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 3.9 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, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas.
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 or common history 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 the second largest nominal GDP of all continents, after Europe, but the largest when measured in purchasing power parity. As of 2010, the largest economies in Asia are China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia. Based on Global Office Locations 2011, Asia dominated the office locations with 4 of top 5 were in Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, London and Shanghai. Around 68 percent of international firms have office in Hong Kong. According to Citigroup in The Wealth Report 2012 stated that Asian centa-millionaire 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.
is the eighth and current Secretary-General
of the United Nations
, after succeeding Kofi Annan
in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service
the year he graduated from university, accepting his first post in New Delhi, India
. In the foreign ministry he established a reputation for modesty and competence. Ban was the Foreign Minister
of the Republic of Korea
from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006, he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of South Korea, however, he was able to travel to all of the countries that were members of the United Nations Security Council
, a maneuver that turned him into the front runner. On 13 October 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly
and officially succeeded Annan on 1 January 2007. Ban has led several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices. Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on Darfur
, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan
; and on global warming
, pressing the issue repeatedly with former U.S. President George W. Bush
. Ban has received strong criticism from OIOS
, the UN internal audit unit, stating that the secretariat, under Ban's leadership, is "drifting into irrelevance".
The Flag of Hong Kong
features a white, stylised, five-petal Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia blakeana)
flower in the centre of a red field. Its design was adopted on 4 April 1990 at the Third Session of the Seventh National People's Congress
. The precise use of the flag is regulated by laws passed by the 58th executive meeting of the State Council
held in Beijing
. The design of the flag is enshrined in Hong Kong's Basic Law
, the city's constitutional document, and regulations regarding the use, prohibition of use, desecration
, and manufacture of the flag are stated in the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance. The flag of Hong Kong was first officially hoisted on 1 July 1997, in the handover ceremony
marking the transfer of sovereignty.The design of the flag carries cultural, political, and regional meanings. The colour itself is significant; red is a festive colour for the Chinese people
, used to convey a sense of celebration and nationalism. Moreover, the red colour is identical to that used in the national PRC flag
, chosen to signify the link re-established between post-colonial Hong Kong and China
. The position of red and white on the flag symbolizes the "one country two systems
" political principle applied to the region. The stylized rendering of the Bauhinia blakeana
flower, a flower discovered in Hong Kong, is meant to serve as a harmonizing symbol for this dichotomy.