Asia is the earth's largest continent, comprising just under 30 percent of the world's landmass. It borders the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Indian Ocean to the south, and it is joined to Europe at its west end. Asia is comprised of 48 sovereign countries, with the Middle East included. While the majority of Russia is located in Asia, a section of the country is technically considered part of Europe as well.
Being the largest continent, Asia is home to a great deal of diversity as well. Approximately 4 billion people populate Asia, which is about 60 percent of the global population. Among these people, well over 1,500 languages and dialects are spoken throughout the continent. Of the world's largest economies, China ranks second (GDP was $8.3 trillion in 2012) and Japan ranks third, with a $6 trillion GDP in 2012. Across the continent there exists a wide range of rich cultural heritages.
Throughout the centuries, Asiatic countries have played major roles in international affairs. Asia has been home to many empires, hosted many wars and has been the subject of much political and social strife. North Korea and parts of China remain the last bastions of Communism in the world. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)