ASIA is the largest and most populous continent or region, depending on the definition. It is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Africa-Eurasia – with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe – lying east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas. Asia covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area or 29.8% of its land area, and contains more than 60% of the world's human population.|
The demarcation between Asia and Africa is the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea. The boundary between Asia and Europe is commonly believed to run through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea, the Ural River to its source, and the Ural Mountains to the Kara Sea near Kara, Russia.
In terms of gross domestic product (PPP), the largest national economy within Asia is that of the China. Over the last decade, China's and India's economies have been growing rapidly, both with an average annual growth rate above 7%. PRC is the world's second largest economy after the US, followed by Japan and India as the world's third and fourth largest economies respectively.
In terms of nominal GDP, Japan has the largest economy in Asia and second largest in the world. Economic growth in Asia since World War II to the 1990's had been concentrated in few countries of the Pacific Rim, and has spread more recently to other regions. In the late 80's and early 90's Japan's economy was almost as large as that of the rest of the continent combined. In 1995, Japan's economy nearly equalled the USA to tie the largest economy in the world for a day, after the Japanese currency reached a record high of 79 yen. However, since then Japan's currency has corrected and China has grown to be the second largest Asian economy, followed by India in terms of exchange rates. It is expected that China will surpass Japan in currency terms to have the largest nominal GDP in Asia within a decade or two.
Asia is by a considerable margin the largest continent in the world, and is rich in natural resources, such as Petroleum and iron. High productivity in agriculture, especially of rice, allows high population density of countries in the warm and humid area. Other main agricultural products include wheat and chicken. Forestry is extensive throughout Asia except Southwest and Central Asia. Fishing is a major source of food in Asia, particularly in Japan.
Manufacturing has traditionally been strongest in eastern Asia, particularly in mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. The industry varies from manufacturing cheap goods such as toys to high-tech goods such as computers and cars. Many companies from Europe, North America, and Japan have significant operations in Asian countries to take advantage of its abundant supply of cheap labor. One of the major employers in manufacturing in Asia is the textile industry. Much of the world's supply of clothing and footwear now originates in Southeast Asia.
Financial and other services
Asia has three main financial centers. They are in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. Call centers and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO's) are becoming major employers in India and the Philippines, due to the availability of many well-educated English speakers. The rise of the business process outsourcing industry has seen the rise of India and China as the other financial centers.
Languages and literature
Asia is home to several language families and many language isolates. The important languages are Hindi, Chinese, Bengali and Urdu. Most Asian countries have more than one language that is natively spoken.
Asian philosophical traditions originated in India and China and cover a large spectrum of philosophical thoughts and writings. Indian philosophy includes Hindu philosophy and Buddhist philosophy. They include elements of nonmaterial pursuits, whereas another school of thought from India, Carvaka, preached the enjoyment of material world. Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, who lived 563-483 B.C. Taoism was founded by Chinese philosopher Lao Zi, who lived 605-520 B.C. During the 20th century, in India and China, two dramatically different political philosophies took shape. Gandhi ji gave a new meaning to Ahimsa, and redefined the concepts of nonviolence and nonresistance. During the same period, Mao Zedong’s communist philosophy was crystallized.
Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism originated in India, a country of South Asia. In East Asia, particularly in China and Japan, Confucianism, Taoism, Zen Buddhism and Shinto took shape. Other religions of Asia include Bahá'í Faith, Shamanism practiced in Siberia and Animism, practiced in the eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Today 30% of Muslims live in the South Asian region of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The world's largest single Muslim community is in Indonesia. In the Philippines and East Timor, Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion. In Armenia, Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion.