Portal:Asia

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Asia (/ˈʒə, ˈʃə/ (About this soundlisten)) 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 () 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 Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.

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150pxTaj Mahal world heritage site in Agra, India.
Credit: David Castor

The Taj Mahal (Hindi: ताज महल, from Persian/Urdu: تاج محل "crown of palaces") is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles.

Featured picture

Maik' (apprentice geisha) and nape make-up
Credit: Daniel Bachler

A photo of two maiko (apprentice geisha), with the typical make-up clearly visible, leaving portions of the nape uncovered. This is done to accentuate what is a traditionally erotic area. The white face make-up is supposed to resemble a mask, and a line of bare skin around the hairline helps create that illusion. Established geisha generally wear full white face makeup characteristic of maiko only during special performances.

Selected Country

Flag of Myanmar.svg

Myanmar (English pronunciation below; မြန်မာ Burmese: [mjəmà]), officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and also known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by Bangladesh and India to its northwest, China to its northeast, Laos and Thailand to its east and southeast, and the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal to its south and southwest. With a size of 676,578 square kilometres (261,228 square miles), Myanmar is the largest of the Mainland Southeast Asian states by area. As of 2017, the population is about 54 million. Its capital city is Naypyidaw, and its largest city is Yangon (Rangoon). Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since 1997.

Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. In the 9th century, the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country. The Pagan Kingdom fell due to the Mongol invasions and several warring states emerged. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Mainland Southeast Asia. The early 19th century Konbaung dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British East India Company seized control of the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar was granted independence in 1948, as a democratic nation. Following a coup d'état in 1962, it became a military dictatorship under the Burma Socialist Programme Party. Read more...

Featured biography

المختار بن أبي عبيد.png

Al-Mukhtār ibn Abī ʿUbayd al-Thaqafī (Arabic: المختار بن أبي عبيد الثقفي‎; c. 622 – 3 April 687) was a pro-Alid revolutionary based in Kufa, who led a rebellion against the Umayyad Caliphate in 685 and ruled over most of Iraq for eighteen months during the Second Islamic Civil War.

Born in Ta'if, Mukhtar moved to Iraq at a young age and grew up in Kufa. Following the death of Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, at the hands of the Umayyad army in the Battle of Karbala in 680, he allied with the rival caliph Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr in Mecca, but the alliance was short-lived. Mukhtar returned to Kufa where he declared Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, a son of caliph Ali (r. 656–661) and brother of Husayn, the mahdi and the imam, and called for the establishment of an Alid caliphate and retaliation for Husayn's killing. He took over Kufa in October 685, after expelling its Zubayrid governor, and later ordered the execution of those involved in the killing of Husayn. Hostile relations with Ibn al-Zubayr ultimately led to Mukhtar's death by the forces of the Zubayrid governor of Basra, Mus'ab ibn al-Zubayr, following a four-month siege. Read more...

Featured article

A 17th-century Tibetan thangka of Guhyasamaja Akshobhyavajra; the Ming dynasty court gathered various tribute items which were native products of Tibet (such as thangkas), and in return granted Tibetan tribute-bearers with gifts.

The exact nature of relations between Tibet and the Ming dynasty of China (1368–1644) is unclear. Analysis of the relationship is further complicated by modern political conflicts and the application of Westphalian sovereignty to a time when the concept did not exist. Some Mainland Chinese scholars such as Wang Jiawei and Tibetan scholars such as Nyima Gyaincain, assert that the Ming dynasty had unquestioned sovereignty over Tibet, pointing to the Ming court's issuing of various titles to Tibetan leaders, Tibetans' full acceptance of these titles, and a renewal process for successors of these titles that involved traveling to the Ming capital. Scholars within China also argue that Tibet has been an integral part of China since the 13th century and that it was thus a part of the Ming Empire. But most scholars outside China, such as Turrell V. Wylie, Melvin C. Goldstein, and Helmut Hoffman, say that the relationship was one of suzerainty, that Ming titles were only nominal, that Tibet remained an independent region outside Ming control, and that it simply paid tribute until the Jiajing Emperor (1521–1566), who ceased relations with Tibet.

Some scholars note that Tibetan leaders during the Ming frequently engaged in civil war and conducted their own foreign diplomacy with neighboring states such as Nepal. Some scholars underscore the commercial aspect of the Ming-Tibetan relationship, noting the Ming dynasty's shortage of horses for warfare and thus the importance of the horse trade with Tibet. Others argue that the significant religious nature of the relationship of the Ming court with Tibetan lamas is underrepresented in modern scholarship. In hopes of reviving the unique relationship of the earlier Mongol leader Kublai Khan (r. 1260–1294) and his spiritual superior Drogön Chögyal Phagpa (1235–1280) of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Yongle Emperor (r. 1402–1424) made a concerted effort to build a secular and religious alliance with Deshin Shekpa (1384–1415), the Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu school. However, the Yongle Emperor's attempts were unsuccessful. Read more...

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Updated: 13:33, 9 December 2019

In the news

9 December 2019 – Syrian Civil War
The Russian Ministry of Defence says its forces have entered Raqqa. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
9 December 2019 – War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The Washington Post publishes raw interviews and notes taken for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction's "lessons learned" initiative. The difference with the previously published reports reveals that senior U.S. administration officials misled the public by painting "a rosier picture of the state of the war than they knew to be true". (The Hill)
8 December 2019 – Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, Yemeni Crisis (2011–present)
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok says the government has reduced the number of Sudanese Armed Forces troops in Yemen from 15,000 to 5,000, saying the conflict "can no longer be solved militarily". (Reuters)
8 December 2019 – 2019 Delhi factory fire
Forty-three workers are killed in a fire in a factory in Delhi, India. (BBC)
8 December 2019 – Women's rights in Saudi Arabia
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs of Saudi Arabia announces that gender-segregated entrances are no longer mandatory for restaurants. This change is not considered compulsory however, and there are no announcements for similar changes to other public institutions. (Al Jazeera)
8 December 2019 – 2019 Hong Kong protests
After a massive march in the city, Civil Human Rights Front leader and Rainbow of Hong Kong activist Jimmy Sham says "it is the last chance for Carrie Lam to listen to the people". (Economic Times India)

Updated: 12:33, 10 December 2019

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