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Buddhism (11.3%)
  • Folk religions (8.6%)
  • Christianity (7.2%)
  • Others (1.2%)[7][a]
  • DemonymAsian
    Countries49 UN members
    1 UN observer
    5 other states
    Non-UN states
    LanguagesList of languages
    Time zonesUTC+02:00 to UTC+12:00
    Largest cities
    UN M49 code142 – Asia

    Asia (/ˈʒə/ (listen), also UK: /ˈʃə/) is the largest continent[b][10][11] in the world by both land area and population.[11] It covers an area of more than 44 million square kilometers,[c] about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8% of Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population,[12] was the site of many of the first civilizations. Its 4.7 billion people[13] constitute roughly 60% of the world's population, having more people than all other continents combined.[14]

    Asia shares 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.[15]

    China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1,800 CE. China was a major economic power and attracted many to the east,[16][17][18] and for many the legendary wealth and prosperity of the ancient culture of India personified Asia,[19] 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.[20] Asia was the birthplace of most of the world's mainstream religions including Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.

    Given its size and diversity, the concept of Asia—a

    its regions with regard to ethnic groups, cultures, environments, economics, historical ties and government systems. It also has a mix of many different climates ranging from the equatorial south via the hot desert in the Middle East, temperate areas in the east and the continental centre to vast subarctic and polar areas in Siberia

    Definition and boundaries

    Asia–Africa boundary

    The boundary between Asia and Africa is the

    Sinai peninsula
    in Asia and the remainder of the country in Africa.

    Asia–Europe boundary

    Definitions used for the boundary between Europe and Asia in different periods of History. The commonly accepted modern definition
    mostly fits with the lines "B" and "F" in this image.

    The threefold division of the

    Tanais (the modern Don River). This is the convention used by Roman era authors such as Posidonius,[24] Strabo[25] and Ptolemy.[26]

    The border between Asia and Europe was historically defined by European academics.

    Don River became unsatisfactory to northern Europeans when Peter the Great, king of the Tsardom of Russia, defeating rival claims of Sweden and the Ottoman Empire to the eastern lands, and armed resistance by the tribes of Siberia, synthesized a new Russian Empire extending to the Ural Mountains and beyond, founded in 1721.[citation needed

    In Sweden, five years after Peter's death, in 1730

    Ural River prevailed in the mid-19th century. The border had been moved perforce from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea into which the Ural River projects.[28] The border between the Black Sea and the Caspian is usually placed along the crest of the Caucasus Mountains, although it is sometimes placed further north.[27]

    Asia–Oceania boundary

    The border between Asia and the region of Oceania is usually placed somewhere in the Malay Archipelago. The Maluku Islands in Indonesia are often considered to lie on the border of southeast Asia, with New Guinea, to the east of the islands, being wholly part of Oceania. The terms Southeast Asia and Oceania, devised in the 19th century, have had several vastly different geographic meanings since their inception. The chief factor in determining which islands of the Malay Archipelago are Asian has been the location of the colonial possessions of the various empires there (not all European). Lewis and Wigen assert, "The narrowing of 'Southeast Asia' to its present boundaries was thus a gradual process."[29]

    Asia–North America boundary


    Komandorski Islands and Kamchatka Peninsula. Most of them are always associated with North America, except for the westernmost Near Islands group, which is on Asia's continental shelf beyond the North Aleutians Basin and on rare occasions could be associated with Asia, which could then allow the U.S. state of Alaska as well as the United States itself to be considered a transcontinental state. The Aleutian Islands are sometimes associated with Oceania, owing to their status as remote Pacific islands, and their proximity to the Pacific Plate.[30][31][32] This is extremely rare however, due to their non-tropical biogeography, as well as their inhabitants, who have historically been related to Indigenous Americans.[33][34]

    St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea belongs to Alaska and may be associated with either continent but is almost always considered part of North America, as with the Rat Islands in the Aleutian chain. At their nearest points, Alaska and Russia are separated by only 4 kilometres (2.5 miles).

    Ongoing definition

    Geographical Asia is a cultural artifact of European conceptions of the world, beginning with the Ancient Greeks, being imposed onto other cultures, an imprecise concept causing endemic contention about what it means. Asia does not exactly correspond to the cultural borders of its various types of constituents.[35]

    From the time of Herodotus a minority of geographers have rejected the three-continent system (Europe, Africa, Asia) on the grounds that there is no substantial physical separation between them.[36] For example, Sir Barry Cunliffe, the emeritus professor of European archeology at Oxford, argues that Europe has been geographically and culturally merely "the western excrescence of the continent of Asia".[37]

    Geographically, Asia is the major eastern constituent of the continent of Eurasia with Europe being a northwestern peninsula of the landmass. Asia, Europe and Africa make up a single continuous landmass—Afro-Eurasia (except for the Suez Canal)—and share a common continental shelf. Almost all of Europe and a major part of Asia sit atop the Eurasian Plate, adjoined on the south by the Arabian and Indian Plate and with the easternmost part of Siberia (east of the Chersky Range) on the North American Plate.


    The term "Asia" is believed to originate in the

    Mycenaean Greek: 𐀀𐀯𐀹𐀊, romanized: a-si-wi-ja), seemingly in reference to captives from the same area.[41][42]

    Titan goddess of Lydia".[44] The Iliad (attributed by the ancient Greeks to Homer) mentions two Phrygians in the Trojan War named Asios (an adjective meaning "Asian");[45] and also a marsh or lowland containing a marsh in Lydia as ασιος.[46] According to many Muslims, the term came from Ancient Egypt's Queen Asiya, the adoptive mother of Moses.[47]

    The term was later adopted by the Romans, who used it in reference to the province of Asia, located in western Anatolia.[48] One of the first writers to use Asia as a name of the whole continent was Pliny.[49]


    The Silk Road connected civilizations across Asia[50]
    The Mongol Empire at its greatest extent. The gray area is the later Timurid Empire

    The history of Asia can be seen as the distinct histories of several peripheral coastal regions: East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, linked by the interior mass of the Central Asian steppes. The coastal periphery was home to some of the world's earliest known civilizations, each of them developing around fertile river valleys. The civilizations in

    Indus Valley and the Yellow River shared many similarities. These civilizations may well have exchanged technologies and ideas such as mathematics and the wheel
    . Other innovations, such as writing, seem to have been developed individually in each area. Cities, states and empires developed in these lowlands.

    The central steppe region had long been inhabited by horse-mounted nomads who could reach all areas of Asia from the steppes. The earliest postulated expansion out of the steppe is that of the Indo-Europeans, who spread their languages into the Middle East, South Asia, and the borders of China, where the Tocharians resided. The northernmost part of Asia, including much of Siberia, was largely inaccessible to the steppe nomads, owing to the dense forests, climate and tundra. These areas remained very sparsely populated.

    The center and the peripheries were mostly kept separated by mountains and deserts. The

    Himalaya mountains and the Karakum and Gobi deserts formed barriers that the steppe horsemen could cross only with difficulty. While the urban city dwellers were more advanced technologically and socially, in many cases they could do little in a military aspect to defend against the mounted hordes of the steppe. However, the lowlands did not have enough open grasslands to support a large horsebound force; for this and other reasons, the nomads
    who conquered states in China, India, and the Middle East often found themselves adapting to the local, more affluent societies.

    The Islamic Caliphate's defeats of the Byzantine and Persian empires led to West Asia and southern parts of Central Asia and western parts of South Asia under its control during its conquests of the 7th century. The Mongol Empire conquered a large part of Asia in the 13th century, an area extending from China to Europe. Before the Mongol invasion, Song dynasty reportedly had approximately 120 million citizens; the 1300 census which followed the invasion reported roughly 60 million people.[51]

    The Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, is thought to have originated in the arid plains of central Asia, where it then travelled along the Silk Road.[52]

    The Russian Empire began to expand into Asia from the 17th century, and would eventually take control of all of Siberia and most of Central Asia by the end of the 19th century. The Ottoman Empire controlled Anatolia, most of the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans from the mid 16th century onwards. In the 17th century, the Manchu conquered China and established the Qing dynasty. The Islamic Mughal Empire and the Hindu Maratha Empire controlled much of India in the 16th and 18th centuries respectively.[53] The Empire of Japan controlled most of East Asia and much of Southeast Asia, New Guinea and the Pacific islands until the end of World War II.


    Asia is the largest continent on Earth. It covers 9% of the Earth's total surface area (or 30% of its land area), and has the longest coastline, at 62,800 kilometres (39,022 mi). Asia is generally defined as comprising the eastern four-fifths of

    and politically.


    Yangtze River in China is the longest river in the continent. The Himalayas between Nepal
    and China is the tallest mountain range in the world. Tropical rainforests stretch across much of southern Asia and coniferous and deciduous forests lie farther north.

    Main regions

    There are various approaches to the regional division of Asia. The following subdivision into regions is used, among others, by the UN statistics agency

    UNSD. This division of Asia into regions by the United Nations is done solely for statistical reasons and does not imply any assumption about political or other affiliations of countries and territories.[56]


    Asia has extremely diverse climate features. Climates range from arctic and subarctic in Siberia to tropical in southern India and Southeast Asia. It is moist across southeast sections, and dry across much of the interior. Some of the largest daily temperature ranges on Earth occur in western sections of Asia. The monsoon circulation dominates across southern and eastern sections, due to the presence of the Himalayas forcing the formation of a thermal low which draws in moisture during the summer. Southwestern sections of the continent are hot. Siberia is one of the coldest places in the Northern Hemisphere, and can act as a source of arctic air masses for North America. The most active place on Earth for tropical cyclone activity lies northeast of the Philippines and south of Japan.

    Climate change

    Climate change is having major impacts on many countries in the continent. A survey carried out in 2010 by global risk analysis farm Maplecroft identified 16 countries that are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Each nation's vulnerability was calculated using 42 socio, economic and environmental indicators, which identified the likely climate change impacts during the next 30 years. The Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, China and Sri Lanka were among the 16 countries facing extreme risk from climate change.[58][59][60] Some shifts are already occurring. For example, in tropical parts of India with a semi-arid climate, the temperature increased by 0.4 °C between 1901 and 2003. A 2013 study by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) aimed to find science-based, pro-poor approaches and techniques that would enable Asia's agricultural systems to cope with climate change, while benefitting poor and vulnerable farmers. The study's recommendations ranged from improving the use of climate information in local planning and strengthening weather-based agro-advisory services, to stimulating diversification of rural household incomes and providing incentives to farmers to adopt natural resource conservation measures to enhance forest cover, replenish groundwater and use renewable energy.[61]

    The ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei,

    Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the world, however, ASEAN's climate mitigation efforts are not commensurate with the climate threats and risks it faces.[62]


    Singapore has one of the busiest container ports in the world and is the world's fourth largest foreign exchange
    trading center.

    Asia has the largest continental economy by both

    GDP Nominal and PPP in the world, and is the fastest growing economic region.[63] As of 2018, the largest economies in Asia are China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Turkey based on GDP in both nominal and PPP.[64] Based on Global Office Locations 2011, Asia dominated the office locations with 4 of the top 5 being in Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul. Around 68 percent of international firms have an office in Hong Kong.[65]

    In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the economies of China[66] and India grew rapidly, both with an average annual growth rate of more than 8%. Other recent very-high-growth nations in Asia include Israel, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, and mineral-rich nations such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman.

    According to

    ). This ended in 2010 when China overtook Japan to become the world's second largest economy.

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Japan's GDP was almost as large (current exchange rate method) as that of the rest of Asia combined.[

    GDP per capita in Asia.[74]

    Mumbai is one of the most populous cities on the continent. The city is an infrastructure and tourism hub, and plays a crucial role in the economy of India

    It is forecasted that India will overtake Japan in terms of nominal GDP by 2025.

    Association of Southeast Asian Nations

    Asia is the largest continent in the world by a considerable margin, and it is rich in natural resources, such as petroleum, forests, fish, water, rice, copper and silver. Manufacturing in Asia has traditionally been strongest in East and Southeast Asia, particularly in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, India, the Philippines, and Singapore. Japan and South Korea continue to dominate in the area of multinational corporations, but increasingly the PRC and India are making significant inroads. Many companies from Europe, North America, South Korea and Japan have operations in Asia's developing countries to take advantage of its abundant supply of cheap labour and relatively developed infrastructure.

    According to

    business process outsourcing
    (BPOs) are becoming major employers in India and the Philippines due to the availability of a large pool of highly skilled, English-speaking workers. The increased use of outsourcing has assisted the rise of India and the China as financial centers. Due to its large and extremely competitive information technology industry, India has become a major hub for outsourcing.

    Trade between Asian countries and countries on other continents is largely carried out on the sea routes that are important for Asia. Individual main routes have emerged from this. The main route leads from the Chinese coast south via Hanoi to Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur through the

    Long Beach. In contrast to the sea routes, the Silk Road via the land route to Europe is on the one hand still under construction and on the other hand is much smaller in terms of scope. Intra-Asian trade, including sea trade, is growing rapidly.[77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84]

    In 2010, Asia had 3.3 million millionaires (people with net worth over US$1 million excluding their homes), slightly below North America with 3.4 million millionaires. Last year Asia had toppled Europe.[85] 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.[86]

    Rank Country
    GDP (nominal, Peak Year)
    millions of USD
    Peak Year
    1  China 18,321,197 2022
    2  Japan 6,272,364 2012
    3  India 3,468,566 2022
    4  Russia 2,288,428 2013
    5  Iran 1,973,738 2022
    6  South Korea 1,810,966 2021
    7  Indonesia 1,289,429 2022
    8  Saudi Arabia 1,010,588 2022
    9  Turkey 957,504 2013
    10  Taiwan 828,659 2022
    Rank Country GDP (PPP, Peak Year)
    millions of USD
    Peak Year
    1  China 30,074,380 2022
    2  India 11,665,486 2022
    3  Japan 6,109,961 2022
    4  Russia 4,649,674 2022
    5  Indonesia 4,023,501 2022
    6  Turkey 3,320,994 2022
    7  South Korea 2,765,834 2022
    8  Saudi Arabia 2,018,260 2022
    9  Egypt 1,661,955 2022
    10  Taiwan 1,621,702 2022


    With growing Regional Tourism with domination of Chinese visitors,

    MasterCard has released Global Destination Cities Index 2013 with 10 of 20 are dominated by Asia and Pacific Region Cities and also for the first time a city of a country from Asia (Bangkok) set in the top-ranked with 15.98 million international visitors.[87]


    Historical populations
    YearPop.±% p.a.
    1500 243,000,000—    
    1700 436,000,000+0.29%
    1900 947,000,000+0.39%
    1950 1,402,000,000+0.79%
    1999 3,634,000,000+1.96%
    Source: "UN report 2004 data" (PDF).
    The figure for 2021 is provided by the 2022 revision of the World Population Prospects[2][3].
    Graph showing population by continent as a percentage of world population

    East Asia had by far the strongest overall Human Development Index (HDI) improvement of any region in the world, nearly doubling average HDI attainment over the past 40 years, according to the report's analysis of health, education and income data. China, the second highest achiever in the world in terms of HDI improvement since 1970, is the only country on the "Top 10 Movers" list due to income rather than health or education achievements. Its per capita income increased a stunning 21-fold over the last four decades, also lifting hundreds of millions out of income poverty. Yet it was not among the region's top performers in improving school enrollment and life expectancy.[88]
    Nepal, a South Asian country, emerges as one of the world's fastest movers since 1970 mainly due to health and education achievements. Its present life expectancy is 25 years longer than in the 1970s. More than four of every five children of school age in Nepal now attend primary school, compared to just one in five 40 years ago.[88]
    Hong Kong ranked highest among the countries grouped on the HDI (number 7 in the world, which is in the "very high human development" category), followed by Singapore (9), Japan (19) and South Korea (22). Afghanistan (155) ranked lowest amongst Asian countries out of the 169 countries assessed.[88]


    Asia is home to several language families and many language isolates. Most Asian countries have more than one language that is natively spoken. For instance, according to Ethnologue, more than 600 languages are spoken in Indonesia, more than 800 languages spoken in India, and more than 100 are spoken in the Philippines. China has many languages and dialects in different provinces.


    Many of the world's

    Manu of a terrible flood. Ancient Chinese mythology also tells of a Great Flood
    spanning generations, one that required the combined efforts of emperors and divinities to control.



    Druze faith,[89] and Baháʼí Faith originated in West Asia.[90][91]

    Judaism, the oldest of the Abrahamic faiths, is practiced primarily in Israel, the indigenous homeland and historical birthplace of the Hebrew nation: which today consists both of those Jews who remained in the Middle East and those who returned from diaspora in Europe, North America, and other regions;[92] though various diaspora communities persist worldwide. Jews are the predominant ethnic group in Israel (75.6%) numbering at about 6.1 million,[93] although the levels of adherence to Jewish religion vary. Outside of Israel there are small ancient Jewish communities in Turkey (17,400),[94] Azerbaijan (9,100),[95] Iran (8,756),[96] India (5,000) and Uzbekistan (4,000),[97] among many other places. In total, there are 14.4–17.5 million (2016, est.)[98] Jews alive in the world today, making them one of the smallest Asian minorities, at roughly 0.3 to 0.4 percent of the total population of the continent.

    Eastern Christian sects mainly adhered to Assyrian people or Syriac Christians. Vibrant indigenous minorities in Western Asia are adhering to the Eastern Catholic Churches and Eastern Orthodoxy.[101] Saint Thomas Christians in India trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.[103] Significant Christian communities also found in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia.[101]



    Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad and Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, and Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. The number of Druze people worldwide is around one million, with about 45% to 50% live in Syria, 35% to 40% live in Lebanon, and less than 10% live in Israel, with recently there has been a growing Druze diaspora.[105]

    The Baháʼí Faith originated in Asia, in Iran (Persia), and spread from there to the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, India, and Burma during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh. Since the middle of the 20th century, growth has particularly occurred in other Asian countries, because Baháʼí activities in many Muslim countries has been severely suppressed by authorities. Lotus Temple is a big Baháʼí Temple in India.

    Indian and East Asian religions

    Guinness World Records is the World's Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple[106]

    Almost all Asian religions have philosophical character and Asian philosophical traditions cover a large spectrum of philosophical thoughts and writings.

    Cārvāka, preached the enjoyment of the material world. The religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated in India, South Asia. In East Asia, particularly in China and Japan, Confucianism, Taoism and Zen
    Buddhism took shape.

    As of 2012[update], Hinduism has around 1.1 billion adherents. The faith represents around 25% of Asia's population and is the largest religion in Asia. However, it is mostly concentrated in South Asia. Over 80% of the populations of both India and Nepal adhere to Hinduism, alongside significant communities in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bali, Indonesia. Many overseas Indians in countries such as Burma, Singapore and Malaysia also adhere to Hinduism.

    Buddhism has a great following in mainland Southeast Asia and East Asia. Buddhism is the religion of the majority of the populations of

    Burma (80–89%),[109] Japan (36–96%),[110] Bhutan (75–84%),[111] Sri Lanka (70%),[112] Laos (60–67%)[113] and Mongolia (53–93%).[114] Taiwan (35–93%),[115][116][117][118] South Korea (23–50%),[119] Malaysia (19–21%),[120] Nepal (9–11%),[121] Vietnam (10–75%),[122] China (20–50%),[123] North Korea (2–14%),[124][125][126] and small communities in India and Bangladesh
    . The Communist-governed countries of China, Vietnam and North Korea are officially atheist, thus the number of Buddhists and other religious adherents may be under-reported.

    Mahayana Buddhism
    , thus exact religious statistics are difficult to obtain and may be understated or overstated.

    Modern conflicts

    A refugee special train in Ambala, Punjab
    during the partition of India in 1947
    US forces drop Napalm on suspected Viet Cong
    positions in 1965
    Syrian Civil War
    , October 2012

    Some of the events pivotal in the Asia territory related to the relationship with the outside world in the post-

    Second World War



    Hilly flanks, are among the oldest in the world, with evidence of farming dating back to around 9000 BCE.[129] Despite the challenges posed by the vast size of the continent and the presence of natural barriers such as deserts and mountain ranges, trade and commerce have helped to create a Pan-Asian culture that is shared across the region.[130]

    Nobel prizes

    Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, and became Asia's first Nobel