongolia, North Korea, the Russian Far East, and Siberia.[114] The Council on Foreign Relations includes the Russia Far East, Mongolia, and Nepal.[115] The World Bank also acknowledges the roles of Chinese special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Taiwan, a country with limited recognition. The Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia defines the region as "China, Japan, the Koreas, Nepal, Mongolia, and eastern regions of the Russian Federation".[116]

The countries of East Asia also form the core of Northeast Asia, which itself is a broader region.
The UN's Statistics Division (UNSD) geoscheme for Asia works with subregions defined in terms of UN political geography statistics.[117] The UNSD geoscheme is based on statistic convenience rather than implying any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories:[118]
  East Asia

The UNSD definition of East Asia is based on statistical convenience,[118] but others commonly use the same definition of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.[7][119]

Certain Japanese islands are associated with Oceania due to non-continental geology, distance from mainland Asia or biogeographical similarities with Micronesia.[120][121] Some groups, such as the World Health Organization, categorize China, Japan and Korea with Australia and the rest of Oceania. The World Health Organization label this region the "Western Pacific", with East Asia not being used in their concept of major world regions. Their definition of this region further includes Mongolia and the adjacent area of Cambodia, as well as the countries of the South East Asia Archipelago (excluding East Timor and Indonesia).[122]

Alternative definitions[edit]

In business and economics, "East Asia" is sometimes used to refer to the geographical area covering ten Southeast Asian countries in ASEAN, Greater China, Japan and Korea. However, in this context, the term "Far East" is used by the Europeans to cover ASEAN countries and the countries in East Asia. However, being a Eurocentric term, Far East describes the region's geographical position in relation to Europe rather than its location within Asia. Alternatively, the term "Asia Pacific Region" is often used in describing East Asia, Southeast Asia as well as Oceania.[citation needed] On rare occasion, the term is also sometimes taken to include India and other South Asian countries not within the bounds of the Pacific, although the term Indo-Pacific is more commonly used for such a definition.[123]

Observers preferring a broader definition of "East Asia" often use the term Northeast Asia to refer to China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, with Southeast Asia covering the ten ASEAN countries. This usage, which is seen in economic and diplomatic discussions, is at odds with the historical meanings of both "East Asia" and "Northeast Asia".[124][125][126] The Council on Foreign Relations of the United States defines Northeast Asia as Japan and Korea.[115]


East Asia map of Köppen climate classification

East Asia is home to many climatic zones. It also has unique weather patterns such as the East Asian rainy season and the East Asian Monsoon.[127]

Climate change[edit]

Climate change is expected to exacerbate heat stress over at the North China Plain, which is particularly vulnerable as widespread irrigation results in very moist air. There is a risk that agricultural labourers will be physically unable to work outdoors on hot summer days at the end of the century, particularly under the scenario of greatest emissions and warming.[128]

Like the rest of the world, East Asia has been getting warmer due to climate change, and there had been a measurable increase in the frequency and severity of heatwaves.[129]: 1464  The region is also expected to see the intensification of its monsoon, leading to more flooding.[129]: 1459  China has notably embarked on the so-called sponge cities program, where cities are designed to increase the area of green spaces and permeable pavings in order to help deal with flash floods caused by greater precipitation extremes.[129]: 1504  Under high-warming scenarios, "critical health thresholds" for heat stress during the 21st century will be at times breached,[129]: 1465  in areas like the North China Plain.[128]

China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are expected to see some of the largest economic losses caused by sea level rise.[129] The city of Guangzhou is projected to experience the single largest annual economic losses from sea level rise in the world, potentially reaching US$254 million by 2050. Under the highest climate change scenario and in the absence of adaptation, cumulative economic losses caused by sea level rise in Guangzhou would exceed US$1 trillion by 2100.[129] Shanghai is also expected to experience annual losses of around 1% of the local GDP in the absence of adaptation.[129] Yangtze River basin is a sensitive and biodiverse ecosystem, yet around 20% of its species may be lost throughout the century under 2 °C (3.6 °F) and ~43% under 4.5 °C (8.1 °F).[129]: 1476 


Customs territory GDP nominal
billions of USD (2024)[1]
GDP nominal per capita
USD (2024)[1]
billions of USD (2024)[1]
GDP PPP per capita
USD (2024)[1]
 People's Republic of China 18,532,633 13,136 35,291,015 25,015
 Hong Kong[c] 406,775 53,606 570,082 75,128
 Macau[d] 54,677 78,962 92,885 125,510
 Japan 4,110,452 33,138 6,720,962 54,184
 Mongolia 21,943 6,182 58,580 16,504
 North Korea N/A N/A N/A N/A
 South Korea 1,760,947 34,165 3,057,995 59,330
 Taiwan[e] 802,958 34,432 1,792,349 76,858
East Asia $25,690,385 $15,612 $47,583,868 $28,916

Territorial and regional data[edit]

China, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan are all unrecognised by at least one other East Asian state because of severe ongoing political tensions in the region, specifically the division of Korea and the political status of Taiwan.


Flag Common Name Official name ISO 3166 Country Codes[130]
Exonym Endonym Exonym Endonym ISO Short Name Alpha-2 Code Alpha-3 Code Numeric
China 中国 People's Republic of China 中华人民共和国 China CN CHN 156
Hong Kong 香港 Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
of the People's Republic of China
中華人民共和國香港特別行政區 Hong Kong HK HKG 344
Macau 澳門 Macao Special Administrative Region
of the People's Republic of China
中華人民共和國澳門特別行政區 Macao MO MAC 446
Japan 日本 Japan 日本国 Japan JP JPN 392
Mongolia Монгол улс / ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ
Mongolia Монгол Улс (ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ
Mongolia MN MNG 496
North Korea 조선 Democratic People's Republic of Korea 조선민주주의인민공화국 Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of) KP PRK 408
South Korea 한국 Republic of Korea 대한민국 Korea (the Republic of) KR KOR 410
Taiwan[f] 臺灣 / 台灣 Republic of China 中華民國 Taiwan[130] TW TWN 158


Population pyramid of East Asia in 2023
Historical distribution map of linguistic groups in China
State/Territory Area km2 Population in

thousands (2023)[131][132]

% of East Asia % of World Population density
per km2
HDI[133] Capital/Administrative Centre
 China 9,640,011[g] 1,425,671[h] 85.76% 17.72% 138 0.768 Beijing
 Hong Kong 1,104 7,492 0.45% 0.093% 6,390 0.952 Hong Kong
 Macau 30 704 0.042% 0.0087% 18,662 0.922 Macao
 Japan 377,930 123,295 7.42% 1.53% 337 0.925 Tokyo
 Mongolia 1,564,100 3,447 0.2% 0.042% 2 0.739 Ulaanbaatar
 North Korea 120,538 26,161 1.57% 0.33% 198 0.733[citation needed] Pyongyang[i]
 South Korea 100,210 51,784 3.11% 0.64% 500 0.925 Seoul
 Taiwan 36,197 23,923 1.44% 0.297% 639 0.926 Taipei[j]
East Asia 11,840,000 1,662,477 100% 20.66% 141 Increase0.861 (very high)

Ethnic groups[edit]

Ethnicity Native name Population Language(s) Writing system(s) Major states/territories* Traditional attire
Han/Chinese 漢族 or 汉族 1,313,345,856[137] Chinese (Mandarin, Min, Wu, Yue, Jin, Gan, Hakka, Xiang, Huizhou, Pinghua, etc.) Simplified Han characters, Traditional Han characters China Taiwan Hong Kong Macau
Yamato/Japanese 大和民族 125,117,000[138] Japanese Han characters (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana Japan
Korean 조선민족 (朝鮮民族)
한민족 (韓民族)
84,790,105[139][140][141] Korean Hangul, Han characters (Hanja) South Korea North Korea
Bai 白族 2,091,543[142] Bai, Southwestern Mandarin Simplified Han characters, Latin script China
Hui 回族 11,377,914[142] Northwestern Mandarin, other Chinese Dialects, Huihui language, etc. Simplified Han characters[k] China
Mongols Монголчууд ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯᠴᠤᠳ
8,942,528 Mongolian Mongol script, Cyrillic script China Mongolia Russia
Zhuang 壮族/Bouxcuengh 19,568,546[142] Zhuang, Southwestern Mandarin, etc. Simplified Han characters, Latin script China
Uyghurs 维吾尔族/ئۇيغۇر 11,774,538[142] Uyghur Arabic alphabet, Latin script China[l]
Manchus 满族/ᠮᠠᠨᠵᡠ 10,423,303[142] Northeastern Mandarin, Manchu language Simplified Han characters, Mongol script ChinaTaiwan
Hmong/Miao 苗族/Ghaob Xongb/Hmub/Mongb 11,067,929[142] Hmong/Miao, Southwestern Mandarin Latin script, Simplified Han characters China
Tibetans 藏族/བོད་པ་ 7,060,731[142] Tibetan, Rgyal Rong, Rgu, etc. Tibetan script China
Yi 彝族/ꆈꌠ 9,830,327[142] Various Loloish, Southwestern Mandarin Yi script, Simplified Han characters China
Tujia 土家族 9,587,732[142] Northern Tujia, Southern Tujia Simplified Han characters China
Kam 侗族/Gaeml 3,495,993[142] Gaeml Simplified Han characters, Latin script China
Tu 土族/Monguor 289,565 Tu, Northwestern Mandarin Simplified Han characters China
Daur 达斡尔族/ᠳᠠᠭᠤᠷ 131,992 Daur, Northeastern Mandarin Mongol script, Simplified Han characters China Mongolia
Indigenous Taiwanese Peoples 臺灣原住民/ 高山族/ Yincomin/ Kasetaivang/ Inanuwayan 533,600 Austronesian languages (Amis, Yami), etc. Latin script, Traditional Han characters Taiwan

Ryukyuan 琉球民族 1,900,000 Japanese
Han characters (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana Japan
Ainu アイヌ/ Aynu/ Айну 200,000 Japanese
Han characters (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana Japan
  • Note: The order of states/territories follows the population ranking of each ethnicity, within East Asia only.

East Asian culture[edit]


The culture of East Asia has largely been influenced by China, as it was the civilization that had the most dominant influence in the region throughout the ages that ultimately laid the foundation for East Asian civilization.[144] The vast knowledge and ingenuity of Chinese civilization and the classics of Chinese literature and culture were seen as the foundations for a civilized life in East Asia. Imperial China served as a vehicle through which the adoption of Confucian ethical philosophy, Chinese calendar system, political and legal systems, architectural style, diet, terminology, institutions, religious beliefs, imperial examinations that emphasised a knowledge of Chinese classics, political philosophy and cultural value systems, as well as historically sharing a common writing system reflected in the histories of Japan and Korea.[145][42][146][147][148][149][150][151][103] The Imperial Chinese tributary system was the bedrock of network of trade and foreign relations between China and its East Asian tributaries, which helped to shape much of East Asian affairs during the ancient and medieval eras. Through the tributary system, the various dynasties of Imperial China facilitated frequent economic and cultural exchange that influenced the cultures of Japan and Korea and drew them into a Chinese international order.[152] The Imperial Chinese tributary system shaped much of East Asia's foreign policy and trade for over two millennia due to Imperial China's economic and cultural dominance over the region, and thus played a huge role in the history of East Asia in particular.[46][152] The relationship between China and its cultural influence on East Asia has been compared to the historical influence of Greco-Roman civilization on Europe and the Western World.[149][147][152][145]


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Religion in East Asia (2020)[153]

  Folk Religion (52.10%)
  Buddhism (19.65%)
  No Religion (19.62%)
  Christianity (5.56%)
  Islam (1.57%)
  Other (1.44%)
Religion Native name Creator/Current Leader Founded Time Main Denomination Major book Type Est. Followers Ethnic groups States/territories
Chinese folk religion 中國民間信仰 or 中国民间信仰 Spontaneous formation Prehistoric period Salvationist, Wuism, Nuo Chinese classics, Huangdi Sijing, precious scrolls, etc. Prehistoric, pantheism, and polytheism ~900,000,000[154][155] Han, Hmong, Qiang, Tujia (worship of the same ancestor-gods) China Hong Kong Macau Taiwan
Taoism 道教 Zhang Daoling, Wang Chongyang (Quanzhen School) 125 AD Eastern Han dynasty[citation needed] Zhengyi, Quanzhen Tao Te Ching Pantheism, polytheism ~20,000,000[155] Han, Zhuang, Hmong, Yao, Qiang, Tujia China Hong Kong Macau Taiwan
East Asian Buddhism/Chinese Buddhism 漢傳佛教 or 汉传佛教 Emperor Ming of Han (introduced to China), Mālānanda (introduced to Baekje), King Seong of Baekje (introduced to Japan) 67 AD Eastern Han dynasty Mahayana Diamond Sutra Non-God, Dualism. ~300,000,000 Han, Koreans, Yamato China Hong Kong Macau Japan North Korea South Korea Taiwan
Tibetan Buddhism 藏传佛教/བོད་བརྒྱུད་ནང་བསྟན། Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche 1800 years ago Mahayana, Bon Anuttarayoga Tantra Non-God ~10,000,000 Tibetans, Manchus, Mongols China Mongolia
Shamanism[m] 萨满教 or Бөө мөргөл Spontaneous formation Prehistoric period N/A Prehistoric, polytheism, and pantheism N/A Manchus, Mongols, Oroqens China Mongolia
Shinto 神道 Spontaneous formation Yayoi period[156] Shinto sects Kojiki, Nihon Shoki Prehistoric, pantheism, and polytheism N/A Yamato Japan
Musok/Muism 신도 or 무교 Spontaneous formation 900 years ago[citation needed] Musok sects N/A Prehistoric, pantheism, and polytheism N/A Koreans North Korea South Korea
Ryukyuan religion 琉球神道 or ニライカナイ信仰 Spontaneous formation N/A N/A N/A Prehistoric, pantheism, and polytheism N/A Ryukyuans Japan (Okinawa Prefecture)


Festival Native Name Other name Calendar Date Gregorian date Activity Religious practices Food Major ethnicities Major states/territories
Chinese New Year 農曆新年/农历新年 or 春節/春节 Spring Festival Chinese Month 1 Day 1 21 Jan–20 Feb Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Fireworks Worship the King of Gods Nian gao Han, Manchus etc. China Hong Kong Macau Mongolia Taiwan
Korean New Year 설날 or Seollal Korean Month 1 Day 1 21 Jan–20 Feb Ancestors Worship, Family Reunion, Tomb Sweeping N/A Tteokguk Koreans North Korea South Korea
Losar or Tsagaan Sar 藏历新年/ལོ་གསར་ or 查干萨日/Цагаан сар White Moon Tibetan, Mongolian Month 1 Day 1 25 Jan – 2 Mar Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Fireworks N/A Chhaang or Buuz Tibetans, Mongols, Tu etc. China Mongolia
New Year 元旦 Yuan Dan Gregorian 1 Jan 1 Jan Fireworks N/A N/A N/A China Hong Kong Macau Japan Mongolia North Korea South Korea Taiwan
Lantern Festival 元宵節 or 元宵节 Upper Yuan Festival (上元节) Chinese Month 1 Day 15 4 Feb – 6 Mar Lanterns Expo, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Birthdate of the God of Sky-officer Yuanxiao Han China Hong Kong Macau Taiwan
Daeboreum 대보름 or 정월 대보름 Great Full Moon Korean Month 1 Day 15 4 Feb – 6 Mar Greeting of the moon, kite-flying, Jwibulnori, eating nuts (Bureom) Bonfires (daljip taeugi) Ogok-bap, namul, nuts Korean North Korea South Korea
Hanshi Festival 寒食節 or 寒食节 Cold Food Festival Solar term Traditionally, on the 105th day after the Winter solstice. Revised to 1 day before the Qingming Festival by Johann Adam Schall von Bell (Chinese: 汤若望) during the Qing dynasty. April 3–5 Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, No cooking hot meal/setting fire, Cold food only. Cuju, etc. (People used to mix this one with the Qingming Festival due to their close dates) In Memory of a loyal Ancient named Jie Zhitui (Chinese: 介子推), ordered by the Monarch of the Jin (Chinese state), Duke Wen of Jin (Chinese: 重耳) Cold Food, e.g. Qingtuan Han, Koreans, Mongols China Hong Kong Macau North Korea South Korea Taiwan
Qingming Festival 清明節 or 清明节 or Ханш нээх Tomb Sweeping Day Solar term 15th day after the Vernal Equinox. Just 1 day after the Hanshi Festival, but in much higher repute. April 4-6th Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Excursion, Planting trees, Flying kites, Tug of war, Cuju, etc. (Almost the same with the Hanshi Festival's, due to their close dates) Burning Hell money for deceased family members. Planting willow branches to keep ghosts away from houses. Boiled eggs Han, Koreans, Mongols China Hong Kong MacauMongolia North Korea South Korea Taiwan
Dragon Boat Festival 端午節 or 端午节 or 단오 Duanwu Festival / Dano (Surit-nal) Chinese / Korean Month 5 Day 5 Driving poisons & plague away. (China - Dragon Boat Race, Wearing coloured lines, Hanging felon herb on the front door.) / (Korea - Washing hair with iris water, ssireum) Worship various Gods Zongzi / Surichwitteok (rice cake with herbs) Han, Koreans, Yamato China Hong Kong Macau North Korea South Korea Japan Taiwan
Ghost Festival 中元節 or 中元节 or 백중 Mid Yuan Festival Chinese Month 7 Day 15 Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Birthdate of the God of Earth-officer Han, Koreans, Yamato China Hong Kong Macau North Korea South Korea Japan Taiwan
Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋節 or 中秋节 中秋祭 Chinese Month 8 Day 15 Family Reunion, Enjoying Moon view Worship the Moon Goddess Mooncake Han China Hong Kong Macau Taiwan
Chuseok 추석 or 한가위 Hangawi Korean Month 8 Day 15 Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Enjoying Moon view N/A Songpyeon, Torantang (Taro soup) Koreans North Korea South Korea
Tsukimi 月見 or お月見 Tsukimi or Otsukimi Gregorian Month 8 Day 15 Family Reunion, Enjoying Moon view Worship the Moon Tsukimi Dango, Sweet Potato Yamato Japan *
Double Ninth Festival 重陽節 or 重阳节 Double Positive Festival Chinese Month 9 Day 09 Climbing Mountain, Taking care of elderly, Wearing Cornus. Worship various Gods Han, Korean, Yamato China Hong Kong Macau North Korea South Korea Japan Taiwan*
Lower Yuan Festival 下元節 or 下元节 N/A Chinese Month 10 Day 15 Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Birthdate of the God of Water-officer Ciba Han China Hong Kong Macau Taiwan
Dongzhi Festival 冬至 or 동지 or 冬至 N/A Gregorian Between Dec 21 and Dec 23 Between Dec 21 and Dec 23 Ancestors Worship, Rites to dispel bad spirits N/A Tangyuan, Patjuk, Zenzai, Kabocha Han, Koreans, Yamato China Hong Kong Macau North Korea South Korea Japan Taiwan
Small New Year 小年 Jizao (祭灶) Chinese Month 12 Day 23 Cleaning Houses Worship the God of Hearth tanggua Han, Mongols China Hong Kong Macau Mongolia Taiwan

*Japan switched the date to the Gregorian calendar after the Meiji Restoration.
*Not always on that Gregorian date, sometimes April 4.


East Asian Youth Games[edit]

Formerly the East Asian Games, it is a multi-sport event organized by the East Asian Games Association (EAGA) and held every four years since 2019 among athletes from East Asian countries and territories of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), as well as the Pacific island of Guam, which is a member of the Oceania National Olympic Committees.

It is one of five Regional Games of the OCA. The others are the Central Asian Games, the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), the South Asian Games and the West Asian Games.

Free trade agreements[edit]

Name of agreement Parties Leaders at the time Negotiation begins Signing date Starting time Current status
China–South Korea FTA China South Korea Xi Jinping, Park Geun-hye May, 2012 Jun 01, 2015 Dec 30, 2015 Enforced
China–Japan–South Korea FTA China Japan South Korea Xi Jinping, Shinzō Abe, Park Geun-hye Mar 26, 2013 N/A N/A 10 round negotiation
Japan-Mongolia EPA Japan Mongolia Shinzō Abe, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj - Feb 10, 2015 - Enforced
China-Mongolia FTA China Mongolia Xi Jinping, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj N/A N/A N/A Officially proposed
China-HK CEPA China Hong Kong Jiang Zemin, Tung Chee-hwa - Jun 29, 2003 - Enforced
China-Macau CEPA China Macau Jiang Zemin, Edmund Ho Hau-wah - Oct 18, 2003 - Enforced
Hong Kong-Macau CEPA Hong Kong Macau Carrie Lam, Fernando Chui Oct 09, 2015 N/A N/A Negotiating
ECFA China Taiwan Hu Jintao, Ma Ying-jeou Jan 26, 2010 Jun 29, 2010 Aug 17, 2010 Enforced
CSSTA (Based on ECFA) China Taiwan Xi Jinping, Ma Ying-jeou Mar, 2011 Jun 21, 2013 N/A Abolished
CSGTA (Based on ECFA) China Taiwan Hu Jintao, Ma Ying-jeou Feb 22, 2011 N/A N/A Suspended

Military alliances[edit]

Name Parties within the region
Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty China North Korea
Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan United States Japan
Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea United States South Korea

Major cities[edit]

Largest population centres of East Asia
Rank City name Country Pop.



1 Tokyo Japan 38,140,000
2 Seoul South Korea 25,520,000
3 Shanghai China 24,484,000
4 Beijing China 21,240,000
5 Osaka Japan 20,337,000
6 Chongqing China 13,744,000
7 Guangzhou China 13,070,000
8 Tianjin China 11,558,000
9 Shenzhen China 10,828,000
10 Chengdu China 10,104,000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]
  2. ^ [35][36][37][38]
  3. ^ Listed as "Hong Kong SAR" by IMF
  4. ^ Listed as "Macao SAR" by IMF
  5. ^ Listed as "Taiwan, Province of China" by IMF
  6. ^ From 1949 to 1971, the ROC was referred as "China" or "Nationalist China".
  7. ^ Includes all area which under PRC's government control (excluding "South Tibet" and disputed islands).[citation needed]
  8. ^ A note by the United Nations: "For statistical purposes, the data for China do not include Hong Kong and Macao, Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China, and Taiwan Province of China."[131][132]
  9. ^ Seoul was the de jure capital of the DPRK from 1948 to 1972.
  10. ^ Taipei is the ROC's seat of government by a decree thus making it the de facto capital. There is no official capital appointed by the ROC constitution.[134][135][136]
  11. ^ The Hui people also use the Arabic alphabet in the religious field.
  12. ^ The Khotons also in Mongolia.
  13. ^ almost Manchu, Mongolian


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Further reading[edit]

  • Church, Peter. A short history of South-East Asia (John Wiley & Sons, 2017).
  • Chung, Eunbin. Pride, Not Prejudice: National Identity as a Pacifying Force in East Asia (University of Michigan Press, 2022) online reviews by six scholars
  • Clyde, Paul H., and Burton F. Beers. The Far East: A History of Western Impacts and Eastern Responses, 1830–1975 (1975) online 3rd edition 1958
  • Crofts, Alfred. A history of the Far East (1958) online free to borrow
  • Dennett, Tyler. Americans in Eastern Asia (1922) online free
  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, and Anne Walthall. East Asia: A cultural, social, and political history (Cengage Learning, 2013).
  • Embree, Ainslie T., ed. Encyclopedia of Asian history (1988)
  • Fairbank, John K., Edwin Reischauer, and Albert M. Craig. East Asia: The great tradition and East Asia: The modern transformation (1960) [2 vol 1960] online free to borrow, famous textbook.
  • Flynn, Matthew J. China Contested: Western Powers in East Asia (2006), for secondary schools
  • Gelber, Harry. The dragon and the foreign devils: China and the world, 1100 BC to the present (2011).
  • Green, Michael J. By more than providence: grand strategy and American power in the Asia Pacific since 1783 (2017) a major scholarly survey excerpt
  • Hall, D.G.E. History of South East Asia (Macmillan International Higher Education, 1981).
  • Holcombe, Charles. A History of East Asia (2d ed. Cambridge UP, 2017). excerpt
  • Iriye, Akira. After Imperialism; The Search for a New Order in the Far East 1921–1931. (1965).
  • Jensen, Richard, Jon Davidann, and Yoneyuki Sugita, eds. Trans-Pacific Relations: America, Europe, and Asia in the Twentieth Century (Praeger, 2003), 304 pp online review
  • Keay, John. Empire's End: A History of the Far East from High Colonialism to Hong Kong (Scribner, 1997). online free to borrow
  • Levinson, David, and Karen Christensen, eds. Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. (6 vol. Charles Scribner's Sons, 2002).
  • Mackerras, Colin. Eastern Asia: an introductory history (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1992).
  • Macnair, Harley F. & Donald Lach. Modern Far Eastern International Relations. (2nd ed 1955) 1950 edition online free, 780pp; focus on 1900–1950.
  • Miller, David Y. Modern East Asia: An Introductory History (Routledge, 2007)
  • Murphey, Rhoads. East Asia: A New History (1996)
  • Norman, Henry. The Peoples and Politics of the Far East: Travels and studies in the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies, Siberia, China, Japan, Korea, Siam and Malaya (1904) online
  • Paine, S. C. M. The Wars for Asia, 1911–1949 (2014) excerpt
  • Prescott, Anne. East Asia in the World: An Introduction (Routledge, 2015)
  • Ring, George C. Religions of the Far East: Their History to the Present Day (Kessinger Publishing, 2006).
  • Szpilman, Christopher W. A., Sven Saaler. "Japan and Asia" in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History (2017) online
  • Steiger, G. Nye. A history of the Far East (1936).
  • Vinacke, Harold M. A History of the Far East in Modern Times (1964) online free
  • Vogel, Ezra. China and Japan: Facing History (2019) excerpt
  • Woodcock, George. The British in the Far East (1969) online

External links[edit]