Asia ( ( listen)) 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, the Ural River, the Ural Mountains, and the Turkish Straits, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas.
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 Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, as well as many other religions.
The Kayan or Padaung are a group of the Karen people found in Myanmar and Thailand. They are known for a particular body modification, which consists of coiling lengths of brass around the neck of the women. The coils are first applied when the girls are about five years old, and the coil is replaced with longer coils as the weight of the brass pushes down the collar bone and compresses the rib cage, resulting in the appearance of a very long neck. The practice has seen a surge in recent years because the custom draws tourists who buy their handicrafts.
Hasekura Rokuemon Tsunenaga
was a Japanese samurai
and retainer of Date Masamune
, the daimyo
. 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.
is the capital
and the principal city of Dhaka Division
. Dhaka is a megacity
and one of the major cities of South Asia
. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River
, Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area
, had a population of over 15 million in 2010, making it the largest city in Bangladesh. It is the 9th largest city in the world
and also 28th among the most densely populated cities in the world
. Dhaka is known as the City of Mosques
and with 400,000 cycle rickshaws
running on its streets every day, the city is also described as the Rickshaw Capital of the World
rule in the 17th century, the city was known as Jahangir Nagar
. It was a provincial capital and a centre of the worldwide muslin
trade. The modern city, however, was developed chiefly under British rule
in the 19th century, and became the second-largest city in Bengal
(presently Kolkata). After the Partition of Bengal
in 1905, Dhaka became the capital of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam
but lost its status as a provincial capital again after the partition was annulled in 1911. After the partition of India
in 1947, Dhaka became the administrative capital of East Pakistan
, and later, in 1971, the capital of an independent Bangladesh. During the intervening period, the city witnessed widespread turmoil; this included many impositions of martial law
, the declaration of Bangladesh's independence, military suppression
, devastation during war, and natural calamities.
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