What Does the Term Far East Mean?
Far East is an unofficial name for the countries of eastern Asia. Normally this means China and Japan and their smaller neighbors, plus eastern Siberia. However, lands as far west as India and Pakistan are sometimes included. First recorded in 1616, the phrase “Far East” came into common usage in the 1800s because of British colonial expansion to eastern Asia. Today, it still refers to China, Japan and other countries on the eastern rim of Asia, but its use has declined steadily in the latter twentieth century.
The Far East is a term used in English mostly equivalent to East Asia (including the Russian Far East) and Southeast Asia, and sometimes South Asia for economic and cultural reasons. The following countries are considered to be located in the Far East: China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, Siberia, Taiwan, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Far East” came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century, denoting Eastern Asia as the “farthest” of the three “easts”, beyond the Near East and the Middle East. The term is no longer commonly used, as it connotes the “orientalism” of the 19th century as described by Edward Said. From the 1960s onward terms like East Asia and the Orient had become more common. East Asia remains the common term for the region today.
Why is it called the Far East? It became common practice to call this region the Far East because it is the farthest of the 3 Eastern Asian regions, which are the: Near East, the Middle East, and the Far East. During the reign of the British Empire, the term became popular and was used to refer to any area east of British India.