People and Economy

  • China and India are the only countries in the world with more than one billion people each, which accounts for 37% of the world’s population.
  • China is the second largest nominal GDP economy in the world.
  • Even though there has been progress in poverty reduction, mainly in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, countries such as India, Bangladesh and Nepal still have more than 40% of population living on less than the USD 1.25 a day.
  • About 20% of Asia’s population lacks access to safe drinking water.
  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2008, China and Indonesia were the largest and the third largest fishery production countries in the world. In 2008, China also accounted for 62% of the world’s aquaculture production, followed by India, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh.


  • Asia has five of the 17 mega-diverse countries of the world: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
  • Asia has some of the major river basins of the world which were the basis for historical civilizations, Indus, Hwangho, Yangtze, Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, Mekong, Irrawaddy-Salween among others. The Yangtze River, which is 6,397km long, is the longest in Asia and the third longest in the world.
  • Asia has the highest mountains in the world: the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, the Karakoram and the Tien Shan, ranging from Mount Everest at 8,848m to Saser Kagri at 7,513m. Forty-nine highest mountains in the world are found in Asia.
  • As much as 0.7 million hectares of Asia’s forests were lost between 1990 and 2000. However between 2000 and 2005 there has been an increase of 2.3 million hectares annually.
  • Asia Pacific total forest cover is estimated at 740 million hectares. Of this China, Indonesia and India account for 51% while Japan, Lao PDR, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia collectively account for 15% of Asia’s forests. However, South Asia with 23% of the world’s population has only 2% of the world’s forests, that is 0.05 hectares per capita.
  • In the Mekong region itself, 163 new species were discovered in 2008. A new species of Macaque, Arunachal Macaque was discovered in Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India in 2004.