The Five Regions of Asia

Asia can be divided into five geographical subregions.

Asia makes up the eastern portion of Eurasia and covers an estimated area of approximately 17 million square miles, although some estimates vary. Asia is politically divided into 50 autonomous nations, which are located within five geographical subregions. This article highlights the five subregions of Asia.

5. Central Asia

Central Asia is west of China, south of Russia, and north of Afghanistan. The western border of this region runs along the Caspian Sea. Central Asia is politically divided into five countries: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Given that the name of each of these countries ends in "-stan," Central Asia is sometimes informally referred to as "The Stans." The region covers a total area of 1,545,741 square miles and has a population size of just over 69.78 million individuals. Central Asia played an important role in the transportation of goods between China and Europe during the Silk Road trading era.

The geography of this region experiences very extreme climates. For example, arid desert climates run through southern Central Asia, while to the north, the region is covered in permafrost (the most southerly permafrost in the northern hemisphere). In fact, Central Asia is the site of the shortest distance between desert and permafrost. Today, the economy of Central Asia is developing towards a market economy and moving away from government-controlled markets. In an effort to be more competitive in the global market, the countries in Central Asia have been working towards modernizing their industrial and manufacturing sectors.

4. East Asia

East Asia is located east of Central Asia, with its eastern border running along the East China Sea. East Asia is politically divided into eight countries: China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. This region covers a total area of 4,571,092 square miles and has a population size of more than 1.641 billion, which represents 22% of the global population and 38% of Asia's total population. Many residents of East Asia are concentrated in major metropolitan areas such as Beijing and Tokyo.

The geography of East Asia is varied depending on the zone. The inner continental area experiences a temperate climate, while Mongolia is covered by the arid Gobi desert. China, the largest country in the region, is home to both mountains and plateaus, while Japan is characterized by thousands of islands and coastlines. The economy of East Asia is as diverse as its geography. Today, East Asia is believed to have some of the most advanced technologies in the world, which fosters economic development. China has the fastest growing economy within the region, which has also been identified as the second largest economy in the world.

3. South Asia

South Asia is the area located south of the other Asian regions. It has a peninsula-like shape, which is bordered by three bodies of water: the Indian Ocean to the south, the Bay of Bengal to the east, and the Arabian Sea to the west. The region is also referred to as the Indian subcontinent. South Asia is politically divided into eight autonomous countries: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives. The region covers a total area of roughly two million square miles and has a population size of more than 1.74 billion, which is nearly a quarter of the global population. Additionally, South Asia has the distinction of being the most densely populated area in the world.

The geography of South Asia is characterized by rainforests, mountains, deserts, plains, and river valleys. This diverse geography also results in a number of climates throughout the region. The economy of South Asia is dominated by the Indian market, which makes up around 82% of the total regional economy. India has the 7th largest economy in the world, and is South Asia's only G20 member. After India, Bangladesh has the second fastest growth rate in the region.

2. Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is located north of Australia, south of East Asia, west of the Pacific Ocean, and east of the Bay of Bengal. It encompasses a number of island and archipelago nations that stretch between the northern and southern hemispheres, making it the only Asian region located on both sides of the equator. Southeast Asia is politically divided into 15 countries: East Malaysia, East Timor, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Cocos, Christmas Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Vietnam, Cambodia, West Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. The region is typically divided into two areas: Maritime Southeast Asia and Mainland Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia covers a total area of 1,735,121 square miles and has a population size of more than 641 million individuals. The geography of Southeast Asia is characterized by a large number of archipelagos. The Indonesian Archipelago is the biggest in the world and is home to the largest number of active volcanoes in the world. The region's importance in global trade began during the spice trade, which started prior to European exploration. Today, the economy of Southeast Asia is rapid developing. Indonesia is considered the largest economy in the region, and is East Asia's only member of the G20.

1. Western Asia

West Asia is located in the area between Central Asia and Africa, south of Eastern Europe. The majority of the region is often referred to as the Middle East, although it geographically excludes the mainland of Egypt (which is culturally considered a Middle Eastern country). West Asia is politically divided into 18 countries: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen. It also includes the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The region covers a total area of around 2.415 million square miles and has a population size of 313.428 million.

A large area of the region is covered by an arid desert environment. However, West Asia does have several points of access to large bodies of water, including: the Black Sea, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Aegean Sea. The economy of West Asia is varied, but relies heavily on the petroleum industry. Turkey has the largest economy in terms of gross domestic product, followed by Saudi Arabia.

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