Countries of Asia
By Kallie Szczepanski, About.com Guide
East Asia encompasses the ancient cultural centers of China, Japan, and the Koreas, as well as Taiwan. With a written history stretching back more than 4,000 years, this area is one of the great centers of human civilization.
Southeast Asia includes the mainland countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), as well as a number of island nations: Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and East Timor. This is a diverse region of rich and ancient cultures, but the more recent history of much of this area has been tragic.
The Indian subcontinent is one of the earliest sites of human civilization, and has had a rich and varied cultural and political history down through the millennia. Today, it encompasses the nations of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, and Bhutan.
The wide-open steppes and jagged mountains of Central Asia have been a cultural crossroads for millennia. The site of the great Silk Road traffic in former years, these nations are once more gaining attention for their fossil fuel resources in an energy-hungry world. The countries that make up this fascinating region are: Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan.
The Middle East and Asia Minor
The Middle East and Asia Minor have long been a pivot point between the cultures of the Mediterranean world and those of greater Asia. This region includes Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.