Asia (/ˈeɪʒə,ˈeɪʃə/(listen)) is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and NorthernHemispheres. 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 (17,212,000sqmi), 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...)
This image by the firm of Maison Bonfils depicts the city of Beirut, Lebanon, sometime in the last third of the 19th century. Maison Bonfils was the extraordinarily prolific venture of the French photographer Félix Bonfils (1831–85), his wife Marie-Lydie Cabanis Bonfils (1837–1918), and their son, Adrien Bonfils (1861–1928). The Bonfils moved to Beirut in 1867 and, over the next five decades, their firm produced one of the world's most important bodies of photographic work about the Middle East. Maison Bonfils was known for landscape photographs, panoramas, biblical scenes, and posed “ethnographic” portraits.
Zhou Tong (Chinese:周同 and 周侗; pinyin: Zhōu Tóng) (died late 1121 CE) was the archery teacher and second military arts tutor of famous Song dynasty general Yue Fei. Originally a local hero from Henan, he was hired to continue Yue Fei's military training in archery after the boy had rapidly mastered spearplay under his first teacher. In addition to the future general, Zhou accepted other children as archery pupils. During his tutelage, Zhou taught the children all of his skills and even rewarded Yue with his two favorite bows because he was his best pupil. After Zhou's death, Yue would regularly visit his tomb twice a month and perform unorthodox sacrifices that far surpassed that done for even beloved tutors. Yue later taught what he had learned from Zhou to his soldiers and they were successful in battle.
Peking opera, or Beijing opera (Chinese:京剧; pinyin:Jīngjù), is the most dominant form of Chinese opera which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It arose in Beijing in the mid-Qing dynasty (1644–1912) and became fully developed and recognized by the mid-19th century. The form was extremely popular in the Qing court and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China. Major performance troupes are based in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. The art form is also preserved in Taiwan, where it is also known as Guójù (Chinese:國劇; lit. 'National opera'). It has also spread to other regions such as the United States and Japan.
Peking opera features four main role types, sheng (gentlemen), dan (women), jing (rough men), and chou (clowns). Performing troupes often have several of each variety, as well as numerous secondary and tertiary performers. With their elaborate and colorful costumes, performers are the only focal points on Peking opera's characteristically sparse stage. They use the skills of speech, song, dance and combat in movements that are symbolic and suggestive, rather than realistic. Above all else, the skill of performers is evaluated according to the beauty of their movements. Performers also adhere to a variety of stylistic conventions that help audiences navigate the plot of the production. The layers of meaning within each movement must be expressed in time with music. The music of Peking opera can be divided into the xīpí (西皮) and èrhuáng (二黄) styles. Melodies include arias, fixed-tune melodies and percussion patterns. The repertoire of Peking opera includes over 1,400 works, which are based on Chinese history, folklore and, increasingly, contemporary life. (Full article...)
Israel launches another series of strikes in Gaza, killing four people and wounding several more, bringing the total death toll from the strikes to 28. Hamas respond to the attacks launching rockets towards Israel, killing two people. (Al Jazeera)
Image 39Detail of Chinese silk from the 4th century BCE. The characteristic trade of silk through the Silk Road connected various regions from China, India, Central Asia, and the Middle East to Europe and Africa.
Image 54Here a Jesuit, Adam Schall von Bell (1592–1666), is dressed as an official of the Chinese Department of Astronomy.
Image 55The third Inter-Korean Summit, which was held in 2018, between South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un. It was a historical event that symbolized the peace of Asia.
Image 56Daian-ji temple at Nara, Japan
Image 57Byzantine and Sassanian Empires in 600 AD
Image 58Map of Asia for early 20th century
Image 59The global contribution to world's GDP by major economies from 1 AD to 2003 AD according to Angus Maddison's estimates. Before 18th century, China and India were the two largest economies by GDP output.