Asia () 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.
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).
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.
Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан, romanized: Qazaqstan, IPA: [qɑzɑqˈstɑn] (listen); Russian: Казахстан, romanized: Kazakhstan), 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...
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...
– 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...
Did you know...
- ... that the musicologist Beatrix Borchard researched female musicians such as Clara Schumann, Amalie Joachim, and Pauline Viardot, and worked for the Goethe-Institut in Portugal, Romania, and China?
- ... that before becoming a film director, Nepal's Nischal Basnet went to Australia to study 3D animation, but ended up studying hospitality and becoming a chef?
- ... that temples on Mount Mian in Shanxi, China, observe an annual Cold Food Festival?
- ...that Japanese voice actress Ayane Sakura practised sword fighting while in acting school?
- ... that the "silly shirt" chosen for the 2001 APEC forum—the tangzhuang—launched a fashion craze in China?
- ... that the Palembang Light Rail Transit, which opened last year, is the first operational light-rail system in Indonesia?
- ... that the 37 civilians beheaded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in April 2019 included at least three who were minors at the time of their arrest?
- ... that Rano M. Shaiza helped further the Naga peace accord by brokering a meeting between her uncle, the founder of the Naga separatist movement, and the Prime Minister of India?
- ... that Christopher Hitchens called the book The Terrorists of Iraq by Malcolm Nance "a highly potent analysis" of jihadism?
- ... that according to Bert Cumby, China used thought reform on American prisoners of war during the Korean War as part of a plan to create support for China-friendly policies in the United States?
Updated: 13:33, 13 December 2019
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