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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 Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.

Selected panorama

150pxA panoramic view of the Hong Kong skyline just after sunset
Credit: David Iliff

The night skyline of Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, as seen from Victoria Peak, the tallest mountain on Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong is located on China's south coast on the Pearl River Delta, and borders Guangdong province in the north and faces the South China Sea in the east, west and south. It has a population of 6.9 million people, and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Featured picture

The Monastery, Petra, Jordan
Credit: Diego Delso

Petra, originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies on the slope of Jabal Al-Madbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

Selected Country

Flag of Cambodia.svg

Cambodia (/kæmˈbdiə/ (About this soundlisten); also Kampuchea /ˌkæmpʊˈə/; Khmer: កម្ពុជា [kam.pu.ciə]; French: Cambodge), officially the Kingdom of Cambodia (Khmer: ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា, prĕəh riəciənaacak kampuciə, IPA: [prĕəh riə.ciə.naː.caʔ kam.pu.ciə]; French: Royaume du Cambodge), is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 square miles) in area, bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.

The sovereign state of Cambodia has a population of over 15 million. Buddhism is enshrined in the constitution as the official state religion, and is practised by more than 97% of the population. Cambodia's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic and cultural centre of Cambodia. The kingdom is an elective constitutional monarchy with a monarch, currently Norodom Sihamoni, chosen by the Royal Council of the Throne as head of state. The head of government is the Prime Minister, currently Hun Sen, the longest serving non-royal leader in Southeast Asia, ruling Cambodia since 1985. Read more...

Featured biography

Hasekura's portrait during his mission in Rome in 1615 by Claude Deruet

Hasekura Rokuemon Tsunenaga (or Philip Francis Faxicura, baptized as Francisco Felipe Faxicura, in Spain, also spelled Faxecura Rocuyemon in period European sources, reflecting the contemporary pronunciation of Japanese; Japanese: 支倉六右衛門常長; 1571–1622) was a kirishitan Japanese samurai and retainer of Date Masamune, the daimyō of Sendai of Japanese imperial descent with ancestral ties to Emperor Kanmu.

In the years 1613 through 1620, Hasekura headed a diplomatic mission to Pope Paul V. Crossing the Pacific aboard the San Juan Bautista, a ship built for the purpose by Masamune, Hasekura transited New Spain (arriving in Acapulco and departing from Veracruz) and visited Spain and various other ports-of-call in Europe on the way. This historic mission is called the Keichō Embassy (慶長使節), and follows the Tenshō embassy (天正使節) of 1582. On the return trip, Hasekura and his companions re-traced their route across New Spain in 1619, sailing from Acapulco for Manila, and then sailing north to Japan in 1620. He is conventionally considered the first Japanese ambassador in the Americas and in Spain. Read more...

In the news

25 June 2020 – Iraqi insurgency (2017–present)
Iraqi security forces raid the headquarters of the Iranian-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah, detaining three high-ranking commanders of the group, and at least 20 other fighters. (Reuters)
25 June 2020 –
At least 100 people are killed by lightning strikes as a monsoon storm batters India's northeastern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. (Reuters)
25 June 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq
Iraq confirms 107 new deaths from the virus, bringing the death toll to 1,437. (Anadolu Agency)
25 June 2020 –
Kosovo formally designates Lebanese political party Hezbollah and its paramilitary wing as a terrorist organization. (Al Arabiya)
Leader of the Labour Party (UK) Keir Starmer sacks his Shadow Secretary of State for Education Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an article on social media that said that American police were trained by the Israeli military. (The Guardian)

Updated: 2:33, 26 June 2020

Featured article

Mysore Palace Morning.jpg

Karnataka (ISO: Karnāṭaka, Kannada pronunciation: [kɐnaːʈɐka]) is a state in the south western region of India. It is the largest state in South India and seventh largest in India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, with the passage of the States Reorganisation Act. Originally known as the State of Mysore, it was renamed Karnataka in 1973. The state corresponds to the Carnatic region. The capital and largest city is Bangalore.

Karnataka is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Goa to the northwest, Maharashtra to the north, Telangana to the northeast, Andhra Pradesh to the east, Tamil Nadu to the southeast, and Kerala to the south. It is the only southern state to have land borders with all of the other 4 southern Indian sister states. The state covers an area of 191,976 square kilometres (74,122 sq mi), or 5.83 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the sixth largest Indian state by area. With 61,130,704 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Karnataka is the eighth largest state by population, comprising 30 districts. Kannada, one of the classical languages of India, is the most widely spoken and official language of the state. Other minority languages spoken include Urdu, Konkani, Marathi, Tulu, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kodava and Beary. Karnataka also contains some of the only villages in India where Sanskrit is primarily spoken. Read more...
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Updated: 10:33, 25 June 2020

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