Asia between Continuity and Change

East-West conflict and military conflicts: After 1945, Asia was repeatedly the scene of major military conflicts. The Korean War (1950–53) broke out in the conflict between East and West. After the intervention of the USA (especially since 1964) and the accompanying military confrontation with the communist North Vietnam, which was supported by the Soviet Union, the civil war in South Vietnam expanded into an international conflict (Vietnam War, 1964–75), which also involved Cambodia and Laos. In connection with the overthrow of the Pol Pot regime, the terror of which killed around 1.7 million people in the second half of the 1970s, Vietnam occupied Cambodia in early 1979, leading to a brief war with China (February / March 1979) and long-standing Sino-Vietnamese opposition (normalization of relations only in 1991). Power struggles in Afghanistan (continued within the Mujahedin after 1992) led the Soviet Union to an ultimately unsuccessful military intervention (1979-89), which sparked global protests, exacerbated the East-West conflict (including US support for the Muslim resistance) and left a destroyed Afghanistan as a permanent crisis area ruled by warlords.

In West Asia, the Middle East conflict arose with the formation of the State of Israel (1948).

Asia between continuity and change: Based on the proclamation of an “Islamic Republic” in Iran (1979), fundamentalist efforts to anchoring Islam directly in state and society increased (in a number of countries, Islam was established as the state religion, in some cases the introduction of Sharia law).

The unstable political situation in numerous Asian countries was expressed inter alia. in various changes from parliamentary government to military administrations (including 1988 in Burma, 1991/92 in Thailand, 1999 again in Pakistan), v. a. but in ethnic, politico-social, separatist or religious protest movements and conflicts, e.g. B. in the Philippines (Moro), in Indonesia (Aceh, Borneo, Papua, Moluccas, until 1999 East Timor), in Sri Lanka (from 1983 Tamils), in India (1984 Punjab and since 1990 Jammu and Kashmir). In Cambodia it came after the 1991 peace treaty – boycott of the Khmer Rouge which later disintegrated – in 1992/93 for interim administration by a UN mission that helped the country establish a constitutional monarchy (1993). East Timor, which was occupied by Indonesia in a bloody military campaign in 1975 and annexed by the latter from 1976–99, gained state independence after a referendum in 1999 and a UN interim administration in 2002.

The summit meeting between the heads of state of North and South Korea in June 2000 brought about the first political breakthrough for rapprochement between the two Korean states, but the further development of mutual relations subsequently turned out to be difficult (in view of a harder attitude towards the USA afterwards North Korea, especially because of its non-conforming nuclear weapons development program).

In the course of the collapse of the USSR (1991), new independent states emerged in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; see and in the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), which joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and one sought regional cooperation.

Serious disputes between different ethnic groups (e.g. between Georgians and Abkhazians, between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, between Ingush and Ossetians), military conflicts between individual states (e.g. between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh) and power struggles between the old communist ruling elite (often in a new political “guise”) and nationalist movements or between secular and religious-fundamentalist forces (e.g. 1992–97 in Tajikistan, 1999 invasion of Muslim rebels in Dagestan and 1999/2000 in the Fergana Valley of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) made this region an unstable area. The desire for greater independence also arose among the Siberian and Caucasian republics and territorial units of the Russian Federation. Two self-sacrificing military interventions by Russia were directed against Chechnya’s striving for independence, without the Chechen resistance being completely broken. In 2008 Russia intervened in Georgia (»Caucasus War«).

Lakes (selection)
Surname Area (in km 2) Lake level (in m above sea level) greatest depth (in m) Drain
Caspian Sea 386 400 −27 1 025 without drain
Baikal lake 31 500 456 1 642 Angara
Lake Balkhash 16 400 340 26th without drain
Aral Sea 13 900 1) 30th 32 without drain
Issykkul 6 236 1 608 702 without drain
Lake Urmia 5 470 1 274 15th without drain
Qinghai Hu 4,200-5,000 3 205 38 without drain
Lake Van 3 713 1 646 451 without drain
Lake Sevan 940 1 905 80 Hrasdan
Dead Sea 910 2) about −400 about 400 without drain
1) As of 2010, constant decline in lake level since 1960 (then 64 100 km 2).2) Area size fluctuates, tendency decreasing.

Central Asia