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NIAS was established under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 1968 as a Nordic focal point for research on Asia. Then, as now, Asian studies was composed of comparatively small research environments scattered throughout the five Nordic countries, something that made cooperation a necessity. Today, these environments are considerably larger, but the advantage of having a Nordic Asian studies community has not diminished. On the contrary, in recent years, Asian scholars and their institutions have revealed a growing interest in the Nordic region. This, we believe, offers new opportunities for mutually beneficial developments in Nordic-Asian relations.
Over the past decades, NIAS has undergone a dynamic development: its agenda has broadened and its focus has gradually shifted towards research targeted on an understanding of contemporary Asia. This shift occurred within the framework of the social sciences and interface disciplines in the humanities and natural sciences. The shift towards an increased focus on Asia in economical and cultural terms, has increased interest in NIAS' knowledge base and heightened demand for quality information resources, something we have continually worked at strengthening within our organization.
NIAS cooperates with and supports a number of Nordic Asian studies communities; NIAS Press publishes Nordic scholarly works on Asia and NIAS LINC is a public library offering services to the whole Nordic community. Over time, a majority of the academic institutions in the Nordic region that are interested in Asia have joined the region's main vehicle for institutional cooperation, the Nordic NIAS Council (NNC); 23 leading Nordic institutions now participate.
As of 1 January 2005, NIAS was incorporated as an independent academic institute under Danish University Law. Since then NIAS has been hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, and is now a part of the Department of Political Science.