PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY OF ASIA
Asia is located in the north east part of the eastern hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, close to the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea,the Caucasus Mountains, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the west, and next to the Island of Java and to the Indian Ocean to the south, and extends to the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Strait to the east.
Asia is a continent with both the longest coatline and the largest peninsular area in the world. The topographical features in Asia are characterized by the strongly undulate ground, high mountains and steep cliffs in the central part, and the mountainous regions, plateau, and hilly lands account for about three quarters of the whole Asian continental area.Asia, with an average elevation of 950m is the highest continent except Antarctica in the world. The Qinghai-Xizang(Tibet)Plateau is called"the roof of the world." A series of high mountains extend from the Pamirs on all sides, with the Himalayas being the highest. There are many extensive areas of plateauand basins between every two high mountains. The vast plains are distributed outside the mountainous regions and plateaus. There are many famous peaks in Asia. Within the world, there are fourteen peaks at an altitude of more than 8,000m above sea level, all distributed in the regions of Karakorum and Himalayas, including the highest peak in the world Qomolangma Feng (Mt. Everest, alt.8,848m).
The lowest land on Earth (surface 394m below sea level), is the Dead Sea (Salt Lake, c.1,010 sq. km), also located in Asia between Israel and Jordan. Many long rivers of Asia rise in the central mountainous regions and flow respectively to the Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans. The longest river of Asia is the Yangtze River in China, flowing c. 6,300km from Xizang (Tibet) to the East China Sea; then the Yellow River, flowing c. 5,464 km to the Gulf of Bo Hai in China; and the Mekong River, flowing c. 4,500km from China to the South China Sea through the vast Mekong Delta in S. Vietnam.
The continental rivers are mainly located in the central and western parts of Asia. The longest continental river of Asia is Arnu Darya in central Asia, flowing c. 2,575km along the Tajik-Afghanistan border to the South Aral Sea; then the Syr Darya, rising in the Mt.Tian shan and flowing c. 2,220km NW into the Aral Sea and the Tarim, flowing c. 2,092km east to Lop Nur. Baikal of SE Siberia, which is the largest fresh-water lake in Asia and the deepest in the world.
Asia extends from the frigid and temperate to the desert zones; the climate is complicated and diverse. The northern coastal areas belong to the tundra. Most areas of Siberia belong to the temperate coniferous forest zone. The temperate latitude areas adjacent to the Pacific Ocean in the eastern parts have a monsoon climate, with a transition to a subtrop ical forest climate southwards. SE and S Asia mainly have a tropical grassland climate, but in the vicinity of the equator became part of the tropical rain forest climate zone. Most areas of central and western Asia has a desert and steppe climate. The Mediterranean coast of western Asia has a subtropical Mediterranean climate. The lowest record of the abslute air temperature in the Oymiakon of eastern Siberia (142 E. long., 62＜N. lat.) was -71≧, the lowest air temperature in the Northern Hemisphere. Approximately 20% of Asia is covered with forests, and, with an average elevation of 950m, is of great importance for the Umbilicariaceae.