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The Far East is a term used in English (with equivalents in various other languages of Europe and Asia, Chinese literally translating to "far east") mostly equivalent to East Asia (including the Russian Far East) and Southeast Asia, sometimes to the inclusion of South Asia for economic and cultural reasons.

"Far East" came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century, denoting Eastern Asia as the "farthest" of the three "easts", beyond the Near East and the Middle East. For the same reason, ancient Chinese people called western countries "Tàixī ( )" - i.e. anything further west than India.


The term Far East was popularized in the English language during the period of the British Empire as a blanket term for lands to the east of British India. Prior to World War I, the Near East referred to relatively nearby lands of the Ottoman Empire, Middle East to northwestern South Asia and Central Asia, and Far East for countries along the western Pacific Ocean and countries along the eastern Indian Ocean. Many European languages have analogous terms, such as the French Extrême-Orient, Spanish Extremo Oriente, Portuguese Extremo Oriente, German Ferner Osten, Italian Estremo Oriente, Polish Daleki Wschód, and Dutch Verre Oosten.

Cultural as well as geographic meaning

, the term evokes cultural as well as geographic separation; the Far East is not just geographically distant, but also culturally exotic. It never refers, for instance, to the culturally Western nations of Australia and New Zealandmarker, which lie even farther to the east of Europe than East Asia itself. This combination of cultural and geographic subjectivism was well illustrated in 1939 by the Prime Minister of Australia, R. G Menzies. Reflecting upon his country's geopolitical concerns with the onset of war, Menzies commented that:
"The problems of the Pacific are different. What Great Britain calls the Far East is to us the near north."

Far East in its usual sense is comparable to terms such as the Orient, which means East; the Eastern world; or simply the East. South East Asia and the Russian Far East might now be included in the Far East to some extent due to recent Chinese migration to Russiamarker, and the Korean diaspora in Russiamarker.

The term remains in use, alongside more specific terms such as East Asia and Southeast Asia, or Pacific Rim, and it features in the names of many Asian-based commercial enterprises and institutions. Examples include: Far Eastern National Universitymarker in Vladivostok, Far Eastern University in the City of Manila, South Korean's Far East University, and the Hong Kongmarker-based Far Eastern Economic Review. Furthemore, the United Kingdommarker and United Statesmarker of America have historically used Far East for several military units and commands in the region:

Territories and regions conventionally included under the term Far East

Name of region  Continental regions as per , except 12. Depending on definitions, various territories cited below (notes 6, 11-13, 15, 17-19, 21-23) may be in one or both of Asia and Europe, Africa, or Oceania.


territory, with flag


(2008 est.)
Population density

(per km²)
Capital Government Currency Official languages Coat of Arms
East Asia
People's Republic of China marker

(Tibet and Xinjiang are often excluded from Far East)

1,299,381,888 161.0 Beijing Single-party state,
Socialist republic
Yuan Mandarin
(see Languages of China)
Hong Kongmarker (China)  Hong Kongmarker is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC.

1,104 6,985,200 6,352.0 One country, two systems Hong Kong dollar Cantonese,
Japanmarker 377,873 127,433,494 337.0 Tokyomarker Parliamentary democracy,
Constitutional monarchy
Yen None
Japanese as de facto
Macaumarker (China)  Macaumarker is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC.

28.6 520,400 17,310.0 One country, two systems Macanese pataca Cantonese,
Mongoliamarker 1,564,116 2,951,786 1.7 Ulaanbaatarmarker Parliamentary republic Tögrög Mongolian
North Koreamarker 120,540 23,301,725 190.0 Pyongyangmarker Juche,
Socialist Republic
North Korean won Korean
South Koreamarker 100,032 49,044,790 493.0 Seoulmarker Presidential republic Won Korean
Republic of China marker  Figures are for the area under the de facto control of the Republic of Chinamarker (ROC) government, commonly referred to as Taiwanmarker. Claimed in whole by the PRC; see political status of Taiwan.

36,188 22,911,292 633.12 Taipeimarker Semi-presidential system New Taiwan dollar Mandarin
Southeast Asia
Bruneimarker 5,765 381,371 66.0 Bandar Seri Begawanmarker Absolute Islamic Sultanate Brunei dollar Malay, Bruneian
Cambodiamarker 181,035 14,241,640 78.0 Phnom Penhmarker Constitutional monarchy Riel Khmer
East Timor
  East Timormarker is often considered a transcontinental country in Southeastern Asia and Oceania.

15,410 1,115,000 64.0 Dilimarker Parliamentary republic U.S. Dollar / Centavo coins Tetum and Portuguese
Indonesiamarker  Indonesiamarker is often considered a transcontinental country in Southeastern Asia and Oceania; figures do not include Irian Jayamarker and Maluku Islandsmarker, frequently reckoned in Oceania (Melanesia/Australasia).

1,419,588 237,512,355 159.9 Jakartamarker Presidential republic Rupiah Indonesian
Laosmarker 236,800 6,521,998 25.0 Vientianemarker Socialist Republic Kip Lao
Malaysiamarker 329,847 27,730,000 83.0 Kuala Lumpurmarker Federal constitutional monarchy,
Parliamentary democracy
Ringgit Malay
Myanmar marker 676,578 55,390,000 75.0 Naypyidawmarker Military junta Kyat Burmese
Papua New Guineamarker 462,840 6,732,000 14.5 Port Morsebymarker Unitary parliamentary
constitutional monarchy
Kina Hiri Motu, Tok Pisin, and English
Philippinesmarker 300,000 90,500,000 295.0 Manilamarker Unitary presidential
constitutional republic
Peso Filipino and English
Singaporemarker 707.1 4,588,600 6,489.0 Singaporemarker Parliamentary republic Singapore dollar Malay, English,
Mandarin, and Tamil
Thailandmarker 513,115 63,038,247 122.0 Bangkokmarker Parliamentary democracy,
Constitutional monarchy
Baht Thai
Vietnammarker 331,690 86,116,559 253.0 Hanoimarker Socialist Republic đồng Vietnamese
North Asia
Russian Far East (Russiamarker) 6,215,900 6,692,865 3.0 Moscowmarker Federal semi-presidential republic Ruble Russian and
27 other co-official languages


See also



  • Ankerl, Guy (2000) Coexisting Contemporary Civilizations: Arabo-Muslim, Bharati, Chinese, and Western. Geneva: INU Press ISBN 2-88155-004-5

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