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Different Types Of Asians And How To Recognize Them

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It's the modern era, and globalization happens whether you want it to or not. You're going to run into people, and cultures you've never seen before in your life. It's important to be accepting, and moreover, knowledgeable in being able to distinguish between the different kinds of people. With this short read, you'll be less ignorant, and more confident in telling apart all the different types of Asians.

Why knowing the difference between Asians is important?

Despite all that's good in the world, conflict is a problem. You can't mix up an Indian and a Pakistani because the two countries have been at war on and off ever since they were created.

In a similar vein, mixing up Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans makes you look ignorant at best, and racist at worst. Whether it's in the workplace, or in society in general, you can't afford to assume an Asian's nationality.

how to tell asian apart

What are the types of Asians?

Asia is a huge continent. There are 49 countries in it. That makes learning about the different types of Asian people more difficult because even Eastern Russians qualify as Asians! So, how do you differentiate? The types of Asians you want to broadly consider are Transcontinental Asians, East Asians, and South Asians. With 49 different Asian countries and plenty of Asians having kids with people of other Asian ethnicities, it's hard to have a definite number of different Asian races that exist. But in broad terms, these are the 2 main ones.

Transcontinental Asians

These are the people from one of the transcontinental Asian countries: Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. They often look like a mix of Eastern Europeans and central Asians. Tall stature and light-colored eyes are expected, and their skin tones can vary between Caucasian levels to moderately dark.

Kazakh, Georgian and Azerbaijani women

East Asians

These are the typical Asians you imagine whenever someone brings up an Asian race. China, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan are the main countries you should know about. Telling the difference between these nationalities themselves can be near impossible. It's actually easy to tell the difference between Japanese, Korean, and Chinese languages in the written form because they're very distinct! East Asians typically have shorter stature, straight hair, and small eyes. They also have lighter skin than South Asians.

difference between Asians

South Asians

South Asia consists of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka. This is one of the most diverse sets of physical traits you'll find in the world. The further south you go, the darker the skin tones are. People in Northern India bordering Nepal have smaller eyes and lighter skin, almost similar to East Asians. Pakistanis have lighter skin, for example.

Southeast Asia has 11 countries, but they share almost all of their physical features with that of East Asians. This is because these countries were colonized by people from East Asia, and not enough time has passed for them to develop their own unique distinguishing traits!

Indian woman and Pakistani woman

What's the difference between Asian faces?

You can only really differentiate between the main Asian regions by face, and telling apart Asian features by country is near impossible. Here's what can help you tell them apart:

  • Eyes. Transcontinental Asians and some South Asian countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan have light brown eyes, and sometimes even blue or green. South Asians and East Asians almost always have darker shades of brown eyes.
  • Nose. East Asians tend to have pudgier noses, but South and Transcontinental Asians have sharp ones.
  • Jawlines. South Asians have smaller jawlines, and defined jawlines aren't their strength. Transcontinental Asians have wide-set jaws, and East Asians have rounder jawlines.
  • Hair. East Asians almost always have straight hair, as do South Asians. Transcontinental Asians sometimes have curly hair. The natural hair color for all of them is almost always black, and occasionally brown.

What are other physical features of Asians?

Asians are genetically shorter and thinner than people from Western countries. Transcontinental Asians typically are the tallest of Asians, with South Asians coming in second and East Asians last. It's extremely difficult to quantify the physical features of different Asians by country, or even by region because the main things setting them apart are their language and culture. You would only be able to reliably tell apart Asians from the different major regions of Asia, but not from within those regions themselves.

What's the best way to ask about different types of Asian people?

All of these notes on different physical features can help you narrow down what country someone is from, but it's not concrete proof. Someone might have Thai features but still is a Malaysian, because somewhere in their ancestry, there were Thais. Your best bet? Simply ask what their ethnicity is. It isn't impolite or intrusive, as long as you say you want to get to know them better, and you're curious about their culture. People are always happy to share their heritage, as long as you're polite about it.

How to differentiate Asians? It might be challenging at first, but when you have some knowledge, you'll always know what type of Asians your company is. Use tips from this article and have no fear!