is the world's largest continent, in both area and population. It
covers almost 30% of the world's land mass and is home to more than 60%
of the world's population (over 10 times that of the United States). It
spans 11 time zones and hosts all ten of the world's largest cities.
Its history dates back many millennia and Asia was the cradle of most
ancient civilizations. Asia is home to many different cultures, and
also the starting point for most religions: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Shinto, Sikhism, Jainism, Judaism, Chinese folk religion, and even
Asian food is very popular around the
world; the spices of Indian food, the subtle taste of Chinese noodles,
the savoury blend of sweet and non-sweet in Japanese food, and the
heavy, rich recipes of Muslim food.
At the center of most Asian
food is rice or noodles. Almost every Asian culture treasures these
staples. These foods are also national favorites. Whether it is
steaming hot noodles or sticky rice, these staples have captured the
hearts of Asian people for centuries. Even in places like England,
Indian and Chinese food is a hot favorite. The most sold dish in the
U.K. is said to be 'chicken tikka masala,' an Indian dish, while people
in far-off Brazil are lapping up hot Chinese noodles. The influence of
Asian food is felt in nearly every country in the world. This is due to
the large number of immigrants into these countries. For example, there
are large towns in the U.K. that have majority Asian populations.
shopping in developed Asia is the same as the western world; malls and
stores. In the developing nations, traditional markets, with their
plastic sheet covers and stink of fish, are the most common places. In
places like Cambodia or Vietnam, there are boat markets - vendors
advertising merchandise on their paddle boats.
than 600 languages and dialects are spoken in Indonesia alone, though
Bahasa Indonesia is the main language. India has 25 languages and over
415 dialects of these languages (Hindi is spoken by the largest number
of Indians), and more than 100 dialects are spoken in the
Philippines (Tagalog being the main language). The People's Republic of
China also has many languages and dialects in different provinces,
although most official business is carried out in Mandarin.
so many languages, an Asian person of one country can have
communication problems with another person from his own country. In
China, there are such vast differences among the dialects that it is
extremely hard to communicate with each other orally. Thankfully, they
can communicate using the written language.
only has 26 letters, Chinese has a stunning 40,000 characters. A
teenager is expected to know at least 6,000 of these characters. The
written symbols also vary greatly. The Japanese and Chinese, though
having originated from the same homeland, cannot read each other's
characters. Almost the opposite happens in India and Pakistan. Since
the Indian language Hindi is similar to the Pakistani language Urdu,
people from the two nations can talk quite easily. However, an Indian
might not be able to read a letter written from Pakistan, as he might
not know how to read the Urdu script, which is based on Arabic.
Pakistanis might also not be able to read the Hindi (Devnagari) script,
which originates from Sanskrit. Finally, citizens of Bangladesh speak,
read and write exactly the same language as their neighbors in India
Some of the main festivals in
Asia are Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Hari Raya. Deepavali is the
festival of lights, an Indian festival based on the return of a
mythological hero. Chinese New Year takes place on the first day of the
Chinese lunar calendar. Hari Raya is a Muslim festival.
Indian festivals have some prayer and a lot of song and dance. Indian
dancers wear bright colors and dance on a decorated floor, in or
around a temple. Chinese festivals have more rituals and prayers than
songs and dances. In many South-East Asian countries, the influence of
Chinese, Indian and Central Asian cultures can be felt. It is here that
most of the cultures meet. You will find on the same road an Indian
sweet store, a Japanese restaurant, and a Chinese incense shop.
India, the main clothing for boys is a full sleeve shirt and matching
colored pants. These are called a 'kurta' and 'pyjama' respectively.
Girls wear a dress called a 'Salwar.' A 'salwar' usually is worn at
casual or semi-formal meetings. In southern India, boys wear a 'dhoti'
(loincloth) with the 'kurta.' Adult women usually wear clothes called
sarees (singular sari) - five-meter lengths of cloth wrapped around the
body. Sarees may be made of silk or cotton, and often have intricate
designs, making them nice to look at.
Chinese girls wear
frocks or dresses, and sometimes the Cheongsam, a one piece suit. Most
Asians now wear western clothes due to the strong influence of western
culture. In countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, the national costume
is worn far less often than a t-shirt. Most Asian countries were
European colonies, and the colonial influence remains today. In
Mongolia, which has never been colonized and exposed to Western
clothing, the traditional dresses are still worn every day.
is a diverse continent, in food, religions, cultures, clothing and
history. Such differences cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
From the fragrant rice of Thailand to the North Indian 'salwar,' Asia
is truly amazing in its diversity.