Asia is the greatest and most populated continent on Earth, located in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. Covering an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres, it makes up around 30% of the Earth’s total landmass.
The continent has been home to the majority of the human race since pretty much time began. Most of the first civilisations started in one or another part of Asia. Nearly 5 billion people are currently living in this enormous area. This constitutes roughly 60% of the world’s population. The diversity of cultures, religions, government styles and even types of cuisine across the continent is mind-boggling. Furthermore, the continental landmass known as “Eurasia” is where the continent of Europe and the continents of Asia and Africa intersect.
In general terms, Asia borders the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Indian Ocean, to the south. To the north, it borders the Arctic Ocean. The most commonly accepted land boundaries show Asia starting to the east of the Suez Canal. Thus, it becomes separate from Africa. Anywhere to the east of the Turkish Straits and the Urals constitutes Asia. South of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas is in Asia too. This creates the dividing line between Asia and Europe. Hence, Turkey is a transcontinental country.
The ever-shifting Earth’s crust
The land mass of this continent is too extensive to generalise. However, Asia has more tropical countries than anywhere else in the world. The Pacific Ocean that borders much of the coastline and islands is generally warmer than other oceans. The Earth’s crust is also thinner in much of Asia than anywhere else in the world. As a result of the ever-shifting Earth’s crust life on many islands has adapted to live alongside untamable, natural events. Typhoons, Hurricanes, Volcano eruptions, Earth tremors and quakes are commonplace. They have shaped the way life has developed in many places -perhaps being the cause of Asia to be very different than other parts of the world.
From ancient to modern
India and China are major players in both historical and modern-day Asia. The two countries boast the largest economies in the world. The substantial economic power of China attracted many people to the far East during ancient times as much as it does today. The legendary wealth, prosperity and extraordinary culture of India personified in early Asia. Europeans couldn´t get enough of the silks, spices, lush, fertile lands and extensive areas of Asia. Explorers came first, followed by colonials.
Christopher Columbus accidentally discovered a trans-Atlantic route from Europe to America. At the time, his mission was to search for a way to India. “The Silk Road” became the principal East-West trading route in the Asian hinterlands. The Straits of Malacca attained notoriety as the main sea route. Most of the world’s mainstream religions were founded in Asia. The list includes; Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Taoism, and Sikhism. Asia lays claim as well for the origin of Zoroastrianism – an ancient spin on Islam thought to originate from the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet, Zoroaster.
The famous Silk Road
India has the second largest economy in the world, after China. Many still assume that Asian people are willing to work more extended hours for lesser wages than western counterparts. The famous Silk Road became the main East-West trading route from the continent. The Straits of Malacca stood as a major sea route. For hundreds of years, Asia has exhibited economic dynamism and flair.
Asia has a mix of many different climates. In the equatorial south, much of the land is hot but wet. The Middle East is mostly desert. There are temperate areas in the east and the centre of the continent ranging to vast sub-arctic and polar regions in Siberia. Some of the most significant daily temperature changes on Earth occur in the west of Asia. The Himalayas affect much of the weather, forcing the formation of a thermal low which draws in moisture during the summer monsoon season. This circulation dominates the land and sea across southern and eastern sections. Siberia is one of the coldest places, although an unlikely place to think about chartering a yacht! This area can act as a source of cold air mass affecting North America. The most productive position on Earth for a tropical cyclone to develop lies northeast of the Philippines.
Sailing in Asia
There are almost too many places to chose from in Asia for sailing. Some of the world´s favourite holiday choices spring to mind – Thailand for example, with its vast array of beaches, economical accommodation is a backpackers or budget sailor´s dream. Becoming more famous now as a holiday destination is The Philippines. The thousands of islands offer an awesome opportunity for low-cost nautical adventures. Boracay, Cebu and Palawan are all places where you can learn to sail in gentle waters, for a great price. The island chain offers endless opportunity to cruise around the waterways. Be prepared to discover remote tropical islands surrounded by white beaches and almost too blue to be true, turquoise waters.