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Environmental History of Asia

Discusses some of the great natural catastrophes that have impacted the history of Asia, as well as past climate shifts and their effect on Asian peoples and cultures.

Asia's Worst Natural Disasters
Asia's worst natural disasters in terms of estimated number of lives lost.

The 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean
The 2004 Tsunami - In late 2004, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded hit off the shores of Indonesia. It displaced a piece of the seafloor, causing a massive tsunami that hit waves all around the Indian Ocean.

Deforestation in Asia
History of deforestation in Asia's temperate and tropical zones, including examples from Japan, India, and Southeast Asia.

Influenza Pandemics in Asia
Two Asian influenza pandemics swept the globe in the 20th century, and medical officials around the world are always on the alert for a recurrence. Learn more about the Asian flu epidemic of 1957 and the Hong Kong flu of 1968.

Black Death in Asia | Bubonic Plague
Although the Black Death, a medieval outbreak of bubonic plague, is usually associated with Europe, it began in Asia, and devastated cities there first. Learn more about the Black Death in Asia here.

When the Rains Stop, the Emperors Fall
The changing strength of the monsoon cycle of rains in China has powered the fall of several major dynasties in the Chinese Empire, according to environmental data. Learn how a lack of rain can bring down an emperor - and how we learn about it centuries later.

The Great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976
The Great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976 killed hundreds of thousands of people, and changed the political climate of China.

The Door to Hell | Derweze Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan's Gates of Hell natural gas fire has been burning for more than 40 years, and nobody seems to know how to put it out.

The 1899-1900 Famine in India

Ganges River in Trouble as Himalayan Glaciers Recede
India's sacred river, the Ganges ("Ganga"), is in danger of running dry as its source glaciers high in the Himalayas fall victim to global warming. Should the Ganges dry up entirely, the economic and spiritual survival of India would be in jeopardy.

Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo
The 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo killed hundreds of people and destroyed entire villages. The eruption sent ash high into the atmosphere, where it blocked much of the sun's incoming energy, cooling the entire Earth for several years.

Poor Water Management Doomed Angkor Wat
Many archaeologists now believe that the Khmer civilization with its capital at Angkor Wat collapsed due to poor water-management. Ironically, history may be repeating itself, as local water resources are proving unable to keep up with booming construction for Angkor's tourist influx.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004: Information Clearinghouse
On December 26, 2004, a powerful earthquake in the Indian Ocean off of Indonesia generated the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. The tsunami killed almost 230,000 people all around the Indian Ocean basin, and washed some low-lying islands away.

What Was the Bhopal Disaster of 1984?
What Happened at the Bhopal Disaster in India in 1984? Find out in this Asian History FAQ.

Nomads and Settled People in Asian History
It's the age-old contest: nomads versus settled people. How has this rivalry played out in Asian history? What does the future hold for nomadic peoples?

Mt. Tambora Eruption, 1815
In 1815, one of the largest eruptions in history rocked Mt Tambora, on Sumbawa, Indonesia. Its ash shaded the entire world, causing global cooling.

History of Opium
A history of opium in Asia, where it served as a medicine, a cash crop, and a cause for war.

The Great Kanto Earthquake in Japan, 1923
In 1923, Japan's deadliest earthquake struck Tokyo and surrounding cities, devastating the entire region. Learn more about this tragedy here.

The Eruption of Krakatoa, 1883
When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, it made the loudest sound in recorded history and killed tens of thousands of people in Indonesia.

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