Asia - Physical Features
• Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, covering approximately 30 percent of the Earth’s land area. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe. The border between the two continents is debated. However, most geographers define Asia’s western border as an indirect line that follows the Ural Mountains, the Caucasus Mountains, and the Caspian and Black Seas.
• Asia can be divided into five major physical regions: Northern Lowlands; mountain systems; plateaus; plains or great river valleys; and islands.
a. The Northern Lowlands comprises of Siberian plains, and Turan plains. Siberian plains are the greatest continuous lowlands in the world. These plains are drained by the Ob, Yenisei and Lena rivers. Turan plain is the lowland area around the Aral Sea. It is drained by Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers. It is an area of inland drainage. An inland drainage is that drainage in which rivers do not reach an ocean or sea but empty their waters in a lake or an inland sea.
b. Central Mountain Belt comprises of different mountain ranges radiating from the Pamir Knot. It is a complex system of fold mountains and plateaus. Central Mountain Belt is the core of the mid-world mountain belt. Some mountain ranges originating from the Pamir Knot are the Himalayas, Tien Shan, Karakoram, Sulaiman, Kunlun and Hindu Kush.
• The Southern Plateaus lie to the south of the Central Mountain Belt. They are made up of very old, hard, crystalline rocks. Southern Plateaus lie to the south of the Central Mountain Belt. They are made up of very old, hard, crystalline rocks. There are three plateaus in this group.
a. Plateau of Arabia: It has a steep slope along Red Sea in west and slopes gently north-eastwards. This is a dry region as there are no rivers.
c. Plateau of Peninsular India: It rises steeply along the Arabian Sea; forming the Western Ghats. It is higher in the west and slopes towards east. Some important rivers of this plateau are Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri.
d. Plateau of Shan and Yunnan: This plateau lies in the Shan state of Myanmar and the Yunnan state of China. It has a steep slope along the western edge.
• The Great River Valleys are the most important regions of Asia. They are made up of vast stretches of fertile alluvial plains. They are also amongst the most thickly populated regions of the world. Some of these river valleys of Asia are the Valley of Tigris-Euphrates, the Valley of Indus, the Valley of Ganga-Brahmaputra, and the Valley of Hwang Ho, Yangtze, and Sikiang.
• Most of the island groups of Asia are the un-submerged parts of fold mountains. Some of the islands located in Asia are the Kurile Islands, Taiwan, Islands of Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.