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Asia is a continent divided into 4 major regions. These regions are the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. Civilizations have existed on the continent for thousands of years, but what are the 4 oldest countries in Asia?
How to identify the oldest countries in Asia
Due to the dynamic nature of cultural development on the Asian continent, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact point in time when a country began. An answer cannot be rooted solely in the current political regimes, as they are shaped by deep histories and ancient religions.
The countries selected for this list have earned their place because their current borders contain a rich and ancient history that is reflected in the culture that is dominant today. They were not chosen according to the date of individual sovereignty towards the end of colonialism.
The 4 oldest countries in Asia
These are 4 of the oldest countries in Asia:
4. India in 2500 BC. BC: Oldest surviving major religion
India is one of the cradles of civilization and hominids are believed to have existed in the region for over 2 million years. The earliest settlements date from around 7000 BC. with the beginnings of the Indus Valley Civilization being around 3300 B.C. began.
The Indus Valley Civilization built brick houses according to town planning, drainage and water supply. There were non-residential buildings dedicated to specific crafts and skills, such as metallurgy.
Historians know from artefacts and written inventories that it was in India around 3000 B.C. there was a spice trade. Around 2500 BC a fully developed lifestyle existed. The dense settlement centers were scattered by drought by the turn of the millennium.
The Vedic period began in 1500 BC. when the Hindu Vedas arose. Hinduism is a 4000 year old religion that originated in India. It is the oldest continuously practiced religion on earth and today has 900 million followers, with 95 percent of the believers living in India.
The Vedas also introduced the introduction of the caste system. From there, India exchanged hands with various empires that added their literature and religious ideals to the regional culture.
Some parts of the Indian subcontinent came into contact with Islam as early as the 8th century. The medieval Islamic Sultanate of Delhi successfully repelled the Mongol invasions of 1221-1327.
In the 1750s, the British were in the country and formed the East India Company. The company fell during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the British relinquished control in 1947.
3. China in 2697 BC BC: Oldest written history of Asia
The earliest foundation of Chinese culture was laid by the Yellow Emperor named Huang-ti, who ruled possibly from 2697 to 2597 BC. The government established during this period would be emulated for centuries. He is the emperor who promoted the development of silk, law, medicine, music and agriculture.
From there his descendants were the Five Emperors. The great flood of the Yellow River occurred and power was given to Yu after devoting himself to stopping the deluge.
Yu the Great took over after the last of the mythical Five Emperors ruled him sometime after 2070 BC. This story is disputed because the first official records of this dynasty date from around 1300 BC. come from.
After Yu the Great, the Xia Dynasty was established through succession. The oldest dynastic civilization on Earth may be the Xia Dynasty, although this is disputed.
Today, with 1.4 billion people, China has more citizens than any other country. Its official name is People’s Republic of China and has been in power since the mid-20th century. The Chinese monarchy collapsed in 1912 and the recent civil war ended with the current communist government taking power.
2. Vietnam in 2879 BC BC: The oldest in South Asia
Prehistoric hominid cultures have existed in the Vietnam region for 20,000 years. Before that, human ancestors lived in the area for 500,000 years.
The first organized dynasty was 2879 BC. Founded in the Hồng Bàng dynasty. This ruling body may be a myth as no physical evidence has been uncovered to confirm its existence. There is evidence that the culture in Vietnam started around 2100 BC. knew how to keep a lunar calendar with stone tools.
A well-documented civilization that forms the basis of today’s Vietnamese identity is the Dong Son culture around 1000 BC. This community engaged in agriculture, advanced bronzeworking, politics, and defined social structures. It was built around the need for an organizational center for trade between tribes in the region.
Around 500 BC There was rice irrigation with dikes and canals. This revolutionized Vietnam’s approach to agriculture and trade. It also allowed for much denser population centers.
Today, Vietnam is a one-party socialist republic with a new constitution that came into force on November 28, 2013. This is an authoritarian government that restricts citizens through rules against freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. It is currently run by the Vietnamese Communist Party.
1. Iran in 7000 BC BC: Oldest continuous civilization
The influence of Iranian culture extends far beyond today’s borders. Some of its historical territories included the modern-day countries of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.
Despite years of expansion and contraction, as well as periods of external domination, Iran keeps reestablishing its independence while keeping its identity intact. The earliest known real settlements in Iran existed as early as 7000 BC. and the area has been continuously inhabited ever since.
There is evidence of highly developed human agricultural communities in the area dating back well over 10,000 years. There was also a significant presence of Neanderthals in Iran.
Iran was called Persia until the middle of the 20th century. Islamic influence began around 650 AD when Muslims conquered Persia and this new religious regime lasted for a few hundred years.
Around AD 1219, the Mongols invaded Iran and their rule lasted less than 100 years. Islamic rule prevailed again in 1295 AD. Around the middle of the 13th century, the Black Death claimed the lives of about 30 percent of Iranians.
The turmoil continued and the region changed hands and religion several times. This centuries-long rotation by foreign powers ended in 1979 when the Iranian revolution overthrew the then monarchy and established what is now the Islamic Republic. The current government is a mixture of democracy and theocracy.
Today’s political climate is tense both nationally and internationally. Internationally, Iran’s nuclear capabilities are a hot topic of discussion. Domestically, civil rights are paramount.
On September 16, 2022, protests erupted in the country after Jina Amini died. She was arrested for violating hijab laws and died hours later. Police said it was a heart attack, but eyewitnesses have accused authorities of police brutality.
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