Asia is the largest continent. It is almost entirely in the northern hemisphere, with only a few southern islands crossing the equator. Asia is bounded by Europe to the west, the Arctic Ocean to to north, the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Indian Ocean to the south. Many of the largest and most populous countries in the world are in Asia; China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and Bangladesh all have populations over 100 million.
Asia's contribution to culture and thought is immense. All of the major religions were born in various parts of Asia, and great advances in mathematics and philosophy were made in Asia. China developed paper money and printing. Sri Lanka perfected steelmaking by 300BC. The Middle East is the cradle of civilisation; the first cities in the world were built there, the first writing systems developed there and it was an early centre of agriculture.