While Asia makes up about one-third of the world's total land surface, its population is closer to two-third of the world total. China, the most populous nation in the world, makes up by itself nearly one-fourth of the world population: over one billion people! In addition, India, Indonesia, Russia, Japan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Philippines all figure among the 15 most populous nations of the world. All of this make Asia the most crowded continent on Earth, with such large cities as Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Calcutta, India; Manila, Philippines; and Jakarta, Indonesia among its ranks.
With so many people, one would think that the events happening in Asia cannot be ignored by the rest of the world. Yet, it wasn't until the 20th century that Asia has been able to assert itself in the international spotlight. Before, Asian nations had been quite isolationistic; they kept among themselves. Societies were feudalistic, meaning that they were organized into hierarchies, with the leader or master at the very top, overseers in the middle, and workers or peasants on the bottom. This meant that the majority of the population was powerless, with no say in what they wanted to do with their life.
The 1900's saw movements to change the feudalistic culture in many Asian nations. Whereas most countries in the West had achieved a modern society more than two centuries before, Asia's time for change came in these one hundred years.
This section will discuss the people and culture of Asia. Why were they relatively late to develop a modern society. Could the answer lie in the distinct religions of the continent? It will also discuss how the nations have had to deal with the immense population and growth that could spiral out of control. As the population growth continues in the new millenium, how Asia handles this situation will undoubtedly be in the watchful eye of the world.