Eurasia is a large landmass covering about 53,990,000 square kilometers, or 10 percent of the Earth’s surface and more than one-third of its land area. The population of Eurasia is 4.8 billion, or more than 70 percent of the world’s population. Eurasia is comprised of both Europe and Asia but is recognized by some geographers to constitute a single continent, as the traditional continental divides—the Ural Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus, and the waters connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean— do not present significant barriers to the movement of human beings, fauna, or flora.
   The historical division of Europe from Asia results from ancient Greek geographers’ fallacious conviction that the two spaces were separated by large bodies of water; however, during the 18th century, Russia’s rise as a European power forced a reconceptualization of the borders of the European continent. The word itself is a portmanteau of “Europe” and “Asia,” names of female characters in Greek mythology.
   In terms of geopolitics, the word “Eurasia” (Evraziia) is uniquely associated with the former Soviet Union and is somewhat controversial. The Baltic States and, to a lesser extent, Ukraine reject categorization as Eurasian states, though Russia, the Transcaucasian republics, and Central Asian countries embrace the term. Kazakhstan, in particular, promotes itself as a Eurasian nation, both territorially (like Turkey and the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan has both European and Asian portions) and ethnically (a slight majority of Kazakhstanis are Asiatic, with the rest being mostly European in terms of their ancestry). With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian politicians briefly considered renaming the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic “Eurasia” before settling on “Russian Federation.” The move had support from neo-Eurasianist political elites, who stress the multicultural and multiconfessional nature of the various peoples of contemporary Russia, which include Finnic, Ugric, Caucasian, Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic nations alongside the numerically dominant Slavs, as well as practitioners of Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and shamanism. The Russian Federation covers about one-third of the Eurasian supercontinent, though it contains less than 3 percent of its human population.
   See also Eurasia Party.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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