Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent. Since the 18th
century, the border between Europe and Asia has generally been considered to run
through the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus, the
Black Sea, the Bosphorus, the Marmara Sea and the Dardanelles. The border
between Asia and Africa is normally considered to be the Suez Peninsula and the
Red Sea. About 60% of the world's population lives in Asia, of which only about
2% live in the northern and inner parts, i.e. Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan,
Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, western Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
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As continents are defined by human geography, i.e. how the country is
interpreted by humans, and not by geology, it can be difficult to determine
whether Asia is a continent of its own or not. The idea that the ancient world
has three continents dates back to antiquity, and the name Asia is derived from
the ancient civilizations of the Middle East.
Map of Asia
Regions in Asia
The following subdivision of Asia into regions is used, for example, by the
UN statistical agency UNSD:
In some publications, these limits are varied depending on the objective,
subject, and background for which a split is used. Afghanistan was previously
assigned to Central Asia, now to South Asia. There are also alternative or
additional subdivisions or overlaps, for example for Northeast Asia.
Countries in the continent of Asia
Around four billion people live in Asia, which corresponds to around 60% of
the world's population. There are over a billion people each in India and China.
While Russia and Mongolia in particular are very sparsely populated, other
countries are struggling with the effects of their population explosion.
The residents of Macau, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan have the highest
average age among Asians. Life expectancy in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia is
roughly average worldwide. The shortest life expectancy in Asia is found in
India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan and Afghanistan.
Malaria is common in South Asia and Southeast Asia. There is still no
effective vaccine against malaria.
AIDS is widespread. The HI virus is particularly common in Russia, India,
Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. In contrast,
relatively few people in Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Middle
East have AIDS.
The breakdown into North Asia (Russia), West Asia (W), Central Asia (Z),
South Asia (S), Southeast Asia (SO) and East Asia (O) results in the following
- After Africa, Asia has the most developing countries. These include
Vietnam (SO), Cambodia (SO), Laos (SO), Myanmar (SO), Bangladesh (S), Bhutan
(S), Nepal (S), Pakistan (S), Afghanistan (S), Tajikistan (Z), Uzbekistan
(Z), Kyrgyzstan (Z), Georgia (W), Armenia (W), Azerbaijan (W), Republic of
Yemen (W), Mongolia (O) and (still) the People's Republic of China (O) and
- The countries "bought" into the industrial age include the oil-producing
countries Iran (S), Iraq (W), Kuwait (W), Saudi Arabia (W) and the United
Arab Emirates (W) (and perhaps soon the oil-rich areas of the former Soviet
- The industrialized nations are Japan (O), Singapore (SO), the Republic of
China (Taiwan) (O), South Korea (O), Israel (W), and the two colonies Hong
Kong and Macau that have been returned to the People's Republic of China
(O). These countries are now among the world's leading countries in high
technology. Even Malaysia (SO) is making successful efforts to catch up to
- The richest country in the world, Qatar (W), is in Asia.