Asia is the biggest and most populous continent in the world. The continent is made up of 48 countries and three other territories. The count includes transcontinental countres with majority of their population located in Asia. Thus, Russia that has about 75% of its territory in Asia but only around 22% of its population residing in this part, has been left out of the list. If Russia is included, the number of countries in Asia becomes 49.
The United Nations divides Asia into five different subregions for statistical purposes. These subregions and the countries included in them have been described below:
- North Korea
- South Korea
The subregion of Eastern Asia has a population of nearly 1.7 billion, and consists of 5 countries, including the most populous country in the world, China. The Chinese population is estimated at more than 1.4 billion. The least populous country in Eastern Asia is Mongolia, with a population of approximately 3.29 million. Eastern Asian countries China and Japan are the second and third biggest economies in the world respectively. China is expected to become the world’s largest economy, surpassing the United States, by 2028. Eastern Asia also includes what is arguably the most isolated country in the world, North Korea, which is a communist state with a severely stagnant economy. The rest of Eastern Asia, particularly Japan and South Korea, view North Korea with concern and suspicion, especially in light of the fact that the communist country is known to have several nuclear weapons at its disposal. The most populous city in Eastern Asia is Tokyo, which is home to a whopping 38.2 million people. The Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing are the second and third most populous cities in Eastern Asia respectively, both having populations of more than 20 million.
- Timor Leste
South-Eastern Asia is home to 11 countries. The subregion’s population is an estimated 673 million. The largest and most populous country of South-Eastern Asia is Indonesia, which consists of an archipelago of many islands, both big and small. Indonesia’s population surpasses 273.5 million. The other countries of South-Eastern Asia, with the exception of Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia, are also based on islands. The least populous country in South-Eastern Asia is the small Sultanate of Brunei, whose population is not much more than 437 thousand. The subregion’s most populous city is Manila, the capital of the Philippines, in which approximately 13.3 million people live. Other large South-Eastern Asian cities include the respective capitals of Indonesia and Thailand, Jakarta and Bangkok.
- Sri Lanka
Southern Asia is the most populous of Asia’s subregions, with a population of nearly 2 billion.It includes 9 countries. More than half of Southern Asia’s people live in the subregion’s most populous country, India. India’s population is 1.38 billion, making it the world’s second most populous country. In fact, statistics show that by 2027, India will have surpassed China to be the most populous country in the world. The populations of Southern Asia’s other countries pale in comparison to India’s. The next most populous country in the subregion is Pakistan, which has more than 220 million people living within its borders. The least populous country in Southern Asia is the small island country of the Maldives, with just over 540 thousand people. Southern Asia’s most populous city is Mumbai, which has 21.6 million residents. The cities of Dhaka, Bangladesh and Karachi, Pakistan are also quite populous, with populations of 18.9 million and 17.6 million respectively.
Central Asia includes 5 countries. The region's population is about 75.1 million, making it the least populous subregion of the continent. Like Eastern Asia, Central Asia consists of 5 countries. All of these countries were part of the Soviet Union, until it collapsed in 1991. Since then, these countries have been separate independent states. The most populous country in Central Asia is Uzbekistan, with a population in excess of 33 million. The least populous country in the subregion is Turkmenistan, which has a population of approximately 6 million. Central Asia includes one transcontinental country, Kazakhstan, which is also the largest country in the subregion. Some of its territory is considered part of Europe. However, the vast majority of Kazakhstan’s population resides in Asia, thus it is designated as an Asian country by the UN. The most populous city in Central Asia is Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, which has approximately 2 million residents.
- Saudi Arabia
- State of Palestine
- United Arab Emirates
The population of Western Asia is approximately 282 million. The most populous country in the subregion is Turkey, with a population in excess of 84 million. Turkey is also a transcontinental country, as its territory includes a small part of Europe where the city of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest, is located. Other transcontinental countries in Western Asia include Georgia and Azerbaijan. The bulk of all of these countries’ populations, however, reside in Asia. Western Asia’s least populous country is Cyprus, which boasts a population of just over 1.2 million. Though technically part of Asia, Cyprus is usually considered a European country from political and economic perspectives. It is even part of the European Union. Western Asia’s most populous city is the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, with a population of about 8.7 million. Other major population centers in the subregion include the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the Turkish capital, Ankara.
- Hong Kong
In addition to Asia’s 48 countries, the continent also includes three other territories. Two of them, Hong Kong and Macau, are Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China. Both territories were originally part of China, but were taken by European powers in centuries past. Hong Kong was a British colony, but was ceded back to China in 1997. Macau was a Portuguese colony until 1999, when it too was returned to Chinese control. The third Asian territory is the island of Taiwan, which is now a de facto independent state. Most countries, however, do not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, and instead consider it a province of China. China itself considers the island a renegade province that must eventually be put under its rule, and has threatened to use force to take control of the island.
The list of countries in Asia includes 6 transcontinental countries. These are Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. These countries have spread across both Europe and Asia. However, the majority of the population of these countries reside in the Asian part of their territories unlike that of Russia. Hence, these countries have been listed here.