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Asia (orthographic projection).svg

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 Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.

Selected panorama

150pxPanoramic view of Buriganga River from the bridge, Old Dhaka.
Credit: Rangan Datta Wiki

The Buriganga River flows past the southwest outskirts of Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh. Its average depth is 7.6 metres (25 ft) and its maximum depth is 18 metres (58 ft).

Featured picture

Scene from the Ramayana
Credit: Sahibdin

A scene from the Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic. Depicted here are several stages of the War of Lanka, with the monkey army of the protagonist Rama (top left, blue figure) fighting the demon army of the king of Lanka, Ravana, to save Rama's kidnapped wife Sita. The three-headed figure of the demon general Trisiras occurs in several places – most dramatically at the bottom left, where he is shown beheaded by Hanuman.

Selected Country

Flag of Kazakhstan.svg

Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан, romanized: Qazaqstan, IPA: [qɑzɑqˈstɑn] (About this soundlisten); Russian: Казахстан, romanizedKazakhstan), officially the Republic of Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан Республикасы, romanized: Qazaqstan Respýblıkasy; Russian: Республика Казахстан, tr. Respublika Kazakhstan), is the world's largest landlocked country, and the ninth largest country in the world, with an area of 2,724,900 square kilometres (1,052,100 sq mi). It is a transcontinental country largely located in Asia; the most western parts are in Europe. Kazakhstan is the dominant nation of Central Asia economically, generating 60% of the region's GDP, primarily through its oil and gas industry. It also has vast mineral resources.

Kazakhstan is officially a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea. The terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. Kazakhstan has an estimated 18.3 million people . Its population density is among the lowest, at less than 6 people per square kilometre (15 people per sq mi). The capital is Nur-Sultan (until 2019 Astana), where it was moved in 1997 from Almaty, the country's largest city. Read more...

Featured biography

Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Ṭughj ibn Juff ibn Yiltakīn ibn Fūrān ibn Fūrī ibn Khāqān (8 February 882 – 24 July 946), better known by the title al-Ikhshīd (Arabic: الإخشيد‎) after 939, was an Abbasid commander and governor who became the autonomous ruler of Egypt and parts of Syria (or Levant) from 935 until his death in 946. He was the founder of the Sunni Ikhshidid dynasty, which ruled the region until the Fatimid conquest of 969.

The son of Tughj ibn Juff, a general of Turkic origin who served both the Abbasids and the autonomous Tulunid rulers of Egypt and Syria, Muhammad ibn Tughj was born in Baghdad but grew up in Syria and acquired his first military and administrative experiences at his father's side. He had a turbulent early career: he was imprisoned along with his father by the Abbasids in 905, was released in 906, participated in the murder of the vizier al-Abbas ibn al-Hasan al-Jarjara'i in 908, and fled Iraq to enter the service of the governor of Egypt, Takin al-Khazari. Eventually he acquired the patronage of several influential Abbasid magnates, chiefly the powerful commander-in-chief Mu'nis al-Muzaffar. These ties led him to being named governor first of Palestine and then of Damascus. In 933, he was briefly named governor of Egypt, but this order was revoked after the death of Mu'nis, and Ibn Tughj had to fight to preserve even his governorship of Damascus. In 935, he was re-appointed to Egypt, where he quickly defeated a Fatimid invasion and stabilized the turbulent country. His reign marks a rare period of domestic peace, stability and good government in the annals of early Islamic Egypt. In 938 Caliph al-Radi granted his request for the title of al-Ikhshid, which had been borne by the rulers of his ancestral Farghana Valley. It is by this title that he was known thereafter. Read more...

Featured article

A large, greenish-grey bell hangs from a beamed wooden ceiling
Bonshō at Ryōan-ji – the lotus-shaped tsuki-za (striking panel) is visible at the front, and the suspended beam known as a shu-moku hangs in the background

Bonshō (Japanese: 梵鐘, Buddhist bells), also known as tsurigane (釣り鐘, hanging bells) or ōgane (大鐘, great bells) are large bells found in Buddhist temples throughout Japan, used to summon the monks to prayer and to demarcate periods of time. Rather than containing a clapper, bonshō are struck from the outside, using either a handheld mallet or a beam suspended on ropes.

The bells are usually made from bronze, using a form of expendable mould casting. They are typically augmented and ornamented with a variety of bosses, raised bands and inscriptions. The earliest of these bells in Japan date to around 600 CE, although the general design is of much earlier Chinese origin and shares some of the features seen in ancient Chinese bells. The bells' penetrating and pervasive tone carries over considerable distances, which led to their use as signals, timekeepers and alarms. In addition, the sound of the bell is thought to have supernatural properties; it is believed, for example, that it can be heard in the underworld. The spiritual significance of bonshō means that they play an important role in Buddhist ceremonies, particularly the New Year and Bon festivals. Throughout Japanese history these bells have become associated with stories and legends, both fictional, such as the Benkei Bell of Mii-dera, and historical, such as the bell of Hōkō-ji. In modern times, bonshō have become symbols of world peace. Read more...

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Updated: 13:33, 13 December 2019

In the news

12 December 2019 –
A suicide bomber kills seven paramilitary soldiers and wounds three others near Samarra, Iraq. (Reuters)
12 December 2019 – Indian Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019
As anger over the new citizenship law grows in the Indian states of Assam and Tripura, the government calls in the Army to restore peace. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeals for calm. (BBC)
12 December 2019 – 2020 Israeli legislative election
The Israeli parliament votes to dissolve itself and schedules an unprecedented third election in a year for 2 March 2020. (The Jerusalem Post)
11 December 2019 – 2019 Bagram Airfield attack
Taliban forces assaulted a United States air base in Afghanistan amidst peace talks between the two parties. The attackers killed two civilians and injured another 80 people using two car bombs and guns. The attackers were successfully repelled by a NATO mission present at the base along with support from US fighter aircraft. (New York Times)(Military Times)
11 December 2019 –
At least three patients were killed and several other people were injured during a protest outside the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, Pakistan. It was staged by the lawyers against a mocking viral video from doctors. The mob also attacked at the provincial information minister of Punjab Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan. The Young Doctors Association of Pakistan reports death of 12 patients. (Dawn) (Pakistan Today)
During her first speech before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi denies all charges of genocide, blames separatists and says the accusations are "misleading". (Euronews) (Reuters)

Updated: 12:33, 13 December 2019

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