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The Asia Portal
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Asia 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 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. (Full article...)

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150pxTaj Mahal world heritage site in Agra, India.
Credit: David Castor

The Taj Mahal (Hindi: , from Persian/Urdu: "crown of palaces") is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." Taj Mahal is the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish and Indian architectural styles.

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A Cambodian girl begging for money with snake
Credit: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
A little girl making money for her family by posing with a snake in a water village of Tonle Sap Lake.

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Flag of Bangladesh.svg

Bangladesh (, Bengali: , pronounced ['ba?la?de?] ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 163 million people, in an area of 147,570 square kilometres (56,980 sq mi), making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Bangladesh shares land borders with India to the west, north, and east, Myanmar to the southeast, and the Bay of Bengal to the south. It is narrowly separated from Nepal and Bhutan by the Siliguri Corridor, and from China by Sikkim, in the north, respectively. Dhaka, the capital and largest city, is the nation's economic, political, and cultural hub. Chittagong, the largest seaport, is the second-largest city.

Bangladesh forms the larger and eastern part of the Bengal region. According to the ancient Indian texts, R?m?yana and Mah?bh?rata, the Vanga Kingdom, one of the namesakes of the Bengal region, was a strong naval power. In the ancient and classical periods of the Indian subcontinent, the territory was home to many principalities, including the Pundra, Gangaridai, Gauda, Samatata, and Harikela. It was also a Mauryan province under the reign of Ashoka. The principalities were notable for their overseas trade, contacts with the Roman world, the export of fine muslin and silk to the Middle East, and spreading of philosophy and art to Southeast Asia. The Gupta Empire, Pala Empire, the Chandra dynasty, and the Sena dynasty were the last pre-Islamic Bengali middle kingdoms. Islam was introduced during the Pala Empire, through trade with the Abb?sid Caliphate, but following the Ghurid conquests led by Bakhtiy?r Khalj?, the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate and preaching of Shah Jal?l in the north-east, it spread across the entire region. In 1576, the wealthy Bengal Sultanate was absorbed into the Mughal Empire, but its rule was briefly interrupted by the S?r Empire. Mughal Bengal, worth 12% of world GDP (late 17th century), waved the Proto-industrialization, showed signs of a possible Industrial revolution, established relations with the Dutch and English East India Company, and became also the basis of the Anglo-Mughal War. Following the death of Emperor Aurangz?b ?lamgir and Governor Sh?ista Kh?n in the early 1700s, the region became a semi-independent state under the Nawabs of Bengal. Sir?j ud-Daulah, the last Nawab of Bengal, was defeated by the British East India Company at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the whole region fell under Company rule by 1793. (Full article...)

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A man in traditional Levantine Arab dress
Portrait of al-Kharrat

Abu Muhammad Hasan al-Kharrat (Arabic: ?assan al-Kharr; 1861 - 25 December 1925) was one of the principal Syrian rebel commanders of the Great Syrian Revolt against the French Mandate. His main area of operations was in Damascus and its Ghouta countryside. He was killed in the struggle and is considered a hero by Syrians.

As the qabaday (local youths boss) of the al-Shaghour quarter of Damascus, al-Kharrat was connected with Nasib al-Bakri, a nationalist from the quarter's most influential family. At al-Bakri's invitation, al-Kharrat joined the revolt in August 1925 and formed a group of fighters from al-Shaghour and other neighborhoods in the vicinity. He led the rebel assault against Damascus, briefly capturing the residence of French High-Commissioner Maurice Sarrail before withdrawing amid heavy French bombardment. (Full article...)

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Black and white photo of three multi-engined aircraft flying in formation while dropping a large number of bombs
B-29 Superfortress bombers dropping incendiary bombs on Yokohama in May 1945

Allied forces conducted many air raids on Japan during World War II, causing extensive destruction to the country's cities and killing between 241,000 and 900,000 people. During the first years of the Pacific War these attacks were limited to the Doolittle Raid in April 1942 and small-scale raids on military positions in the Kuril Islands from mid-1943. Strategic bombing raids began in June 1944 and continued until the end of the war in August 1945. Allied naval and land-based tactical air units also attacked Japan during 1945.

The United States military air campaign waged against Japan began in earnest in mid-1944 and intensified during the war's last months. While plans for attacks on Japan had been prepared prior to the Pacific War, these could not begin until the long-range B-29 Superfortress bomber was ready for combat. From June 1944 until January 1945, B-29s stationed in India staged through bases in China to make a series of nine raids on targets in western Japan, but this effort proved ineffective. The strategic bombing campaign was greatly expanded from November 1944 when bases in the Mariana Islands became available as a result of the Mariana Islands Campaign. These attacks initially attempted to target industrial facilities using high-altitude daylight "precision" bombing, which was also largely ineffective. From February 1945, the bombers switched to low-altitude night firebombing against urban areas as much of the manufacturing process was carried out in small workshops and private homes: this approach resulted in large-scale urban damage. Aircraft flying from Allied aircraft carriers and the Ryukyu Islands also frequently struck targets in Japan during 1945 in preparation for the planned invasion of Japan scheduled for October 1945. During early August 1945, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were struck and mostly destroyed by atomic bombs. (Full article...)

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Updated: 12:33, 5 May 2021

In the news

6 May 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines
Due to public outrage, President Rodrigo Duterte apologizes for taking the Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV COVID-19 vaccine that has not been authorized by the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. (BBC)
5 May 2021 - Syrian civil war
Israel's role in the Syrian civil war
Israel launches missiles at Masyaf, Syria, killing one person and injuring six others. Several more missiles are intercepted, including one which reached the port city of Latakia. (Al Jazeera) (AP)
5 May 2021 -
Four Pakistani soldiers are killed and six more are wounded after being ambushed by militants near the border with Afghanistan. (DTNext)
5 May 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Asia

Updated: 6:33, 6 May 2021


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