Portal:Asia

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Asia (/ˈʒə, ˈʃə/ (About this soundlisten)) is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people () constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

In general terms, Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. The border of Asia with Europe is a historical and cultural construct, as there is no clear physical and geographical separation between them. It is somewhat arbitrary and has moved since its first conception in classical antiquity. The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East–West cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The most commonly accepted boundaries place Asia to the east of the Suez Canal separating it from Africa; and to the east of the Turkish Straits, the Ural Mountains and Ural River, and to the south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas, separating it from Europe.

China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1800 CE. China was a major economic power and attracted many to the east, and for many the legendary wealth and prosperity of the ancient culture of India personified Asia, attracting European commerce, exploration and colonialism. The accidental discovery of a trans-Atlantic route from Europe to America by Columbus while in search for a route to India demonstrates this deep fascination. The Silk Road became the main east–west trading route in the Asian hinterlands while the Straits of Malacca stood as a major sea route. Asia has exhibited economic dynamism (particularly East Asia) as well as robust population growth during the 20th century, but overall population growth has since fallen. Asia was the birthplace of most of the world's mainstream religions including Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.

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150pxLuang 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.

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Seaweed farming in Indonesia
Credit: Jean-Marie Hullot

A farmer harvests seaweed growing on a rope, on the small island of Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia. Wooden posts demarcate the bay into rectangular plots that are owned by different families. Seaweed farming is a fairly simple process: Attached plants are placed in the sea and allowed to grow naturally, with little human intervention.

Selected Country

Flag of Brunei.svg

Brunei (/brˈn/ (About this soundlisten) broo-NY; Malay: [brunaɪ] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace (Malay: Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi: نڬارا بروني دارالسلام‎), is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coastline with the South China Sea, the country is completely surrounded by the insular Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is separated into two parts by the Sarawak district of Limbang. Brunei is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island's territory is divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Brunei's population was 428,963 in 2018. The government is an absolute monarchy under the Sultan, which implements a combination of English common law and sharia law, as well as direct general Islamic practices.

At the peak of the Bruneian Empire, Sultan Bolkiah (reigned 1485–1528) is alleged to have had control over most regions of Borneo, including modern-day Sarawak and Sabah, as well as the Sulu Archipelago off the northeast tip of Borneo, Seludong (modern-day Manila), and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. The maritime state was visited by Spain's Magellan Expedition in 1521 and fought against Spain in the 1578 Castilian War. Read more...

Featured biography

Late 16th-century (Azuchi–Momoyama period) depiction of Murasaki Shikibu, by Kanō Takanobu

Murasaki Shikibu (紫 式部, English: Lady Murasaki; c. 973 or 978 – c. 1014 or 1031) was a Japanese novelist, poet and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court during the Heian period. She is best known as the author of The Tale of Genji, widely considered to be the world's first novel, written in Japanese between about 1000 and 1012. Murasaki Shikibu is a descriptive name; her personal name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara no Takako (藤原 香子), who was mentioned in a 1007 court diary as an imperial lady-in-waiting.

Heian women were traditionally excluded from learning Chinese, the written language of government, but Murasaki, raised in her erudite father's household, showed a precocious aptitude for the Chinese classics and managed to acquire fluency. She married in her mid-to late twenties and gave birth to a daughter before her husband died, two years after they were married. It is uncertain when she began to write The Tale of Genji, but it was probably while she was married or shortly after she was widowed. In about 1005, she was invited to serve as a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shōshi at the Imperial court by Fujiwara no Michinaga, probably because of her reputation as a writer. She continued to write during her service, adding scenes from court life to her work. After five or six years, she left court and retired with Shōshi to the Lake Biwa region. Scholars differ on the year of her death; although most agree on 1014, others have suggested she was alive in 1031. Read more...

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The time allocated for running scripts has expired. Updated: 11:33, 22 October 2020

Featured article

The Bengali Language Movement (Bengali: ভাষা আন্দোলন Bhasha Andolôn) was a political movement in former East Bengal (renamed East Pakistan in 1956 and Bangladesh in 1971) advocating the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language of the then-Dominion of Pakistan in order to allow its use in government affairs, the continuation of its use as a medium of education, its use in media, currency and stamps, and to maintain its writing in the Bengali script.

When the Dominion of Pakistan was formed by the partition of India in 1947, it was composed of various ethnic and linguistic groups, with the geographically non-contiguous East Bengal province having a mainly Bengali population. In 1948, the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan ordained Urdu as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Bengal. Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the University of Dhaka and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952. The movement reached its climax when police killed student demonstrators on that day. The deaths provoked widespread civil unrest. After years of conflict, the central government relented and granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956. Read more...
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Updated: 11:33, 22 October 2020

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