The term South Asia is considered often as synonymous with the term Indian subcontinent, and includes the following neighboring states: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; constituting the bulk of the subcontinent proper, the
Himalayan States: Nepal and Bhutan, the Indian Ocean Island States: Sri
Lanka, the Maldives. All of these countries are members of the South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The US State Department's South Asia Bureau is currently planning to include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in its definition of South Asia. These countries, however, are historically considered to belong to the category of Central Asia, along with Chinese Turkestan and Mongolia and not, strictly speaking, a part of South Asia.
Geographically, the Indian subcontinent would additionally include some disputed territory currently controlled by China, and Myanmar and exclude most of western and northern Pakistan and Kashmir where the Indian plate and Eurasian plate meet and collide.
Politically (as in the SAARC member-states), the region covers about 4,480,000 km2 (1,729,738 sq. mi.), or 10% of the Asian continent. However, its population accounts for about 40% of Asia. Some or all of Afghanistan is sometimes considered part of the region of South Asia since, due to its geographic proximity, it has shared many historical currents with the region. Recently, Afghanistan has been admitted to the SAARC as a member.
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