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Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area (or 30% of its land area) and with approximately 4.5 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population. It is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Africa-Eurasia lying east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains, south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea and east of the Mediterranean Sea.

The history of Asia can be seen as the collective history of several distinct peripheral coastal regions such as, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East linked by the interior mass of the Eurasian steppe.The coastal periphery was the home to some of the world's earliest known civilizations, with each of the three regions developing early civilizations around fertile river valleys. These valleys were fertile because the soil there was rich and could bear lots of root crops. The civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China shared many similarities and likely exchanged technologies and ideas such as mathematics and the wheel. Other notions such as that of writing likely developed individually in each area. Cities, states and then empires developed in these lowlands.The steppe region had long been inhabited by mounted nomads, and from the central steppes they could reach all areas of the Asian continent. The northern part of the continent, covering much of Siberia was also inaccessible to the steppe nomads due to the dense forests and the tundra. These areas in Siberia were very sparsely populated.The centre and periphery were kept separate by mountains and deserts. The Caucasus, Himalaya, Karakum Desert, and Gobi Desert formed barriers that the steppe horsemen could only cross with difficulty. While technologically and culturally the city dwellers were more advanced, they could do little militarily to defend against the mounted hordes of the steppe. However, the lowlands did not have enough open grasslands to support a large horsebound force. Thus the nomads who conquered states in the Middle East were soon forced to adapt to the local societies.

The culture of Asia is human civilization in Asia. It features different kinds of cultural heritage of many nationalities, societies, and ethnic groups in the region, traditionally called a continent from a Western-centric perspective, of Asia. The region or "continent" is more commonly divided into more natural geographic and cultural subregions, including the Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia (the "Indian subcontinent"), North Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia. Geographically, Asia is not a distinct continent; culturally, there has been little unity for many of the cultures and peoples of Asia. Asian art, music, and cuisine, as well as literature, are important parts of Asian culture. Eastern philosophy and religion also plays a major role, with Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam; all playing major roles. One of the most complex parts of Asian culture is the relationship between traditional cultures and the Western world.


Asia has as big GDP as all the other continents together, when measured in purchasing power parity, and is the fastest growing. As of 2016, its largest economies are China, India, Japan and Indonesia. Tokyo is the richest metropolis in the world; Seoul, Osaka and Guangzhou-Shenzhen are as powerful as London. In Global Office Locations 2011, 4 of top 5 were in Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Shanghai. According to Citigroup in The Wealth Report 2012 stated that Asian centa-millionaires overtook North America's wealth for the first time as the world's "economic center of gravity" continued moving east. At the end of 2011, there were 18,000 Asian people mainly in Southeast Asia, China and Japan who have at least $100 million in disposable assets, while North America with 17,000 people and Western Europe with 14,000 people.

Selected panorama

The view of Nanga Parbat, taken 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from the base camp.
Credit: Waqas.usman

Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest mountain on Earth, the second highest mountain in Pakistan and among the eight-thousanders with a summit elevation of 8,126 meters (26,660 ft).

Featured picture

Guanyin with bare chest. Japan, 12th century
Credit: Unknown

Guanyin is the bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female.Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus then sent home to the western pure land of Sukhāvatī.

Featured biography

Icon of St. Gregory the Theologian
Gregory of Nazianzus was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained speaker and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials. Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek- and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the "Trinitarian Theologian". Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity. Along with the two brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers. Gregory is a saint in both Eastern and Western Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church he is numbered among the Doctors of the Church; in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Eastern Catholic Churches he is revered as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs, along with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. Gregory's most significant theological contributions arose from his defense of the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity. He is especially noted for his contributions to the field of pneumatology—that is, theology concerning the nature of the Holy Spirit.In this regard, Gregory is the first to use the idea of procession to describe the relationship between the Spirit and the Godhead: "The Holy Spirit is truly Spirit, coming forth from the Father indeed but not after the manner of the Son, for it is not by generation but by procession, since I must coin a word for the sake of clearness."


Featured article

Taiwanese aborigine woman and infant, by John Thomson, 1871
Taiwanese aborigines is the term commonly applied in reference to the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Although Taiwanese indigenous groups hold a variety of creation myths, recent research suggests their ancestors may have been living on the islands for approximately 8,000 years before major Han Chinese immigration began in the 17th century (Blust 1999). Taiwanese aborigines are Austronesian peoples, with linguistic and genetic ties to other Austronesian ethnic groups, such as peoples of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Polynesia, and Oceania. The issue of an ethnic identity unconnected to the Asian mainland has become one thread in the discourse regarding the political status of Taiwan.For centuries, Taiwan's aboriginal peoples experienced economic competition and military conflict with a series of colonizing peoples. Centralized government policies designed to foster language shift and cultural assimilation, as well as continued contact with the colonizers through trade, intermarriage and other dispassionate intercultural processes, have resulted in varying degrees of language death and loss of original cultural identity. For example, of the approximately 26 known languages of the Taiwanese aborigines (collectively referred to as the Formosan languages), at least ten are extinct, five are moribund and several are to some degree endangered. These languages are of unique historical significance, since most historical linguists consider Taiwan to be the original homeland of the Austronesian language family.


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