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  • 9,826,675 kmē
  • 38°53'N
  • 77°01'W
  • July 4, 1776
  • Washington, D.C
  • 308,745,538
  • 33.7/sq.km
  • 59
  • 3131
  • Barack Obama
  • +1
Asia Map
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Asia Map

Great social changes have taken place in Asia during this century. Many colonies freed themselves from their European rulers, creating independent nations such as India and Jordan. In countries where a large majority of poor people were ruled by a wealthy few, communism seemed to be the answer. Communist governments set prices for goods and labour. They also owned all property. The idea was that people would share the profits as well as the work. However, the spread of communism often caused wars with capitalist countries where individuals were able to own property and to set all prices. In 1991, the Soviet Union abandoned communism and, as it broke up, republics such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan became independent countries. Some Asian countries still have communist governments, although a number have recently held democratic elections for the first time. Many Asian governments are now improving the economies of their countries by creating new industries and improving old ones. They are using both government money and foreign aid.

Animals of all shapes and sizes are found throughout Asia. They include the Asian elephant, the Bactrian camel and the giant panda. The world's largest and smallest bats are also found on this continent. The tiny Kitti's hog-nosed bat lives in caves in Thailand, while the large Bismark flying fox is found in Indonesia. In the waters off southern Japan lurks the giant spider crab with a massive claw span of up to four metres.

Some of the world's first great civilizations sprang up in Asia from 3500 BC onwards. Their riches attracted trade and conquering armies. Over the centuries peoples such as the Mongols and the Turks built up and then lost vast empires. From the 1800's much of Asia was colonized by European countries. These new rulers took away wealth, but did not help the colonies develop their industries.

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