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The Northern Mariana Islands and Guam are the northernmost islands of Micronesia (read more)


Featured Article: Buddhist Art

A Buddhist mandala from the Tibetan tradition
Buddhist art refers to the rich and diverse representations of religious images, sculpture, dance, visual mythology, and symbols deriving from the various Buddhist communities found around the world. Buddhist art exhibits distinctive forms and characteristics reflecting the diverse cultures and countries in which it has spread.

Early Buddhist art emerged in India and Sri Lanka following the death of Gautama Buddha (563 B.C.E. to 483 B.C.E.). This original, formative period of Buddhist art was aniconic in character (avoiding direct representation of the human figure). However, around the first century C.E., following the Greek invasion of northwestern India and Buddhist contact with Hellenistic culture in the Indo-Greek Kingdoms, an iconic period of Buddhist art began to flourish in India. The growth of Buddhist art, in turn, influenced the development of Hindu art, until Buddhism virtually disappeared in India around the tenth century due, in part, to the vigorous expansion of both Islam and Hinduism.

From its original homeland of India, Buddhist art was transported to other parts of Asia and the world, adapting to local styles and norms in each new host country. Today, Buddhist art constitues an important part of overall Buddhist cultural legacy.

Popular Article: Australia

Flag of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a nation strategically located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans with strong cultural and political ties to North America and Europe. The world's sixth largest country and an island continent occupied by a single nation, its name is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning "of the South." It is sometimes referred to as the "land down under," a reference to its long distance from its mother country, Britain.

Initially a site for English penal colonies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as a base of British economic exploitation of the area, Australia grew to become a constitutional democracy whose people built a nation free of the limitations prevalent in crowded England. Australia has developed a robust economy and high living standard. Although arid throughout much of its surface, part of its prosperity came from its extensive mineral resources. Once considered geographically isolated, Australia today benefits from its proximity to both East Asia and South Asia, and overall plays an increasingly important role in the Asia-Pacific. Within Oceania itself, Australia exercises crucial leadership, both as a benefactor to island nations and through its ability to project military power.

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