The world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent
South Asia or Southern Asia is a term used to represent the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Counting India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries – South Asia covers about 4.4 million km², which is 10% of the Asian continent or 3.3% of the world’s land surface area. Overall, it accounts for about 45% of Asia’s population (or over 25% of the world’s population) and is home to a vast array of peoples.
There are numerous languages in South Asia. The spoken languages of the region are largely based on geography and shared across religious boundaries, but the written script is sharply divided by religious boundaries. In particular, Muslims of South Asia such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan use the Arabic alphabet and Persian Nastaliq. Till 1952, Muslim-majority Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) too mandated only the Nastaliq script, but thereafter has adopted regional scripts and particularly Bengali, after the Language Movement for the adoption of Bengali as the official language of the then East Pakistan. Non-Muslims of South Asia, and some Muslims in India, on the other hand, use their traditional ancient heritage scripts such as those derived from Brahmi script for Indo-European languages and non-Brahmi scripts for Dravidian languages and others.
In 2010, South Asia had the world’s largest population of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, about 510 million Muslims, as well as over 25 million Buddhists and 35 million Christians. Hindus make up about 68 percent or about 900 million and Muslims at 31 percent or 510 million of the overall South Asia population, while Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs constitute most of the rest. The Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians are concentrated in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, while the Muslims are concentrated in Afghanistan (99%), Bangladesh (90%), Pakistan (96%) and Maldives (100%).
Missionaries arrived with European traders during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Beginning with missionary activities started by Catholic, eventually, Protestant missionaries arrived from Spain and Portugal. South Asia experienced a religious renaissance at the end of the nineteenth century, and during that time Christianity played an invaluable role. Christianity also attempted to build positive relationships with other churches and members of various faiths to erase their perception of Christianity as a “foreign religion.”
Wikipedia, South Asia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asia#Languages. Retrieved April 10, 2020
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