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Step into another world

The wildlife and cultures around southern Asia have been shaped by one of the greatest phenomena on earth: the monsoon winds that sweep across this vast region, turning drought into deluge. All life is dominated by this rampaging weather system.

From the northern shores of Australia to the highest peaks of the Himalayas, and from the wind-blown deserts of northern India, to the lush equatorial forests of Borneo, this series makes an exhilarating journey through the lands of the monsoon.

Along the way, it offers a taste of the variety and colour of the different regions' most extraordinary wildlife and cultures and the way they cope with the tumultuous weather.

This is the story of a relationship between humans and nature that has grown across thousands of years – all living in the shadow of the monsoon. But what does the future hold?

Facts

Many people think the term monsoon refers to heavy rains. But in fact, a monsoon is a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing wind. And it always blows from cold to warm places.

Australia is home to some of the biggest storms in the world, which unleash energy equivalent to that of an exploding atomic bomb.

At the peak of the monsoon, 17 million tonnes of water fall on the Indian subcontinent every minute.

The English term monsoon is taken from the Arabic word 'mawsim', meaning a shift in the season or wind.

The monsoon can bring both welcome relief and complete devastation. In July 2010, Pakistan experienced huge floods caused by the monsoon season. Monsoon rains lasted for three days and high waters and mudslides caused catastrophic damage, directly affecting about 20 million people with a death toll of close to 2,000.

Rainfall is usually measured in millimetres. But during the monsoon, a metre of rain can fall in just a day.

About half of the world's population relies on the monsoon rainfall.

The most famous are the Asian monsoons, which affect India, China, Japan, and South East Asia. But monsoons also impact portions of central Africa, and lesser monsoon circulations affect parts of the United States.

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