Eurasia

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Coordinates: 50°N80°E / 50°N 80°E / 50; 80

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Eurasia
Eurasia (orthographic projection).svg
Area55,000,000 km2 (21,000,000 sq mi)
Population5,360,351,985 (As of 16 October 2019) [1] [2]
Population density93/km2 (240/sq mi)
Demonym Eurasian
Countries~93 countries
Dependencies 9 dependencies
Time zones UTC−1 to UTC+12

Eurasia ( /jʊəˈrʒə/ , also UK: /-ʃə/ ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. [3] [4] Primarily in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it spans from the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Japanese archipelago and the Russian Far East to the east. The continental landmass is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Africa to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and by Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean to the south. [5] The division between Europe and Asia as two continents is a historical social construct, as many of their borders are over land; thus, in some parts of the world, Eurasia is recognized as the largest of the six, five, or four continents on Earth. [4] In geology, Eurasia is often considered as a single rigid megablock. However, the rigidity of Eurasia is debated based on paleomagnetic data. [6] [7]

Eurasia covers around 55 million square kilometres (21 million square miles), or around 36.2% of the Earth's total land area. It is also home to the largest country in the world, Russia. The landmass contains well over 5 billion people, equating to approximately 70% of the human population. Humans first settled in Eurasia between 60,000 and 125,000 years ago. Some major islands, including Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, and Sri Lanka, and parts of Japan, the Philippines, and most of Indonesia, are often included in the popular definition of Eurasia, despite being separate from the contiguous landmass.

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 are geologically arbitrary and have historically been subjected to occasional change. Eurasia is connected to Africa at the Suez Canal, and Eurasia is sometimes combined with Africa to make the largest contiguous landmass on Earth, called Afro-Eurasia. [8] Due to the vast landmass 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.

Geology

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. Chinese cratons collided with Siberia's southern coast.

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 BC), 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.

Geopolitics

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. [9] "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." [10]

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. [11] One of Russia's main geopolitical interests lies in ever closer integration with those countries that it considers part of "Eurasia." [12] This concept is further integrated with communist eschatology by author Alexander Dugin as the guiding principle of "self-sufficiency of a large space" during expansion. [13]

The term Eurasia gained geopolitical reputation as one of the three superstates in 1984, [14] George Orwell's [15] 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. [16]

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 [17] (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. [18]

Geography

In modern usage, the term "Eurasian" is a demonym usually meaning "of or relating to Eurasia" or "a native or inhabitant of Eurasia". [19] It is also used to describe people of combined "Asian" and "European" descent.

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. [20] 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 and Eastern Eurasia. [21]

Soviet states after decentralization

Changes in national boundaries after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc Cold War border changes.png
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. [22] 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 ; Russian : Евразийский Национальный университет имени Л. Н. Гумилёва ) [23] (Lev Gumilev's Eurasianism ideas having been popularized in Kazakhstan by Olzhas Suleimenov), the Eurasian Media Forum, [24] the Eurasian Cultural Foundation (Russian : Евразийский фонд культуры ), the Eurasian Development Bank (Russian : Евразийский банк развития ), [25] and the Eurasian Bank. [26] 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. [27]

This usage can also be seen in the names of Eurasianet, [28] The Journal of Eurasian Studies, [29] and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, [30] as well as the titles of numerous academic programmes at US universities. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35]

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

Related Research Articles

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

Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a subcontinent of Eurasia and it is located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. Comprising the westernmost peninsulas of Eurasia, it shares the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Africa and Asia. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and Asia to the east. Europe is commonly considered to be separated from Asia by the watershed of the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Greater Caucasus, the Black Sea and the waterways of the Turkish Straits.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shanghai Cooperation Organisation</span> Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization. It is the world's largest regional organization in terms of geographic scope and population, covering approximately 60% of the area of Eurasia, 40% of the world population, and more than 30% of global GDP.

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">Landmass</span> A large area of land

A landmass, or land mass, is a large region or area of land. 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.

<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 occur within the next 200 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 based on examination of past cycles of formation and breakup of supercontinents, not on current understanding of the mechanisms of tectonic change, which are too imprecise to project 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 Angaraland and Angarida, is an ancient craton in the heart of Siberia. Today forming the Central Siberian Plateau, it was an independent continent before the Permian period. 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 Asia</span> Overview of the geography of Asia

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Geographical Pivot of History</span>

"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.

Eurasia or Eurasian may refer to:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geological history of Earth</span> The sequence of major geological events in Earths past

The geological history of Earth follows the major geological events in Earth's past based on the geological time scale, a system of chronological measurement based on the study of the planet's rock layers (stratigraphy). Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula, a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun, which also created the rest of the Solar System.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boundaries between the continents of Earth</span> Overview of the boundaries between Earths continents

Determining the boundaries between the continents of Earth 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 a single continent. 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. Its mainland is the largest and most populous contiguous landmass on Earth.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Continent</span> Very large landmass identified by convention

A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, these seven regions are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. Variations with fewer continents may merge some of these, for example America, Eurasia, or Afro-Eurasia are sometimes treated as single continents, which can bring the total number as low as four. Zealandia, a largely submerged mass of continental crust, has also been described as a continent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indian subcontinent</span> Physiographical region in South Asia

The Indian subcontinent is a physiographical region in Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geopolitically, it includes the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The terms Indian subcontinent and South Asia are often used interchangeably to denote the region, although the geopolitical term of South Asia frequently includes Afghanistan, which may otherwise be classified as Central Asian.

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Eurasian Land Bridge</span> Part of Chinas Belt and Road Initiative

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.

<i>Foundations of Geopolitics</i> 1997 geopolitical book by Aleksandr Dugin

The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia is a geopolitical book by Aleksandr Dugin. Its publication in 1997 was well received in Russia; it has had significant influence within the Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites, and has been used as a textbook in the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian military. Powerful Russian political figures subsequently took an interest in Dugin, a Russian political analyst who espouses an ultranationalist and neo-fascist ideology based on his idea of neo-Eurasianism, who has developed a close relationship with Russia's Academy of the General Staff.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belt and Road Initiative</span> Chinas global infrastructure project

The Belt and Road Initiative, formerly known as One Belt One Road or OBOR for short, is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 150 countries and international organizations. It is considered a centerpiece of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping's foreign policy. The BRI forms a central component of Xi's "Major Country Diplomacy" strategy, which calls for China to assume a greater leadership role for global affairs in accordance with its rising power and status. As of August 2022, 149 countries were listed as having signed up to the BRI.

References

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Further reading