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Introduction

Monsoon Asia as a Unit of Study
ByRhoads Murphey, Kristin Stapleton

The continent of Asia is bordered in the west by convention at Suez, the Bosporus at Istanbul, and the Ural Mountains in the Russian Federation; it is, thus, the eastern four-fifths of the single landmass of Eurasia, encompassing over 17 million square miles, and by far the largest of the continents. The states and empires of monsoon Asia were built consistently on their common peasant base of intensive, high-yield agriculture, which provided the great bulk of revenues, the manpower for armies, and the highly structured social order. Monsoon Asia developed a highly distinctive set of cultures, based from the beginning on productive agricultural systems in this generally warm, wet area, which also contains extensive plains, river valleys, and deltas. Very high population densities have had much to do with the equally consistent nature of Asian societies, especially their emphases on group effort and group welfare, their mistrust of individualism, and their dependence on clearly stated and sanctioned rules for behavior.