Asia is the largest of all the continents and includes within its limits an area of 17,159,995 sq mi, or about 33% of the world’s total land surface and the greater part of the Eurasian land mass. The border between Europe is traditionally drawn as an imaginary zigzag line passing down the spine of the Ural Mountains and through the Caspian Sea, Caucasus Mountains, and Black Sea. The boundary dividing Asia and Africa is generally placed along the Suez Canal, and the boundary between Asia and Australasia is usually placed between the island of New Guinea and Australia.
Asia is by far the most populous of all the continents, with an estimated population in 1992 of 3,275,200,000, or more than 60% of the world’s total population. The population is, however, diverse and divided by language, race, religion, politics, economics, and cultural origins into a complex cultural mosaic.
The nations of Asia are usually grouped into five main geographical and political-cultural subdivisions:
1. Southwest Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, plus Asian Turkey and Egypt east of the Suez Canal (Sinai Peninsula).
2. South Asia, which includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).
3. East Asia, which includes most of the People’s Republic of China, Japan, North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), South Korea (Republic of Korea), and Taiwan (Republic of China).
4. Southeast Asia, which includes Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, Kampuchea (Cambodia), Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
5. Central and North Asia, which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, plus Asian Russia (Siberia) and three of the five autonomous regions of China (Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang-Uighur, Tibet)