With 3.78 billion people, Asia is home to more than half of the world’s population. It spreads across 14% of the world’s total land area and has 11 of the world’s 19 biggest cities with more than 10 million people.

Here you will find some of the world’s major river basins which formed the basis for historical civilizations – the Indus, Hwangho, Yangtze, Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, Mekong and Irrawaddy-Salween – and the highest mountains in the world: the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, the Karakoram and the Tien Shan.

Asia is also a land of unique biodiversity. China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are some of the world’s most mega-diverse countries. Ten of 34 international biodiversity 'hotspots' - the Earth’s richest and most threatened reservoirs of plants and animals - are located in Asia.

But the people and nature of Asia face critical challenges.

Poverty is one of them. Although there has been progress in reducing poverty in Northeast and Southeast Asia, several countries such as India, Bangladesh and Nepal still have more than 40% of their populations living on less than USD 1.25 a day.

Access to water is another problem. Because of Asia’s high population and growing water demands, a staggering 669 million people are without access to water supplies.

Asia’s coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change: the tragic effects of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and the recent tsunami in Japan speak for themselves. But mangrove forests, which are crucial in regulating the climate and protecting coastal communities from such natural disasters, are being destroyed at alarming rates. About 60% of their global loss occurred in Asia between 1990 and 2000.

IUCN, together with its Members, Commissions and partners, is working to address these challenges by leading innovative initiatives in the region.

Mangroves for the Future, for example, is an initiative that promotes investments in coastal ecosystems to support their sustainable development and secure the lives of communities that depend on them for their survival.

Through the Mekong Water Dialogues, we are working with countries of the Mekong Region - Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam - to improve the ways they manage water resources and improve the health and security of both people and nature.

We also work to improve the socio-economic and environmental situation across the region.

This month, we take you on a journey to discover Asia’s exceptional natural richness but also its challenges and IUCN’s efforts to address them. Find out how we work on the ground, watch some compelling videos from the region, read about our experts in action, visit our photo gallery and test your knowledge about Asia by trying our quiz and sharing it with your friends!