Asia – World Geography for UPSC IAS (Notes)

In this Article of World Geography, I want to walk you through the Asia continent – World Geography For UPSC.

Asia

Asia is the world largest continent, having an area of 44,444,100 sq km.

It covers 8.8% of the Earth’s total surface area with a population of 4.4 billion which is 60 % of the world’s total population.

It is a continent of contrast in relief, temperature, vegetation and people also.

Asia is to the east of the Suez Canal, the Ural River, and the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas.

It 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 earth’s highest and lowest places are both in Asia:

  • The highest place on earth: Mount Everest
  • The lowest place on earth: Dead Seashore
map of Asia

Regional Divisions of Asia

Asia can be divided into six physiographic divisions:

Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Eastern Asia: China, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Macau, Mongolia, Taiwan

Northern Asia: Russia

South-eastern Asia: Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam.

Southern Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

Western Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijana, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, State of Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Major Physical Divisions of Asia

  • The Northern Lowlands
  • The Central Mountains
  • The Central and Southern Plateaus
  • The Peninsulas
  • Deserts
  • The Great River Plains
  • Island Groups

1. The Northern Lowlands

The Northern Lowlands are the extensive plain areas which comprise of several patches of lowlands of this large continent.

The major lowlands are:

Great Siberian plain

  • It extends between the Ural Mountains in the west and river Lena in the east. It is the largest lowland in the world covering an area of 1,200,000 square miles approx.
Great Siberian plain

Manchurian Plain

  • It is the area adjoining Amur river and its tributaries of northern part of China with an area of 135,000 square miles approx.
Manchurian Plain

Great Plains of China

  • It is contributed by two major rivers of China, Hwang Ho and Yangtze river which covers an area of 158,000 square miles approx.
Great Plains of China

Tigris-Euphrates plains

  • Ganga plains
  • Irrawaddy plains
Tigris-Euphrates plains

2. The Central Mountains

  • These are the prominent and extensive mountain ranges that cover the parts of Central Asia.
  • They consist of Pamir and Tian Shan ranges and extending across portions of Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • These mountain ranges are designated as biodiversity hot spots by Conservation International which covers several montanes and alpine ecoregions of Central Asia.
  • It encompasses several habitat types, including montane grasslands and shrublands, temperate coniferous forests, and alpine tundra.
  • A mountain knot is a junction of two or more mountain ranges. The two main mountain knots in Asia are:
    • The Pamir Knot is the junction of five mountain ranges they are the Sulaiman, the Hindu Kush, the Kunlun, the Karakoram, and the Himalayan ranges. Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world in the Himalayan range.
    • The Armenian Knot is connected to the Pamir Knot by the Elburz and the Zagros Ranges that originate in the Armenian Knot. The Tien Shan and the Altai are other mountain ranges in Asia.
Central Mountains

Peaks of Asia

  • Mount Everest (8848 m), Nepal-Tibet, China border
  • K2 (8,61,1 m), Pakistan-China
  • Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), Nepal-Sikkim (India).
  • Lhotse (8,516 m), Nepal-Tibet, China
  • Makalu (8,462 m), Nepal-Tibet, China
  • Cho Oyu (8,201 m), Nepal
Mountains-Ranges
Mountains-Ranges

3. The Central and Southern Plateaus

Plateaus are the land areas having a relatively that surface considerably raised above adjoining land on at least one side, and often cut by deep canyon.

Major Plateaus of Asian Continent

PlateauLocationTypes
LadakhBetween Karakoram and Himalaya mountain rangesIntermontane
TibetBetween Kulun and Himalayan Mountain rangeIntermontane
YunanSituated on the southeast of the Tibet Plateau and separated from Szechuan Basin extensive fertile land by the range of MountainsPiedmont
PamirWell connected to the range of mountains such as The Himalayas with the Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and the Hindu Kush ranges on all sidesIntermontane
ArmenianPresent in between Caspian and the Black SeaPiedmont
IranianPresent in between Zagros Mountains, Caspian Sea, Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain RangePiedmont
MongolianSurrounded by the Greater Hinggan Mountains in the east, the Yin Mountains to the south, the Altai Mountains to the west, and the Sayan and Khentii mountains to the northIntermontane
ShanStretched in the Pegu Yoma and Arkan Yoma in the eastern part of Myanmar,Intermontane
DeccanExtended in between the Western Ghats in the west and the Eastern Ghats in the east of
Indian Subcontinent, it almost touches the southern tip of India and in north covered by the Satpura and Vindhya Ranges
Intermontane
AnatolianEnclosed between Pontic mountain ranges in the South and Taurus in the southwestVolcanic
Major Plateaus of Asian Continent

4. Peninsulas

A peninsula is a mass of land surrounded by water but attached to the mainland. The Deccan plateau region is also a peninsula. The major peninsulas of Arabia, India, and Malay are in southern Asia. The Kamchatka peninsula lies in northeastern Asia.

peninsulas in asia
malay peninsula

5. Deserts

Asia has some big deserts such as the Gobi, the Takla Makan, the Thar, the Kara-Kum, and the Rub-al-Khali Deserts.

deserts in asia

6. (a) Islands of Asia

Asia also has a cluster of islands, also called an archipelago. An archipelago sometimes called an island group or island chain, which is formed close to each other in large clusters. Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Andaman, and Nicobar are some examples of archipelagos.

 Islands of Asia

6. (b) Drainage of Asia

The drainage of Asia consists of mighty oceans, extensive seas, lengthy rivers, and their tributaries and distributaries, major lakes, etc.

Oceans: Asian continent is surrounded by three major ocean from three sides such as

The Pacific Ocean – It covers the eastern part of Asia where major rivers of eastern Asia drain, such as Menam Mekong, Xi Jiang, Chang Xiang, Huang Ho, and Amur.

The Indian Ocean – It covers the southern part of Asia and the major rivers flow into the Indian Ocean are
Tigris,Euprates, the Indus, the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween.

The Arctic Ocean – It covers the Noth east part of Asia and consists of three major rivers such as Ob, Yenisey, and Lena.

Drainage of Asia

Seas:

As the continent is covered by sea from its three sides, It has also characterised by long stretch of bay and gulf.

Major seas contributing Asian Drainage are Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Banda Sea, Barents Sea, Bering Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, East Siberian Sea, Java Sea, Kara Sea, Laccadive Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk. The South China Sea and the Yellow Sea.

Seas of Asia

Lakes:

  • Major lakes of Asia are Lake Baikal, Onega, Ladoga, and Peipus in Russia;
  • Lake Akan, Mashu, Biwa, Shikotsu in Japan;
  • Qinghai Lake, Lake Khanka in China;
  • Dal Lake, Chilka, Vembanada, Pullicat and Sukhna in India;
  • Lake Matano and Toba in Indonesia, etc.
lakes of Asia

Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. It is in Southern Siberia, Russia.

Straits:

The important straits in Asia are the Strait of Malacca, Bering Strait, etc.

important facts about straits
major straits of the world

Quiz:

Q1. The Gaza Strip is a self-governing territory of:

(a) Israel
(b) Jordan
(c) Lebanon
(d) Palestine

Solution: (d)

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has waged war on Israel since the group’s 1987 founding, most notably through suicide bombings and rocket attacks. It seeks to replace Israel with a Palestinian stateIt also governs Gaza independently of the Palestinian Authority.

Gaza Strip

Q2. Which of these water bodies witnesses sun rise at the earliest?

a) Red Sea
b) Black Sea
c) Caspian Sea
d) Mediterranean Sea

Solution: c)

Caspian sea lies the easternmost among all of the options. Black Sea lies to the west of Caspian Sea.

Which of these water bodies witnesses sun rise at the earliest?

Q3. The Red Sea is a strip of water and an inlet of the Indian Ocean occupying the area separating the continent of Africa from Asia. The countries bordering the Red Sea are –

  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. Yemen
  3. Ethiopia
  4. Egypt
  5. Djibouti

Select the correct answer code:

 a) 1, 2, 3, 4
b) 1, 2, 3, 5
c) 2, 3, 4, 5
d) 1, 2, 4, 5

Solution: d)

The six countries that border the Red Sea are the following: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti.

Red Sea

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