Asia is a land of extremes. Not only is it the largest continent in the world, but it also contains the

• two most populous countries in the world, China and India.

most populous democracy in the world, India.

largest country in the world, Russia.

highest point on the surface of the Earth, Mt. Everest, and the lowest, the Mariana Trench.

5 most populous megacities in the world: Tokyo, Guangzhou, Seoul, Jakarta and Shanghai.

• 5 of the ten most densely populated countries in the world, Singapore, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Maldives, Palestine.

Asia contains 49 countries (excluding Taiwan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Hong Kong and Macau).

Map of Asia
Asia (highlighted) in the world

Geographically, Asia is divided into 6 regions:

North Asia

The gigantic Russia constitutes the entire region of North Asia, and extends across the Urals into Europe. The Soviet Union contained numerous countries in West and Central Asia, which separated during its division.

►► Russia
Capital: Moscow

South Asia

The Indian subcontinent constitutes the South Asian region. This region has gained notoriety due to the continual struggle between the two regional powers, India and Pakistan, and the tripartite clashes over the volatile region of Kashmir between India, Pakistan and the latter's ally, PR China; all three are nuclear weapon states. The region hosts the most populous river system in the world -- the Ganga (Ganges) river system across northern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, and the largest mangrove forest in the world -- the Sunderbans.

►► Nepal
Capital: Kathmandu

►► Bhutan
Capital: Thimphu

►► Maldives
Capital: Male

►► India
Capital: New Delhi

►► Pakistan
Capital: Islamabad

►► Bangladesh
Capital: Dhaka

►► Sri Lanka
Capital: Colombo

West Asia

West Asia, also called the Middle East, is famous for being the 'cradle of mankind'. The first civilizations in human history flourished in these regions. It is famous for the vast stores of oil it holds. The epicenter of the centuries-old struggle between Jews and Arabs is Israel, situated in the Middle East.

►► Yemen
Capital: Sana'a

►► Iraq
Capital: Baghdad

►► Iran
Capital: Tehran

►► Afghanistan
Capital: Kabul

►► Israel
Capital: Jerusalem

►► Lebanon
Capital: Beirut

►► Palestine
Capital: Ramallah

►► Turkey
Capital: Ankara

►► Cyprus
Capital: Nicosia

►► Syria
Capital: Damascus

►► Saudi Arabia
Capital: Riyadh

►► Oman
Capital: Muscat

►► Jordan
Capital: Amman

►► Qatar
Capital: Doha

►► Kuwait
Capital: Kuwait City

►► United Arab Emirates
Capital: Abu Dhabi

►► Bahrain
Capital: Manama

►► Armenia
Capital: Yerevan

►► Azerbaijan
Capital: Baku

►► Georgia
Capital: Tbilisi

NOTE: 1. Turkey, Cyprus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan are politically included in Europe, but geographically in Asia.

2. A part of Egypt, the Sinai peninsula, lies on the other side of the Suez canal in Asia. but Egypt is not considered as an Asian country because of it.

Central Asia

This region, previously a part of the Soviet Union, is one of the most inhospitable on earth. Formed by deserts, mountains and steppes, this region houses some of the least densely populated countries in the world.

►► Uzbekistan
Capital: Tashkent

►► Turkmenistan
Capital: Ashgabat
►► Kazakhstan
Capital: Astana

►► Tajikistan
Capital: Dushanbe

►► Kyrgyzstan
Capital: Bishkek

East Asia

With much of East Asia blanketed by the Gobi desert, and the rest wracked by earthquakes with a frightening regularity, it may be surprising to know that this seemingly uninhabitable region holds three of the world's biggest economies -- Japan, South Korea and PR China.

►► South Korea
Capital: Seoul

►► Mongolia
Capital: Ulan Bator
►► Japan
Capital: Tokyo

►► PR China
Capital: Beijing

►► North Korea
Capital: Pyongyang

Southeast Asia

Lying across the Equator, this hot, humid region is defined by its lush rainforests, beautiful coasts and, rather tragically, the iconic Vietnam War. This region is one of the most densely populated regions in the world, and is a globally popular travel destination.

►► Burma
Capital: Nay Pyi Taw

►► Thailand
Capital: Bangkok

►► Laos
Capital: Vientiane

►► Cambodia
Capital: Phnom Penh

►► Vietnam
Capital: Hanoi
►► Indonesia
Capital: Jakarta

►► Malaysia
Capital: Kuala Lumpur

►► Philippines
Capital: Manila

►► Singapore
Capital: Singapore (City-state)

►► Brunei
Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan

►► Timor-Leste
Capital: Dili

Asia is well and truly a giant, and an enchanting and bewildering land of exhilarating extremes.