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 (particularly East Asia) 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.
Thailand, officially the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is a country at the centre of the Southeast Asian Indochinese peninsula composed of 76 provinces. At 513,120 km2 (198,120 sq mi) and over 68 million people, Thailand is the world's 50th-largest country by total area and the 22nd-most-populous country. The capital and largest city is Bangkok, a special administrative area. Thailand is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. It is a unitary state. Although nominally the country is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, the most recent coup, in 2014, established a de facto military dictatorship under a junta.
Tai peoples migrated from southwestern China to mainland Southeast Asia from the 11th century; the oldest known mention of their presence in the region by the exonym Siamese dates to the 12th century. Various Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon kingdoms, Khmer Empire and Malay states ruled the region, competing with Thai states such as the Kingdoms of Ngoenyang, Sukhothai, Lan Na and Ayutthaya, which rivaled each other. Documented European contact began in 1511 with a Portuguese diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya, now one of the great powers in the region. Ayutthaya reached its peak during cosmopolitan Narai's reign (1656–1688), gradually declining thereafter until being ultimately destroyed in the 1767 Burmese–Siamese War. Taksin (r. 1767–1782) quickly reunified the fragmented territory and established the short-lived Thonburi Kingdom. He was succeeded in 1782 by Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (r. 1782–1809), the first monarch of the Chakri dynasty and founder of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, which lasted into the early 20th century. Read more...
Deepika Padukone (pronounced [d̪iːpɪkaː pəɖʊkoːɳeː] or [paːɖʊkoːɳ]; born 5 January 1986) is an Indian film actress and producer. The highest-paid actress in India, her accolades include three Filmfare Awards. She features in listings of the nation's most popular personalities, and Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
Padukone, the daughter of the badminton player Prakash Padukone, was born in Copenhagen and raised in Bangalore. As a teenager, she played badminton in national level championships but left her career in the sport to become a fashion model. She soon received offers for film roles and made her acting debut in 2006 as the title character of the Kannada film Aishwarya. Padukone then played a dual role opposite Shah Rukh Khan in her first Bollywood release, the romance Om Shanti Om (2007), which won her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. Padukone received praise for her starring role in the romance Love Aaj Kal (2009), but this was followed by a brief setback. The romantic comedy Cocktail (2012) marked a turning point in her career, and she gained further success with starring roles in the romantic comedies Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Chennai Express (both 2013), the heist comedy Happy New Year (2014), and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period dramas Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018). Padukone's acclaimed portrayal of a character based on Juliet in Bhansali's tragic romance Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and a headstrong architect in the comedy-drama Piku (2015) earned her two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. Her first project in Hollywood came with the action film XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017). Read more...
R. s. sondaicus
in the London Zoo
from March 1874 until January 1885
The Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), also known as the Sunda rhinoceros or lesser one-horned rhinoceros, is a very rare member of the family Rhinocerotidae and one of five extant rhinoceroses. It belongs to the same genus as the Indian rhinoceros, and has similar mosaic, armour-like skin, but at 3.1–3.2 m (10–10 ft) in length and 1.4–1.7 m (4.6–5.6 ft) in height, it is smaller (closer in size to the black rhinoceros of the genus Diceros). Its horn is usually shorter than 25 cm (9.8 in), and is smaller than those of the other rhino species. Only adult males have horns; females lack them altogether.
Once the most widespread of Asian rhinoceroses, the Javan rhinoceros ranged from the islands of Java and Sumatra, throughout Southeast Asia, and into India and China. The species is critically endangered, with only one known population in the wild, and no individuals in captivity. It is possibly the rarest large mammal on Earth, with a population of as few as 58 to 61 in Ujung Kulon National Park at the western tip of Java in Indonesia. The Javan rhinoceros population in Vietnam's Cat Tien National Park was declared to be extinct in 2011. The decline of the Javan rhinoceros is attributed to poaching, primarily for their horns, which are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine, fetching as much as US$30,000 per kg on the black market. As European presence in their range increased, trophy hunting also became a serious threat. Loss of habitat, especially as the result of wars, such as the Vietnam War, in Southeast Asia, has also contributed to the species' decline and hindered recovery. The remaining range is within one nationally protected area, but the rhinos are still at risk from poachers, disease, and loss of genetic diversity leading to inbreeding depression. Read more...
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Updated: 9:30, 19 November 2019
In the news
19 November 2019 –
War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Afghan peace process
- In Zabul Province, the Taliban releases two foreign hostages, American professor Kevin King and Australian professor Timothy Weeks, who had been held captive since being kidnapped outside the American University of Afghanistan in 2016. Three high-ranking Taliban militants are released in exchange for the hostages. (BBC)
- The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, claims victory over the Islamic State, citing over 600 ISIS members surrendering in the past weeks as an example that the group has given up. (Reuters)
19 November 2019 –
2019 Iranian fuel protests
- A knife attack by rioters kills three security force members. The death toll for the police are five. (Al Jazeera)
- Amnesty International reports that 106 protesters were killed during the protest. Some reports indicate a much higher death toll. (BBC) (National Post)
19 November 2019 –
2019 Hong Kong protests
- After the brutal attack on pro-democracy activist Jimmy Sham last month, another pro-democracy activist, Albert Ho, is attacked by masked men at a minibus stop. (South China Morning Post)
19 November 2019 –
2019 Japan–South Korea trade dispute
- Officials from Japan and South Korea hold their second round of trade talks as part of the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement process. (NHK World)
Updated: 0:30, 20 November 2019