Map Exercise: Asia


The Indus River begins on the Tibetan Plateau, and travels northwestward along the northern edge of the Himalayas. It flows through the northern tip of Nepal, and then continues into the northern regions of Pakistan. From there, if flows south through Pakistan and finally out into the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean on the southern Pakistani coast. I didn't realize that the Indus never actually enters India ... fascinating!

The Salween River also begins on the Tibetan Plateau, and travels east and then south, paralleling the border between China and Myanmar. Eventually, the border crosses the river, and the Salween continues to flow south into eastern Myanmar and eventually meets back up with the eastern border between Myanmar and Thailand, defining that border for aprox. 60 miles before heading back into Myanmar and then into the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean.
The Huang River begins in the Tibetan Plateau, and meanders eastward through China until it reaches the Yellow Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The Ishikari River begins in the central mountains of the Hokkaido Island of Japan and flows west until it reaches the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean.
The Yenisay River begins in Northern Mongolia in the Sayan Mountains. From here it flows west into Russia, and then almost straight north, picking up tributaries from central Siberia (including the runoff from lake Baikal. Finally, it reaches the Kara Sea and the Arctic Ocean.


The Pegunungan Barisan range follows the western coastline of the Indonesian island of Sumatera.
The T'aebaek-Sanmaek Range follows the eastern coastline of South Korea.
The Atlay Mountains lie at the convergence of western Mongolia, northern China, eastern Kazakhstan and southern Russia. They are fairly small, but are culturally significant.

Site and Situation

Asia is the largest continent, as well as the most diverse. Reaching from 10 degrees south to more than 80 degrees north, Asia contains almost every climate type. Much of the continent is mountainous, with a few exceptions, notably western Russia, much of the Arabian peninsula, pockets of China and India and the great central plateau of Tibet (a recent acquisition of China) and Mongolia, which is high, but fairly flat.

The western area of Asia, also referred to as the Middle East, is characterized by significant desertification, low population, a dry and hot climate and little vegetation. The exception to that is the peninsula of Turkey which has a much higher precipitation rate, population, vast grasslands rather than sand and overall greater livability. Central Asia can be looked at as a series of bands laying horizontally across the landscape. In the far north is the frozen tundra of northern Russia, below that, starting at about the Arctic Circle are the great taiga forests, reaching all the way from the Ural mountains to the eastern coast.

Below that are the grasslands of Asia, reaching from the Ural River, north of the Caspian Sea and then west to the Yellow Sea of China. Next is the desert regions, beginning east of the Caspian Sea, and continuing with some moderation through Tajikistan and then through the Tibetan Plateau, the Takla Makan and Gobi Deserts. The Chinese coast to the east of the Gobi is moderated in its climate by the Pacific Ocean, and is covered by cropland and temperate forests.

South of this area is the great Himalayan mountains, which are the largest in the world. At this point, the stratification of the landscape ends, and the rest of southern Asia has many unique regions. Beginning in the west, India is characterized by dry forested areas, changing to lush tropical forests in the northeast. This climate continues throughout southern China and the Indonesian islands which, besides India, is the location of much of the Asian population.

Off of the eastern coast lie a number of larger island systems, including the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. These islands range from tropical to temperate as they lie farther north. Other items of note ... The Middle East, although low in population because of its harsh climate is home to a rich supply of petroleum deposits, making it an important political fuse.

Although Asia is so large, most of the population is concentrated along the eastern coast, the Indian peninsula, Turkey and Japan. These areas correspond with beneficial climates and relative access from the other areas of the world (for example, the Taiga might be a nice enough place to live, but it is cut off from most other areas of asia through long distances. If you look at the population density map though, you'll see tat is is more populated than the tundra and desert regions to the north and south).

Asia is situated in the north-eastern hemisphere (with a bit of the southern islands reaching into the southeastern). It touches all but one of the major oceans of the world (the Southern Ocean which surrounds Antarctica) as well as being within throwing distance of all but two of the world's continents (South America and Antarctica). To the north lies the Arctic Ocean, and the northeastern tip of Asia almost meets the northwestern tip of North America. To the east lies the Pacific Ocean, and to the South lies the Island of Australia and the area of Oceania as well as the Indian Ocean. To the west lies northern Africa (connected by a small northern edge of Egypt), the Mediterranean Sea and western Europe and the western portion of Russia (on the other side of the Ural divide).

The problem of travelling between Europe and eastern Asia was the focus of much energy in the years before modern transportation. The Silk Road was a large network of roads, cities and trading posts between the Middle East and northeastern China. Up through the 1800s, before steam powered ships, the trip around Africa, then across the Indian Ocean and through the Strait of Malacca was dangerous and took navigational skill and timing in order to reach the rich spice islands beyond. Much of Asia has developed separately from our own cultural center of Europe, and this cause quite a culture clash when we finally met. We took many technological advances back with us, and the Chinese adopted some of our technologies as well. I think the technological history oneupmanship that we engage is is amusing, where each culture tries to claim origination of a common cultural idea earlier in history than the other cultures.


Name an area in Asia that has seen conflict based on religious practices and give a brief explanation of the conflict.

Sri Lanka (off the coast of India) was the location of a struggle between Buddhists and the Tamil branch of Hinduism. In the early 80s, the Tamil (an 18% minority concentrated in the northern and eastern coastal areas) demanded that they be given those portions of the island as a separate, independent nation due to human rights concerns over their treatment by the Sri Lankan government. This conflict went on for decades with an estimated 60 to 100 thousand deaths on all sides. A series of events beginning in 2002, including the 2004 tsunami led to the end of the conflict in 2009. The entire conflict resulted from discrimination based on people's religion and ethnicity.

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