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Asia is more than the East

Asia is more than the East

May 1, 2024

Do you know what the biggest country on the continent of Asia is? How about the one with the most people? If you answered China to both of these questions, you are 100%....wrong.

The largest country in Asia is none other than Russia. And the one with the biggest population is India. But if you guessed China, don’t feel too bad because you are probably not alone.

Many people’s knowledge of the continent of Asia is very limited. Ask people to name an Asian country; they most likely would only include those in the East (Japan or Korea) and Southeast (Thailand or Vietnam). Because of this, during Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, many people are getting excluded from the celebrations.

For example, when was the last time you wished a Pakistani-American “Happy AAPI month”? How about somebody whose origins hail from Kazakhstan or the aforementioned India? And the lack of understanding of the world’s largest continent is not just seen in those being forgotten during the month of May.

The divergent backgrounds of the Asian American population have led to different groups having different experiences in the United States. Each has a separate culture, and their journeys vary. Some had ancestors who originally immigrated for jobs and opportunities—like many Chinese during the 1800s—and some came to escape war—like the Vietnamese in the 1960s and 1970s.

Unfortunately, by always being lumped together, Asian Americans' distinctive stories and the specific challenges they face can be overlooked. It is important to know where They can trace their heritage to truly celebrate their great history and accomplishments.

So here are all the regions the Asian continent encompasses:

West Asia (includes Oman, Turkey, Saudi Arabia) and South Asia (Iran, India, Pakistan): This region is commonly referred to as The Middle East. However, that is a geopolitical designation. The term “Middle East” is thought to have been first used by Great Britain around 1850. Geographically, however, these countries are part of Asia.

North Asia (Eastern Russia): Russia straddles both Europe and Asia. While most of its population resides in Europe, most of its land is in Asia.

Central Asia (includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan): Often referred to as “the Stans.” Most of these countries are former Soviet states.

East Asia (includes Mongolia, China, and Korea): When people think of Asia, they usually think of this region.

Southeast Asia (including Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia): This region will also come to mind quite often. However, the experiences of Southeast Asians in America are quite different from those of their East Asian counterparts.

So, this upcoming AAPI month, let’s make sure we celebrate everybody--from the East all the way to the West.

If you want to learn more about some of these countries, check out these great Travel books.

Insight Guides Oman and the UAE

Lonely Planet Russia

Lonely Planet Central Asia

Lonely Planet Mongolia

Lonely Planet Cambodia

Fodor’s Essential India

Pamela M.
Antioch Branch

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