Division of Asian and African Languages
Dr. Michael Long, Director
Asia, the largest and most populous continent, is a land of extremes and contrasts-the home of some of the world's oldest cultures. For centuries, the Middle East and the mysterious Orient have resisted change-primarily because of physical and cultural barriers-but there have been notable advances, as many of the underdeveloped countries of the region are making efforts to modernize their economies and societies.
The languages of Asia reflect the great diversity of people groups. Most Asian countries have adopted a national or official language, which coexists with numerous other languages and dialects. As a result, in most areas of the continent, second language study is essential to overcoming communication problems.
The people and cultures of Africa are as diverse as its geography. Anthropologists have identified almost 3,000 different ethnic groups, which speak approximately 1,000 different languages. The 20 most widespread languages are spoken by less than half the population, so multilingualism is a fact of life in almost every African community.
The second largest landmass on earth, Africa stands on the threshold of major change. The past century of societal revolution and technological innovation has brought the continent to the crossroads of the twenty-first century. What was formerly known as the "Dark Continent" has now emerged as a world leader in Christian evangelism, and new doors for ministry are constantly opening for outreach to the Muslim and other significant populations.