As the world’s largest continent, it is difficult to know where to start when describing Asia. The continent has a population of over 4,450,000,000, which is equivalent to 59.69% of the total world population. It is still a relatively young continent, with a median age of 30.7 years, and this is expected to get even lower as the population of this rapidly expanding continent isn’t showing any signs of slowing down; with estimations that it will reach a whopping 5,266,848,432 by 2050.
Comprising six sub-regions; South Asia, East Asia, South-East Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and North Asia, this wonderful continent is vast and as you would expect, exceptionally diverse. It is on the bucket list of many travelers who wish to explore the ins and outs of this beautiful part of the world. Each individual sub-region consists of many different countries, each hosting a variety of geographical features, foods, customs, cultures, clothing, weather and so on. However, the simplest way to breakdown this humongous continent is by identifying the differences between the sub-regions. So grab your map of Asia and let’s get going.
With a population of around 1,870,640,803, South Asia is Asia’s largest sub-region. It comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It is home to some of the most populated cities in the world, including Delhi and Mumbai in India, Karachi in Pakistan and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
In early colonial times, strategists considered South Asia as a part of East Asia, but the two are now referred to as two separate sub-regions. However, the boundaries of South Asia vary based on how the region is defined. Some geographers consider certain parts of Iran and Afghanistan to fall within the Greater Southwest Asia region.
As well as holding the record for the most number of people, it also has the tallest point in the shape of Mount Everest, which is located in Nepal. From the arctic and subarctic in Siberia to the tropical weather that is found in south India, the continent has an extremely diverse climate.
Coming in second with a population of 1,624,853,705 is East Asia. Countries including China, Mongolia, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea and Japan all fall within this region. Some of the largest cities in the world are located within East Asia, including Tokyo in Japan, and Seoul in South Korea.
With one of the most successful and developed economies in the world, East Asia’s financial situation is thriving, which is not surprising as it is home to some of the most technologically advanced countries, such as South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. The Japanese, with a median age of 44.6 are the second oldest people in the world.
Asia is an exceptionally long haul flight for the Americas, but if you decide to visit China you’ll be pleasantly surprised as once you get over the initial jet lag, there will be no more as China, despite being the third largest country in the world by area, has only one time zone.
Brunei, Cambodia, Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are all located in South-East Asia, comprising a total population of 647,589,953. This sub-region of Asia is geographically divided again, into Mainland Southeast Asia, also known as Indochina and Maritime Southeast Asia. Mainland Southeast Asia consists of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Peninsular Malaysia, whereas Maritime Southeast Asia is Indonesia, the Philippines, East Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and East Timor. Although Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands are governed by Australia, they are still considered to be a part of South East Asia.
Islam is the most widely practiced religion in South East Asia, although Buddhism and Christianity are also popular. So many different religions naturally mean that many different languages will be spoken; however, Indonesia tops them all with over 700 languages spoken.
The countries that fall in this region include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Belonging to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt is considered to be a transcontinental country. However, regardless of the definitions, this sub-region is estimated to have a population of around 266,169,673.
Located directly south of East Europe, West Asia is surrounded by seven major seas; the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The Caucasus Mountains can be found to the north of the region, and on the east, the region adjoins South and Central Asia. While South Asia holds the records for the highest point, West Asia has the lowest; the Dead Sea, located between Jordan and Israel.
Asia’s smallest sub-region is Central Asia, which was considered to be a distinct region of the world in 1843, by the geographer Alexander von Humboldt. This region contains exceptionally varied geography, including high passes and mountains, as well as an ever expanding range of deserts.
With a population of 69,241,030, Central Asia includes five republics of the former Soviet Union, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan is so large in size that people living on the western border are actually closer to Vienna than they are to Almaty; their own country’s previous capital which has now been replaced by Astana.
North Asia comprises Siberia and Russian Far East, which is located in the Asian part of Russia. North Asia is also home to the Ural Mountains. Some of the major cities that are located in North Asia are Irkutsk, Omsk, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, and Barnaul to name a few. Some of the languages that are spoken in North Asia are Russian, Mongolic, Turkic, Ainu, Eskima-Aleut, etc. Though climate in North Asia varies according to the region, it gets very cold in winters.
So as you can see, Asia is big. It’s really big. Depending on what sort of experience you are looking for, whether it is trekking through the mountains of Central Asia, relaxing on a beach in the South East, or trying out latest technologies in the East, there are plenty of things to choose from. Understandably, the long haul flight may deter some Americans from venturing out to this part of the world but our advice would be to get over this. If you decide not to visit Asia because of the length of time it takes to get there then you will truly be missing out on some amazing experiences.
Last Updated on: June 19, 2017