The Asian Order

  • Harry G Gelber


The Asian-Pacific region is vast and immensely varied in geography, topography and climate. The Pacific Ocean alone covers a third of the earth’s surface and is twice as large as its nearest rival, the Atlantic. On its shores lie the steamy islands of Southeast Asia, the mountains of Japan, and in China harsh northern plains as well as the hot, rainy regions of the south which are the region’s best agricultural land. It was in these fertile valleys, capable of producing rice, that early populations grew. By AD 1 around 53 million people lived in China, or 86 per cent of all the peoples bordering the Pacific. At about the same time, settlers from Korea and China introduced Japan to wet rice cultivation. Major population increases in the region only began around the eleventh or twelfth centuries, with the spread of rice strains yielding two harvests a year. By the thirteenth century the population had reached 100 million and went on growing. By the end of the fifteenth century China alone probably had 100 million people and two hundred years later India had also passed the 100 million mark. The standard diet was vegetarian: almost 98 per cent of calories consumed came from vegetables, very little from meat or fish. Raising cattle for meat is a waste, since they consume more calories than they yield as food.


Sixteenth Century Thirteenth Century Twelfth Century Hungarian Plain Civil Service Examination 
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Copyright information

© Harry G. Gelber 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry G Gelber
    • 1
  1. 1.Asia Research CentreLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceUK

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