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Background Information

What is Asia?

“Asia” is a term invented by the Greeks and Romans, and developed by Western geographers to indicate the land mass east of the Ural Mountains and Ural River, together with offshore islands such as Japan and Java.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, Elementary School (4-5), High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

An Introduction to the Geography of China

Much of China, a country slightly larger than the continental United States, is hilly or mountainous. To its east lies the Pacific Ocean; to its south thick jungles. Learn more.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

How to Identify a Buddha

The earliest surviving representations of the Buddha date from hundreds of years after his death, so they are not portraits in the usual sense. Buddha images vary greatly from place to place and period to period, but they almost always show these conventional features . . .

GRADE LEVEL: Elementary School (4-5), High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

An Introduction to Buddhism

Buddhism has deeply influenced the character and evolution of Asian civilization over the past 2,500 years. It is based on the teachings of a historical figure, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived around the fifth century BCE. As it moved across Asia, Buddhism absorbed indigenous beliefs and incorporated a wide range of imagery, both local and foreign, into its art and religious practices. Buddhism continues to evolve as a religion in many parts of the world.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, High School (9-12), Middle School (6-8)

Background Information

The Life of the Buddha

The Buddha—that is, the “Enlightened One”—lived nearly 2500 years ago in northern India. His followers have always seen his life as a shining example to all, but what “really happened” is now impossible to know for certain. Even the earliest stories of his life include miraculous events that may seem hard to take literally. Later versions are even more elaborate, and they differ from one another in many details.

GRADE LEVEL: College and Beyond, Elementary School (4-5), High School (9-12)