May marks the start of AAPI Heritage Month. Those letters stand for “Asian American and Pacific Islander.” That term includes about 25 million people in the United States. All those people had from Asia or a Pacific Island. That covers a huge area of land!
Asia is the largest continent on the planet. And there are thousands of Pacific Islands that stretch across the Earth’s biggest ocean. Someone with AAPI heritage could come from more than 60 countries! Read on to learn about this wide-ranging region.
Oceans surround Asia on three sides. To the south is the Indian Ocean. To the east is the Pacific Ocean. To the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Asia’s border with Europe to the west is less clear. A few countries, such as Russia and Turkey, cross into both continents!
Asia is home to the tallest mountain on the planet. Mount Everest stands 29,031 feet (8,848 m) tall between China and Nepal. The lowest spot on the Earth’s surface is also in Asia. That’s the Dead Sea. It sits 1,412 feet (430 m) below sea level.
The same process created both Mount Everest and the Dead Sea. That’s the movement of . As these plates slowly shift under the Earth’s surface, they sometimes smash into each other. The Indian Plate is pushing north into the rest of Asia, forcing mountains to rise. That formed the Himalayan Mountains — including Mount Everest. As two plates move apart, parts of the crust sink. That formed the Dead Sea.
As you might expect, the Himalayas are home to the highest country. That’s Bhutan, with an average elevation of 10,761 feet (3,280 m). The lowest country is in Asia too. That’s the island nation of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Its average elevation is just 5 feet (1.5 m) above sea level!
Some experts split Asia into six regions. These are North Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
The Pacific Islands
More than 20,000 islands stretch across the Pacific Ocean. They include Asian nations such as New Zealand and Fiji. The group also includes islands that belong to other countries. For example, Hawaii and Guam are part of the United States.
Experts separate these islands into three regions. Those are Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Melanesia is northeast of Australia. Micronesia sits north of Melanesia. Polynesia forms a triangle-like shape to the east of Melanesia and Micronesia. The islands in this area are often far apart.
As you can tell, AAPI Heritage Month recognizes people who come from lots of places! Learning about that geography doesn’t just help us understand the world. It’s one way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month!
Updated April 28, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Hannah Marcum