One of the most problematic geographical terms in the world historian’s vocabulary is Asia. Greek mariners originally employed the term Asia to refer to lands east of the Aegean Sea, as opposed to Europe, the lands to the west. To scholars of medieval Europe, Asia referred generically to an amorphous and poorly known land east of the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, in the lands now collectively and conventionally known as Asia, no one used the term Asia at all before about the mid-nineteenth century, when European imperialists introduced it to the region.
Asia in World History