Landscape, wildlife, culture, food. The continent of Asia will blow your mind in more ways than you can ever imagine! Here are some amazing facts about Asia that you can share around the campfire on your next backpacking trip…
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Fascinating Facts About Asia
1. Asia is the most populated continent in the world, home to over 4.6 billion people. The country in Asia with the most people is China, with a population of 1.4 billion according to the July 2021 US Census Bureau. China is also the most populated country in the world.
2. There are over 2,300 languages spoken across the continent of Asia. The most widely spoken of these is Mandarin Chinese, spoken by a massive 51% of Asia’s entire population.
3. The Asian elephant is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent. They are smaller than African elephants and have smaller ears and one more toenail on each foot.
4. India is the country which produces the most mangoes in the world with over 20 million tonnes of mangoes produced every year.
5. Of the top 10 rice-producing countries in the world, nine are located in Asia. These are China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines and Japan. Brazil is the only country that is not in Asia and comes in tenth place.
6. The 100 highest mountains in the world are all located on the continent of Asia with the highest being Mount Everest, located in the Himalayan mountain range of Nepal.
7. The most prominent religion in Asia is Islam with approximately 1.2 billion followers. The next most prominent is Hinduism with approximately 900 million adherents.
8. Of the top 10 most populated cities in the world, seven can be found in Asia according to the 2021 World Population Review. The city with the biggest population is Tokyo, Japan with a population of 37.4 million, followed by Delhi, India with 29.4 million people and Shanghai, China, with 26.3 million people.
9. The word ‘Asia’ is believed to derive from the Ancient Greek word ‘Aσία’. While the exact etymology is unknown, many believe that the word meant ‘sun rising’ or ‘light from the East’.
10. Wild tigers used to live across the whole continent of Asia but can now be found in only 13 countries on the continent: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Russia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
11. The top three countries with the longest life expectancies in the world are in Asia. Number one is Hong Kong with an average life expectancy of 88 for females and 82 for males. Japan and Macau follow closely in second and third place.
12. The smallest country in Asia is Macau, which lies close to Hong Kong. The whole country is just 115km2 and is home to 650,000 people. (*Some sources state that Macau is actually a special administrative region of China (SAR) and therefore does not count as an independent country.)
13. Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Cambodia is the largest religious monument in the world, spanning more than 400 acres, It was built in the 12th century by the Khmer Empire and is visited today by more than 2.5 million tourists a year (pre-COVID).
14. Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world with a pioneering government that does not place economic growth as the most important goal. Instead, they consider ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH) as their guiding principle.
15. The oldest identical twins in the world (currently aged 107) are Japanese sisters born on Shodo Island, Japan in 1913.
16. The world’s largest cave, Son Doong, is located in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (part of Quang Binh Province) in Central Vietnam. It is believed to be up to 500 million years old and was only discovered recently (by accident) in 1990 and explored fully by the British Caving Society in 2009.
17. Indonesia is the country with the world’s largest number of active volcanoes spread across its 17,000+ islands. It also leads the world with the largest number of deaths caused by volcanic eruptions.
18. Cambodia is the only country in the world that has a building featured on its flag. (The building is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat.)
19. Asia is home to some of the world’s most important inventions, for example, paper. This crucial human invention was created over 2,000 years ago in around 100 BC by a Chinese court official during the Han Dynasty.
20. Chopsticks are used across the Asian continent. One of the first versions dates back 9,000 years and was pioneered by the Chinese. Early chopsticks were probably two sticks used to retrieve meat and other morsels from hot cooking pots.
21. Bangkok is the city that holds the Guinness World Record for the longest place name in the world with a whopping 168 letters. Confused? The full name of the city is actually: “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.” Many Thais are taught to recite this name by memory, at primary school.
22. Asian cities are often criticised for having the worst levels of air pollution in the world. In 2021, the city of Lahore in Pakistan was said to have the worst air quality in the world with an average AQI score (Air Quality Index Score) of 177. (An AQI below 100 is generally considered safe, whereas over 150 is considered unhealthy.)
23. Asia is by far the largest continent in the world with a landmass of 44.6 million square kilometres. The second is Africa with a landmass of 30 million square kilometres.
24. Singapore is the only country in the world that has banned chewing gum. The ban came into effect in 1992 and is just one of the strict laws that help to keep the country’s streets completely spotless.
25. The wettest place on Earth is the small town of Mawsynram, located in the Meghalaya State of North-Eastern India. The town has an average rainfall of 11,872 millimetres.
26. Nepal is the only country in the world that does not have a rectangular-shaped flag. Instead, the red, blue and white flag consists of two triangles on top of each other, officially known as a double-pennon.
28. Laos is officially the most bombed country in the world. The sleepy landlocked Southeast Asian country was bombed by the USA from 1964-1973 during the America-Vietnam War with over two million cluster bombs. The figure is higher than the total amount of bombs dropped during the entire duration of WW2. The country remained neutral throughout the war.
29. Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of coconuts, producing on average over 18 metric million metric tons per year.
30. The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake caused the worst tsunami in living history (also known as the Boxing Day Tsunami). Across 18 countries in Asia, there were an estimated 230,000 casualties, with Indonesia and Sri Lanka being amongst the countries that were the worst hit.
31. Mecca (or Makkah) in Saudi Arabia, believed to be the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed, is the holiest place on Earth for Muslims. The ancient city receives more than 8 million pilgrims a year (pre-COVID).
32. The city of Lopburi in Thailand is famed for being the city with the most monkeys in the world. The ancient city is home to over 4,500 crab-eating macaques who roam the streets and the crumbling Khmer temple, Phra Prang Sam Yod.
33. Two of the Seven Wonders of the World (newly announced in 2007) are located in Asia. These are the Taj Mahal of India and the Great Wall of China.
34. The island of Palawan in the Philippines is consistently voted as the best island in the world. The island came in number one in Travel + Leisure’s Best Island List 2020. (It was also voted the best island in Southeast Asia in our list here!)
35. The Rafflesia Arnoldii is the world’s biggest flower and can be found in rainforests across Southeast Asia. It is native to the jungles of Sumatra and Borneo, Indonesia. When it blooms, the flower (which can reach a diameter of one metre) is said to smell like rotting flesh.
36. The only two places on Earth where you can spot Orangutans in the wild are Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo Island, which is split between Malaysia and Indonesia. (Many travellers head to Bukit Lawang in Sumatra to organise a trek to see the orangutans.)
37. The Dead Sea, located between Israel and Jordan in Southwest Asia, is the lowest point on the surface of the Earth. The surface is 427 metres below sea level.
38. Bhutan is the only country in the world that has banned the sale of tobacco and tobacco products. If you are caught selling tobacco you can get up to five years in prison.
39. The world’s most densely populated city is the Filipino capital, Manila, with 42,857 people per square kilometre. The city of Manila is actually one of 16 cities that comprises Metro Manila, home to 12.8 million people according to the 2015 Census.
40. The world’s highest road is located in Eastern Ladakh in the far North of India. The road sits at an average altitude of 19,300 feet, which is higher than Everest Base Camp and connects the towns of Chisumle and Demchok.
41. The deepest lake in the world is Lake Baikal, located in Southern Siberia, Russia, with a maximum depth of 1,642 metres. Lake Baikal is also the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume.
42. The biggest Buddha statue in the world is the Leshan Giant Buddha located in Central Sichuan in China. It stands at 71 metres high and dates back to the 8th century when it was built during the Tang Dynasty.
43. Asia plays host to some of the world’s craziest festivals such as Songkran, officially the world’s biggest water fight, which is celebrated in Thailand each year in April to welcome the start of the Buddhist New Year.
44. The smallest mammal in the world is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, also known as the ‘bumblebee bat’. It is a highly endangered species that can be found in limestone caves along rivers in Thailand and Myanmar. The bat varies in size from 29-33mm and weighs approx. two grams.
45. According to Forbes, the Asia-Pacific region is home to the most billionaires in the world. The number increased from 779 to 1,149 from 2020 to 2021 due to new billionaires being created in India and China.
46. The Komodo Dragon is the world’s largest lizard that is native to the Lesser Sunda Islands of Eastern Indonesia. The lizard is a monitor lizard of the Varanidae family and can grow as big as three metres in length and weigh up to 70 kg (or 100 pounds).
47. Giant Pandas are native to China and mainly live in the temperate forests of the South West where they eat nothing but bamboo. One of the most famous places in the world to see pandas is in Chengdu, at the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
48. Five countries lie partly in Europe and partly in Asia making them transcontinental countries. These are Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
49. Kumbh Mela is a huge Hindu pilgrimage and festival that is celebrated every three years in India at a rotating location on the banks of four different sacred rivers. The 2011 festival attracted over 75 million pilgrims in the largest gathering of people ever known. It was so large that it could be seen from space.
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