East Asia, alternately Northeast Asia, is the eastern subregion of Asia, defined in both geographical and ethno-cultural terms. North Asia borders East Asia's north, Southeast Asia the south, South Asia the southwest, and Central Asia the west. To the east is the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast is Micronesia (a Pacific Ocean island group, classified as part of Oceania).
东亚/東亞 (in Chinese)
東アジア (in Japanese)
동아시아 (in Korean)
Дорнод Ази/ᠳᠣᠷᠣᠨᠠᠲᠤ ᠠᠽᠢᠶᠠ (in Mongolian)
|• Total||11,839,074 km2 (4,571,092 sq mi)|
|• Rank||2nd (World)|
|Languages and language families|
|GDP (Nominal)||US$20.8 trillion|
|Vietnamese alphabet||Đông Á|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Зүүн Ази |
States of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Chinese special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The East Asian states China, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan are all unrecognized by at least one other East Asian state. Hong Kong and Macau are officially highly autonomous but are under effective Chinese sovereignty.
East Asia has historically been the cradle of several ancient advanced civilizations such as ancient China, ancient Japan, ancient Korea, and the Mongol Empire. Major religions in East Asia include Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism. Major languages in East Asia include Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Major ethnic groups of East Asia include the Han (Chinese), Yamato Japanese, and Koreans. There are 17 officially-recognized indigenous (minority) ethnic groups in East Asia; 16 native to the island of Taiwan (collectively Taiwanese indigenous peoples) and one native to the major Japanese island of Hokkaido (the Ainu).
East Asians comprise around 1.7 billion people, making up about 38% of the population in Continental Asia and 22% of the global population. The region is home to major world metropolises such as Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, and Osaka. Although the coastal and riparian areas of the region form one of the world's most populated places, the population in Mongolia and Western China, both landlocked areas, is very sparsely distributed.
China already possessed an advanced civilization nearly 1500+ years before its East Asian neighbors (c. 2000 BC) and through various Chinese dynasties has exerted cultural, economic, technological, political, and military influence across East Asia up to the present. For many centuries, especially between the 7-14th centuries, China stood as East Asia's most advanced civilization, commanding influence across the region up until the early modern period.
China became the first literate nation in East Asia and has also provided Japan, Vietnam, and Korea with many loanwords and linguistic influences rooted in their writing systems (see Chinese characters). From around 200 BC to 200 AD, the Han dynasty hosted the largest unified population in East Asia, the most literate and urbanized as well as being the most technologically and culturally advanced civilization in the region. And China has always been the most populous epicenter in East Asia as well.
China's impact and influence on Korea began with the Han dynasty's northeastern expansion in 108 BC when the Han Chinese conquered the northern part of the Korean peninsula and established a province called Lelang. Chinese influence would soon take root in Korea through the inclusion of the Chinese writing system, monetary system, rice culture, and Confucian political institutions.
Jōmon society in ancient Japan incorporated wet-rice cultivation and metallurgy through its contact with Korea.
Vietnamese society was greatly impacted by Chinese influence, the northern part of Vietnam was occupied by Chinese empires and states for almost all of the period from 111 BC to 938 AD. In addition to administration, and making Chinese the language of administration, the long period of Chinese domination introduced Chinese techniques of dike construction, rice cultivation, and animal husbandry.
Chinese culture, having been established among the elite mandarin class, remained the dominant current among that elite for most of the next 1,000 years (939-1870s) until the temporary loss of independence under French Indochina. This cultural affiliation to China remained true even when militarily defending Vietnam against attempted invasion, such as against the Mongol Kublai Khan. The only significant exceptions to this were the 7 years of the strongly anti-Chinese Hồ dynasty which banned the use of Chinese (among other actions triggering the fourth Chinese invasion), but then after the expulsion of the Ming the rise in vernacular chữ nôm literature.
As full-fledged medieval East Asian states were established (Korea by 4th century AD and Japan by the 7th century AD), Korea, Japan, and Vietnam actively began to incorporate Chinese cultural and religious influences such as the Chinese language, Classical Chinese in administration, written Han characters, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism (introduced from India via China), Chinese style architecture, state institutions, political philosophies like legalism, music, urban planning, and various scientific and technological methods into their culture and society through direct contacts with succeeding Chinese dynasties. (See East Asian cultural sphere.)
The Imperial Chinese tributary system shaped much of East Asia's history for over two millennia due to Imperial China's economic and cultural influence over the region, and thus played a huge role in the history of East Asia in particular.
The end of the 19th century to present
As East Asia's connections with Europe and the Western world strengthened during the late 19th century, China's power began to decline. U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry forced Japan to open up. After the 1860s, Japan modernized rapidly with the Meiji Restoration, transforming itself from an isolated feudal samurai state into East Asia's first industrialized nation.
By the early 1900s, the Japanese empire succeeded in asserting itself as East Asia's first modern power. Japan defeated the stagnant Qing dynasty during the First Sino-Japanese War, thereafter annexing Korea and Taiwan from China.
In 1905 Japan also vanquished its imperial rival Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. It was the first major military victory in the modern era of an East Asian power over a European one and shocked the West.
In prelude to WW2, Japan launched an invasion of mainland China in the Second Sino-Japanese War. It annexed Manchuria and absorbed more and more of the eastern coast, committing atrocities like Unit 731 and Nanjing Massacre along the way.
Japan's ultimate imperial dream was the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, which would incorporate Korea, Taiwan, much of eastern China and Manchuria, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia under its hegemonic control, establishing itself as a maritime colonial power in East Asia.
In his 2009 book When China Rules the World, Martin Jacques says that Japan is currently a vassal state of the US, since Japan has no right to wage war and relies on the US military. He also refers to South Korea and Taiwan as vassals of the US.
During the latter half of the twentieth century, Japan has experienced a post war economic miracle. South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan have emerged as Tiger economies. China opened up, entered the World Trade Organization, rose to the 2nd largest economy in the world (1st by PPP), and is starting to reclaim its historical status as a regional and world superpower.
Although there were no wars in the region for decades, the stability of the region remains fragile because of North Korea's nuclear program.
China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam are commonly seen as the core encompassed by the East Asian cultural sphere (as opposed to neighboring nations also within East Asia). Sometimes Mongolia is added to this core as well.
CJKV share a common written language, culture, as well as sharing Confucian philosophical tenets and the Confucian societal value system once instituted by Imperial China. Other usages cite geographic proximity as well as historical and modern cultural and economic ties, particularly with Japan and Korea having strong cultural influences that originated from China. Some scholars include Vietnam as part of East Asia as it has been considered part of the greater sphere of Chinese influence, though some classify Vietnam as a Southeast Asian country. Mongolia is geographically north of China yet Confucianism and the Chinese writing system and culture currently have less of an impact in Mongolia's historically nomadic society (however Mongolia was controlled by China during the Han, Tang, and Qing dynasties). Mongolia is sometimes grouped with Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.
Broader and looser definitions by international organizations such as the World Bank refer to the "three major Northeast Asian economies, i.e. China, Japan, and South Korea", as well as Mongolia, North Korea, the Russian Far East and Siberia. The Council on Foreign Relations includes the Russia Far East, Mongolia, and Nepal. The World Bank also acknowledges the roles of sub-national or de facto states, such as Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. The Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia defines the region as "China, Japan, the Koreas, Nepal, Mongolia, and eastern regions of the Russian Federation".
The UNSD division of East Asia is "to obtain greater homogeneity in population, demographic circumstances and accuracy of demographic statistics", but also other common definitions of East Asia contain Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
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). This core is abbreviated as CJKV.
- Singapore - similarly to Vietnam, it is usually considered a part of Southeast Asia geographically. However, they are culturally East Asian. East Asians, specifically the Chinese, make up the ethnic majority of the country's population and a significant plurality adhere to Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, ancestral worship and Chinese folk religion. It is politically related to both Southeast Asia (ASEAN) and East Asia, and its economy is strongly intertwined with other East Asian economies such as mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. It was also one of the Four Asian Tigers.
- Far Eastern Federal District in Russia, including the region known as Outer Manchuria (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)
- Sovereignty issues exist over some territories in the South China Sea.
In business and economics, "East Asia" is sometimes used to refer to a wide geographical area covering ten Southeast Asian countries in ASEAN, Greater China, Japan and Korea. However, in this context, the term "Far East" is used by the Europeans to cover ASEAN countries and the countries in East Asia. However, being a Eurocentric term, 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 East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia as well as Oceania.
Observers preferring a broader definition of "East Asia" often use the term Northeast Asia to refer to the greater China area, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan, with Southeast Asia covering the ten ASEAN countries. This usage, which is seen in economic and diplomatic discussions, is at odds with the historical meanings of both "East Asia" and "Northeast Asia".
|Customs territory||GDP nominal
billions of USD (2017)
|GDP nominal per capita
billions of USD (2017)
|GDP PPP per capita|
Territorial and regional data
|Flag||Common Name||Official Name||ISO 3166 Country Codes|
|Exonym||Endonym||Exonym||Endonym||ISO Short Name||Alpha-2 Code||Alpha-3 Code||Numeric|
|China||中国||People's Republic of China||中华人民共和国||China||CN||CHN||156|
|Hong Kong||香港||Hong Kong Special Administrative Region|
of the People's Republic of China
|Macau||澳門||Macao Special Administrative Region|
of the People's Republic of China
|Japan||日本||State of Japan||日本国||Japan||JP||JPN||392|
|Mongolia||Монгол улс / ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯ|
|North Korea||조선||Democratic People's Republic of Korea||조선민주주의인민공화국 (朝鮮民主主義人民共和國)||Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of)||KP||PRK||408|
|South Korea||한국||Republic of Korea||대한민국 (大韓民國)||Korea (the Republic of)||KR||KOR||410|
|Taiwan||臺灣 / 台灣||Republic of China||中華民國||Taiwan (Province of China)||TW||TWN||158|
|Ethnicity||Native name||Population||Language(s)||Writing system(s)||Major states/territories*||Physical appearance|
|Han/Chinese||漢族 or 汉族||1,260,000,000||Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Hokkien, Hakka, Gan, Hsiang, etc.||Simplified Han characters, Traditional Han characters|
|Yamato/Japanese||大和民族||125,117,000||Japanese||Han characters (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana|
|79,432,225||Korean||Hangul, Han characters (Hanja)|
|Bai||白族||1,858,063||Bai, Southwestern Mandarin||Simplified Han characters, Latin script|
|Hui||回族||10,586,087||Northwestern Mandarin, other Chinese Dialects, Huihui language, etc.||Simplified Han characters|
|8,942,528||Mongolian||Mongol script, Cyrillic script|
|Zhuang||壮族/Bouxcuengh||18,000,000||Zhuang, Southwestern Mandarin, etc.||Simplified Han characters, Latin script|
|Uyghurs||维吾尔族/ئۇيغۇر||15,000,000+||Uighur||Arabic alphabet, Cyrillic script|
|Manchus||满族/ᠮᠠᠨᠵᡠ||10,422,873||Northeastern Mandarin, Manchurian (endangered), etc.||Simplified Han characters, Mongol script|
|Hmong/Miao||苗族/Ghaob Xongb/Hmub/Mongb||9,426,007||Hmong, Southwestern Mandarin||Latin script, Simplified Han characters|
|Tibetans||藏族/བོད་པ་||6,500,000||Tibetan, Rgyal Rong, Rgu, etc.||Tibetan script|
|Yi||彝族/ꆈꌠ||8,714,393||Various Loloish, Southwestern Mandarin||Yi script, Simplified Han characters|
|Tujia||土家族||8,353,912||Northern Tujia, Southern Tujia||Simplified Han characters|
|Kam||侗族/Gaeml||2,879,974||Gaeml||Simplified Han characters, Latin script|
|Tu||土族/Monguor||289,565||Tu, Northwestern Mandarin||Simplified Han characters|
|Daur||达斡尔族/ᠳᠠᠭᠤᠷ||131,992||Daur, Northeastern Mandarin||Mongol script, Simplified Han characters|
|Taiwanese Aborigines||阿美族/Pangcah, etc.||533,600||Austronesian languages (Amis, Yami), etc.||Latin script, Traditional Han characters|
|Han characters (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana|
|Han characters (Kanji), Katakana, Hiragana|
- Note: The order of states/territories follows the population ranking of each ethnicity, within East Asia only.
The culture of East Asia has largely been influenced by China, as it was the civilization that had the most dominant influence in the region throughout the ages that ultimately laid the foundation for East Asian civilization. The vast knowledge and ingenuity of Chinese civilization and the classics of Chinese literature and culture were seen as the foundations for a civilized life in East Asia. Imperial China served as a vehicle through which the adoption of Confucian ethical philosophy, Chinese calendar system, political and legal systems, architectural style, diet, terminology, institutions, religious beliefs, imperial examinations that emphasized a knowledge of Chinese classics, political philosophy and cultural value systems, as well as historically sharing a common writing system reflected in the histories of Japan and Korea. The Imperial Chinese tributary system was the bedrock of network of trade and foreign relations between China and its East Asian tributaries, which helped to shape much of East Asian affairs during the ancient and medieval eras. Through the tributary system, the various dynasties of Imperial China facilitated frequent economic and cultural exchange that influenced the cultures of Japan and Korea and drew them into a Chinese international order. The Imperial Chinese tributary system shaped much of East Asia's foreign policy and trade for over two millennia due to Imperial China's economic and cultural dominance over the region, and thus played a huge role in the history of East Asia in particular. The relationship between China and its cultural influence on East Asia has been compared to the historical influence of Greco-Roman civilization on Europe and the Western World.
|Religion||Native name||Denomination||Major book||Type||Est. Followers||Ethnic groups||States/territories|
|Chinese religion||none, various classifications including 民間信仰, 神教/神道, etc.||Taoism, Confucianism, folk salvationist sects, Wuism, Nuo||Chinese classics, Huangdi Sijing, precious scrolls, etc.||Pantheism/polytheism||~900,000,000||Han, Hmong, Qiang, Tujia (worship of the same ancestor-gods)|
|Taoism||道教||Zhengyi, Quanzhen||Tao Te Ching||Pantheism/polytheism||~20,000,000||Han, Zhuang, Hmong, Yao, Qiang, Tujia|
|East Asian Buddhism||漢傳佛教 or 汉传佛教||Mahayana||Diamond Sutra||Non-God||~300,000,000||Han, Korean, Yamato|
|Tibetan Buddhism||བོད་བརྒྱུད་ནང་བསྟན།||Mahayana||Anuttarayoga Tantra||Non-God||~10,000,000||Tibetans, Manchus, Mongols|
|Shamanism||萨满教 or Бөө мөргөл||N/A||N/A||Polytheism/pantheism||N/A||Manchus, Mongols, Oroqen|
|Shintoism||神道||Shinto sects||Kojiki, Nihon Shoki||Polytheism/pantheism||N/A||Yamato|
|Sindo/Muism||신도 or 무교||Sindo sects||N/A||Polytheism/pantheism||N/A||Korean|
|Ryukyuan religion||琉球神道 or ニライカナイ信仰||N/A||N/A||Polytheism/pantheism||N/A||Ryukyuan|
|Festival||Native Name||Other name||Calendar||Date||Gregorian date||Activity||Religious practices||Food||Major ethnicities||Major states/territories|
|Lunar New Year||春節 or 春节||Spring Festival||Chinese||Month 1 Day 1||21 Jan–20 Feb||Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Fireworks||Worship the King of Gods||Jiaozi||Han, Manchus etc.|
|Korean New Year||설날 or 설||Seollal||Korean||Month 1 Day 1||21 Jan–20 Feb||Ancestors Worship, Family Reunion, Tomb Sweeping||N/A||Tteokguk||Korean|
|Losar or Tsagaan Sar||ལོ་གསར་ or Цагаан сар||White Moon||Tibetan, Mongolian||Month 1 Day 1||25 Jan – 2 Mar||Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Fireworks||N/A||Chhaang or Buuz||Tibetans, Mongols, Tu etc.|
|New Year||元旦||Yuan Dan||Gregorian||1 Jan||1 Jan||Fireworks||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Lantern Festival||元宵節 or 元宵节||Upper Yuan Festival (上元节)||Chinese||Month 1 Day 15||4 Feb – 6 Mar||Lanterns Expo, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping||Birthdate of the God of Sky-officer||Yuanxiao||Han|
|Daeboreum||대보름 or 정월 대보름||Great Full Moon||Korean||Month 1 Day 15||4 Feb – 6 Mar||Greeting of the moon, kite-flying, Jwibulnori, eating nuts (Bureom)||Bonfires (daljip taeugi)||Ogok-bap, namul, nuts||Korean|
|Qingming Festival / Hanshi Festival||清明節 or 清明节 / 寒食節 or 寒食节||Tomb Sweeping Day / Cold Food Festival||Solar||15th day since March equinox / Day 105 after Winter solstice||4–6 April||Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping||Burning Hell money(Only Qingming Festival)||Cold Food||Han, Korean, Mongols|
|Dragon Boat Festival||端午節 or 端午节 or 단오||Duanwu Festival / Dano (Surit-nal)||Chinese / Korean||Month 5 Day 5||Driving poisons & plague away. (China - Dragon Boat Race, Wearing colored lines, Hanging felon herb on the front door.) / (Korea - Washing hair with iris water, ssireum)||Worship various Gods||Zongzi / Surichwitteok (rice cake with herbs)||Han, Korean, Yamato|
|Ghost Festival||中元節 or 中元节 or 백중||Mid Yuan Festival||Chinese||Month 7 Day 15||Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping||Birthdate of the God of Earth-officer||Han, Korean, Yamato|
|Mid-Autumn Festival||中秋節 or 中秋节||中秋祭||Chinese||Month 8 Day 15||Family Reunion, Enjoying Moon view||Worship the Moon Goddess||Mooncake||Han|
|Chuseok||추석 or 한가위||Hangawi||Korean||Month 8 Day 15||Family Reunion, Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping, Enjoying Moon view||N/A||Songpyeon, Torantang (Taro soup)||Korean|
|Double Ninth Festival||重陽節 or 重阳节||Double Positive Festival||Chinese||Month 9 Day 09||Climbing Mountain, Taking care of elderly, Wearing Cornus.||Worship various Gods||Han, Korean, Yamato|
|Lower Yuan Festival||下元節 or 下元节||N/A||Chinese||Month 10 Day 15||Ancestors Worship, Tomb Sweeping||Birthdate of the God of Water-officer||Ciba||Han|
|Dongzhi Festival||冬至 or 동지||N/A||Gregorian||Between Dec 21 and Dec 23||Between Dec 21 and Dec 23||Ancestors Worship, Rites to dispel bad spirits||N/A||Tangyuan, Patjuk||Han, Korean|
|Small New Year||小年||Jizao (祭灶)||Chinese||Month 12 Day 23||Cleaning Houses||Worship the God of Hearth||tanggua||Han, Mongols|
|International Labor Day||N/A||N/A||Gregorian||1 May||1 May||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|International Women's Day||N/A||N/A||Gregorian||8 Mar||8 Mar||Taking care of women||N/A||N/A||N/A||All|
*Japan switched the date to the Gregorian calendar after the Meiji Restoration.
*Not always on that Gregorian date, sometimes April 4.
East Asian Youth Games
Formerly the East Asian Games, it is a multi-sport event organised by the East Asian Games Association (EAGA) and held every four years since 2019 among athletes from East Asian countries and territories of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), as well as the Pacific island of Guam, which is a member of the Oceania National Olympic Committees.
Free trade agreements
|Name of agreement||Parties||Leaders at the time||Negotiation begins||Signing date||Starting time||Current status|
|China–South Korea FTA||Xi Jinping, Park Geun-hye||May, 2012||Jun 01, 2015||Dec 30, 2015||Enforced|
|China–Japan–South Korea FTA||Xi Jinping, Shinzō Abe, Park Geun-hye||Mar 26, 2013||N/A||N/A||10 round negotiation|
|Japan-Mongolia EPA||Shinzō Abe, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj||-||Feb 10, 2015||-||Enforced|
|China-Mongolia FTA||Xi Jinping, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj||N/A||N/A||N/A||Officially proposed|
|China-HK CEPA||Jiang Zemin, Tung Chee-hwa||-||Jun 29, 2003||-||Enforced|
|China-Macau CEPA||Jiang Zemin, Edmund Ho Hau-wah||-||Oct 18, 2003||-||Enforced|
|Hong Kong-Macau CEPA||Carrie Lam, Fernando Chui||Oct 09, 2015||N/A||N/A||Negotiating|
|ECFA||Hu Jintao, Ma Ying-jeou||Jan 26, 2010||Jun 29, 2010||Aug 17, 2010||Enforced|
|CSSTA (Based on ECFA)||Xi Jinping, Ma Ying-jeou||Mar, 2011||Jun 21, 2013||N/A||Abolished|
|CSGTA (Based on ECFA)||Hu Jintao, Ma Ying-jeou||Feb 22, 2011||N/A||N/A||Suspended|
|Name||Abbr.||Parties within the region|
|Shanghai Cooperation Organisation||SCO|
|General Security of Military Information Agreement||GSOMIA|
|Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty||-|
|Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan||-|
|Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea||-|
|Taiwan Relations Act (Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty before 1980)||TRA (SAMDT)|
|Major non-NATO ally (Global Partners of NATO)||-|
Cities and towns
- A state is a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory. The population on the Taiwan Island and the Penghu Islands is governed by an effective government to the exclusion of others, but the political status is dispute.
- The area figure is based on the combined areas of Greater China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan as listed at List of countries and dependencies by area.
- The population figure is the combined populations of Greater China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Japan as listed at the 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects.
- listed as "Taiwan Province of China" by the IMF
- Includes all area which under PRC's government control (excluding "South Tibet" and disputed islands).
- A note by the United Nations: "For statistical purposes, the data for China do not include Hong Kong and Macao, Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China, and Taiwan Province of China."
- The Hui people also use the Arabic alphabet in the religious field.
- The Khotons also in
- almost Manchu, Mongolian
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