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Introduction

Asia is the largest continent on the earth. It is home to almost 4 billion people. The continent of Asia covers about 30% of the total land area of the earth and about 9 % of the total area. It is one of the most populous regions of the world comprising about 60% of the world population. The kinds of people, cultures, and climates in Asia are more varied than in any other part of the world. There are more kinds of lands and types of vegetation in Asia. The land of Asia is truly a magnificent land that has all the extremes available in the vast lands. There are either vast stretches of deserts making it impossible to have a life there or there are deep jungles. There are again fertile plains that are excellent for cultivation. Also, due to its vastness and varied cultures, there are numerous government systems, historical relationships and ties, economic systems, and environmental situations in Asia. 

Geography of Asia

The continent of Asia consists of about 50 countries. All the countries in the continent have different cultures and living styles, as most of the countries have origins in different civilizations. Asia is traditionally known as a part of Eurasia. The landmass of Eurasia consists of Europe on its western part. Asia is located on the eastern side of the Suez Canal that connects it to the African lands. The Isthmus of Suez and Red Sea separates the Asian continent from Africa. It connects to the Ural Mountains also on the same side. The long range of Ural Mountains connects it to the continent of Europe. The continent is located on the south of the Caucasus Mountains. It is also on the southern side of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. On the east of Asia is the Pacific Ocean while on the south is the Indian Ocean.  On the North of the continent is the Arctic Ocean.

According to physical geographers, the continents of Europe and Asia are not two different continents but they are a single continent with a huge landmass. According to them, the lands are either defined on the basis of physical geography, that is, geological landmass, or in terms of tectonic plates, that is, geology. According to the physical geography, Europe forms the western peninsula of Eurasia emphasizing the fact that the two are a single landmass. According to the theory of tectonic plates, Eurasia forms the parts of Eurasian tectonic plates. It however, separates the Indian tectonic plate and the Arabian tectonic plate. Similarly, there are two different theories or schools of thought for the human geography. The historical school of thought believes that Europe and Asia are two different continents.

There are various categories for the two continents such as Europe, East Asia, Middle East and the South Asia. The various divisions of the regions are helpful when conducting detailed analysis of various aspects. There is also another school of thought for human geography that uses the term continent as a synonym for region. They refer to Europe as a geographical region and Asia as another region. More and more people are starting to use the term region for a continent. The reason for the increasing usage of the term is the linguistic meaning of the term continent, which means a region.

 
Usage of term Asian and Asia

There are some confusions prevailing with reference to the term Asian. The word Asian refers to some homogenous groups for some people.  In American English, the term Asians refers to only the East Asians while in British English, the term denotes South Asians. There are some definitions of the term Asian that excludes the regions of Turkey, Middle East or in some cases, Russia. For example, the term Asia Pacific does not include the above mentioned regions but it includes the islands situated in the Pacific Ocean. Some of the islands located in the Pacific Ocean are a part of different regions such as Australasia and Oceania. Asia, however, refers to the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Peninsula and a piece of North American plate. The part of the North American plate mentioned here is situated in Siberia.

Climate of Asia

Asia is a vast land and therefore there are varied climatic zones.  It comprises varied climate in different parts as a result of different terrains. Being such a huge piece of land, Asia has some of the hottest regions of the world and some of the coldest regions of the world. It also has the wettest lands and the driest lands as its parts. There are various reasons that can be attributed to so many extreme differences in the climate of Asia.  Asia stretches to about 5,000 miles from north to south. The northern most corners lie in the Arctic Circle while the southern tip of the continent reaches below equator.  When measuring the distance between the east and west, Asia covers almost half of the globe. It is due to this vast coverage of earth area that the continent has varied climates in different parts.

The interior parts of the continent are situated far away from the oceans. The winds coming from the oceans are diverted to different directions by the mountain ranges on the way. Also the speed of the winds is slowed down by a great extent. As a result, the region has some of the extreme climatic zones. In some parts, there are long and cold winters as there are cold winds from the Polar Regions. Most parts of the continents get hot summers. Except the high mountain ranges and some highlands, the rainfall is much less. This results into vast stretches of deserts which in turn provide the hottest climatic zones to the continent.

The climate in southern Asia is very different from the northern Asia. In South Asia, the climate is hot for most part of the year. Only the mountain regions in South Asia are rainy and are not so hot.  It is because the region is situated near the equator. The temperatures in the South Asia lowlands can go as high as 125 degrees in summer.  As a result, the areas in this part of Asia are either dry or they get heavy rainfall.  There are no proper summers or winters but there are dry seasons and rainy seasons. 

The rainy and the dry season are caused by winds. The winds called monsoon winds govern the climate in South Asia. The monsoon winds blow from central Asia to the eastern and southern Asia. As the monsoon winds during summers blow from oceans towards the inland, they carry moisture for as far a distance as they can. The winds laden with moisture are responsible for rainfall in South Asia. This is the rainy season for the people of South Asia when they plant the crops that give them food for the entire year. The monsoon winds can also be extreme. There can be delayed monsoon causing the dryness in the region.

Due to delayed monsoon, the people are unable to get proper crops and they have to starve if there are no good crops. There are drought and famine situations that cause suffering for many people. On the contrary, at certain times, there can be heavy rainfall due to monsoon winds causing floods in many areas and thereby destroying the crops. Therefore, summer monsoons play a critical role in the lives of people residing in southern and eastern Asia. The winter monsoon winds are cold and dry. The winds come from cold lands and are dry in nature.

People of Asia

As the continent of Asia is vast, it is bound to have a wide variety of people. Almost all kinds of races are found in Asia. There are different racial groups with skin colour ranging from black, yellow, and white to every shade that is present. There are different facial structures and physical characteristics for people residing in different parts of Asia. Along with the different physical structures and appearances, there are also different religions practiced in Asia.  The people in Asia speak different languages, they dress differently and they have different ideas about the rights and wrongs.  But for thousands of years, they have been mixing and living together.

Tourist Attractions of Asia

There are numerous tourist attractions in the varied lands of Asia. Some of the tourist destinations are simply historical sites while the others are pure fun and entertainment. Still there are some places that provide a breath-taking view of Asia. Tokyo Disney Land is a theme park and it consists of the Tokyo Disney Land as well as the Tokyo Sea. It is one of the first Disney Lands created outside the United States.

Another important tourist destination in Asia is the Great Wall of China. It is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Situated in China, the Great Wall of China spans over 4,000 miles. The wall was originally built to protect China against the invaders but it now forms one of the greatest tourist attractions of Asia. The most interesting part of the wall lies in Bandaling where a stretch of 10 km is open for the public. The temple of Heaven in China is another historical site that was built in the 15th century.

Nagashima Spa Park in Japan is an amusement park. The botanical gardens of the park host the largest flower festival. It is a great location to relax indoors as well as outdoors. Some other important tourist destinations of Asia include Victoria Park in Hong Kong, Universal Studios in Japan, Taj Mahal in India, Everland in South Korea, and Mount Taishan in China.



Original Authors: Shampa
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 16/11/2009
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