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Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.6% of the Earth's total surface area (or 29.9% of its land area) and with approximately four billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population. During the 20th century Asia's population nearly quadrupled.
Asia is traditionally defined as part of the landmass of Eurasia -- with the western portion of the latter occupied by Europe -- located to the east of the Suez Canal, east of the Ural Mountains and south of the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian and Black Seas. It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean. Given the size and diversity, Asia is more a cultural concept incorporating a number of regions and peoples than a homogeneous physical entity. Furthermore, the rather arbitrary separation between Asia and Europe reveals the euro-centric and racially based nature of the concept of continents; where Europe is inhabited only by Caucasians and Asia inhabited by a heterogeneous group of 'others.'
The wealth of Asia differs very widely among and within its regions, due to its vast size and huge range of different cultures, environments, historical ties and government systems. In terms of nominal GDP, Japan has the largest economy on the continent and the second largest int he world. In purchasing power parity terms, however, China has the largest economy in Asia and the second largest in the world.
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