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Explain how the following five factors have influenced settlement and the economies of major Central and South Asian countries.

A. absolute and relative locations
Central Asia
Central Asia

B. climate
C. major physical characteristics
D. major natural resources
E. population size

Central Asian countries:
  • Kazakhstan: Link to Special Topic Page: Oil in Central Asia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
South Asian countries
South Asian countries

South Asian countries:

Key definitions:

- absolute and relative locations: absolute location is the coordinates of a place on longitude and latitude; relative location is where a place is in comparison with landmarks, or other places.

- climate: repeated weather patterns in a certain location

- major physical characteristics: features of the terrain, like mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts…etc.

- major natural resources: parts of nature used by people, such as water, oil, trees, minerals, etc.

- population size: how many people live in a place

the top 5 most populated nations are:
1. China
2. India
3. United States
4. Indonesia
5. Brazil

Geographic factors, and the economies and settlement of central and south Asia:

To fully analyze the economic systems and settlement patterns of this entire region would require an entire web site, or four. Exploring the variety of economic systems and histories in this region could make a very good geography unit in the classroom. For now, here is a general overview:

A. Absolute and relative locations

  • India and Pakistan are in such advantageous relative locations for trade that they were first occupied by a corporation: the East India Trading Company.
  • This company turned over control of the country to the British government when controlling the vast region became too much for the mercenaries employed by the company.
  • Aside from the Dole company owning whole islands in Hawaii, it could be the only example worldwide of a private company taking over a nation and instituting itself as a governing body.

Also, the republics of central Asia were so close to the Russian nation that they were subsumed in order to further expand that empire.

india-map.gif 84.jpg

B. Climate

  • Southern Asia is considered warm, except in the mountains.
  • The climate is cold in the mountainous areas.
  • Both India and its neighbors are very warm, often tropical, but also in the high terrain of the Himalayas has temperate climates, leading to the highest frigid peaks.
  • India and Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon, are major producers of tea because of the temperate climate.
  • Climate change is having a large effect on South Asia
    • Crops could decrease by 30% by the mid 21st century, the Himalayas are experiencing glacier melting that causes floods, etc.
    • Click here to read more about it and the effects of climate change on the people of South Asia

  • Central Asia covers a large area, so the climate can vary from place to place.
  • The central Asian republics are mountainous, with four seasons, getting quite cold in winter.
  • However, many of the countries also have desert areas: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
  • The steppes are also part of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, meaning they have a grassland climate.
  • Central and northern Kazakhstan, eastern Uzbekistan, central Kyrgyzstan and nearly all of Tajikistan are considered humid areas.
  • They receive more than 20 inches annually than all other areas of Central Asia.

Link here for a more detailed look at the varying climate of Central Asia.

Delhi: The World's Most Polluted City

C. Major physical characteristics

Southern Asia:
  • The Ganges River, running across India and Bangladesh, provide lush rich soil for agriculture, a spiritual focus for Hindus, who worship the river as one of the gods, and is also a major transportation route.
  • On the flip side, frequent floods do a great deal of damage on a regular basis, especially in Bangladesh, which cups the Ganges River delta.
  • Over development in the delta region has led to thousands of deaths in Bangladesh from flooding.

  • The Indian Ocean has been a major trade hub since ancient times, when Chinese traders visited India and the Somali Empire on the East African coast on trade missions.
    • It remains a major trade corridor today.
  • Two things have resurfaced in the ocean in the past decade that probably would have been familiar to those ancient traders: huge storms, and pirates.
  • An underwater earthquake in 2004 sent a huge tidal wave, or tsunami, crashing across the Indian Ocean, causing huge damages in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and any other land mass in its path.
    • Click here for more information on the tsunami
  • More recently, pirates off the Somali coast are getting more and more active and bold--taking control of ships loaded with weapons and taking hostages.
  • The rise in piracy has been attributed to the collapse of the Somalian government and economy; and former fishermen who know the waters well are taking to piracy to earn their fortunes.
  • Both of these aspects of the Indian Ocean are barriers to trade and impede economic progress in the region.

Central Asia:
Is characterized by its snow-capped mountains and sweeping high-elevation grasslands, or steppes.
external image Regional_Map.jpg
  • Tien Shan is a mountain range that separates Kyrgyzstan and China.
  • The name means "Celestial Mountains" in Chinese
  • Many different ethnic groups live on the borders of the mountains
    • Kyrgyz, Uighur, Mongols, etc
  • Also home to refugees who fled their homeland in times of civil disobedience
  • The area provides many natural resources
    • For example, there is petroleum, natural gas, coal
  • Click here for more information

  • Eurasian Steppe goes across Central Asia
  • Extends about 5,000 miles
  • Consists of grasslands
  • Also contains rivers and streams
  • This area allowed nomads to travel easier than across mountains
  • Most people traveled west
  • The people who lived and traveled here domesticated horses
  • Religion, languages, hunting techniques, and other cultural aspects were spread quickly in this steppe
  • Click here for more information

lessonplan.jpgClick here for resources on teaching about tsunamis

D. Major Natural Resources

South Asia:

Central Asia:

E. Population size

Countries are by UN definitions and populations are from the CIA World Factbook (July 2013 estimates)

Population of Central Asian countries:
  • Uzbekistan- 28,661,637
  • Kazakhstan- 17,736,896 See Special Topic Page: Oil in Central Asia
  • Tajikistan- 7,910,041
  • Kyrgyzstan- 5,548,042
  • Turkmenistan- 5,113,040

Population of South Asian countries:
  • India- 1,220,800,359
  • Pakistan- 193,238,868
  • Bangladesh-163,654,860
  • Iran- 79,853,900
  • Afghanistan- 31,108,077
  • Nepal- 30,430,267
  • Sri Lanka- 21,675,648
  • Bhutan- 725,296
  • Maldives- 393,988

Click here on info on the poverty rates in rural areas of Asia

India has the second-largest population in the world at 1,220,800,359 people (updated July 2013). A population of this size is both good and bad. With so many available workers to fuel the economy, a large population rises to the status of being a natural resource. On the other hand, so many people to feed and house can lead to great income disparities, as is seen in India. Sanitation is also a problem, leading to high rates of disease.

Case studies:


external image 500px-LocationAfghanistan.svg.png

external image Big_red_apple.jpgClick here for excellent teaching resources on Afghanistan: People, Places and Politics.

Afghanistan is about the size of Texas, completely landlocked and bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. The Silk Road that linked India and the Middle East with China passed through the valleys and mountain passes of this country, making Afghanistan a center point of international trade and tension for centuries.

Afghanistan accounted for 92% of global production of opium in 2006, 11 times more than the rest of the world combined (National Geographic Magazine, December 2006, p. 20).

Connecting Literature to Geography
__The Breadwinner__ by Debra Elli
Book one of a trilogy that follows a young girl forced to take on the persona of a boy in order to support her family in Afghanistan. Students enjoy learning about the geography, culture and politics through the novel. The book is a wonderful way to teach about the treatment and education of women - a standard in many social studies curriculums across the country.


Study Guide: Nepal in Contemporary World

Additional Resources:

lessonplan.jpgClick here for lesson plans on Central Asia

The Oxford Atlas of the World, 2005, Oxford University Press

The CIA factbook