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Asia - history.

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Asia - history.
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Asia - history.
I

INTRODUCTION

Countries of Asia
Asia constitutes one-third of Earth's total land area, making it the largest of the seven continents. With about 3.7 billion inhabitants,
the continent contains about three-fifths of the world's population.
© Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. - history.

Asia, largest of the Earth's seven continents, lying almost entirely in the Northern Hemisphere. With outlying islands, it covers an estimated 44,391,000 sq km (17,139,000
sq mi), or about 30 percent of the world's total land area. Its peoples account for three-fifths of the world's population; in 2008 Asia had an estimated 4.05 billion
inhabitants.
Most geographers regard Asia as bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the Bering Strait and the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on
the southwest by the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea. On the west, the conventional boundary between Europe and Asia is drawn at the Ural Mountains, continuing south
along the Ural River to the Caspian Sea, then west along the Caucasus Mountains to the Black Sea. Some geographers include Europe and Asia together in a larger Eurasian
region, noting that western Asian countries, such as Turkey, merge almost imperceptibly into Europe.
The continental mainland stretches from the southern end of the Malay Peninsula to Cape Chelyuskin in Siberia. Its westernmost point is Cape Baba in northwestern Turkey,
and its easternmost point is Cape Dezhnyov in northeastern Siberia. The continent's greatest width from east to west is 8,500 km (5,300 mi). The lowest and highest points
on the Earth's surface are in Asia, namely, the shore of the Dead Sea (408 m/1,340 ft below sea level in 1996) and Mount Everest (8,850 m/29,035 ft above sea level).

South of the mainland in the Indian Ocean are Sri Lanka and smaller island groups, such as the Maldives and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. To the southeast is an array
of archipelagoes and islands that extend east to the Oceanic and Australian realms. Among these islands are those of Indonesia, including Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and
Borneo. The western end of the island of New Guinea is within Indonesia and for that reason geographers occasionally consider it part of Asia. In this encyclopedia,
however, it is treated as a part of the Pacific Islands. The Philippine Islands, which include Luzon and Mindanao, are also among the Southeast Asian islands. To their north
lie Taiwan, the Chinese island of Hainan, the islands of Japan, and the Russian island of Sakhalin.
Because of its vast size and diverse character, Asia is divided into five major realms: East Asia, including China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan; Southeast
Asia, including Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines; South Asia, including
India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, and Bhutan; and Southwest Asia, including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia,
Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Most of the countries of Southwest Asia are also considered
part of the Middle East, a loosely defined region that includes Egypt. Afghanistan and Myanmar are sometimes considered part of South Asia, but most geographers place
Afghanistan in Southwest Asia and Myanmar in Southeast Asia. The fifth realm consists of the area of Russia that lies east of the Ural Mountains (Russian Asia) and the
states of Central Asia that were formerly part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). These states are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan.
The continent may also be divided into two broad cultural realms: that which is predominantly Asian in culture (East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia) and that which is
not (Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and Russian Asia). There is enormous cultural diversity within both regions, however.

II

THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

As the largest continent, Asia contains some of the world's most spectacular natural features, including high mountain ranges, vast plateaus, majestic river basins, and lakes
and inland seas. The centerpiece is the high mountains of the Himalayas and the associated Tibetan Plateau (Qing Zang Gaoyuan). To the far north are vast plateau regions
of Siberia and open waterways such as Lake Baikal. Located in an arc around the eastern rim of the continent are the plateaus of China, dissected by great rivers, including
the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). In South Asia, the Deccan Plateau dominates India. Toward the west is the Arabian Peninsula, and in a northwesterly direction are the
steppes of Central Asia.

A

Geological History

According to the theory of plate tectonics, the crust of the Earth's surface is made up of vast continental and oceanic plates. These are in constant motion, rubbing and
pushing against one another, moving only small amounts each year. The Eurasian continental plate is the largest. It is composed of some of the most ancient rocks on
Earth, originating in Precambrian time from 4.65 billion to 570 million years ago. These ancient materials can today be found in eastern Siberia, throughout the Arabian
Peninsula, and in India south of the Indus and Ganges rivers.
A huge sea called Tethys covered most of the interior of Eurasia during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, which lasted from 570 million to 65 million years ago. Thick
deposits of sediment formed on the seafloor, eventually becoming the layers of rock that form the geological features of the present day.
The Indian subcontinent broke off from the southeastern corner of the African continental plate during the Cretaceous period. It drifted in a northeasterly direction and
collided with the larger Eurasian plate, slipping partly underneath it. The impact created an enormous "deep" that eventually filled with sediments and became the Gangetic
Plain. The collision also generated enormous pressure on the southern edge of the Eurasian plate, causing this region to crumple; this forced an uplift of rock that created

the Himalayas, the world's highest mountain system.
The Pacific Ocean plate drifted westward, scraping along the Eurasian plate and slipping under its coastal edge. This created the islands of Japan, Taiwan, the Kurils, the
Ry? ky?s, and the Philippines. Southeast Asia lies at the intersection of the Eurasian, Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean plates. Over time the contact between these plates
created the mountain ranges of mainland Southeast Asia. The continued slow movement of the plates causes friction and instability deep below the Earth's surface,
producing volcanoes and earthquakes.

B

Surrounding Waters and Islands

Asia is bounded on three sides by oceans: the Arctic to the north, the Pacific to the east, and the Indian to the south. Many seas, bays, and gulfs indent the continent's
coastline, which is 62,000 km (39,000 mi) long.
The most prominent seas along the northeastern rim of Asia are the Bering Sea in the far north between Asia and North America; the Sea of Okhotsk, located west of the
Kamchatka Peninsula and north of the Kuril Islands; the Sea of Japan (East Sea), which fills the gap between Japan and the Asian mainland; and the Yellow Sea, situated
between China and Korea. The Kuril Islands, Japan's major islands of Hokkaid? , Honsh?, Shikoku, and Ky? sh? and Taiwan run along a thread from north to south.
The South China Sea lies adjacent to Southeast Asia, linking mainland countries to the Philippines and Indonesia. The Gulf of Tonkin sits between Vietnam and China's
Hainan Island, while the narrow Strait of Malacca separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra from the Malay Peninsula. Java Island lies across the Java Sea from Borneo,
the world's third largest island after Greenland and New Guinea. To the southeast is the Timor Sea separating the Asian isla...


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