Asia and Asian Countries
Presented by Charles L Harmon
Covering 8.7% of the Earth’s total surface area and comprising 30% of its land area, Asia and Asian Countries with approximately 4.3 billion people hosts 60% of the world’s current human population.
Asia is the world’s largest continent. Its growth rate is phenomenal; for instance, during the 20th century, Asia’s population nearly quadrupled.
Given its size and diversity, Asia is more a cultural concept incorporating diverse regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity. It differs very widely among and within its regions with regard to ethnic groups, cultures, environments, economics, historical ties and government systems.
Asia has extremely diverse climates and geographic 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.
The most active place on Earth for tropical cyclone activity lies northeast of the Philippines and south of Japan. The Gobi Desert is in Mongolia and the Arabian Desert stretches across much of the Middle East. The 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.
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. 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.
Asia is home to several language families and many single languages. Most Asian countries have more than one language that is natively spoken. For instance, 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 also has many languages and dialects in different provinces.
Asian mythology is complex and diverse. Many of the world’s major religions have their origins in Asia. The story of the Great Flood for example, as presented to Christians in the Old Testament, is first found in Mesopotamian mythology, in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Hindu mythology tells about an Avatar of the God Vishnu in the form of a fish who warned Manu of a terrible flood.
In ancient Chinese mythology, Shan Hai Jing, the Chinese ruler Da Yu, had to spend 10 years to control a deluge which swept out most of ancient China and was aided by the goddess Nüwa who literally fixed the broken sky through which huge rains were pouring.
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