The Asia is the largest continent on earth, accounting for almost a third of its land area of the globe. It is also the most populous continent. In it, a population of more than four billion people is concentrated, which has given rise, over time, a great cultural and ethnic diversity.
Due to its large size, the Asian continent has a diversity of landscapes: extensive deserts, such as hot, dry Arabia, and extremely rainy areas such as monsoon Asia .
As for the human picture, there are overpopulated areas, such as South and Southeast Asia, alongside unpopulated areas such as Siberia. In the economic sphere, the industrial modernity of Japan and the Asian Tigers contrasts with the underdeveloped economy of Central Asia.
Asia is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean; to the south, with the Indian Ocean; to the east, with the Pacific Ocean; to the southwest with the Red Sea, which separates it from Africa .
The Mediterranean Sea, which bathes a small part of its land, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Ural Mountains and the Caucasus, the latter considered natural boundaries between Asia and Europe.
Relief: a continent of great contrasts
In the Asian relief are the highest mountains and plateaus in the world, as well as the deepest depressions. The average altitude of Asia is the largest in the world after Antarctica.
In Asia there are long and high ridges , which cross the continent from east to west. Of note are the mountains of Altai, Tien, Kuen Lun, Karakorum, Hindu Kush, Zagros and especially the Himalayanridge where Everest is located (8,850 m), the highest peak on Earth. The islands that surround the continent from east to southeast are the highest points of the submerged mountain systems.
A strip of large plateaus runs through the Asian continent from the easternmost to the central. Highlights include the highlands of Arabia, Iran, Decan, Pamir, Tibet – the highest plateau in the world – and the highlands of Mongolia.
The plains extend mainly to the north, south and east. The Northern or Siberian Plain, interrupted by the Ural Mountains, and the southern and southeastern river valleys stand out.
The main depressions are those of the Caspian, Aral and Dead Seas. The latter is 395 m below sea level and is the deepest absolute depression on the planet.
The coastal regions present a great variety of forms, among which the peninsulas of the west (Anatolia and Arabica) and the south (Indostanic and Indochina); the archipelagos of the southeast (Indonesia and the Philippines) and the east (Japan and Kurilas); and the Siberian coast, with numerous recesses and protrusions.
Most of the rivers of Asia are long and flowing , are born in the highlands of the interior and run through the plains to its mouth.
Only the rivers of the Mediterranean are short and, due to the scarcity of rain, they have practically dry courses.
The rivers of the Arctic slope , such as the Ob, the lenissei and the Lena, are long, and most of their courses are frozen in the winter.
In the Pacific slope , the rivers are also long and have extensive alluvial plains in their low course. The main ones are the Hoang-Ho (Yellow River), Yang Tsé-Kiang (Blue River), which is the longest and mighty of Asia, and the Mekong River.
Many of the rivers of the Indian slope form extensive alluvial plains in their lowest course. The main ones are the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and the Indus.
Among the lakes are the Baikal and the Caspian Sea, a salty lake between Europe and Asia, which is the largest in the world.
Top of Asia
Due to the extension and the geographical characteristics, the Asian continent presents / displays very varied types of climate.
The main types of hot climate in Asia are: equatorial, tropical humid, tropical dry and desert . The first two, characterized by abundant rainfall, extend throughout the Southeast, both on the mainland, on the Indonesian and Indochina peninsulas, as well as on the island, in the archipelagos of Indonesia and the Philippines.
In turn, desert and tropical dry climates, with scarce and irregular rains, occur in the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Central Asia.
With these climates, to the south and to the east also occurs the monsoon climate , a specific climatic variety of Asia, whose main characteristic is the displacement of air masses from the ocean to the continent during the summer, and, in the opposite direction, in the winter . That’s why the monsoon climate has seasonal rains and an annual and annual temperature oscillation greater than the equatorial climate.
The main types of temperate climate of Asia are the continental , the Mediterranean and the like.
The continental climate occurs in the Siberian region. It is characterized by very cold and dry winters and temperate summers and precipitations. The Mediterranean climate, with irregular precipitations and mild temperatures in the winter and warm in summer, extends along the coasts of the Anatolian Peninsula, Syria and Palestine.
Varieties similar to the Mediterranean climate, but with precipitations much more abundant in the summer months, occur in the coastal region of China , South Korea and Japan .
The main types of cold climate in Asia are the cold desert , typical of the middle and high latitudes, and the polar , which occurs in the northernmost part of the continent. Both have low rainfall and very low temperatures.
Another type of cold climate is the high mountain , which appears in the higher areas, such as the Himalayan peaks.
Vegetation of the Asian continent
Hot Zone Landscape
Among the landscapes of hot climates are:
- The equatorial and tropical forest: formed by large evergreen trees, extends through the Philippines, Indonesia and the regions near the coast of the Indonesian peninsulas, Indochina and Malacca.
In areas where the forest is felled, the vegetation grows slowly and dense, forming a tangle of vines, bamboo sticks, prickly palms and shrubs. In the coastal zones, the mangrove swamp extends , a vegetal formation with trees that support the brackish water and grow in the areas that are flooded during the high tides.
- The temperate forest: has numerous deciduous plant species. The plants adapt to the dry season and lose their leaves. It covers the Indonesian and Indochina peninsulas. The most representative tree is the teak, which develops along with the abundant vines, shrubs and bushes, of which bamboo stands out.
- The desert vegetation: it is characterized by the almost absence of vegetation. In it, there are few plant species adapted to the arid climate. It stretches across the Arabian peninsula and the Iranian plateau.
Temperate zone landscape
Among the natural landscapes of temperate climates are:
- The prairies: can occur in hot and temperate climates and are characterized by the intense occupation and intervention of the human being. They are located in the Great Plain of China.
- The Mediterranean landscapes are characterized by the vegetation cover adapted to the summer drought.
- The taiga: also called conifer forest , such as spruce and pine, extends mainly through the continental temperate
Landscape of the cold zones
Among the natural landscapes of cold climates are:
- The vegetation of altitude : practically do not have vegetation and they are located in the center of Asia.
- The tundra: has a very scattered vegetation, formed by mosses, lichens and small shrubs, that appear when the short summer undoes the ice sheet present for most of the year. It extends from the north, on the Arctic coast.
Asia is the largest continent and also the most populous continent: it has about 3.86 billion inhabitants, corresponding to more than 60% of the world population. In addition, it is the continent more densely populated, with 121 hab./km 2 .
Diversity of peoples and cultures
About 3.86 billion people live in Asia, the equivalent of more than 60% of the world’s population. There is a great diversity of peoples, cultures, languages and religions.
The ethnic characteristics also vary quite: while the yellow skin prevails in the east and much of Central Asia, the populations of India and West Asia are mostly of white origin, and in some regions of India and Indonesia are populations dark skin.
The most spoken language is Chinese, followed by Hindu, Bengali, Arabic and Japanese. As for the religions, the main ones are Hinduism and Buddhism in India, Confucianism in China, Shintoism in Japan and Islamism in the Middle East and Central Asia.
A young population
The population growth rate of the Asian population is still high (1.2% per year), due to the reduction in mortality and the high birth rate (2%).
As a result, the population is very young: almost 30% are under the age of 15. Life expectancy is 65 for men and 69 for women. There are, however, great contrasts between regions. In Japan and the industrialized countries of Southeast Asia, the population is growing little and is aging, while in the poorer nations such as Yemen, it is increasing rapidly and very young.
Unequal distribution of population
With 121 inhab / km 2 , the Asian continent has the highest population density in the world, but distributed quite unevenly. The highest densities occur in Asia from monsoons. On the other hand, the northern coast, the mountains, the plateaus of the interior and the deserts are practically uninhabited.
China and India account for 62% of Asia’s inhabitants, bringing together more than a third of the global population. In these countries, the most populated areas are the fertile river plains and the less populated are the mountains, the deserts and the interior plateaus.
Economy of the Asian continent
Contrasting levels of development coexist in Asia. Alongside the advanced and developed economies of the Eastern and Southeastern countries, there are emerging economies and countless underdeveloped countries.
There is a high socioeconomic level in some of the industrial countries of the Far East and Southeast Asia . Japan is the second largest economic power in the world. In the countries known as “Asian tigers” (Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan), living standards and economic development have increased significantly since 1970. Other countries, the “emerging ones” (Thailand, Malaysia, ), have also started this process.
Socioeconomic development in agricultural countries is very low. Some of the world’s poorest nations are in Asia: Yemen, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Cambodia.
The per capita income of the oil-exporting countries in the Middle East is very high, but the unequal distribution of wealth makes the population’s standard of living very low. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the distribution of national income is more balanced, allowing a better standard of living for the population.
Great contrasts in the primary sector
Most of the Asian population works in agriculture.
- In mountainous and arid regions, subsistence agriculture (dedicated to cereals and fruits) and nomadic grazing predominate.
- In the floodplains of the great rivers and on the slopes, irrigation agriculture is predominant, especially rice paddies produced for domestic consumption. There are also plantations of rubber trees and tea for export.
Mineral raw materials are very abundant in Asia Oil and natural gas extraction stands out in the Middle East, while other countries such as China, Russia, India and Kazakhstan are rich in minerals (manganese, tin, chromium,
The outbreak of industrialization
In the last thirty years of the twentieth century, the industry has developed much in much of Asia.
Multinationals have settled in countries where labor is cheap and plentiful, labor legislation is more flexible, and requirements with environmental preservation are lower.
The fishing industry is notable in Japan and China, the world’s leading exporters of dried, frozen and canned fish. The timber industry is significant in tropical and equatorial countries. The textile, electronics, and equipment and vehicle assembly industries are key in Southeast Asia, and Japan has a very developed technology industry.
Asian trade is relevant on a world scale. Most international communications are maritime and air, as there are numerous airports and modern commercial ports that connect the main cities of the continent