It is very easy for us in the west to ignore life in remote places. We are, particularly these days, so focussed on our social media driven adrenaline shots (and sometimes our jobs I guess) that we simply have no time to pause. It seems the more technology frees up our time, the less of that time we seem to be able to find.
See Also: 60 Stunning Images of The Middle East That Will Make You Forget Its Violent Past
In September I compiled a list of stunning images of the Middle East (linked right above this paragraph) and a reader (“Aman” to be exact) asked for a list on South Asia. Unlike the Middle East which is dominated by Islam, South Asia is a real hodge podge of religions, peoples, and environments. Nevertheless, it still manages to sometimes attract something of a bad name for itself due to unrest in the region (I’m looking at you Pakistan and India!)
But that aside, it is also a magical region of the Asian continent filled with some of the greatest wonders known to man—both natural and manmade. This list looks at a bunch of them, whilst giving a little background on each country. There are actually only eight nations in South Asia, so I have split the two biggest into two items each to give us a total of ten. They are ordered by size: smallest to largest.
Pictured: Male City, Maldives Resort, Huvafen Fushi, Raffles Maldives, Radisson Blue, Hurawalhi Resort Restaurant
Maldives is the smallest Muslim country in the world. It was part of the British commonwealth from 1982 to 2016 when it withdrew because of criticisms about its bad record with human rights and political corruption. It has a small population of only 390,000 people (Maldivians) descended from the earliest settlers most likely from India and Sri Lanka. The name of the country means Necklace Island.
Pictured: Paro Taktsang, Punakha Dzong, Dochula Pass, Thimphu Chorten, Phobjikha Valley x2
First off, if you want to visit the beautiful sights above, you can’t without lots of money. Bhutan is virtually shut to tourists except through expensive state-run tours costing upwards of $250 a day. The name Bhutan means thunder dragon and the same appears on their national flag. Bhutan has a king (Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck) and an elected parliament. The dominant religion is Buddhism with Hinduism a distant second. The country has banned all public use (including sale) of tobacco products and Internet and TV was made legal in 1999. Homosexuality is illegal. Perhaps unique in the world, Bhutan has an official dress code for its citizens which allows easy recognition of social class.
Pictured: Yala National Park, Dambulla Cave Temple, Sigiriya Fortress, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala Buddha, Polonnaruwa
Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon until it became a republic in 1972. Its recent history has been rather dominated by a 26 year civil war which ended in 2009 when the government forces won against the Tamil Tigers. 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhist with Hinduism second and Roman Catholicism comprising around 7% of the population of roughly 21 million people. Sri Lanka is the oldest continuously Buddhist nation in the world. The government is a semi-presidential republic.
Pictured: Pokhara, Langtang Valley x2, Nar Phu Valley Trek, Durbar Square, Kathmandu x2
Nepal, the only country with a non-quadrilateral shaped flag, is mostly Hindu with a population of 28 million. It is home to eight of the tallest mountains in the world (including Mount Everest, the highest spot on Earth). The country is, by election, Communist in that its current president (Bidhya Devi Bhandari) was the leader of the Communist party up to her election in 2015.
Pictured: Ratargul Swamp, Paharpur Vihara, Gaur, Barisal Floating Market, Shiva Temple Puthia, Rajbari Palace
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries on earth with a population of 161 million people in an area of 147,570 square kilometres (56,980 square miles). It is the world’s fourth largest Muslim majority nation. Bangladesh is plagued with many problems: genocide, child slavery, terrorism, corruption, and severe pollution due to it being exempt from all international requirements for climate change due to being so impoverished.
Pictured: Mazar-I-Sharif Mosque, Band-I-Amir, Wakhan Corridor, Bamyan, Minaret of Jam, Kabul
Afghanistan is 99.7% Muslim and ranks as one of the worst for terrorism, child labor, and general human misery. Homosexuality is punishable by death and nearly half of journalist deaths (which is common there) were perpetrated by the government. There are a few Western anchors who might want to consider that next time they clutch pearls over being criticized by politicians and independent media in the US. Up to 16% of the nation’s wealth comes from the Opium industry. Fortunately many of the citizens who fled war are beginning to return and they are bringing much needed business development to the country. Perhaps its future will be less bleak as a consequence. Afghanistan’s national sport is Buzkashi in which men on horseback have to score a goal with a goat’s carcass.
Pictured: Hunza Valley, Neelum Valley, Swat, Concordia, Fairy Meadows, Shimshal Lake
Like its neighbor, India, Pakistan is a nuclear power. Conflict between the two nations is ongoing due to religious and cultural differences, with Pakistan being largely Muslim and India Hindu. It is a nation bereft with problems of illiteracy, poverty, terrorism, and corruption. Nevertheless, it is also home (unbeknownst to many) to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Pakistan has a population of 200 million people and has a constitutional republican form of government.
Pictured: Pakistan Monument, Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Faisal Mosque, Noor Mahal, Katas Raj Temple
Pictured: Loktak Lake, Valley of Flowers, Jaisalmer Sand Dunes, Great Rann of Kutch, Lonar Crater Lake, Borra Caves
India must be considered one of the richest in the world in terms of cultural color and diversity. Its pagan religion is filled with golden icons, exotic animals, epic tales, and mystical wonders. India is home to both the wettest place on earth (Mawsynram) due to the highest rainfall, and the 17th largest desert, the Thar desert. India’s food is as diverse as its landscape with offerings of highly spiced curries to wonderfully subtle sweets. Entire lists could be dedicated to the beautiful locations in this wonderfully mysterious far away land.
Pictured: Khajuraho Monuments, Jaisalmer City, Akshardham Temple, Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Meenakshi Amman Temple