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Asia largest of the earths seven continents With outlying islands it covers an estimated 44936000 sq km 17350000 sq mi or about one-third of the worlds total land area Asia has more than 32 billion inhabitants Its peoples account for three-fifths of the worlds population Lying almost entirely in the northern hemisphere Asia is bounded by the Arctic Pacific and Indian oceans The conventional boundary between Europe and Asia is drawn at the Ural Mountains in Russia Asia and Africa are separated by the Red Sea Asia is divided for convenience into five major realms the areas of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics USSR East Asia including China Mongolia Korea and Japan Southeast Asia South Asia including the Indian subcontinent and Southwest Asia including much of the Middle East The continent may also be divided into two cultural realms that which is Asian in culture East Asia Southeast Asia and South Asia and that which is not Asia of the former USSR and Southwest Asia The Natural Environment Asias interior consists of mountains plateaus and intervening structural basins The continents physiographic system focuses on the Pamirs a towering plateau region located where the borders of India China and Afghanistan converge It is known as the Roof of the World Mountain ranges spiral out from the Pamirs to the west Hindu Kush and southeast Great Himalayas These ranges form an imposing eastern-western arc about 2500 km about 1550 mi in length that contains numerous peaks of heights well more than 6100 m 20000 ft including the highest peak in the world Mount Everest Other ranges extend east and northeast of the Pamirs Karakorum Kunlun and Tien Shan Between the Himalayan system and the Karakorum-Kunlun ranges lies the high Tibetan Plateau Around this central core are arrayed four major plateau regions Siberia eastern China southern India and the Arabian Peninsula and several major structural basins and river plains Several major rivers flow
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