Eurasia

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Eurasia
Eurasia (orthographic projection).svg
Area55,000,000 km2 (21,000,000 sq mi)
Population5.4 billion (As of 2023) [1] [2]
Population density93/km2 (240/sq mi)
Demonym Eurasian
Countries~93 countries
Dependencies 9 dependencies
Time zones UTC−1 to UTC+12
Part of Afro-Eurasia

Eurasia ( /jʊəˈrʒə/ yoor-AY-zhə, also UK: /-ʃə/ -shə) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. [3] [4] According to some geographers, physiographically, Eurasia is a single continent. [4] The concepts of Europe and Asia as distinct continents date back to antiquity, but their borders have historically been subject to change, for example to the ancient Greeks Asia originally included Africa but they classified Europe [5] as separate land. Eurasia is connected to Africa at the Suez Canal, and the two are sometimes combined to describe the largest contiguous landmass on Earth, Afro-Eurasia. [6]

Contents

Geography

Primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, Eurasia spans from Iceland and the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Russian Far East, and from the Russian Far North to Maritime Southeast Asia in the south, but other specific geographical limits of Eurasia states that the southern limit is in the Weber's line. Eurasia is bordered by Africa to the southwest, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Indian Ocean to the south. The division between Europe and Asia as two continents is a historical social construct, as neither fits the usual definition; thus, in some parts of the world, Eurasia is recognized as the largest of the six, five, or four continents on Earth. [4]

Eurasia covers around 55 million square kilometres (21 million square miles), or around 36.2% of the Earth's total land area. The landmass contains well over 5 billion people, equating to approximately 70% of the human population. Humans first settled in Eurasia from Africa 125,000 years ago.

Eurasia contains many peninsulas, including the Arabian Peninsula, Korean Peninsula, Indian subcontinent, [lower-alpha 1] Anatolia Peninsula, Kamchatka Peninsula, and Europe, which itself contains peninsulas such as the Italian or Iberian Peninsula.

Due to its vast size and differences in latitude, Eurasia exhibits all types of climates under the Köppen classification, including the harshest types of hot and cold temperatures, high and low precipitation, and various types of ecosystems.

Located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Eurasia is considered a supercontinent, part of the supercontinent of Afro-Eurasia or simply a continent in its own right. [7] In plate tectonics, the Eurasian Plate includes Europe and most of Asia but not the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Peninsula or the area of the Russian Far East east of the Chersky Range.

From the point of view of history and culture, Eurasia can be loosely subdivided into Western Eurasia and Eastern Eurasia. [8]

Geology

In geology, Eurasia is often considered as a single rigid megablock, but this is debated. [9] [10] Eurasia formed between 375 and 325 million years ago with the merging of Siberia, Kazakhstania, and Baltica, which was joined to Laurentia (now North America), to form Euramerica.

Rivers

This is a list of the longest rivers in Eurasia. Included are all rivers over 3,000 km (1,900 mi).

RiverCountriesLength
kmmi
1 Yangtze (Cháng Jiāng 长江) [11] China6,3003,915
2 Yellow River (Huáng Hé 黄河) [11] China5,4643,395
3 Mekong [11] China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam 4,9093,050
4 Lena (Лена) [12] Russia4,2942,668
5 Irtysh (Иртыш) [13] Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia4,2482,640
6 Brahmaputra (ब्रह्मपुत्र) [11] China, India, Bangladesh 3,9692,466
7 Ob (Обь) [14] Russia3,7002,299
8 Volga (Во́лга)Russia3,5312,194
9 Yenisey (Енисей) [15] Mongolia, Russia3,4872,167
10 Indus (सिन्धु/Síndhu/سندھ/سند/سنڌوءَ) [11] China, India, Pakistan3,1501,957

Mountains

All of the 100 highest mountains on Earth are in Eurasia, in the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Hengduan, and Tian Shan mountain ranges, and all peaks above 7,000 metres are in these ranges and the Transhimalaya. Other high ranges include the Kunlun, Hindu Raj, and Caucasus Mountains. The Alpide belt stretches 15,000 km across southern Eurasia, from Java in Maritime Southeast Asia to the Iberian Peninsula in Western Europe, including the ranges of the Himalayas, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Alborz, Caucasus, and the Alps. Long ranges outside the Alpide Belt include the East Siberian, Altai, Scandinavian, Qinling, Western Ghats, Vindhya, Byrranga, and Annamite Ranges.

Islands

The largest Eurasian islands by area are Borneo, Sumatra, Honshu, Great Britain, Sulawesi, Java, Luzon, Iceland, Mindanao, Ireland, Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and Sri Lanka. The five most-populated islands in the world are Java, Honshu, Great Britain, Luzon, and Sumatra. Other Eurasian islands with large populations include Mindanao, Taiwan, Salsette, Borneo, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Kyushu, and Hainan. The most densely-populated islands in Eurasia are Caubian Gamay Island, Ap Lei Chau, and Navotas Island. In the Arctic Ocean, Severny Island, Nordaustlandet, October Revolution Island, and Bolshevik Island are Eurasia's largest uninhabited islands, and Kotelny Island, Alexandra Land, and Spitsbergen are the least-densely populated.

History

Eurasia has been the host of many ancient civilizations, including those based in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and China. In the Axial Age (mid-first millennium BCE), a continuous belt of civilizations stretched through the Eurasian subtropical zone from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This belt became the mainstream of world history for two millennia.

Russian geopolitical ideology

Originally, "Eurasia" is a geographical notion: in this sense, it is simply the biggest continent; the combined landmass of Europe and Asia. However, geopolitically, the word has several meanings, reflecting specific geopolitical interests. [16] "Eurasia" is one of the most important geopolitical concepts and it figures prominently in the commentaries on the ideas of Halford Mackinder. As Zbigniew Brzezinski observed on Eurasia:

"... how America 'manages' Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates 'Eurasia' would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over 'Eurasia' would almost automatically entail Africa's subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world's central continent. About 75 per cent of the world's people live in 'Eurasia', and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. 'Eurasia' accounts for about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources." [17]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, The grand chessboard : American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives

The Russian "Eurasianism" corresponded initially more or less to the land area of Imperial Russia in 1914, including parts of Eastern Europe. [18] One of Russia's main geopolitical interests lies in ever closer integration with those countries that it considers part of "Eurasia." [19]

The term Eurasia gained geopolitical reputation as one of the three superstates in 1984, [20] George Orwell's [21] novel where constant surveillance and propaganda are strategic elements (introduced as reflexive antagonists) of the heterogeneous dispositif such metapolitical constructs used to control and exercise power. [22]

Single markets in European and post-Soviet countries; European Economic Area and Common Economic Space EEA CES.PNG
Single markets in European and post-Soviet countries; European Economic Area and Common Economic Space

Regional organisations and alliances

Across Eurasia, several single markets have emerged, including the Eurasian Economic Space, European Single Market, ASEAN Economic Community, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. There are also several international organizations and initiatives which seek to promote integration throughout Eurasia, including:

ASEM Partners ASEM.PNG
ASEM Partners

Asia-Europe Meeting

Commonwealth of Independent States

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Member States of the Eurasian Economic Union
Observer states
Other candidate states Eurasian Economic Union.svg
  Member States of the Eurasian Economic Union
  Observer states
  Other candidate states

Eurasian Union

Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges

Area from Lisbon to Vladivostok with all European and CIS countries Lisbon to Vladivostok.svg
Area from Lisbon to Vladivostok with all European and CIS countries

Russia-EU Common Spaces

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Use of term

History of the Europe–Asia division

Physical map of Asia Asia-map.png
Physical map of Asia

In ancient times, the Greeks classified Europe (derived from the mythological Phoenician princess Europa) and Asia which to the Greeks originally included Africa [23] (derived from Asia, a woman in Greek mythology) as separate "lands". Where to draw the dividing line between the two regions is still a matter of discussion. Especially whether the Kuma-Manych Depression or the Caucasus Mountains form the southeast boundary is disputed, since Mount Elbrus would be part of Europe in the latter case, making it (and not Mont Blanc) Europe's highest mountain. Most accepted is probably the boundary as defined by Philip Johan von Strahlenberg in the 18th century. He defined the dividing line along the Aegean Sea, Dardanelles, Sea of Marmara, Bosporus, Black Sea, Kuma–Manych Depression, Caspian Sea, Ural River, and the Ural Mountains. However, at least part of this definition has been subject to criticism by many modern analytical geographers like Halford Mackinder, who saw little validity in the Ural Mountains as a boundary between continents. [24]

Soviet states after decentralization

Changes in national boundaries after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc Changes in national boundaries after the end of the Cold War.jpg
Changes in national boundaries after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc

Nineteenth-century Russian philosopher Nikolai Danilevsky defined Eurasia as an entity separate from Europe and Asia, bounded by the Himalayas, the Caucasus, the Alps, the Arctic, the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, a definition that has been influential in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. [25] Nowadays, partly inspired by this usage, the term Eurasia is sometimes used to refer to the post-Soviet space – in particular Russia, the Central Asian republics, and the Transcaucasus republics – and sometimes also adjacent regions such as Turkey and Mongolia.

The word "Eurasia" is often used in Kazakhstan to describe its location. Numerous Kazakh institutions have the term in their names, like the L. N. Gumilev Eurasian National University (Kazakh : Л. Н. Гумилёв атындағы Еуразия Ұлттық университеті ; Евразийский Национальный университет имени Л. Н. Гумилёва ) [26] (Lev Gumilev's Eurasianism ideas having been popularized in Kazakhstan by Olzhas Suleimenov), the Eurasian Media Forum, [27] the Eurasian Cultural Foundation ( Евразийский фонд культуры ), the Eurasian Development Bank ( Евразийский банк развития ), [28] and the Eurasian Bank. [29] In 2007 Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, proposed building a "Eurasia Canal" to connect the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea via Russia's Kuma-Manych Depression to provide Kazakhstan and other Caspian-basin countries with a more efficient path to the ocean than the existing Volga–Don Canal. [30]

This usage can also be seen in the names of Eurasianet, [31] The Journal of Eurasian Studies, [32] and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, [33] as well as the titles of numerous academic programmes at US universities. [34] [35] [36] [37] [38]

This usage is comparable to how Americans use "Western Hemisphere" to describe concepts and organizations dealing with the Americas (e.g.,  Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

See also

Notes

  1. Despite being considered a sub-continent, the peninsula definition is applied to southern India.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Asia</span> Continent

Asia is the largest continent in the world by both land area and population. It covers an area of more than 44 million square kilometers, about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8% of Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Its 4.7 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tethys Ocean</span> Prehistoric ocean between Gondwana and Laurasia

The Tethys Ocean, also called the Tethys Sea or the Neo-Tethys, was a prehistoric ocean during much of the Mesozoic Era and early-mid Cenozoic Era. It was the predecessor to the modern Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Eurasian inland marine basins.

Geopolitics is the study of the effects of Earth's geography on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usually refers to countries and relations between them, it may also focus on two other kinds of states: de facto independent states with limited international recognition and relations between sub-national geopolitical entities, such as the federated states that make up a federation, confederation, or a quasi-federal system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eurasia Party</span> Political party in Russia

The Eurasia Party is a National Bolshevik Russian political party. It was registered by the Ministry of Justice on 21 June 2002, approximately one year after the pan-Russian Eurasia Movement was established by Aleksandr Dugin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Landmass</span> Large area of land

A landmass, or land mass, is a large region or area of land that is in one piece and not broken up by oceans. The term is often used to refer to lands surrounded by an ocean or sea, such as a continent or a large island. In the field of geology, a landmass is a defined section of continental crust extending above sea level.

Europe, the westernmost portion of Eurasia, is often divided into regions and subregions based on geographical, cultural or historical factors. Since there is no universal agreement on Europe's regional composition, the placement of individual countries may vary based on criteria being used. For instance, the Balkans is a distinct geographical region within Europe, but individual countries may alternatively be grouped into South-eastern Europe or Southern Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Subregion</span> Part of a larger geographic region or continent

A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent. Cardinal directions are commonly used to define subregions. There are many criteria for creating systems of subregions; this article is focusing on the UN statistical geoscheme, which is a changing, constantly updated, UN tool based on specific political geography considerations relevant in UN statistics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pangaea Proxima</span> Hypothetical future supercontinent

Pangaea Proxima is a possible future supercontinent configuration. Consistent with the supercontinent cycle, Pangaea Proxima could form within the next 250 million years. This potential configuration, hypothesized by Christopher Scotese in November 1982, earned its name from its similarity to the previous Pangaea supercontinent. Scotese later changed Pangaea Ultima to Pangaea Proxima to alleviate confusion about the name Pangaea Ultima which could imply that it would be the last supercontinent. The concept was suggested by extrapolating past cycles of formation and breakup of supercontinents, not on theoretical understanding of the mechanisms of tectonic change, which are too imprecise to make predictions that far into the future. "It's all pretty much fantasy to start with," Scotese has said. "But it's a fun exercise to think about what might happen. And you can only do it if you have a really clear idea of why things happen in the first place."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siberia (continent)</span> Ancient craton forming the Central Siberian Plateau

Siberia, also known as Siberian Craton, Angaraland and Angarida, is an ancient craton in the heart of Siberia. Today forming the Central Siberian Plateau, it formed an independent landmass prior to its fusion into Pangea during the Late Carboniferous-Permian. The Verkhoyansk Sea, a passive continental margin, was fringing the Siberian Craton to the east in what is now the East Siberian Lowland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Europe</span>

Europe is traditionally defined as one of seven continents. Physiographically, it is the northwestern peninsula of the larger landmass known as Eurasia ; Asia occupies the centre and east of this continuous landmass. Europe's eastern frontier is usually delineated by the Ural Mountains in Russia, which is the largest country by land area in the continent. The southeast boundary with Asia is not universally defined, but the modern definition is generally the Ural River or, less commonly, the Emba River. The boundary continues to the Caspian Sea, the crest of the Caucasus Mountains, and on to the Black Sea. The Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles conclude the Asian boundary. The Mediterranean Sea to the south separates Europe from Africa. The western boundary is the Atlantic Ocean. Iceland is usually included in Europe because it is over twice as close to mainland Europe as mainland North America. There is ongoing debate on where the geographical centre of Europe falls.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geography of Asia</span>

Geography of Asia reviews geographical concepts of classifying Asia, the central and eastern part of Eurasia, comprising 58 countries and territories.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Geographical Pivot of History</span> 1904 article by Halford John Mackinder

"The Geographical Pivot of History" is an article submitted by Halford John Mackinder in 1904 to the Royal Geographical Society that advances his heartland theory. In this article, Mackinder extended the scope of geopolitical analysis to encompass the entire globe. He defined Afro-Eurasia as the "world island" and its "heartland" as the area east of the Volga, south of the Arctic, west of the Yangtze, and north of the Himalayas. Due to its strategic location and natural resources, Mackinder argued that whoever controlled the "heartland" could control the world.

Eurasianism is a socio-political movement in Russia that emerged in the early 20th century under the Russian Empire, which states that Russia does not belong in the "European" or "Asian" categories but instead to the geopolitical concept of Eurasia governed by the "Russian world", forming an ostensibly standalone Russian civilization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boundaries between the continents</span>

Determining the boundaries between the continents is generally a matter of geographical convention. Several slightly different conventions are in use. The number of continents is most commonly considered seven but may range as low as four when Afro-Eurasia and the Americas are both considered as single continents. An island can be considered to be associated with a given continent by either lying on the continent's adjacent continental shelf or being a part of a microcontinent on the same principal tectonic plate. An island can also be entirely oceanic while still being associated with a continent by geology or by common geopolitical convention. Another example is the grouping into Oceania of the Pacific Islands with Australia and Zealandia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Afro-Eurasia</span> Landmass consisting of Africa, Asia, and Europe

Afro-Eurasia is a landmass comprising the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The terms are compound words of the names of its constituent parts. Afro-Eurasia has also been called the "Old World", in contrast to the "New World" referring to the Americas.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Continent</span> Large geographical region identified by convention

A continent is any of several large geographical regions. Continents are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria. A continent could be a single landmass or a part of a very large landmass, as in the case of Asia or Europe. Due to this, the number of continents varies; up to seven or as few as four geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Most English-speaking countries recognize seven regions as continents. In order from largest to smallest in area, these seven regions are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. Different variations with fewer continents merge some of these regions; examples of this are merging North America and South America into America, Asia and Europe into Eurasia, and Africa, Asia, and Europe into Afro-Eurasia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caspian Sea</span> Worlds largest inland body of water, located in Eurasia

The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland body of water, often described as the world's largest lake and sometimes referred to as a full-fledged sea. An endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia: east of the Caucasus, west of the broad steppe of Central Asia, south of the fertile plains of Southern Russia in Eastern Europe, and north of the mountainous Iranian Plateau. It covers a surface area of 371,000 km2 (143,000 sq mi), an area approximately equal to that of Japan, with a volume of 78,200 km3 (19,000 cu mi). It has a salinity of approximately 1.2%, about a third of the salinity of average seawater. It is bounded by Kazakhstan to the northeast, Russia to the northwest, Azerbaijan to the southwest, Iran to the south, and Turkmenistan to the southeast.

This is a list of articles related to plate tectonics and tectonic plates.

The New Eurasian Land Bridge, also called the Second or New Eurasian Continental Bridge, is the southern counterpart to the Eurasian Land Bridge and runs through China and Central Asia with possible plans for expansion into South and West Asia. The Eurasian Land Bridge system is important as an overland rail link between China and Europe, with transit between the two via Central Asia and Russia. In the light of the Russia-Ukraine war, China halted further investments in the part of the bridge that was planned to go through Russia. After the war began, the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route began to actively develop, which passes through the countries of Central Asia, the Caspian Sea and the countries of the South Caucasus, bypassing Russia.

References

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Further reading

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