In previous articles, we’ve talked a fair bit about the “largest continent in the world.” In every meaning of the phrase, the continent of Asia tends to hold that title, but we didn’t devote as many words to information about this most massive of Earth’s land masses. Below, we’re going to give you a primer on the continent, its people, the various biomes that exist across it, and many other interesting facts that you’ll want to know.
Asia is the largest continent on the planet both in terms of landmass and population. And with the population only rising, these aren’t rankings that Asia is seemingly ever going to lose! Read on, to find out more!
Here at 24/7 Continents, we like to cover areas of the world both specific and wide, grand in scale as well as those regions limited by clear-cut borders. Many might think that Asia is the latter—a continent with clear boundaries, but as you’ll see below, the continent of Asia can encompass just about as many meanings as saying something like “America.” More than anything else, what we hope to reinforce through this series of facts is that Asia is incredibly diverse, in just about every way that the word can be applied. The landmass of this continent itself can speak to the histories of its people, and how civilizations have grown over the past thousands of years.
Asia, Earth’s Largest Continent
Examined statistically, Asia seems to have quite a few contradicting facts. It’s the most populated continent in the world, while also being the largest in terms of landmass. In spite of this, it has the greatest amount of pollution that can be found in the world, as well as the widest expanses of uninhabited land (hello, Syberia!) It’s primarily in the northern and eastern hemispheres of Earth, and in spite of crossing over at least two different time zone lines, it adheres to only one single time zone.
And while the seven-continent model recognizes Asia as being its own continent, one of the six-continent models recognizes Asia as only being one part of the larger “Eurasia.” The Ural mountains, which are traditionally seen as separating Europe from Asia, also separate one of the largest countries of the continent—Russia. But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Whereas Europe might be viewed as the seat of Western civilization, Asia is Eastern civilization. It encompasses numerous, diverse cultures and populations, and has for thousands of years.
We’ll speak about the various climates that can be found in Asia momentarily, but first, let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy parts of the continent’s landmass. There are plenty to be found, among Asia’s 44,579,000 approximate square kilometers of space!
What garners the greatest amount of attention is often the Himalayas. Numerous of Earth’s highest points can be found in this immense mountain range, but the very highest on the planet is Mt. Everest, a renowned destination for some of the world’s most well-known climbers and explorers.
And if you’re looking for the lowest point in terms of elevation, that can be found in the southwest corner of the continent. The Dead Sea is 304 meters deep and is actually a salt lake on the borders of Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.
Asia makes up approximately 30% of the total landmass on the planet, which should help you to see just how large it is. It has the largest surrounding coastline of any continent and is bordered by three different oceans (four, if you want to get technical.) The Arctic Ocean is to the north, the Indian Ocean is to the south, and the Pacific Ocean is to the east. And if you look to some of the inland Atlantic Ocean seaways such as the Mediterranean, you might even say that it’s the fourth bordering ocean connected to Asia.
Of course, manmade structures deserve some mention within this topic, too. We’d be remiss in not giving special mention to the Great Wall of China, one of the best-known surviving wonders of the world. It’s a massive reminder of the prowess and development of cultures in ancient China, as the wall was originally built as a way to keep raiding hordes away from the country’s northern borders.
Environments & Climate
As we’ve stated above, there are quite a few things about Asia that seem opposed, when you look at them factually. The highest point on earth, in addition to the lowest elevation of landmass? Both found in Asia. The largest continent, too, also has some of the worst pollution problems in the world, in spite of population density being largely localized to specific regions. But we don’t want to spend the entirety of this brief article talking about man-made changes to the continent’s environment and climate—something that could easily occupy every following word and would be a great topic for the future.
Instead, let’s take a look at how varied and diverse the climates of this continent can be. In the Siberian north, you’ll find Arctic tundras, appropriate for how close northern Asia comes to the north pole of the planet. And if you look southward, you’ll find tropical environments. India, for example, has an entirely tropical climate that contains all of the heat that comes along with being close to the equator.
And within such an incredibly diverse collection of climates and environments, you get some of the most unique and interesting wildlife species in the world. When we tackled the topic of Africa, we spent some significant time elaborating upon the necessary protections in place to ensure that manmade harm doesn’t visit further devastation upon threatened species. Asia is very much in the same boat, in that regard. Pandas, tigers, Indian elephants, the infamous “king cobra,” and thousands more can’t be found anywhere outside of Asia.
Because China’s continental population is primarily dominated by a handful of countries, it can be tempting to think that only a few different cultures and nationalities are present within the continent’s borders. This couldn’t be further from the case, in reality!
How many people live in Asia? It’s tough to nail down an exact number between all of the different countries who have their borders within the continent, but a close approximation is over four billion people! Between all of those people (wow!), how many languages would you assume are spoken?
Countries like Indonesia and India each have hundreds of different languages that are widely spoken within their borders. China has more than just “Chinese,” and actually features several different dialects of the language within the countries many provinces.
Interestingly, almost all of the world’s major religions that are currently in practice were born on the Asian continent. However, one shouldn’t take this to mean that all of those religions did most of their growth in Asia; Christianity, for example, has seen most of its growth as it influenced the growth and changes occurring in Western civilizations.
Asia is home to many different countries, but instead of simply listing them off, we thought that it would be more interesting to introduce you to some of the most noteworthy population centers. These are the countries with not only the highest populations in Asia but some of the highest populations in the world.
- China: 1,343,239,923 people
- India: 1,210,193,422 people
- Indonesia: 248,645,008 people
- Pakistan: 190,291,129 people
- Bangladesh: 150,039,000 people
- Russia: 142,517,670 people
- Japan: 127,368,088 people
- Philippines: 100,981,437 people
- Vietnam: 91,519,289 people
- Egypt: 89,199,000 people
- Turkey: 81,500,000 people
- Iran: 80,056,900 people
- Thailand: 67,091,089 people
If there’s any question about which countries have the greatest population on the continent (even if you follow the six-continent Eurasia-model) you can put them to rest. China and India have massive populations, and contribute not only culturally to the rest of the world in extremely important ways, but also economically. In fact, both China and India are immense economic powers and were once the two most powerful to be found on Earth.
If you’re interested in reading more about Asia, the first thing that we’d recommend is checking in with 24/7 Continents! We’ve already written about the sizes of the planet’s continents, as well as Asia specifically, and the various reasons that it’s the largest, in every sense of the phrase! However, if you’re looking for coverage beyond the topics that we’ve taken a close look at, you can find more resources online as well.
Some of the prime suspects have plenty of information about the various countries within Asia, in addition to facts about the continent itself. You can find plenty by checking out National Geographic Online or the Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Additionally, more selective and specific resources are going to have more information about more specific facets of the Asian continent.
We hope that the above article has helped you to foster a greater appreciation for the continent of Asia. In addition to that, our goal has been to introduce you—in the briefest way—to the many countries and their various peoples that populate Earth’s largest landmass. If you’d like for us to cover specific topics, or elaborate upon those we’ve introduced above, do let us know in the comments, below!