Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.6% of the Earth’s total surface area (or 29.9% of its land area) and with approximately 4 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world’s current human population. During the 20th century Asia’s population nearly quadrupled.

Asia is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Eurasia — with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe — located to the east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains and south of the Caucasus Mountains (or the Kuma-Manych Depression) and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Given its size and diversity, Asia — a toponym dating back to classical antiquity — is more a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity.

The wealth of Asia differs very widely among and within its regions, due to its vast size and huge range of different cultures, environments, historical ties and government systems. In terms of nominal GDP, Japan has the largest economy on the continent and the second largest in the world. In purchasing power parity terms, however, China has the largest economy in Asia and the second largest in the world.

Physical geography

Medieval Europeans considered Asia as a continent a distinct landmass. The European concept of the three continents in the Old World goes back to Classical Antiquity, but during the Middle Ages was notably due to 7th century Spanish scholar Isidore of Sevilla. The demarcation between Asia and Africa (to the southwest) is the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. The boundary between Asia and Europe is conventionally considered to run through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to its source and the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea near Kara, Russia. While this interpretation of tripartite continents (i.e., of Asia, Europe and Africa) remains common in modernity, discovery of the extent of Africa and Asia have made this definition somewhat anachronistic. This is especially true in the case of Asia, which has several regions that would be considered distinct landmasses if these criteria were used (for example, Southern Asia and Eastern Asia).

In the far northeast of Asia, Siberia is separated from North America by the Bering Strait. Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean (specifically, from west to east, the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal), on the east by the waters of the Pacific Ocean (including, counterclockwise, the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea) and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Australia (or Oceania) is to the southeast.

Some geographers do not consider Asia and Europe to be separate continents, as there is no logical physical separation between them. 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.” Geographically, Asia is the major eastern constituent of the continent of Eurasia with Europe being a northwestern peninsula of the landmass – or of Afro-Eurasia: geologically, Asia, Europe and Africa comprise a single continuous landmass (save the Suez Canal) and share a common continental shelf. Almost all of Europe and most 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 Cherskiy Range) on the North American Plate.

In geography, there are two schools of thought. One school follows historical convention and treats Europe and Asia as different continents, categorizing subregions within them for more detailed analysis. The other school equates the word “continent” with a geographical region when referring to Europe, and use the term “region” to describe Asia in terms of physiography. Since, in linguistic terms, “continent” implies a distinct landmass, it is becoming increasingly common to substitute the term “region” for “continent” to avoid the problem of disambiguation altogether.

Given the scope and diversity of the landmass, it is sometimes not even clear exactly what “Asia” consists of. Some definitions exclude Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia while only considering the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent to compose Asia, especially in the United States after World War II. The term is sometimes used more strictly in reference to the Asia-Pacific region, which does not include the Middle East or Russia, but does include islands in the Pacific Ocean—a number of which may also be considered part of Australasia or Oceania, although Pacific Islanders are not considered Asian.

Political geography

Name of region and
territory, with flag
Population Population density
(per km²)
Central Asia:
 Kazakhstan 2,724,927 15,666,533 5.7 Astana
 Kyrgyzstan 198,500 5,356,869 24.3 Bishkek
 Tajikistan 143,100 7,211,884 47.0 Dushanbe
 Turkmenistan 488,100 5,179,573 9.6 Ashgabat
 Uzbekistan 447,400 28,268,441 57.1 Tashkent
Eastern Asia:
 Hong Kong 1,092 7,008,300 6,417.9
 South Korea 98,480 49,232,844 490.7 Seoul
 Japan 377,835 127,288,628 336.1 Tokyo
 Macau[18] 25 460,823 18,473.3
 Mongolia 1,565,000 2,996,082 1.7 Ulaan Baatar
 North Korea 120,540 23,479,095 184.4 Pyongyang
 People’s Republic of China 9,640,821 1,322,044,605 134.0 Beijing
 Republic of China 35,980 22,920,946 626.7 Taipei
Northern Asia:
 Russia 17,075,400 142,200,000 26.8 Moscow
Southeastern Asia:
 Brunei 5,770 381,371 66.1 Bandar Seri Begawan
 Burma (Myanmar) 676,578 47,758,224 70.3 Naypyidaw
 Cambodia 181,035 13,388,910 74 Phnom Penh
 East Timor (Timor-Leste) 15,007 1,108,777 73.8 Dili
 Indonesia 1,919,440 230,512,000 120.1 Jakarta
 Laos 236,800 6,677,534 28.2 Vientiane
 Malaysia 329,847 27,780,000 84.2 Kuala Lumpur
 Philippines 300,000 92,681,453 308.9 Manila
 Singapore 704 4,608,167 6,545.7 Singapore
 Thailand 514,000 65,493,298 127.4 Bangkok
 Vietnam 331,690 86,116,559 259.6 Hanoi
Southern Asia:
 Afghanistan 647,500 32,738,775 42.9 Kabul
 Bangladesh 147,570 153,546,901 1040.5 Dhaka
 Bhutan 38,394 682,321 17.8 Thimphu
 India 3,287,263 1,147,995,226 349.2 New Delhi
 Maldives 300 379,174 1,263.3 Malé
 Nepal 147,181 29,519,114 200.5 Kathmandu
 Pakistan 803,940 167,762,049 208.7 Islamabad
 Sri Lanka 65,610 21,128,773 322.0 Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte
Western Asia:
 Armenia       Yerevan
 Azerbaijan 86,660 8,845,127 102.736 Baku
 Bahrain 665 718,306 987.1 Manama
 Cyprus 9,250 792,604 83.9 Nicosia
 Georgia     64.06 Tbilisi
 Iraq 437,072 28,221,181 54.9 Baghdad
 Iran 1,648,195 70,472,846 42.8 Tehran
 Israel 20,770 7,112,359 290.3 Jerusalem
 Jordan 92,300 6,198,677 57.5 Amman
 Kuwait 17,820 2,596,561 118.5 Kuwait City
 Lebanon 10,452 3,971,941 353.6 Beirut
 Oman 212,460 3,311,640 12.8 Muscat
 Palestine 6,257 4,277,000 683.5 Ramallah
 Qatar 11,437 928,635 69.4 Doha
 Saudi Arabia 1,960,582 23,513,330 12.0 Riyadh
 Syria 185,180 19,747,586 92.6 Damascus
 Turkey       Ankara
 United Arab Emirates 82,880 4,621,399 29.5 Abu Dhabi
 Yemen 527,970 23,013,376 35.4 Sanaá
Total 43,810,582 4,162,966,086 89.07
Note: Part of Egypt (Sinai Peninsula) is geographically in Western Asia

-Finally, enjoy these activities and videos about Asia! (Geography: Asia [Part 1 of 2]) (Geography: Asia [Part 2 of 2])


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