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Situated in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Asia is the earth's largest and most populated continent. Asia shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the east, the Indian Ocean on the south, and the Arctic Ocean on the north, while its western boundary with Europe is a historical construct, with no clear geographical separation other than the Suez Canal, the Ural River, the Ural Mountains, the Caucasus Mountains, the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.

Given its vast size, there are a wide variety of ethnic groups, cultures, religions, environments, historical ties, and economic and governmental systems within Asia. There is great diversity in language as well, as most Asian countries have more than one language that is natively spoken. More than eight hundred languages are spoken in India alone, and more than six hundred are spoken by the people of Indonesia.

Many of the world's religions had their start in Asia, including Bahá'í, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism. Today, Islam is the most common religion in Asia and is the sole official religion in many Asian countries, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The second most popular religion in Asia is Hinduism, which is strongest in India and Nepal. Christianity is also widespread, particularly within the Orthodox Churches of Armenia and Georgia, Roman Catholicism in the Philippines, and Protestantism in South Korea.

For most purposes, Asia can be divided into several subregions, which may include Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Asia, which is more commonly known as the Middle East, minus Egypt. These are not hard and fast designations, however. For example, the borders of Central Asia and the Middle East depend on who is defining them and why. Egypt is generally considered to be in the Middle East, but not in Asia.

Central Asia includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. East Asia is made up of China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. South Asia includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, while Southeast Asia is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

West Asia is commonly understood as being made up of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

There are also unrecognized and partially recognized states within Asia. Palestine, which includes the Gaza Strip and West Bank, declared its independence from Israel in 1988, and is currently recognized by several countries, but is not a member of the United Nations. Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia declared independence in the 1990s, but are not recognized by very many countries. Northern Cyprus declared its independence in 1983, but it is recognized as a sovereign state only by Turkey, while every other member of the United Nations considers it to be part of Cyprus. China considers Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to be part of its territory, but Taiwan considers itself to be independent, while Hong Kong and Macau consider themselves to be autonomous.

Until 1800 AD, China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world, with China attracting many people to the east, while India attracted European commerce. Today, the countries of East Asia are the high achievers, particularly China, Japan and South Korea.

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