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East Asia

Map of East Asia
Area 11,839,074 km2[1]
Population 1,575,784,500[2]
Density 133 per km2
Countries and Territories  China
 Hong Kong
 North Korea
 South Korea
Languages and language families Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and many others
Nominal GDP (2009) $ 11.427 Trillion
GDP per capita (2009) $ 7,300
Time zones UTC +7:00 (Western Mongolia) to UTC +9:00 (Japan and Korean Peninsula)
Capital cities People's Republic of China Beijing
North Korea Pyongyang
South Korea Seoul
Republic of China Taipei
Japan Tokyo
Mongolia Ulan Bator
Other major cities South Korea Busan
People's Republic of China Guangzhou
 Hong Kong
Republic of China Kaohsiung
Japan Osaka
People's Republic of China Shanghai
Japan Yokohama
(see list)
East Asia
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 東亞
Simplified Chinese 东亚
Japanese name
Kanji 東亜細亜/東亜
Kana ひがしアジア/とうあ
Kyūjitai 東亞細亞/東亞
Korean name
Hangul 동아시아/동아세아/동아
Hanja 東아시아/東亞細亞/東亞
Mongolian name
Mongolian Зүүн Ази
ᠵᠤᠨ ᠠᠵᠢ
Züün Azi
Russian name
Russian Восточная Азия
Romanization Vostochnaja Azija

East Asia or Eastern Asia (the latter form preferred by the United Nations) is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical[3] or cultural[4] terms. Geographically and geo-politically, it covers about 12,000,000 km2 (4,600,000 sq mi), or about 28 percent of the Asian continent, about 15 percent bigger than the area of Europe.

More than 1.5 billion people, about 38 percent of the population of Asia or 22 percent of all the people in the world, live in geographic East Asia. This is about twice the population that Europe has. The region is one of the world's most populated places, with a population density of 133 inhabitants per square kilometre (340 /sq mi), being about three times the world average of 45 /km2 (120 /sq mi).[5] Using the UN subregion definitions, it ranks second in population only to Southern Asia.

Historically, many societies in East Asia have been part of the Chinese cultural sphere, and East Asian vocabulary and scripts are often derived from Classical Chinese and Chinese script. Sometimes Northeast Asia is used to denote Japan, North Korea, and South Korea.[6]

Major religions include Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion in China, Shinto in Japan, Shamanism in Korea, Mongolia and other indigenous populations of northern East Asia[7][8], and more recently Christianity[9] in South Korea. The Chinese Calendar is the root from which many other East Asian calendars are derived.


Uses of the term East Asia

The UN subregion of Eastern Asia and other common definitions[3] of East Asia contain the entirety of the People's Republic of China[10] (including all SARs and autonomous regions), Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China)[11], Japan, North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), South Korea (Republic of Korea), and Mongolia[3].

Chinese speaking societies (including the cultures of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Japanese society, Korean society, and Vietnamese society are commonly seen as being encompassed by cultural East Asia:[12][13][14][15]


Alternate definitions

Some consider the following countries or regions as part of East Asia, while others do not.

In business and economics, East Asia has been used to refer to a wide geographical area covering ten countries in ASEAN[citation needed], People's Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, and the Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan)[11] for the purpose of economic and political regionalism and integration. The tendency of this usage, perhaps, started especially since the publication of World Bank on The East Asian Miracle in 1993 explaining the economic success of the Asian Tiger and emerging Southeast Asian economies (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand).[citation needed]}

In addition, this usage has also been driven by Asia-wide economic interconnectedness since the co-operation between ASEAN and its three dialogue partners was institutionalized under the ASEAN Plus Three Process (ASEAN+3 or APT) in 1997. The idea of East Asian Community arising from ASEAN+3 framework is also gradually shaping the term East Asia to cover more than greater China, Korea, and Japan. This usage however, is unstable: the East Asian Summit, for instance, includes India and Australia.

East Asia is considered to be a part of the Far East, which describes the region's geographical position in relation to Europe rather than its location within Asia. However, in contrast to the United Nations definition, East Asia commonly is used to refer to the eastern part of Asia, as the term implies. Observers preferring a broader definition of 'East Asia' often use the term Northeast Asia to refer to the greater China area, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, with Southeast Asia covering the ten ASEAN countries. This usage, which is increasingly widespread in economic and diplomatic discussion, is at odds with the historical meanings of both 'East Asia' and 'Northeast Asia'.[23][24][25] The Council on Foreign Relations defines Northeast Asia as Japan and Korea.[26]

Territory and region data


Country or
Area km² Population Population density
per km²
HDI (2007) Capital
 China 9,671,018 1,335,612,968 138 0.772 Beijing
 Hong Kong 1,104 7,055,071 6,390 0.944 -
 Japan 377,944 127,470,000 337 0.960 Tokyo
 Macau 29 541,200 18,662 - -
 Mongolia 1,564,116 2,736,800 2 0.727 Ulan Bator
 North Korea 120,540 23,906,000 198 - Pyongyang
 South Korea 100,140 50,062,000 500 0.937 Seoul
 Taiwan 36,191 23,119,772 639 0.943 Taipei


Country or
GDP nominal
millions of USD (2009)
millions of USD (2009)
GDP PPP per capita
USD (2009)
 China 4,911,000 8,767,000 6,546
 Hong Kong 210,730 301,300 42,574
 Japan 5,073,000 4,141,000 32,817
 Macau 21,700 18,140 59,451
 Mongolia 4,212 10,480 3,567
 North Korea 27,820 40,000 1,800
 South Korea 800,300 1,343,000 27,791
 Taiwan 379,400 693,200 29,829

See also

Compare Regions of Asia described by UN:      North Asia      Central Asia      Southwest Asia      South Asia      East Asia      Southeast Asia

Notes and references

  1. ^ The area figure is based on the combined areas of the People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong, Macau, Aksai Chin, and Trans-Karakoram Tract), Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) as listed at List of countries and outlying territories by total area.
  2. ^ The population figure is the combined populations of the People's Republic of China (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau), Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Republic of China (Taiwan) as listed at List of countries by population (last updated Feb 22, 2010).
  3. ^ a b c "East Asia". encarta. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-01-12. "East A·sia [ st áyə ] the countries, territories, and regions of China, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Macau, and Taiwan." 
  4. ^ Columbia University - "East Asian cultural sphere" "The East Asian cultural sphere evolves when Japan, Korea, and what is today Vietnam all sh are adapted elements of Chinese civilization of this period (that of the Tang dynasty), in particular Buddhism, Confucian social and political values, and literary Chinese and its writing system."
  5. ^ See, List of countries by population density
  6. ^ "Northeast Asia." Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved on August 10, 2009.
  7. ^ Chongho Kim, "Korean Shamanism", 2003 Ashgate Publishing
  8. ^ Andreas Anangguru Yewangoe, "Theologia crucis in Asia", 1987 Rodopi
  9. ^ "Background Note: South Korea". State. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2000-04-27. "Christianity (49% of religious population) comprises of South Korea's major religion." 
  10. ^ [1], Britannica Online Encyclopedia, saying: "The present political boundaries of China, which include Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Sinkiang, and the northeastern provinces formerly called Manchuria, embrace a far larger area of East Asia than will be discussed here...."
  11. ^ a b The Republic of China (ROC) has limited recognition within the international community as a sovereign state, see Political status of Taiwan
  12. ^ Columbia University East Asian Cultural Sphere
  13. ^ R. Keith Schopper's East Asia: Identities and Change in the Modern World [2]
  14. ^ Joshua A. Fogel (UC Santa Barbara/University of Indiana) Nationalism, the Rise of the Vernacular, and the Conceptualization of Modernization in East Asian Comparative Perspective [3]
  15. ^ United Nations Environment Programme (mentions sinosphere countries) Approaches to Solution of Eutrophication [4]
  16. ^ Center for South Asia Studies: University of California, Berkeley
  17. ^ Center for South Asia Outreach UW-Madison
  18. ^ Department of South Asia Studies: University of Pennsylvania
  19. ^ South Asia Language Resource Center: The University of Chicago
  20. ^ AIIS Advanced Language Programs in India
  21. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  22. ^ "Encarta Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 
  23. ^ Discussed in Christopher M. Dent (2008), East Asian regionalism. London: Routledge, pp.1-8
  24. ^ Charles Harvie, Fukunari Kimura, and Hyun-Hoon Lee (2005), New East Asian regionalism. Cheltenham and Northamton: Edward Elgar, pp.3-6.
  25. ^ Peter J. Katzenstein and Takashi Shiraishi (2006), Beyond Japan: the dynamics of East Asian regionalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp.1-33
  26. ^ "Northeast Asia." Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved on August 10, 2009.

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