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Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.6% of the Earth's total surface area (or 29.9% of its land area) and with approximately 4 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population. During the 20th century Asia's population nearly quadrupled.

Asia is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Eurasia-with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe-located to the east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains and south of the Caucasus Mountains (or the Kuma-Manych Depression) 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. Given its size and diversity, Asia-a toponym dating back to classical antiquity-is more a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity. The wealth of Asia differs very widely among and within its regions, due to its vast size and huge range of different ethnic groups, cultures, environments, historical ties and government systems. Asia has been the historical birthplace of all major world religions.

The original distinction between Europe and Asia was made by the ancient Greeks. They used the Aegean Sea, the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, the Black Sea, the Kerch Strait, and the Sea of Azov as the border between Asia and Europe. The Nile was used as the border between Asia and Africa (then called Libya), although some Greek geographers suggested the Red Sea would form a better boundary. However the Nile was usually considered the border until the 15th century, when the boundary was changed to the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Isthmus of Suez. At the same time, the border of between Asia and Europe became an issue, as the old boundaries did not extend to the arctic as previously thought. In the eighteenth century the Ural mountains were first suggested as the border, and by the nineteenth century this border had become the accepted divide. To connect this to the previous divide, the border was extended southwards from the mountains to the Ural river, after which it passed through the Caspian Sea and crossed the crest of the Caucasus, forming the widely accepted boundary used today. The border between Asia and Oceania is placed somewhere in the Malay archipelago, with islands belonging to Indonesia usually included in Asia, including the western half of New Guinea.

Some contentions about the borders still exist. Asia is the largest and most culturally diverse of the continents in the seven-continent system, and does not exactly match with conventional Asian cultural boundaries. Some definitions exclude Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia while only considering the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent to compose Asia, especially in the United States after World War II.The term is sometimes used more narrowly in reference to the Asia-Pacific region, which does not include the Middle East, South Asia or Russia, but does include islands in the Pacific Ocean-a number of which may also be considered part of Australasia or Oceania, although Pacific Islanders are not considered Asian.

Some geographers do not consider Asia and Europe to be separate continents, as there is no logical physical separation between them. For example, Sir Barry Cunliffe, the emeritus professor of European archeology at Oxford, argues that Europe has been geographically and culturally merely "the western excrescence of the continent of Asia."Geographically, Asia is the major eastern constituent of the continent of Eurasia with Europe being a northwestern peninsula of the landmass-or of Afro-Eurasia: geologically, Asia, Europe and Africa comprise a single continuous landmass (save the Suez Canal) and share a common continental shelf. Almost all of Europe and most of Asia sit atop the Eurasian Plate, adjoined on the south by the Arabian and Indian Plate and with the easternmost part of Siberia (east of the Cherskiy Range) on the North American Plate.