Asia History

Gunpowder Empires

The centuries after 1500 in most of Asia were characterized by a fairly high degree of stability. The Middle East and India were ruled by the three “gunpowder empires”, the Ottoman Empire, the Safa Empire in Persia, and the Great Mughal Empire in India. In China, the Ming Dynasty of 1644 was replaced by a nomadic dynasty, Manchu, who adopted the Chinese name of Qing and, despite its origins in the steppe country, relied heavily on the Chinese tradition. Japan and Korea also stabilized; the same was true of many internal struggles in SE Asia, where most of the states found on the modern world map – such as Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – were finding their shape. The largest changes occurred in northern and central Asia. In the north, Russia extended during the 1600s. its dominion to the Pacific beyond the sparsely populated forest belt north of the steppe and attacked Central Asia from the west, while at the same time from the east China extended its dominion over Xinjiang, Mongolia and Tibet. In Manchuria the two kingdoms came into contact with each other, and with the Treaty of Nerchinsky 1689, the first treaty between China and a European state, the boundary relations between the two empires were settled.

For reasons not yet known, the three “gunpowder” weakened in the early 1700s. This became particularly significant for India, where from the middle of the century the English East India Company managed to acquire tax collection rights over some of the richest areas. The dominion of India, which was transferred to the English crown in 1858, became the starting point for the building of an English empire in Asia, first emulated by the Dutch in Indonesia and in the last decades of France by “Indochina”, the easternmost part of Southeast Asia..

Europe’s mass production of industrial goods created from the early 1800s. need for new markets and access to more raw materials. Asia was involved in the fast-growing world trade, and Europe’s technological superiority in the 1800s. made Asian conquests “cheap”. The changes in the economic and political conditions that came to Asia across the sea prompted some of the most radical changes in the history of Asian cultures. Both the states that formally retained their independence, such as China, Iran, Japan and the Ottoman Empire, and the European colonial areas adopted and adapted to European technology, legal norms and cultural features, albeit always in a complicated interaction with older cultural layers.

Asia Beautiful Places 22

After 1945

The era of direct European imperialism ended after World War II and was almost as short as the Mongol storm in the 1200s, but contemporary Asia is embedded in the modern world in a way that makes it more than ever impossible to speak of a particular Asian history. Postwar political history was long linked to the Cold War, but other lines of development are likely to be of greater importance in the longer term. Economic development plays a central role in political objectives everywhere. Early implemented in Japan, but also for example in Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea, China and India, modern industrial cultures have been developed, but rarely as copies of Western industrial societies. The involvement of the modern world market, the membership of the modern state society, the close contact with international ideas flows seem to be indispensable facts in contemporary Asia. It has led to profound changes, but everywhere in an original interplay with older historical layers and not as mechanical reproduction of Western models. Extremes such as religious fundamentalism and ultra-modern urban environments occur in the early 2000s. most conspicuous, but between the traditional and the modern, the slow development and adaptation of the millennium continues.

Politically, South Asia has been marked by the protracted conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Pakistan also played a strategic key role in the US-led coalition against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

In the Middle East, terrorism and oil resources – along with the collapsed peace process between Israel and the Palestinians – have had a major impact on development. According to, a number of countries in the Arab world have had to carry out a severe balancing act between, on the one hand, the interests of American interests, including the 2001 US-led “war on terror” and, on the other, pressure from disgruntled populations.

Asia Beautiful Places 21

Country Number of residents Population
Afghanistan 38 041 754 (2019) pashtuner about 50%; minorities of Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Turkmens, Aimakers and others
Bahrain 1 641 172 (2019) Arabs in clear majority
Bangladesh 163 046 161 (2019) Bengals 98%, Bihars 1%, others 1%
Bhutan 763 092 (2019) ngalong and sharchop 50-55%, lhotshampa 25-35%, others 10-15%
Brunei 433 285 (2019) Malays 66%, Chinese 10%, indigenous peoples 24% (official estimate 2018) 2
Burma 54 045 420 (2019) Burmese 68 percent, Shan 9 percent, Karen (kayin) 7 percent, Arakanes (Rakhine) 4 percent, Chinese 3 percent, Indians 2 percent, Mon 2 percent, the other 5 percent
Philippines 108 116 615 (2019) the majority of the population is mainly of malay origin, chinese minority, various small tribes and more
United Arab Emirates 9 770 529 (2019) small proportion of Arabs with citizenship
India 1366 417 754 (2019) Indo-Europeans, Dravidians, Munda peoples, Tibetan Burmese peoples
Indonesia 270,625,568 (2019) large majority of Malay people (largest groups are Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese); minorities of, for example, Papuan, Micronesian and Melanesian peoples and Chinese
Iraq 39 309 783 (2019) Arabs just over 75%, Kurds just under 20%, in addition Turkmens, Assyrians-Syrians, etc.
Iran 82 913 906 (2019) Persians about 50%, Azeris (Azerbaijanis) about 25%, Kurds about 10%, Baluchs, Turkmens, Arabs
Israel 9 053 300 (2019) Jews 74 percent, Arabs (Muslims and Christians) 21 percent, the other 5 percent (2020)
Japan 126 264 931 (2019) Japanese just over 98%, others just under 2%
Yemen 29 161 922 (2019) Arabs and small minorities of Indians, Somalis and akhdam (black Yemenis)
Jordan 10 101 694 (2019) Arabs (of which about 60% are Palestinians)
Cambodia 16 486 542 (2019) Khmer about 90%; small groups of Vietnamese, Chinese, Cham and others
Kazakhstan 18,513,930 (2019) Kazakhs 68.0%, Russians 19.3%, Uzbeks 3.2%, Ukrainians 1.5%, Uighurs 1.5%, Tatars 1.1%, Germans 1.0%, others 4.5% (official estimate 2019)
China 1397 715 000 (2019) he (actual Chinese) 92%, minority people 8%
Kyrgyzstan 6,456,900 (2019) Kyrgyz 73%, Uzbeks 15%, Russians 6%, others 6% (official estimate 2018)
Kuwait 4 207 083 (2019) Kuwaiti 31%, other Arabs 28%, Asians 38%, others 3% (estimate 2013)
Laos 7 169 455 (2019) lowland Laotians 60–68%, inland Laotians 22–27%, highland Laotians 9–13%; small Chinese and Vietnamese minorities
Lebanon 6 855 713 (2019) araber 95%
Malaysia 31,949,777 (2019) bumiputra 62% (mainly Malays but also Dajaks and other indigenous peoples), Chinese 20%, Indians 6%, other 12% (UN estimate 2019)
Maldives 530 953 (2019) The Maldives have mixed origins (originating mainly from South Indians, Sinhalese and Arabs)
Mongolia 3 225 167 (2019) Chalcha-Mongols dominate, other Mongolian-speaking peoples, Kazakhs, Russians, Chinese, Buryats, Tuvins, Uzbeks, Uighurs, etc.
Nepal 28,608,710 (2019) over 100 ethnic groups defined by ethnicity / caste
Oman 4 974 986 (2019) Omani Arabs about 50%, Persians, Baluchs, East Africans
Pakistan 216 565 318 (2019) punjaber, pashtuner, sindhier, saraikier, mohajirer, balucher m fl
Qatar 2 832 067 (2019) Arabs 40%, Pakistanis 18%, Indians 18%, Iranians 10%, others 14% (2010 estimate)
Saudi Arabia 34 268 528 (2019) Saudi citizens are Arabs, around a third of the population are migrant workers from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa
Singapore 5,703,569 (2019) Chinese 74%, Malays 13%, Indians 9%, other 4% (2018, applies to the 70% of the population who are citizens or have a permanent residence permit)
Sri Lanka 21,803,000 (2019) Sinhalese 75%, Sri Lankan Tamils ​​11%, Muslims 9%, Indian Tamils ​​4%, others 1%
South Korea 51 709 098 (2019) almost 100% Koreans
Syria 17,070,135 (2019) Arabs 85-90%, Kurds 7-10% as well as smaller groups of Armenians, Cherkess, Turkmens and others
Tajikistan 9 321 018 (2019) Tajiks 84.5%, Uzbeks 12%, Kyrgyz 1%, Russians 0.5%, others 2% (2010 census)
Thailand 69 625 582 (2019) Thai people (including Lao); minorities of Chinese, Malays, Khmers and various mountain peoples
Turkmenistan 5,942,089 (2019) large majority of Turkmens, minorities of Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Russians and others
Uzbekistan 33 580 650 (2019) about three-quarters uzbeker; minorities of Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs and more
Vietnam 96 462 106 (2019) viet people (kinh) 86%, over 60 minorities (eg tai, thai, muong, khmer, muong, chinese)
East Timor 1 293 119 (2019) large majority of Austronesian or Papuan origin, minorities of Indonesians and Chinese


Asian power struggle

Politically, after World War II, Asia became trapped between the great powers, the USSR, and the US navy. In 1955, the Indonesian city of Bandung met the leaders of 30 states in Asia and Africa, together representing a majority of the world’s population. They agreed on an alliance-free foreign policy and peaceful coexistence. Their hopes, however, came to shame. Superpower confrontations led to wars in Asia: the Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan wars. In several of the border wars that have occurred between neighbors, superpower interests have been involved. In its competition for influence, the great powers have drawn several of the Asian states into their respective spheres of power by attracting financial assistance, weapons supplies and military pacts. Despite this development, an alliance-free movement has emerged with strong Asian participation, and in addition, some regional cooperation bodies have been formed, e.g. ASEAN and the South Asian SAARC. India, which began a space program in 1962, has been successful with its industrialization and has become a major power on the Indian Ocean. China has taken a political superpower position and blasted an atomic bomb as early as 1964. The balance of power was somewhat disrupted to China’s disadvantage, when first India and then Pakistan openly acknowledged nuclear weapons blasts in 1998 and despite the World Opinion’s condemnation refused to sign the test stoppage agreement. Japan has become a leading economic world power when the expansion of electronics has set aside industrialism’s traditional methods of production. Technical know-how and cheap labor have resulted in strong economic growth. Japan has become a leading economic world power when the expansion of electronics has set aside industrialism’s traditional methods of production. Technical know-how and cheap labor have resulted in strong economic growth. Japan has become a leading economic world power when the expansion of electronics has set aside industrialism’s traditional methods of production. Technical know-how and cheap labor have resulted in strong economic growth.

From the 1960s, economic growth in the world was greatest in the East Asian countries. During the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the first half of the 1990s, Asian economic expansion continued with growth of up to 8-10% in several countries. In 1996, a financial crisis occurred with higher interest rates and reduced export growth, and in 1997 currency and stock market turmoil spread from Thailand to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea. Poorer living conditions triggered political upheavals in Indonesia. Japan was also affected, as most of the foreign capital invested in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore was Japanese.

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