I must admit that I don't see much sense in trying to pick one large geographic area that will outperform another large geographic area. Great companies will come out of every geographical area, much like great football (soccer) players come from many countries.

There is some truth, however, to the idea that certain areas will have more high-quality players than others, and I think that's the case when you look at the developed countries of Asia. The political stability and highly developed economies in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, plus Australia and New Zealand, lends itself to more predictable results and easier assessments of risk, much like the U.S. and Western Europe do.

Conversely, if you look at Africa and the Middle East, you'll find a hotbed of risk in just about any flavor you care to mention. Of course, all of this fear breeds uncertainty, which is likely to create some very intriguing value investing opportunities, and there are plenty of natural resources in the region. South Africa is one of the exceptions, but the appearance of value has to be weighed against the odds of cash flows eventually flowing to shareholders, and that limits the opportunities available to investors in this region of the world.

Go global
In some respects, some of the best opportunities to participate in -- not only Asia but in all parts of the world -- will come from companies that are truly global. Companies like Toyota (NYSE:TM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), and Sony (NYSE:SNE) are Japanese primarily because that's where they originated and where their headquarters are located. In reality, though, these companies are global operations with sales in hundreds of countries, and the same can be said of Samsung, Hyundai Motor, and Lucky Goldstar of South Korea.

Get local exposure
All of the developed countries in Asia also offer opportunities to invest in companies that are focused domestically. Kirin Brewery (NASDAQ:KNBWY), Millea Holdings (NASDAQ:MLEA), Westpac Banking (NYSE:WBK), and Motley Fool Income Investor selection Telecom Corp of New Zealand (NYSE:NZT) are all opportunities for investing directly in the economies of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. In the case of Westpac Banking and Telecom New Zealand, there's also the opportunity to pick up dividend yields of greater than 5%.

Foolish final minute
The developed countries of Asia are filled with many well-known names that investors already follow, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of bargains to be had if you look for value. There's a lot of ink being slung around right now about high-growth areas such as China and India, but look at the performance of just about any Japanese company over the past 12 months, and you'll see that focusing on large, well-established markets can be a great way to earn healthy returns with fewer worries about the fundamental structure of the economies being invested in.

Telecom NZ is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Take the newsletter dedicated to dividend-payers for a 30-day free spin.

Developed Asia is facing Africa and the Middle East in this Investing World Cup match. Go back to the intro page to navigate your way to another part of this contest, and then vote for the region that you think should advance to the next round of the tournament.

For more international stock ideas, check out The Motley Fool International Report: Around the World in 80 Minutes.

At the time of publication, Nathan Parmelee had no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of one Fool and should in no way be taken as the opinion of either The Motley Fool, Inc., or the company in question, or as representative of anyone or anything other than that specific Fool's thoughts. So before buying, do your homework and review The Motley Fool's superbly sportsmanlike disclosure policy.