Asia is largest and most populous of all continents. There are more than 4 billion residents. It accounts for about 30% of the entire land area of the planet and is the most diverse in culture and environment, from the Siberian glaciers to the Indochina tropical forests. It is cut by the equator and the arctic circle. It is bathed by three oceans: Indian, Pacific and Arctic. Asia is considered to be separated from Europe by the Ural Mountains, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Thus, Russia and Turkey are partly in Asia and partly in Europe. However, Asia is more of a geographical concept, of ancient tradition, than a continent and its delimitation is not a consensus.
Semitic-speaking (first and foremost Arabic) and Iranian-speaking (including Iranians, Kurds and Pashtuns) and Turkish-speaking people (Turks, Azeris, Turkmen) dominate in West Asia. Agriculture is the main occupation, but also trade and crafts as well as whole or semi-nomadic livestock management play or have played an important role. The cultures are almost all Islamic, but Christian minorities are scattered throughout the area.
The Central Asian region is sparsely populated, and historically nomadic livestock management is the most important means of livelihood. Agriculture is mainly conducted in the oases. The population is mainly Mongolian, the religions are Islam and Buddhism, and the languages are Turkish, Mongolian and Tibetan Burmese. Among the most important groups are Kazakhs, Turkmen, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tibetans and Mongols. During the 20th century, extensive Russian and Chinese immigration have taken place, which has fundamentally changed the ethnic structure.
The population of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent is linguistically and culturally divided into four main groups. Indigenous peoples (including Punjabi, Bengal) predominate in northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Dravidian peoples (including Tamils) live in southern India, while Mouth peoples or Pravidian peoples (including Santals), who are descendants of the indigenous population, are today represented by various tribal peoples in central and southern India. The Tibetan Burmese peoples (including lepcha and bhutia) are found in the Himalayan region. The Hindu-based caste system gives the whole of South Asia a cultural unity, even though Muslims constitute a significant minority.
Southeast Asia is divided into the mainland (Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia) and the island world (Indonesia, Philippines). The differences between the groups are predominantly a condition of the physical environment. This is especially true on the mainland. In the plains, wet rice is first and foremost, and communities are traditionally so-called hydraulic civilizations, characterized by a centralized state apparatus and a common religion (mainly Buddhism, but in Islam and Indonesia Islam and in the Philippines Christianity). The most important people are Burmese, Tao people, Khmer, Vietnamese and Malay. In large parts of Southeast Asia, immigrant Chinese also play an important economic role. In the mountainous areas there are a large number of tribal people, who support themselves in burning and who are both socially and religiously opposed to the lowland civilizations.
East Asia is characterized by Chinese and Japanese culture – Korea’s population is influenced by both. Confucianism and Buddhism play an important role in society. Agricultural culture has long dominated the economy, but today large parts are heavily industrialized.
North Asia is today dominated by the 40 million Russians who moved east of Ural during the last century and who provide themselves as farmers, miners and industrial workers. There are also 500,000 Tatars, the majority of whom come from immigrants from the central Russian Federation. In recent decades, a very large number of Chinese have moved into the region. The original population has a predominantly livelihood of fishing, hunting and reindeer husbandry and consists of a number of ethnic minorities. The largest indigenous peoples are burjets and jakuts, but there is also a diversity of Tongan, Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish and Paleo-Siberian peoples. nents, chants, eveners and chicks.
4 586.9 million people live in Asia (2019), which is about 60 percent of the world’s population, and there are six of the ten most populous states in the world: China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Japan and Bangladesh. The population growth rate in these countries is therefore of great importance for the rapid growth of the world’s population. In the early 1970s, the natural population increase was 2.3 percent, 40 years later it stands at 1.0 percent. The increase in population varies considerably between different parts of Asia. In East Asia, including China, the population increases by 0.3 percent per year, while the figure for South Asia, including India, is 1.5 percent and for West Asia also 1.5 percent.
It is above all the birth rates that vary between states. For the whole of Asia, the birth rate is 1.7 percent; they are highest in western Asia (2.0 percent) while East Asia is at 1.1 percent. In the latter areas, a number of states have long been engaged in family planning, something that does not occur in Islamic countries in western Asia. In all states, mortality has decreased as a result of expanded healthcare with modern medicines and improved health care. Better food supply in some countries, such as China, has also increased disease resistance. For all of Asia, mortality is 0.7 percent; most states are below 1 percent.
The population is very unevenly distributed, which is mainly conditioned by climate and natural resources. Large areas are extremely sparsely populated, mainly the deserts and steppes in the southwest and in Central Asia, the tundra in the north as well as the rock masses and high plateaus in the interior of Asia. A large part of the population lives along coasts and in fertile river valleys, and in Monsunasia there are the world’s most extensive densely populated areas. These include the Ganges, Chang Jiang and Huang Hes lower river valleys, Java, western Taiwan and the three southern of Japan’s four main islands as well as the river valleys of Southeast Asia. Bangladesh (just over 970 inhabitants per km 2) and Taiwan (630 inhabitants per km 2 ) are the most densely populated countries in the world, apart from Singapore and some other similar small states.
More than half of Asia’s population still lives in rural areas, mainly in the populous states of South and Southeast Asia. It is therefore likely that immigration from the countryside will increase more and more and cause severe overpopulation problems in the already densely populated cities.
Long-distance relocations have been common in recent decades. In the large states of China and Indonesia, remote, sparsely populated but resource-rich regions have been colonized. Civil war has provoked refugee flows involving millions of people from the Middle East, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Cambodia. To the oil states of the Persian Gulf have come guest workers to such an extent that the certain states make up the majority of the population.
Languages in Asia belong to several language families. The Indo-European languages (eg Hindi, Persian and Russian), the Sinotibetan languages (eg Chinese) and the Altaic languages (eg Turkish and Mongolian) are spread throughout much of Asia. Some language families are restricted to some parts of Asia, such as the Afro-Asiatic languages (eg Arabic) in the Ancient Orient, the Uralic languages and the so-called Paleo-Asiatic languages (eg Chuchi) in Siberia, the Dravidian languages (e.g. Tamil) and the oral languages of the Indian Peninsula, the Mon-Khmer languages (eg Vietnamese), the Thai languages (eg Thai) and the Austronesian languages (eg Indonesian) in Southeast Asia. Major languages unrelated to these families are Japanese and Korean.
Contrary to conditions in Africa, the old colonial languages have a rather weak position, with the exception of English in India and the Philippines.
Many Asian minority languages are threatened, often by expanding non-European languages, e.g. Chinese.