East Asia

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For other uses, see East Asia (disambiguation).
East Asia
Location of East Asia
States and territories
Major cities
Area[note 1]
 • Total 11,839,074 km2 (4,571,092 sq mi)
Population [note 2]
 • Total 1,601,709,712
 • Density 140/km2 (350/sq mi)
Time zone
  • UTC +7:00 (Western Mongolia)
  • UTC +8:00 (Rest of Mongolia, Mainland China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong)
  • UTC +8:30 (North Korea)
  • UTC +9:00 (Japan and South Korea)
Languages and language families
East Asia
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 东亚/东亚细亚
Traditional Chinese 東亞/東亞細亞
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabet Đông Á
Korean name
Hangul 동아시아/동아세아/동아
Hanja 東아시아/東亞細亞/東亞
Mongolian name
Mongolian Зүүн Ази (Dzuun Azi)
ᠵᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠠᠽᠢ
Japanese name
Kanji 東亜細亜(東アジア)/東亜
Kana ひがしアジア/とうあ
Kyūjitai 東亞細亞/東亞
Russian name
Russian Восточная Азия
Romanization Vostochnaja Azija

East Asia is the eastern subregion of the Asian continent, which can be defined in either geographical[1] or ethno-cultural[2] terms. Geographically and geopolitically, it includes China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Taiwan, Mongolia, Korea (North and South) and Japan; it covers about 12,000,000 km2 (4,600,000 sq mi), or about 28% of the Asian continent, about twice the area of Europe.

The East Asian people comprise more than 1.5 billion people. About 38% of the population of Asia and 22%, or over one fifth, of all the people in the world live in East Asia. 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).

Historically, societies in East Asia have been part of the Chinese cultural sphere, and East Asian vocabulary and scripts are often derived from Classical Chinese and Chinese script. Major religions include Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion in China and Taiwan, Shinto in Japan, Korean shamanism in Korea. Shamanism is also prevalent among Mongolians and other indigenous populations of northern East Asia.[3][4] The Chinese calendar is the root from which many other East Asian calendars are derived.


Main article: History of East Asia

The Chinese Dynasties dominated this region culturally and militarily for a lengthy period of time. Cultural and religious exchange between the Chinese and other regional Dynasties and Kingdoms occurred.

As connections with the Western world strengthened, China's power began to diminish. Around the same time, Japan solidified itself as a nation state. During World War II, Korea, Taiwan, much of eastern China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam all fell under Japanese control. Following Japan's defeat in the war, the Korean peninsula became independent, while Taiwan became the de facto Republic of China after the latter lost to the People's Republic of China in the Chinese Civil War.

United Nations Statistics Division[edit]

East Asia map of Köppen climate classification.
UNSD geoscheme for Asia based on statistic convenience rather than implying any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories:[5]
  East Asia

The UNSD definition of East Asia is based on statistical convenience,[5] but also other common definitions of East Asia contain the entirety of China (including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau) Mongolia, Japan, Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea.[note 3][1][6]

Culturally, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam are commonly seen as being encompassed by cultural East Asia (East Asian cultural sphere).[2][7][8][9]

Alternative definitions[edit]

There are mixed debates around the world whether these countries or regions should be considered in East Asia or not.

In business and economics, "East Asia" is sometimes used to refer to a wide geographical area covering ten Southeast Asian countries in ASEAN, People's Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan) , Japan and South Korea.[note 3] However, in this context, the term "Far East" is often more appropriate which covers 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.

Observers preferring a broader definition of "East Asia" often use the term Northeast Asia to refer to the greater China area, Taiwan, 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".[10][11][12] The Council on Foreign Relations defines Northeast Asia as Japan and Korea.[13]

Territory and region data[edit]


Major ethnic groups[edit]

State/Territory Area km2 Population Population density
per km2
HDI Capital
 China 9,640,011 1,373,000,000 138 0.727 Beijing
 Hong Kong 1,104 7,298,600 6,390 0.912 Hong Kong
 Macau 30 642,900 18,662 0.892 Macau
 Taiwan 36,188 23,468,748 639 0.884 Taipei
 Japan 377,930 126,890,000 337 0.891 Tokyo
 Mongolia 1,564,100 3,041,648 2 0.698 Ulaanbaatar
 North Korea 120,538 25,155,000 198 0.595 Pyongyang
 South Korea 100,210 51,482,816 500 0.898 Seoul
Ethnicity Native name Population Languages Writing languages Major states/territories
Han 汉族/漢族 1,058,881,578[14] Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Hokkien, Hakka, etc. Sinogram (Simplified/Traditional) ChinaHong KongMacauTaiwan
Japanese/Yamato 日本族/にほんぞく
125,117,000[15] Japanese Sinogram (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana Japan
Korean 한민족/韓民族
79,432,225[16] Korean Hangul, Sinogram (Hanja) South KoreaNorth Korea
Mongols Монголчуудᠮᠣᠩᠭ᠋ᠣᠯᠴᠤᠳ 8,942,528[17] Mongolian Mongol script, Cyrillic script ChinaMongolia
Zhuang 壮族/Bouxcuengh 18,000,000[18] Zhuang, Cantonese, Southwestern Mandarin, etc. Sinogram (Simplified), Latin script China
Manchurians 满族 10,422,873[19] Manchurian, Northwestern Mandarin, etc. Manchurian script, Sinogram (Simplified) China
Hui 回族 10,586,087[20] Lan-Yin Mandarin Sinogram (Simplified) China
Uyghurs ئۇيغۇر 10,069,346[21] Uyghur Arabic, Latin script China
Hmong Ghaob Xongb/Hmub/Mongb 9,426,007[22] Hmong Latin script China
Tibetan བོད་པ་ 6,500,000[23] Tibetan, Rgyal Rong, Rgu, etc. Tibetan script China

Note: Ethnic groups listed and ranked by population within East Asia only.


Main article: Economy of East Asia

The economy of East Asia is one of the most successful, developed and high-tech economies of the world, being home to some of the world's largest, most technologically advanced and most prosperous economies such as the industrialized developed countries of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. The military and economic superpower of China became the largest economy in the world in 2014, surpassing the United States of America. Major positive factors have ranged from favorable political-legal environments for industry and commerce, through abundant natural resources of various kinds, to plentiful supplies of relatively low-cost, skilled and adaptable labor.[citation needed]

In modern societies, a high level of structural differentiation, functional specialization, and autonomy of the economic system from government is a major contributor to industrial-commercial growth and prosperity. Currently in East Asia, trading systems are relatively open; and zero or low duties on imports of consumer and capital goods etc. have considerably helped stimulate cost-efficiency and change. Free and flexible labor and other markets are other important factors making for high levels of business-economic performance. East Asian populations have demonstrated highly positive work ethics. There are relatively large and fast-growing markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds.[citation needed]



The culture of East Asia has been influenced by the civilisation of China. East Asia, as well as Vietnam, share a Confucian ethical philosophy, Buddhism, political and legal structures, and historically a common writing system.[25] The relationship between China and East Asia has been compared to the historical influence of Greco-Roman civilisation on Europe.[25]


State/Territory GDP nominal
billions of USD[24]
GDP nominal per capita
billions of USD[24]
GDP PPP per capita
 China 17,100.063 12,117 28,920.974 20,493
 Hong Kong 405.781 53,813 525.547 69,695
 Macau 55.502 91,376 80.765 142,599
 Taiwan 650.902 27,350 1,413.195 59,381
 Japan 4,746.880 38,174 5,512.220 44,329
 North Korea 25.000 1,000 40.000 1,800
 South Korea 1,898.763 36,749 2,408.301 46,611
 Mongolia 17.871 5,586 53.003 16,569
Religion Native name Denomination Major book Type Major ethnicities Major states/territories
Taoism 道教 Zhengyi, Quanzhen Tao Te Ching Polytheism Han, Zhuang, Hmong, Yao, Qiang, Tujia, Li ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth Korea
Confucianism 儒教 Cheng-Zhu, Lu-Wang Analects Polytheism Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaJapan
Sino-Buddhism 佛教 Mahayana, Hinayana Diamond Sutra Non-God Han, Joseon, Yamato, Manchu ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaJapan
Tibetan Buddhism བོད་བརྒྱུད་ནང་བསྟན། Mahayana anuttarayoga Tantra Non-God Tibetan, Manchu, Mongols ChinaMongolia
Shamanism N/A N/A N/A Primitive Tibetan, Manchu, Mongols, Oroqen ChinaMongolia
Shinto 神道 N/A N/A Primitive Yamato Japan
Islam الإسلام Sunni,Shia Koran Henotheism Hui, Tajik, Uyghurs, Kazak, Dongxiang China


Festival Other name Calendar Date Gregorian date Activity Religious practices Food Major ethnicities Major states/territories
Chinese New Year Spring Festival Chinese Month 1 Day 1 21 Jan–20 Feb Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Fireworks Worship the King of Gods Jiaozi Han, Joseon, Manchu ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaMongolia
New Year Yuan Dan Gregorian 1 Jan 1 Jan Fireworks N/A N/A Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaJapanMongoliaGuamNorthern Mariana Islands
Lantern Festival Upper Yuan Festival Chinese Month 1 Day 15 4 Feb–6 Mar Lanterns Expo, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Birthdate of the God of Sky-officer Yuanxiao Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaJapan*
Qingming Festival Tomb Sweeping Day Solar 15th day since March equinox 4 Apr–6 April Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Burning Hell money Cold Food Han, Joseon, Mongols ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth Korea
Dragon Boat Festival Duanwu Festival Chinese Month 5 Day 5 Driving poisons & plague away, Dragon Boat Race, Wearing colored lines, Hanging felon herb on the front door. Worship various Gods Zongzi Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaJapan*
Ghost Festival Mid Yuan Festival Chinese Month 7 Day 15 Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Birthdate of the God of Earth-officer Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaJapan*
Mid-Autumn Festival Chinese Month 8 Day 15 Family Reunion, Enjoying Moon view Worship the Moon Goddess Mooncake Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaJapan*
Double Ninth Festival Double Negative Festival Chinese Month 9 Day 09 Climbing Mountain, Taking care of elderly, Wearing Cornus. Worship various Gods Han, Joseon, Yamato ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauSouth KoreaNorth KoreaJapan*
Lower Yuan Festival Chinese Month 10 Day 15 Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping Birthdate of the God of Water-officer Ciba Han ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacau
Dec 23 Festival Small New Year Chinese Month 12 Day 23 Cleaning Houses Worship the God of Hearth tanggua Han, Mongols ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauMongolia
International Labor Day Gregorian 1 May 1 May N/A N/A N/A ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauNorth Korea
International Women's Day Gregorian 8 Mar 8 Mar Taking care of women N/A N/ N/A ChinaTaiwanHong KongMacauNorth Korea

*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 is a multi-sport event organised 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 theOceania National Olympic Committees.

The East Asian Games is 1 of 5 Regional Games of the OCA. The others are the East Asian Games, the Central Asian Games, the South Asian Games, theSoutheast Asian Games (SEA Games), and the West Asian Games. All nigh East Asian States/Territories join this Game.[26]

Free trade agreements[edit]

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

Military alliances[edit]

Name Abbr. Parties within the region Degree
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO ChinaHong KongMacau
Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty - ChinaHong KongMacauNorth Korea ★★
General Security of Military Information Agreement GSOMIA South KoreaJapan ★★★★
Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan - United States(GuamNorthern Mariana Islands)Japan ★★★★★
Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea - United States(GuamNorthern Mariana Islands)Korea ★★★★★

Major cities and towns[edit]

Main article: Cities of East Asia
Pass of the ISS over Mongolia, looking out west towards the Pacific Ocean, China, and Japan. As the video progresses, you can see major cities along the coast and the Japanese islands on the Philippine Sea. The island of Guam can be seen further down the pass into the Philippine Sea, and the pass ends just to the east of New Zealand. A lightning storm can be seen as light pulses near the end of the video.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The area figure is based on the combined areas of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Mongolia, North Korea & South Korea, Taiwan and Japan as listed at List of countries and outlying territories by total area.
  2. ^ The population figure is the combined populations of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Taiwan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan as listed at List of countries by population (last updated Feb 22, 2011).
  3. ^ a b Taiwan (officially the Republic of China) has limited recognition internationally as a sovereign state while most countries keeps unofficial relations with it, see Political status of Taiwan. The People's Republic of China has sole control of the mainland including the claim of the island of Taiwan to be part its territory under its constitution as the Taiwan Province.


  1. ^ a b "East Asia". Encarta. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-01-12. the countries, territories, and regions of China, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Macau, and Taiwan. 
  2. ^ a b Columbia University - "East Asian cultural sphere" "The East Asian cultural sphere evolves when Japan, Korea, and what is today Vietnam all share adapted elements of Chinese civilisation of this period (that of the Tang dynasty), in particular Buddhism, Confucian social and political values, and literary Chinese and its writing system."
  3. ^ Chongho Kim, "Korean Shamanism", 2003 Ashgate Publishing
  4. ^ Andreas Anangguru Yewangoe, "Theologia crucis in Asia", 1987 Rodopi
  5. ^ a b "United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)". United Nations Statistics Division. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  6. ^ "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings". United Nations Statistics Division. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  7. ^ R. Keith Schopper's East Asia: Identities and Change in the Modern World
  8. ^ Joshua A. Fogel (UC Santa Barbara/University of Indiana) Nationalism, the Rise of the Vernacular, and the Conceptualization of Modernization in East Asian Comparative Perspective
  9. ^ United Nations Environment Programme (mentions sinosphere countries) Approaches to Solution of Eutrophication [1]
  10. ^ Christopher M. Dent (2008). East Asian regionalism. London: Routledge. pp. 1–8. 
  11. ^ Charles Harvie, Fukunari Kimura, and Hyun-Hoon Lee (2005), New East Asian regionalism. Cheltenham and Northamton: Edward Elgar, pp.3-6.
  12. ^ Peter J. Katzenstein and Takashi Shiraishi (2006), Beyond Japan: the dynamics of East Asian regionalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp.1-33
  13. ^ "Northeast Asia." Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved on August 10, 2009.
  14. ^ "汉族". 维基百科,自由的百科全书 (in Chinese). 2017-03-29. 
  15. ^ "人口推計 - 平成 28年 12月 報" (PDF). 
  16. ^ "한민족". 위키백과, 우리 모두의 백과사전 (in Korean). 2017-03-29. 
  17. ^ "Mongols". Wikipedia. 2017-03-18. 
  18. ^ "壮族". 维基百科,自由的百科全书 (in Chinese). 2017-03-25. 
  19. ^ "满族". 维基百科,自由的百科全书 (in Chinese). 2017-02-23. 
  20. ^ "Hui people". Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-02-18. 
  21. ^ "维吾尔族". 维基百科,自由的百科全书 (in Chinese). 2017-03-29. 
  22. ^ "苗族". 维基百科,自由的百科全书 (in Chinese). 2017-02-19. 
  23. ^ "藏族". 维基百科,自由的百科全书 (in Chinese). 2017-03-20. 
  24. ^ a b c d "SEA GDP". IMF. 
  25. ^ a b Edwin O. Reischauer, "The Sinic World in Perspective," Foreign Affairs 52.2 (January 1974): 341-348. JSTOR
  26. ^ "East Asian Youth Games". Wikipedia. 2016-10-22. 

External links[edit]