East Asia

For other uses, see East Asia (disambiguation).
East Asia
States and territories
Capital cities
Major cities
Area[note 1]
  Total 11,839,074 km2 (4,571,092 sq mi)
Population [note 2]
  Total 1,601,709,712
  Density 140/km2 (350/sq mi)
Time zone
Languages and language families
East Asia
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 东亚/东亚细亚
Traditional Chinese 東亞/東亞細亞
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabet Đông Á
Korean name
Hangul 동아시아/동아세아/동아
Hanja 東아시아/東亞細亞/東亞
Mongolian name
Mongolian Зүүн Ази
ᠵᠡᠭᠦᠨ ᠠᠽᠢ
Japanese name
Kanji 東亜細亜(東アジア)/東亜
Kana ひがしアジア/とうあ
Kyūjitai 東亞細亞/東亞
Russian name
Russian Восточная Азия
Romanization Vostochnaja Azija

East Asia is the eastern subregion of the Asian continent, which can be defined in either geographical[1] or ethno-cultural[2] terms. Geographically and geopolitically, it includes China, Hong Kong, and Macao; Mongolia and Taiwan; North and South Korea; and Japan; it covers about 12,000,000 km2 (4,600,000 sq mi), or about 28% of the Asian continent, about twice the area of Europe.

The East Asian people comprise more than 1.5 billion people. About 38% of the population of Asia and 22%, or over one fifth, of all the people in the world live in East Asia. Although the coastal and riparian areas of the region form one of the world's most populated places, the population in Mongolia and Western China, both landlocked areas, is very sparsely distributed, with Mongolia having the lowest population density of a sovereign state. The overall population density of the region is 133 inhabitants per square kilometre (340/sq mi), about three times the world average of 45/km2 (120/sq mi).

Historically, societies in East Asia have been part of the Chinese cultural sphere, and East Asian vocabulary and scripts are often derived from Classical Chinese and Chinese script. Major religions include Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion in China and Taiwan, Shinto in Japan, Korean shamanism in Korea. Shamanism is also prevalent among Mongolians and other indigenous populations of northern East Asia.[3][4] The Chinese calendar is the root from which many other East Asian calendars are derived.


Main article: History of East Asia

Chinese Dynasties dominated the region in matters of culture, trade, and exploration as well as militarily for a very long time. There are records of tributes sent overseas from the early kingdoms of Korea and Japan. There were also considerable levels of cultural and religious exchange between the Chinese and other regional Dynasties and Kingdoms.

As connections began to strengthen with the Western world, China's power began to diminish. Around the same time, Japan solidified itself as a nation state. Throughout World War II, Korea, Taiwan, much of eastern China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam all fell under Japanese control. Following Japan's defeat in the war, the Korean peninsula became independent, while Taiwan de facto became the Republic of China after the latter lost to the People's Republic of China in the Chinese Civil War.

United Nations Statistics Division

East Asia map of Köppen climate classification.
UNSD geoscheme for Asia based on statistic convenience rather than implying any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories:[5]
  East Asia

The UNSD definition of East Asia is based on statistical convenience,[5] but also other common definitions of East Asia contain the entirety of China (including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau) Mongolia, Japan, Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea.[note 3][1][6]

Culturally, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam are commonly seen as being encompassed by cultural East Asia (East Asian cultural sphere).[2][7][8][9]

Alternative definitions

There are mixed debates around the world whether these countries or regions should be considered in East Asia or not.

In business and economics, "East Asia" has sometimes been used to refer to a wide geographical area covering ten Southeast Asian countries in ASEAN, People's Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan) , Japan and South Korea.[note 3] However, in this context, the term "Far East" is often more appropriate which covers ASEAN countries and the countries in East Asia. However, being a Eurocentric term, Far East describes the region's geographical position in relation to Europe rather than its location within Asia. Alternatively, the term "Asia Pacific Region" is often used in describing East Asia, Southeast Asia as well as Oceania.

Observers preferring a broader definition of "East Asia" often use the term Northeast Asia to refer to the greater China area, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, with Southeast Asia covering the ten ASEAN countries. This usage, which is seen in economic and diplomatic discussions, is at odds with the historical meanings of both "East Asia" and "Northeast Asia".[10][11][12] The Council on Foreign Relations defines Northeast Asia as Japan and Korea.[13]

Territory and region data


Country or region Area km² Population Population density
per km²
HDI (2015) Capital
 China, People's Republic of 9,640,011 1,373,000,000 138 0.727 Beijing
 China, Republic of 36,188 23,468,748 639 0.884 Taipei
 Hong Kong 1,104 7,298,600 6,390 0.912 Hong Kong
 Japan 377,930 126,890,000 337 0.891 Tokyo
 Macau 30 642,900 18,662 0.892 Macau
 Mongolia 1,564,100 3,041,648 2 0.698 Ulaanbaatar
 North Korea 120,538 25,155,000 198 0.595 Pyongyang
 South Korea 100,210 51,482,816 500 0.898 Seoul


Main article: Economy of East Asia

The economy of East Asia is one of the most successful, developed and high-tech economies of the world, being home to some of the world's largest, most technologically advanced and most prosperous economies such as the industrialized developed countries of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. The military and economic superpower of China is projected to soon become the largest economy in the world surpassing the United States of America. Major positive factors have ranged from favorable political-legal environments for industry and commerce, through abundant natural resources of various kinds, to plentiful supplies of relatively low-cost, skilled and adaptable labor.

In modern societies, a high level of structural differentiation, functional specialization, and autonomy of the economic system from government is a major contributor to industrial-commercial growth and prosperity. Currently in East Asia, trading systems are relatively open; and zero or low duties on imports of consumer and capital goods etc. have considerably helped stimulate cost-efficiency and change. Free and flexible labor and other markets are other important factors making for high levels of business-economic performance. East Asian populations have demonstrated highly positive work ethics. There are relatively large and fast-growing markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds.

Country or region GDP nominal
millions of USD (2015)[14]
GDP nominal per capita
USD (2015)[14][15]
millions of USD (2015)[14]
GDP PPP per capita
USD (2015)[14]
 China, People's Republic of 11,384,763 8,280 19,509,983 14,189
 China, Republic of 518,816 22,082 1,113,792 47,407
 Hong Kong 307,790 42,096 414,481 56,689
 Japan 4,116,242 32,480 4,842,395 38,210
 Macau 51,753 91,376 80,744 142,599
 Mongolia 12,409 4,179 36,429 12,268
 North Korea 11,516 583 40,000 1,800
 South Korea 1,392,952 27,512 1,849,398 36,528


The culture of East Asia has been influenced by the civilisation of China. East Asia, as well as Vietnam, share a Confucian ethical philosophy, Buddhism, political and legal structures, and historically a common writing system.[16] The relationship between China and East Asia has been compared to the historical influence of Greco-Roman civilisation on Europe.[16]

Major cities and towns

Main article: Cities of East Asia
Pass of the ISS over Mongolia, looking out west towards the Pacific Ocean, China, and Japan. As the video progresses, you can see major cities along the coast and the Japanese islands on the Philippine Sea. The island of Guam can be seen further down the pass into the Philippine Sea, and the pass ends just to the east of New Zealand. A lightning storm can be seen as light pulses near the end of the video.

See also


  1. The area figure is based on the combined areas of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Mongolia, North Korea South Korea, Taiwan and Japan as listed at List of countries and outlying territories by total area.
  2. The population figure is the combined populations of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Taiwan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan as listed at List of countries by population (last updated Feb 22, 2011).
  3. 1 2 Taiwan (officially the Republic of China) has limited recognition internationally as a sovereign state while most countries keeps unofficial relations with it, see Political status of Taiwan. The People's Republic of China has sole control of the mainland including the claim of the island of Taiwan to be part its territory under its constitution as the Taiwan Province.


  1. 1 2 "East Asia". encarta. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2008-01-12. the countries, territories, and regions of China, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Macau, and Taiwan.
  2. 1 2 Columbia University - "East Asian cultural sphere" "The East Asian cultural sphere evolves when Japan, Korea, and what is today Vietnam all share adapted elements of Chinese civilisation of this period (that of the Tang dynasty), in particular Buddhism, Confucian social and political values, and literary Chinese and its writing system."
  3. Chongho Kim, "Korean Shamanism", 2003 Ashgate Publishing
  4. Andreas Anangguru Yewangoe, "Theologia crucis in Asia", 1987 Rodopi
  5. 1 2 "United Nations Statistics Division- Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49)". United Nations Statistics Division. 6 May 2015. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
  6. "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings". United Nations Statistics Division. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  7. R. Keith Schopper's East Asia: Identities and Change in the Modern World
  8. Joshua A. Fogel (UC Santa Barbara/University of Indiana) Nationalism, the Rise of the Vernacular, and the Conceptualization of Modernization in East Asian Comparative Perspective
  9. United Nations Environment Programme (mentions sinosphere countries) Approaches to Solution of Eutrophication
  10. Christopher M. Dent (2008). East Asian regionalism. London: Routledge. pp. 1–8.
  11. Charles Harvie, Fukunari Kimura, and Hyun-Hoon Lee (2005), New East Asian regionalism. Cheltenham and Northamton: Edward Elgar, pp.3-6.
  12. Peter J. Katzenstein and Takashi Shiraishi (2006), Beyond Japan: the dynamics of East Asian regionalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp.1-33
  13. "Northeast Asia." Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved on August 10, 2009.
  14. 1 2 3 4 "SEA GDP". IMF.
  15. Macau (2013)
  16. 1 2 Edwin O. Reischauer, "The Sinic World in Perspective," Foreign Affairs 52.2 (January 1974): 341-348. JSTOR
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