East Asia

East Asia
States and territories
Capital cities
Major cities
 • Total 11,839,074 km2 (4,571,092 sq mi)
 • Total 1,601,709,712
 • Density 140/km2 (350/sq mi)
Time zone
  • UTC +7:00 (Western Mongolia)
  • UTC +8:00 (Rest of Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong)
  • UTC +8:30 (North Korea)
  • UTC +9:00 (Japan and South Korea)
Languages and language families
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 or Eastern Asia is the eastern subregion of the Eurasian continent, which can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms. Geographically and geopolitically, it covers about 12,000,000 km2 (4,600,000 sq mi), or about 28% of the Asian continent, about 15% bigger than the area of Europe.

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. The region is one of the world's most populated places, with a population density of 133 inhabitants per square kilometre (340/sq mi), being about three times the world average of 45/km2 (120/sq mi), although Mongolia has the lowest population density of a sovereign state. Using the UN subregion definitions, East Asia ranks second in population only to Southern Asia.

Historically, many 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. Sometimes Northeast Asia is used to denote Japan and Korea. Major religions include Buddhism (mostly Mahayana), Confucianism or Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese folk religion in China and Taiwan, Shinto in Japan, Shamanism in Korea, Mongolia and other indigenous populations of northern East Asia, and recently Christianity in South Korea. The Chinese Calendar is the root from which many other East Asian calendars are derived.


    The history of East Asia is predominantly the history of the Chinese Dynasties that dominated the region in matters of trade as well as militarily, such as the Qin and the Han Dynasties. 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 WWII, Korea, Taiwan, Eastern China, and Vietnam fell under Japanese control. Following Japan's defeat in the war, the Korean peninsula became independent, while Taiwan became part of the Republic of China.

    Uses of the term East Asia

    UNSD geoscheme for Asia based on statistic convenience rather than implying any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories:
      East Asia

    The UNSD definition of Eastern Asia purely based on statistical convenience, but also other common definitions of East Asia contain the entirety of China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan.

    Culturally, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam are commonly seen as being encompassed by cultural East Asia.

    Alternative definitions

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

    • Vietnam (officially part of Southeast Asia geographically, although culturally it is a part of the East Asian cultural sphere, politically, it is related to both Southeast Asia and East Asia)
    • Siberia in Russia (often described as North Asia due to its location, although this part of Russia is often seen as more closely related to its East Asian neighbours)
    • Outer Manchuria in Russia (also known as Priamurye) - this part of Russia was ruled by the Chinese Qing dynasty until the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Peking in 1860, when the Sino-Russian border was realigned on the Amur and Ussuri rivers in Russia's favour. In contrast to Siberia it has a humid continental climate.
    • Sovereignty issues exist over some territories in the South China Sea. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, the three disputed regions or states claimed by China, are considered as part of the Southeast Asia in some occasions, especially by the local people.[]
    • For the purposes of recording plant distributions, the World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions uses a much smaller area, consisting only of Japan, Korea and Taiwan, plus some associated islands.

    In business and economics, East Asia has been used to refer to a wide geographical area covering ten countries in ASEAN, People's Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, in this context, the term "Far East" is often more appropriate which covers ASEAN countries and the traditional countries in East Asia. 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 the Far East region as well as Oceania.

    In contrast to the United Nations definition, East Asia commonly is used to refer to the eastern part of Asia, as the term implies. Observers preferring a broader definition of 'East Asia' often use the term Northeast Asia to refer to the greater China area, the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, and Japan, with Southeast Asia covering the ten ASEAN countries. This usage, which is increasingly widespread in economic and diplomatic discussion, is at odds with the historical meanings of both "East Asia" and "Northeast Asia". The Council on Foreign Relations defines Northeast Asia as Japan and Korea.

    Territory and region data


    Area km² Population Population density
    per km²
    HDI (2014) Capital
     China 9,640,011 1,373,000,000 138 0.719 Beijing
     Hong Kong 1,104 7,298,600 6,390 0.891 Hong Kong
     Japan 377,930 126,890,000 337 0.890 Tokyo
     Macau 30 642,900 18,662 0.868 (2012) Macau
     Mongolia 1,564,100 3,041,648 2 0.698 Ulaanbaatar
     North Korea 120,538 25,155,000 198 N/A Pyongyang
     South Korea 100,210 51,482,816 500 0.891 Seoul
     Taiwan 36,188 23,468,748 639 0.882 (2014) Taipei


    GDP nominal
    millions of USD (2015)
    GDP nominal per capita
    USD (2015)
    millions of USD (2015)
    GDP PPP per capita
    USD (2015)
     China 11,384,763 8,280 19,509,983 14,189
     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
     Taiwan 518,816 22,082 1,113,792 47,407


    The culture of East Asia has been influenced by the civilization of northern China. East Asia shares a Confucian ethical philosophy, Buddhism, political and legal structures, and historically a common writing system. The relationship between Northern China and East Asia has been compared to the historical influence of Greco-Roman civilization on Europe.


    Play media
    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