Asia is the largest continent on Earth. Almost three fifths of all the people in the world live in Asia.
Asia is has two main geographical regions. In the northern region, there are old mountain chains, such as the Ural Mountains, plateaus, such as the Central Siberian and Tibetan plateaus, basins, such as the Tarim Basin, and shields.
The southern part of Asia is much younger, geologically, than the northern part.
Southern Asia has an almost continuous chain of mountains that runs from Europe, across Asia, and eventually culminates in the Himalayas.
The Himalayas were formed when the Indian subcontinent collided with Asia about 65 million years ago.
There is a belt of deserts, which include the Takla Makan and the Gobi, north of these mountains.
Narrow arcs of islands extend over 4,000 miles (7,000 kilometers) in the far south.
The Arabian Shield lies in the western part of Asia.
The Arabian Peninsula was once attached to Africa. As the Red Sea was forming, between 55 million and 23 million years ago, it became separated from Africa and began moving toward Eurasia.
The Zagros mountains in Iran were formed when the Arabian Peninsula collided with Eurasia.
Asia's climate is very varied. There is a polar climate in the north. In the south, the climate is subtropical. Central Asia has both hot and cold desserts.
Air masses moving north from the ocean lose their moisture over the Himalayas, making the Tibetan Plateau very arid.
In southern Asia, monsoon winds cause alternating wet and dry seasons.
There are typhoons (tropical cyclones, or hurricanes) in the south and east.
Some of the most ancient civilizations on Earth lived in the fertile river valleys of South Asia and China.
Asia now contains some of the most densely and least densely populated areas in the world.
The plains of eastern China, the plains of India's Ganges river, Japan and the island of Java in Indonesia are very crowded.
China, with one fifth of all the people in the world; has the largest population of all the countries on Earth.
India is the second most highly populated country in the world.
The Russian language was introduced to Siberia and Central Asia in the nineteenth century. When this area was part of the Soviet Union, speaking Russian was mandatory. Now, indigenous languages are being revived.
Many different languages are spoken in India. These include Hindi, which is spoken in the north, and Tamil, which is spoken in the south.
China has three main spoken languages - Mandarin Chinese, Wu Chinese and Cantonese. These are all written the same way, although they sound completely different when spoken.
Standard of living varies widely across Asia. Living standards are high in Japan, which has a highly developed economy and in oil-rich southwest Asia. On the other hand, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal are among the world's least developed nations. Rapidly growing populations in India and Bangladesh are causing overcrowding and poverty to increase in these countries.
The economies of many Asian countries are primarily based on agriculture. However, the role of agriculture has been declining and the role of industry is becoming more important. Since the last few decades of the twentieth century, there have been significant changes in the structure of the economies of China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore - the Pacific Rim countries - are the most economically dynamic countries in Asia.
Industry in east Asia includes high-tech, electronics, car manufacturing and shipbuilding.
Heavy industry, which includes engineering and chemical production, plays an important role in eastern China, the Fergana Valley in Central Asia, and along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Large coal deposits in China and Siberia support large steel industries there.
In the Persian Gulf area, oil riches have brought great wealth to countries that once relied primarily on rural nomadism and subsistence agriculture.
At least three fifths of the known oil and gas deposits in the world are found in Asia - in the Persian Gulf and in the Ob Basin in western Siberia.
Some countries in southeast Asia, including Cambodia and Laos, remain underdeveloped economically.
As the largest continent in the world, Asia contains many different political entities.
China has been reasserting its role as a world political and economic power, while the countries of the Pacific Rim, particularly Japan, have become a powerful economic force.
After the demise of the Soviet Union, the northern part of Asia was broken up into the Siberian part of the Russian Federation and the new Central Asian republics.
The politics of countries in southern and southwestern Asia are influenced strongly by Hindu and Muslim religious traditions.
Total Area: 17,388,686 square miles (45,036,492 square kilometers)
Highest Point: Mount Everest (also known as Sagarmatha and Qomolangma Feng) in Nepal - 29,028 feet (8,848 meters) above sea level - highest mountain above sea level on Earth
Lowest Point: Dead Sea between Israel and Jordan - 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level - lowest point on the Earth's surface
Largest Lake: Caspian Sea, in Asia and Europe, bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran- 143,243 square meters (371,000 square kilometers) - largest lake on Earth
Longest River: Yangtze River (also known as the Chang Jiang River) - 3,965 miles (6,380 kilometers)
Largest Drainage Basin: Ob-Irtysh Basin - 646,130 square miles (1,673,470 square kilometers)
Largest Island: Borneo -287,861 square miles (745,561 square kilometers)
North Korea (1)
Saudi Arabia (1)
Sri Lanka (1)