By | January 2, 2023

Landscapes and natural resources

The mighty land areas of Asia broadly comprise four types of landscape: 1) the northern and western lowlands, which are drained into the Arctic Ocean, the Aral Sea, and the Caspian Sea; 2) the great mountain ranges and highlands that include a belt from Turkey across the Armenian Massif, the Pamir and the Himalayas to the Bering Strait in the north and to Indonesia in the south; 3) the southern plateau countries comprising the Arabian Peninsula, the Deccan Plateau and the plateaus from Yunnan to the Malacca Peninsula; 4) the great river valleys around the Euphrates-Tigris, Indus, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Menam, Mekong, Chang Jiang and Huang He.

  • COUNTRYAAH.COM: Offers an alphabetical list of independent nations and dependent territories in Asia. Also includes area and population for each Asian country.

The northern lowlands flow through of the rivers Ob, Yenisei and Lena, whose mouths lie in the Arctic. Often ice formations impede the outflow and cause major floods. In addition, the Arctic tundra is characterized by permafrost. The mighty forest landscapes of the temperate zone are replaced to the SW by the steppes of Turan and around the Aral Sea. The grass steppe is now cultivated, while the shrub steppes for cultivation require irrigation. The water for Central Asia’s cotton cultivation has been taken from the rivers Syr Darja, Amu Darja and Ili, which has contributed to the Aral Sea in particular, but also Lake Balkhashi, being reduced.

The mountain ranges. To the west, two mountain ranges emerge to the west, the Pontic Mountains and the Taurus, which enclose the Anatolian Plateau. To the east is the northernmost Elburz-Hindu Kush. The Zagro Chain and the Sulaiman, which delimit the Iranian plateau. The chains run together in the mighty mountain knot Pamir. Similarly, the plateaus north of the Himalayas are bounded on the north by The Tian Shan and Altai chains. Kunlun Shan divides the highlands of Eastern Turkestan (just over 1000 masl) and Tibet (around 4500 masl). All the mentioned plateaus are dry, because oceanic winds are cut off by as high marginal chains as the Himalayas, which at long distances are 6000-7000 m high, and which in Mount Everest have the highest point on the planet, 8848 m. In the whole area, only the valleys are cultivable, and only when there is water. The mountain areas include several large folding chain systems in addition to those mentioned. From the Altai thus the Sajian and Jablon Mountains, Stanovoj and Verkhojanske Mountains all the way up to the Chukchi Peninsula and a mighty arch from Kamchatka over the Kuril Islands, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands to Taiwan. China’s historical isolationism finds part of its explanation in the country’s almost total isolation from the interior of Asia by mountain ranges and deserts.

Among the plateaus to the south, the Arabian Peninsula is an uncultivated desert apart from its high west side, the “Happy Arabia”. Deccan’s Highlands similarly has a high fault edge to the west, the Western Ghats, but has a well-utilized agricultural potential comprising e.g. fertile black soil areas, regur. The plateaus of Yunnan and Indochina are heavily traversed by river valleys and smaller mountain ranges; they have limited resources for both cultivation and mining.

The large river valleys, with fertile soil and access to water, have good cultivation opportunities, which are utilized with more and more thorough control of the rivers’ water.

It is mainly cold, i.e. no or too short growing season, and/or drought restricting cultivation. The large areas of North Asia that lie like tundra are too cold, as are the high mountain areas, which can be mountain pastures, mountain fields or snow cover. Large stretches in West, South and Central Asia are too dry.

The temperate areas that have reasonable rainfall have often developed brown and pods soils. Although most suitable soils are included for cultivation, yields can still be increased by better soil treatment and by using better adapted varieties. This applies to Western Siberia and to large areas of northern China and Manchuria.

All in all, Asia still has great potential for increasing agricultural production, both in terms of agriculture and cattle breeding. In the case of cattle breeding, better veterinary care and rational grazing alone can greatly improve yields.

Industrial resources. The world’s largest fossil energy resources of oil, natural gas and coal are found in Asia. Only the large natural gas deposits can cover Asia’s energy supplies well into the future, even though Russia is processing a fairly large export via pipelines. Hydropower is also plentiful, although the large Siberian rivers, for example, are difficult to utilize efficiently. In several places, the energy supply is supplemented by nuclear power.

In general, Asia has a good raw material base for industry, but exploitation is still hampered by the location and distribution of raw materials by country.

Social resources

Social resources include labor, its efficiency, determined of health and education level as well as the organization and structure of individual societies; in this area there is great variation in Asia. In several remote mountain areas, for example in Bhutan, there is still a purely feudal organization, in China and North Korea totalitarian communist systems. Elsewhere, dictatorships exist (e.g. in Myanmar (Burma)), while states such as India and Japan are democracies.

The Japanese business organization is invoking interest as an example of how modern industry can be developed on the basis of an organizational form that is very different from the Western European-American. In Japan, the business community is partly built around large groups that intervene deeply in the employees’ relationships – also of a private nature. The interests of the employees are taken care of in large and small in an almost patriarchal protective and adult manner; on the other hand, it is most often a lifelong, loyal affiliation with the group. High work ethic is often cited as part of the explanation for the so-called Japanese miracle, which, however, perhaps in the absence of public control, has also led to serious inconveniences in, for example, ecological conditions, such as in the late 1900’s. set out to solve. In large parts of SE and East Asia these features can be found.

In India, business development has long been hampered by the caste system, which originally had the character of lowliness, albeit with a background in the Hindu religion. This raises high barriers to development; the castes, which still have different ranks, mean less for business choices, but, especially in the countryside, much for the social structure. Japan and India as examples, of many possible, show the importance of the community organization in Asia. Religious relationships are closely intertwined in daily life and influence the business world, for example through rules on women’s opportunities to work outside the home.

Development strategies

Very different strategies for economic development have been followed and followed in Asia. Common is that the development almost everywhere aims at industrialization. In the case of the planned economies, the general development model has long been based on Lenin’s idea that agriculture must partly provide food for the population and partly provide the savings by means of which industry is to be built up. In the case of China, the idea took on a slightly more flexible form, expressed by Mao’s principle of “walking on two legs”: that is, to launch a tailored, simultaneous development of both agriculture and industry. In recent years, following the collapse of the USSR, an opening towards a market economy has been introduced both there and in China, albeit still with strong state control. The Chinese economy is experiencing strong growth. In other states, market economy principles for development have long been followed; for example, India has pursued an import-substituting industrial policy. This encouraged domestic production of goods that might otherwise be imported. To help build it up, the nascent industry was protected from foreign competition. The policy pursued has proved difficult for the locally produced goods to achieve a quality on a par with foreign products at the same price.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and a few other countries have pursued various types of market economy policies that have sought to monetize the world market for their own construction. This has been successful in many places and has been seen as a model that can be used everywhere. However, there are many indications that the great success has been achieved on different, specific preconditions. Thus, for example, Japan had a base in a well-educated but low-paid and disciplined population, an efficient business structure and a national capital. This pattern has been partly to be found in the other high-growth countries, and in the early 1990’s East and South-East Asia became more and more the world’s future economic powerhouse.


Country Capital city Population in million (2001) Area (km2)
Afghanistan Kabul 26.0 652,000
Armenia Yerevan 3.3 29,800
Azerbaijan Baku 7.7 86,600
Bahrain al-Manama 0.6 688
Bangladesh Dhaka 131.2 144,000
Bhutan Thimphu 2.0 47,000
Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan 0.3 5770
Burma, in Myanmar
Cambodia Phnom Penh 12.2 181,000
Cyprus Nicosia 0.8 9250
Philippines Manila 82.8 300,000
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi 2.4 83,600
Georgia Tbilisi 5.0 69,700
Hong Kong (British Int. 1997) Victoria 6.8 1050
India Delhi 1014.0 3,170,000
Indonesia Jakarta 224.8 1,920,000
Iraq Baghdad 23.3 438,300
Iran Tehran 66.1 1,650,000
Israel Jerusalem 5.8 21,900
Japan Tokyo 126.5 378,000
Jordan Amman 5.2 97,700
Kazakhstan Alma Ata 16.7 2,720,000
China Beijing 1261.8 9,560,000
Kyrgyzstan Bishkek 4.7 199,000
Kuwait Kuwait 2.0 17,800
Laos Vientiane 5.6 237,000
Lebanon Beirut 3.6 10,400
Macao (Port. Int. 1999) 0.4 17
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 21.8 329,760
Maldives Paint 0.3 298
Mongolia Ulan Bator 2.7 1,570,000
Myanmar (Burma) Rangoon 42.0 677,000
Nepal Kathmandu 25.3 141,000
North Korea Pyongyang 22.0 121,000
Oman Muscat 2.5 212,000
Pakistan Islamabad 141.6 804,000
Russia, see under Europe
Qatar Doha 0.7 11,000
Saudi Arabia al-Riyadh 17.0 2,240,000
Singapore Singapore 4.0 626
Sri Lanka Colombo 18.3 65,600
South Korea Seoul 46.1 99,000
Syria Damascus 16.7 185,000
Tajikistan Dusjanbe 6.4 143,000
Taiwan Taipei 22.2 36,000
Thailand Bangkok 60.6 513,000
Turkmenistan Ashgabat 4.5 488,000
Turkey Ankara 66.5 779,000
Uzbekistan Tashkent 24.0 447,000
Vietnam Hanoi 78.0 332,000
Yemen Sana 17.5 531,000
East Timor Dili 0.9 14,600
Asia Total 3670.0 31,759,092