Who is Considered Asian?

Defining who is considered “Asian” may be a bit more complicated than one might think. The identity of the modern Asian is complex and commonly misunderstood, yet is increasingly vital in an individual’s conception of the world. The world is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and races and as the global population increases each second, individuals must educate themselves to grasp the values that make each person unique. Being Asian may boil down to multiple variables, including a person’s place of birth and ancestry. The most common definition of Asian is attributed to pure geography.


Dictionary.com defines “Asian” as ”a native of Asia.” So generally, one may assume an Asian to be an individual from the continent of Asia. This is a very broad definition as the world’s largest continent encapsulates 49 countries of varying cultures and religions.

“Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent with a population of 4.3 billion people. Located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres, Asia covers 8.7% of the Earth’s total surface area and comprises 30% of its land area. With approximately 4.3 billion people, it makes up 60% of the world’s current human population.” (World Population Statistics)

The continent is split up into six regions:

  1. North Asia – Russia
  2. East Asia – Japan, PR China, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia
  3. South Asia – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, bhutan, Maldives
  4. Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Timor-Leste, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam
  5. West Asia (Middle East) – Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria
  6. Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan

Though individuals may originate from the continent of Asia, “Asian” may not be the most appropriate association. A Palestinian may not consider herself Asian, although Palestine is one of the continental Asian countries, but rather Middle Eastern. Each country must be considered for its unique characteristics and social sensitivities.

Place of Birth

In a world of first generation Asians across the world, the personal identification of an individual holds more weight. A woman born in the United States may have parents and ancestry from China, however she may better identify herself as an Asian-American, Chinese-American or American rather than Chinese.

Being Asian generalizes the cultures of 49 Asian countries, as well as the personal identification of those who identify with the Asian race. It is important to make this definition blatant because today’s society tends to ignorantly overlook the differentiation. To many, this may not be pertinent to understand, but in a society with so many merging cultures, generalization leads to ignorance, misunderstanding and ultimately to prejudice and racism.


9 thoughts on “Who is Considered Asian?

  1. Well actually im Palestinian and i consider myslef Asian (and my relatives who the majority were raised in West Asia and many palestinians that i know also do consider themselves as well).No middle eastern that i know refers to themselves as “middle eastern” when it comes to race,we dont consider it as one.

  2. I am East Indian decent, my parent born in the West Indies and I was born in USA, I am filling my info for SAT what should I select ? When applying for scholarship will it hinder me if I don’t enter race or religion

  3. Pingback: Meaning of X | Food Resources SJSU

  4. Afghanistan is Central and/or South Asia, they are asian. Please fix this too

  5. the problem is you do not tell us how we know how to differentiate. So if we are not Asian but are trying to be sensitive to those cultures how do we know?

  6. Try filling out at SAT exam form in the USA. Under ethnicity there are a host of options including “Pacific Islander”… and then there is just pain old “Asian”! DUH! can we break it down a bit please? So everyone from Japanese to Israeli to Sri Lankan to Russian is the same? So weird!!!

  7. I sort of went click happy after reading about the up coming World Cup and ended up on a story about the 5 biggest Asian football stars and 5 to watch and Terry Antonis from Australia was included. I hadn’t really thought of Australia as part of Asia, Terry Antonis is of Greek decent. After reading about the relationship between Asia and Australia it became very clear how much politics is involved in geography. If you look at a map it seems reasonable to think of Australia is part of Asia, but Australia political powers seems to have a history, as does America, of preferring white immigrants and a fear of China. It would seem that if it was considered part of Asia, that would have caused some argument as to who belonged there. Really interesting.

  8. Thank you for following my website.The Middle_ East is part of Asia( I am from Iraq),WE are differed as nations but we are very alike as human kind.Wishing you success.jalal

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