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Asia ( (listen)) is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people (as of June 2019) constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

In general terms, Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean, and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. The border of Asia with Europe is a historical and cultural construct, as there is no clear physical and geographical separation between them. It is somewhat arbitrary and has moved since its first conception in classical antiquity. The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East–West cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The most commonly accepted boundaries place Asia to the east of the Suez Canal separating it from Africa; and to the east of the Turkish Straits, the Ural Mountains and Ural River, and to the south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas, separating it from Europe.

China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1800 CE. China was a major economic power and attracted many to the east, and for many the legendary wealth and prosperity of the ancient culture of India personified Asia, attracting European commerce, exploration and colonialism. The accidental discovery of a trans-Atlantic route from Europe to America by Columbus while in search for a route to India demonstrates this deep fascination. The Silk Road became the main east–west trading route in the Asian hinterlands while the Straits of Malacca stood as a major sea route. Asia has exhibited economic dynamism (particularly East Asia) as well as robust population growth during the 20th century, but overall population growth has since fallen. Asia was the birthplace of most of the world's mainstream religions including Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.

Given its size and diversity, the concept of Asia—a name dating back to classical antiquity—may actually have more to do with human geography than physical geography. Asia varies greatly across and within its regions with regard to ethnic groups, cultures, environments, economics, historical ties and government systems. It also has a mix of many different climates ranging from the equatorial south via the hot desert in the Middle East, temperate areas in the east and the continental centre to vast subarctic and polar areas in Siberia.

Asia Media

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Tartariae sive Magni Chami Regni tÿpus., Abraham Ortelius

Tartariae sive Magni Chami Regni tÿpus., Abraham Ortelius

Covers northern Asia. Relief shown pictorially. From Abraham Ortelius's atlas: Theatrvm Orbis Terrarvm, 1603 ed. Hand col. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Includes tex... More

Chinese Girdle ornament, Han Dynasty

Chinese Girdle ornament, Han Dynasty

Accession Number: 11.190.117 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Jar, Eastern Zhou dynasty

Chinese Jar, Eastern Zhou dynasty

Accession Number: 1972.275.2 Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–256 B.C.)

Chinese Snuff Bottle, bronze, China

Chinese Snuff Bottle, bronze, China

Accession Number: 21.175.328a, b Modern

Plaque in the Form of a Demon

Plaque in the Form of a Demon

Accession Number: 1985.214.52 Eastern Han dynasty (25–220)

Chinese Jar

Chinese Jar

late Western Han (206 B.C.–A.D. 9)–Eastern Han (25–220) dynasty

Fragment of a Lamp

Fragment of a Lamp

Attributed to Syria

Tripod Vessel (Li Ding), bronze

Tripod Vessel (Li Ding), bronze

Accession Number: 66.182.5 Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.)

Limestone statue fragment of a hand holding a pyxis or bobbin

Limestone statue fragment of a hand holding a pyxis or bobbin

The left hand, the nails of which are well rendered, holds a small pyxis. Hellenistic

Mirror, bronze, Korea, Goryeo dynasty

Mirror, bronze, Korea, Goryeo dynasty

Accession Number: 12.39.1 Goryeo dynasty (918–1392)

Chinese Chisel, Han Dynasty

Chinese Chisel, Han Dynasty

Accession Number: 16.144.11 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Implement to loosen knots

Chinese Implement to loosen knots

Accession Number: 13.40.151 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Ladle, Han Dynasty

Chinese Ladle, Han Dynasty

Accession Number: 13.100.18 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Lamp, 1st century AD

Lamp, 1st century AD

From Levant, Petra Nabataean

Tiger: emblem of the West

Tiger: emblem of the West

Accession Number: 11.190.28 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Hanging Lamp, bronze, Vietnam
Head of pin, bronze, Iran

Head of pin, bronze, Iran

Iran, Luristan, Surkh Dum Iron Age III

Horse bit cheekpiece in form of a striding horse

Horse bit cheekpiece in form of a striding horse

Iran, probably from Luristan Iron Age III

Chinese Girdle pendant, Han Dynasty

Chinese Girdle pendant, Han Dynasty

Accession Number: 11.190.277 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Tile

Chinese Tile

Accession Number: 10.202.8 Qin–Han dynasty (221 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Jar, Japan, Yayoi period

Jar, Japan, Yayoi period

Yayoi period (ca. 300 B.C.–A.D. 300)

Chinese Knife Coin, bronze, China

Chinese Knife Coin, bronze, China

Accession Number: 24.13.10 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Earring or spiral, bronze, Cyprus

Earring or spiral, bronze, Cyprus

Gold plated bronze. Classical

Studs, bronze, Iran, iron age ii

Studs, bronze, Iran, iron age ii

Iran, Hasanlu Iron Age II

Upper Part of a Dagger

Upper Part of a Dagger

Accession Number: 24.51.2 Zhou dynasty (1046–256 B.C.)

Limestone head of beardless male votary with wreath of leaves

Limestone head of beardless male votary with wreath of leaves

Figure with double wreath of leaves, suggesting the style of Skopas. Hellenistic

Unguentarium, 1st century AD

Unguentarium, 1st century AD

From Levant, Petra Nabataean

Unguentarium, 1st century AD

Unguentarium, 1st century AD

From Levant, Petra Nabataean

Chinese Vase, Han Dynasty

Chinese Vase, Han Dynasty

Accession Number: 29.100.171 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Girdle pendant, Han Dynasty

Chinese Girdle pendant, Han Dynasty

Accession Number: 11.190.106 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Whetstone handle, bronze, Iran

Whetstone handle, bronze, Iran

Iran, probably from Luristan Iron Age II-III

Openwork cage object, bronze, Iran

Openwork cage object, bronze, Iran

Northwestern Iran Iron Age

Chinese Tile

Chinese Tile

Accession Number: 10.202.28 Qin–Han dynasty (221 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Wine Beaker, bronze, China

Chinese Wine Beaker, bronze, China

Accession Number: 1978.264.4 Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.)

Chinese Vase, bronze, China

Chinese Vase, bronze, China

Accession Number: 2014.449 Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Chinese Tube: Emblem of Earth

Chinese Tube: Emblem of Earth

Accession Number: 16.144.37 Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220)

Chinese Oracle bone fragment

Chinese Oracle bone fragment

Accession Number: 18.56.76 Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.)

Chinese Sword, bronze, China, Europe

Chinese Sword, bronze, China, Europe

Accession Number: 24.172.2 Zhou dynasty (1046–256 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.210 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.231 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Earring, bronze, Iran, iron age ii

Earring, bronze, Iran, iron age ii

Iran, Dinkha Tepe Iron Age II

Ear Pick in the Shape of an Alligator

Ear Pick in the Shape of an Alligator

Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.)

Stag figure, bronze, Iran

Stag figure, bronze, Iran

Northwestern Iran, Caspian region Iron Age II

Small bowl, 1st century AD

Small bowl, 1st century AD

From Levant, Petra Nabataean

Horse's head with harness

Horse's head with harness

The hollow, mold-made head is probably from a fairly large quadriga group, judging from the harness. The head is quite naturalistic; the artisan attempted to render the headstall correctly. Cypro-Archaic II

Horse bit, bronze, Iran

Horse bit, bronze, Iran

Iran, Hasanlu Iron Age II

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