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Central Siberian Plateau, Kunlun Mountains, Deccan Plateau, Chang Jiang, elephantiasis

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As the largest continent, Asia contains some of the world’s most spectacular natural features, including high mountain ranges, vast plateaus, majestic river basins, and lakes and inland seas. The centerpiece is the high mountains of the Himalayas and the associated Tibetan Plateau (Qing Zang Gaoyuan). To the far north are vast plateau regions of Siberia and open waterways such as Lake Baikal. Located in an arc around the eastern rim of the continent are the plateaus of China, dissected by great rivers, including the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang). In South Asia, the Deccan Plateau dominates India. Toward the west is the Arabian Peninsula, and in a northwesterly direction are the steppes of Central Asia.


Several plateaus lie between the mountain ranges of Central Asia. The highest is the Tibetan Plateau, often referred to as the Roof of the World, which is bounded by the Kunlun Mountains and the Himalayas. About 1,300,000 sq km (500,000 sq mi) of this plateau lies at an elevation above 4,300 m (14,000 ft). The principal plateaus of Southwest Asia are the Anatolian Plateau of central Turkey, the Arabian Plateau, and the Iranian Plateau. In South Asia, most of the peninsula of India consists of the great triangular Deccan Plateau. The Yunnan Plateau extends over much of the Indochinese Peninsula and the southwestern part of China. Much of the northern part of Russian Asia is occupied by the Central Siberian Plateau.

Insects and Parasites

The tropical climates of large portions of Asia are particularly favorable to the development of insects and of parasites with long, complex life cycles. Tropical walkingsticks can exceed 30 cm (12 in) in length. Malarial organisms and the mosquitoes that carry them are favored by the absence of cold winters and, in rainy tropical areas, by the abundance of precipitation. The deadliest of the malarial organisms, Plasmodium falciparum, can survive year round in tropical areas. Filariae, small parasitic roundworms, are common in India and much of Southeast Asia; the parasite can cause elephantiasis, a disease that produces grotesque swellings. Great swarms of locusts are a periodic menace to farming in various areas of the Asian continent, particularly in Southwest Asia.

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