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South East Asia overview
Southeast Asia did not develop civilizations similar to those in India and China until the 1st century. Then a small Vietnamese State developed in the Red River Valley. At about the same time the Kingdom of the Funan emerged in Cambodia.
The State of Srivijaya was founded in the seventh century on the island of Sumatra.
All of the civilizations that developed in Southeast Asia were effected to a larger or smaller degree by the civilizations of India, China and the Middle East.
South East Asia Overview - History
An Overview of The Theosophical Society
The Presidential Agency of The Theosophical Society for East & South East Asia administers theosophical interests in the Asian countries east of the Indian subcontinent. This region comprises Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam with a total population of 1.834 billion.
Currently The Theosophical Society is only present in four countries in East and South East Asia, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Myanmar with an active lodge in each of these countries. Some of the earliest branches of The Theosophical Society were formed in East & South East Asia. The Singapore Lodge and the Yangon Lodge, both initiated by Col. H. S. Olcott himself, rank amongst the oldest lodges in the world.
The Singapore Lodge formed in 1889 is the largest in this region with a membership strength of around 400 members. The Chinese Project Team which develops the Chinese website and carries out translation of theosophical literature into Chinese is based at the Singapore Lodge.
With the help of the Singapore Lodge members, a first Malayan Lodge, the Selangor Lodge, was formed in 1929. The Selangor Lodge is currently the sole lodge in Malaysia.
One of the earliest lodges in Japan was formed in Kyoto in 1925 by Professor D. T. Suzuki and his wife Beatrice Erskine Lane which was called the Mahāyāna Lodge. There were two lodges in Japan at that time including the Orpheus Lodge in Tokyo. Japan today has only one lodge called the Nippon Lodge located in Tokyo.
The resurrected Yangon Theosophical Society could trace its beginning to 1885 when Col. Olcott and other leaders promoted theosophy in Burma. In 1912, with 9 lodges, Burma was chartered as a Section. At its peak in 1936 there were twelve lodges with 167 members. Today, the Yangon Theosophical Society only has one lodge, The Olcott Lodge, with 35 members.
A short history of the lodges in East & South East Asia is given in the following pages:
South East Asia Overview - History
The Department of History at UCLA offers advanced graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. in both Southeast Asian History and South Asian History. Both these fields interact with other fields of history, including strengths in East Asia and the Near East (West Asia), and with regional strengths in other disciplines.
In Southeast Asian History, students may choose to work with Geoffrey Robinson (modern Indonesia and East Timor human rights political violence and U.S. policy in Southeast Asia) or Michael Salman (Philippines U.S. involvement colonialism and post-colonialism). The Department’s strength in this field is augmented by a university-wide program in Southeast Asian Studies that has Title VI status and FLAS funds. Students are also encouraged to draw on Southeast Asian strengths in Art History, Anthropology, Asian Languages and Cultures, Political Science, Asian-American Studies and other disciplines. Consult the faculty list for details of faculty specialization.
In South Asian History, Nile Green’s research interests focus on the history of the Muslim communities of South Asia (including Afghanistan) between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. His interests include Sufism, Islamic reform movements, Indo-Persian and Urdu literary culture, Perso-British intellectual exchange, Indo-Iranian contacts, colonial military history and Islamic printing. Vinay Lal's teaching and research focuses on modern India, post-colonialism, historiography, popular and public culture in South Asia, and the politics of knowledge systems. Sanjay Subrahmanyam holds the Stone Chair in Social Sciences. His research interests range between the fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His work encompasses the following fields: South Asian economic history Indian Ocean trade in the medieval and early modern periods comparative history of empires Mughal history and South Indian cultural and social history. Students will also be able to interact with faculty specializing in South Asia in disciplines such as Comparative Literature and Art History. Consult the faculty list for details of faculty specialization.
Students interested in applying for admission to our program should write directly to the Graduate Office at [email protected] or to any of the faculty whose interests they share.
Financial support for outstanding candidates is available, up to four years, including two years of Departmental Teaching Assistantships in our introductory undergraduate survey courses in South and Southeast Asian History. Incoming and continuing students in Southeast Asian History may apply for FLAS scholarships administered by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (see www.international.ucla.edu/cseas).
For information regarding the degree requirements for the History Department, please click here.
Lifestyle, Livelihood, and Subsistence
A distinctive feature of Southeast Asia is its cultural diversity. Of the six thousand languages spoken in the world today, an estimated thousand are found in Southeast Asia. Archeological evidence dates human habitation of Southeast Asia to around a million years ago, but migration into the region also has a long history. In early times tribal groups from southern China moved into the interior areas of the mainland via the long river systems. Linguistically, the mainland is divided into three important families, the Austro-Asiatic (like Cambodian and Vietnamese), Tai (like Thai and Lao), and the Tibeto-Burmese (including highland languages as well as Burmese). Languages belonging to these families can also be found in northeastern India and southwestern China.
Around four thousand years ago people speaking languages belonging to the Austronesian family (originating in southern China and Taiwan) began to trickle into island Southeast Asia. In the Philippines and the Malay-Indonesian archipelago this migration displaced or absorbed the original inhabitants, who may have been related to groups in Australia and New Guinea. Almost all the languages spoken in insular Southeast Asia today belong to the Austronesian family.
A remarkable feature of Southeast Asia is the different ways people have adapted to local environments. In premodern times many nomadic groups lived permanently in small boats and were known as orang laut, or sea people. The deep jungles were home to numerous small wandering groups, and interior tribes also included fierce headhunters. In some of the islands of eastern Indonesia, where there is a long dry season, the fruit of the lontar palm was a staple food in other areas, it was sago. On the fertile plans of Java and mainland Southeast Asia sedentary communities grew irrigated rice along the coasts, which were less suitable for agriculture because of mangrove swamps, fishing and trade were the principal occupations. Due to a number of factors—low populations, the late arrival of the world religions, a lack of urbanization, descent through both male and female lines—women in Southeast Asia are generally seen as more equal to men that in neighboring areas like China and India.
Cultural changes began to affect Southeast Asia around two thousand years ago with influences coming from two directions. Chinese expansion south of the Yangtze River eventually led to the colonization of Vietnam. Chinese control was permanently ended in 1427, but Confucian philosophy had a lasting influence when Vietnam became independent. Buddhism and Taoism also reached Vietnam via China. In the rest of mainland Southeast Asia, and in the western areas of the Malay-Indonesian archipelago, expanding trade across the Bay of Bengal meant Indian influences were more pronounced. These influences were most obvious when large sedentary populations were engaged in growing irrigated rice, like northern Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Java, and Bali. Rulers and courts in these areas who adopted Hinduism or forms of Buddhism promoted a culture which combined imported ideas with aspects of local society.
Differences in the physical environment affected the political structures that developed in Southeast Asia. When people were nomadic or semi-nomadic, it was difficult to construct a permanent governing system with stable bureaucracies and a reliable tax base. This type of state only developed in areas where there was a settled population, like the large rice-growing plains of the mainland and Java. However, even the most powerful of these states found it difficult to extend their authority into remote highlands and islands.
The Viet Cong
With the Cold War intensifying worldwide, the United States hardened its policies against any allies of the Soviet Union, and by 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower had pledged his firm support to Diem and South Vietnam.
With training and equipment from American military and the CIA, Diem’s security forces cracked down on Viet Minh sympathizers in the south, whom he derisively called Viet Cong (or Vietnamese Communist), arresting some 100,000 people, many of whom were brutally tortured and executed.
By 1957, the Viet Cong and other opponents of Diem’s repressive regime began fighting back with attacks on government officials and other targets, and by 1959 they had begun engaging the South Vietnamese army in firefights.
In December 1960, Diem’s many opponents within South Vietnam𠅋oth communist and non-communist𠅏ormed the National Liberation Front (NLF) to organize resistance to the regime. Though the NLF claimed to be autonomous and that most of its members were not communists, many in Washington assumed it was a puppet of Hanoi.
A History of South-East Asia (Fourth Edition)
Today (January 28, 2010), I bought this English paperback, that is, "A History of South-East Asia" by Prof. D.G.E. Hall and I think I should start at Chapter 7 EARLY SIAM: MONS AND T&aposAI for my better understanding on our ancient history before the Sri Thep domination/community around 1,000-2,000 years ago.
My idea is that I would keep reading those Chapters primarily related to Siam/Thailand for the start/foundation since I have limited time. After that, I would read some more interesting Chapter Today (January 28, 2010), I bought this English paperback, that is, "A History of South-East Asia" by Prof. D.G.E. Hall and I think I should start at Chapter 7 EARLY SIAM: MONS AND T'AI for my better understanding on our ancient history before the Sri Thep domination/community around 1,000-2,000 years ago.
My idea is that I would keep reading those Chapters primarily related to Siam/Thailand for the start/foundation since I have limited time. After that, I would read some more interesting Chapters later. . more
This is a superb introductory overview history of an area in the world that we North Americans know little about. D.G.E. Hall lays out several basic trends that explain much of what happened during the Viet Nam war years.
Thailand has had a long history of seeking independence. It allied itself with England only in order to prevent itself from becoming a French territory. Thailand however never allowed itself to be ruled by Britain.
Following the collapse of the Khmer Empire in the 14th Century, This is a superb introductory overview history of an area in the world that we North Americans know little about. D.G.E. Hall lays out several basic trends that explain much of what happened during the Viet Nam war years.
Thailand has had a long history of seeking independence. It allied itself with England only in order to prevent itself from becoming a French territory. Thailand however never allowed itself to be ruled by Britain.
Following the collapse of the Khmer Empire in the 14th Century, Cambodia was under either Siamese or Vietnamese control until the 19th century when the French assumed control over all of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
The Dutch severely undermined the economic progress of Indonesia by forcing the Indonesians to produce crops for exports. The impact of the French in Indochina was roughly similar.
All in all this is a very intelligent and clearly written history of South-East Asia. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the region.
Modern definitions of South Asia are consistent in including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries.    Afghanistan is, however, considered by some to be a part of Central Asia, Western Asia, or the Middle East.      After the Second Anglo-Afghan War, it was a British protectorate until 1919.    On the other hand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), administered as part of the British Raj between 1886 and 1937  and now largely considered a part of Southeast Asia as a member state of ASEAN, is also sometimes included.    But the Aden Colony, British Somaliland and Singapore, though administered at various times under the British Raj, have never been proposed as any part of South Asia.  The region may also include the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which was part of the British Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, now administered as part of the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang but also claimed by India. 
However, the total area of South Asia and its geographical extent is not clear cut as systemic and foreign policy orientations of its constituents are quite asymmetrical.  Beyond the core territories of the British Raj or the British Indian Empire, there is a high degree of variation as to which other countries are included in South Asia.     The confusion existed also because of the lack of a clear boundary – geographically, geopolitical, socio-culturally, economically or historically – between South Asia and other parts of Asia, especially the Middle East and Southeast Asia. 
The common definition of South Asia is largely inherited from the administrative boundaries of the British Raj,  with several exceptions. The current territories of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan which were the core territories of the British Empire from 1857 to 1947 also form the core territories of South Asia.     The mountain countries of Nepal and Bhutan, two independent countries that were not part of the British Raj,  and the island countries of Sri Lanka and Maldives are generally included. By various definitions based on substantially different reasons, the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Tibet Autonomous Region are included as well.        The 562 princely states that were protected by but not directly ruled by the British Raj became administrative parts of South Asia upon joining India or Pakistan.  
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a contiguous block of countries, started in 1985 with seven countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – and admitted Afghanistan as an eighth member in 2007.   China and Myanmar have also applied for the status of full members of SAARC.   The South Asia Free Trade Agreement admitted Afghanistan in 2011. 
The World Bank and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recognizes the eight SAARC countries as South Asia,     The Hirschman–Herfindahl index of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for the region excludes Afghanistan from South Asia.  Population Information Network (POPIN) excludes Maldives which is included as a member Pacific POPIN subregional network.  The United Nations Statistics Division's scheme of sub-regions, for statistical purpose,  includes Iran along with all eight members of the SAARC as part of Southern Asia. 
The boundaries of South Asia vary based on how the region is defined. South Asia's northern, eastern, and western boundaries vary based on definitions used, while the Indian Ocean is the southern periphery. Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers.   Much of the region consists of a peninsula in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east,  and which extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.  
The terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably.     The Indian subcontinent is largely a geological term referring to the land mass that drifted northeastwards from ancient Gondwana, colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Palaeocene. This geological region largely includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  Historians Catherine Asher and Cynthia Talbot state that the term "Indian subcontinent" describes a natural physical landmass in South Asia that has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia. 
The use of the term Indian subcontinent began in the British Empire, and has been a term particularly common in its successors.  South Asia as the preferred term is particularly common when scholars or officials seek to differentiate this region from East Asia.  According to historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, the Indian subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance."  This "neutral" notion refers to the concerns of Pakistan and Bangladesh, particularly given the recurring conflicts between India and Pakistan, wherein the dominant placement of "India" as a prefix before the subcontinent might offend some political sentiments.  However, in Pakistan, the term "South Asia" is considered too India-centric and was banned until 1989 after the death of Zia ul Haq.  This region has also been labelled as "India" (in its classical and pre-modern sense) and "Greater India".  
According to Robert M. Cutler – a scholar of Political Science at Carleton University,  the terms South Asia, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia are distinct, but the confusion and disagreements have arisen due to the geopolitical movement to enlarge these regions into Greater South Asia, Greater Southwest Asia, and Greater Central Asia. The frontier of Greater South Asia, states Cutler, between 2001 and 2006 has been geopolitically extended to eastern Iran and western Afghanistan in the west, and in the north to northeastern Iran, northern Afghanistan, and southern Uzbekistan. 
The definitions are also varied across South Asian Study programmes. The Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge was established, in 1964, it promoted the study of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan,     the Himalayan Kingdoms (Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim  ), and Burma (now Myanmar). It has since included Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.  The Centres for South Asian Studies at both the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia include Tibet along with the eight members of SAARC in their research programs, but exclude the Maldives.   The South Asian Studies Program of Rutgers University and the University of California, Berkeley Centre for South Asia Studies also include the Maldives.  
The South Asian Studies Program of Brandeis University defines the region as comprising "India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and in certain contexts Afghanistan, Burma, Maldives and Tibet".  The similar program of Columbia University includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in their study and excludes Burma.  In the past, a lack of a coherent definition for South Asia resulted in a lack of academic studies, along with a lack of interest for such studies.  Identification with a South Asian identity was also found to be significantly low among respondents in an older two-year survey across Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. 
The history of core South Asia begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens, as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago.  The earliest prehistoric culture have roots in the mesolithic sites as evidenced by the rock paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters dating to a period of 30,000 BCE or older, [note 4] as well as neolithic times. [note 5]
Ancient era Edit
The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of South Asia from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was the first major civilization in South Asia.  A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE.  According to anthropologist Possehl, the Indus Valley Civilization provides a logical, if somewhat arbitrary, starting point for South Asian religions, but these links from the Indus religion to later-day South Asian traditions are subject to scholarly dispute. 
The Vedic period, named after the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans, [note 6] lasted from c. 1900 to 500 BCE.   The Indo-Aryans were pastoralists  who migrated into north-western India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization,   Linguistic and archaeological data show a cultural change after 1500 BCE,  with the linguistic and religious data clearly showing links with Indo-European languages and religion.  By about 1200 BCE, the Vedic culture and agrarian lifestyle was established in the northwest and northern Gangetic plain of South Asia.    Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the Kuru-Pañcāla union was the most influential.   The first recorded state-level society in South Asia existed around 1000 BCE.  In this period, states Samuel, emerged the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic texts, which merged into the earliest Upanishads.  These texts began to ask the meaning of a ritual, adding increasing levels of philosophical and metaphysical speculation,  or "Hindu synthesis". 
Increasing urbanisation of India between 800 and 400 BCE, and possibly the spread of urban diseases, contributed to the rise of ascetic movements and of new ideas which challenged the orthodox Brahmanism.  [ failed verification ] These ideas led to Sramana movements, of which Mahavira (c. 549–477 BCE), proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563–483), founder of Buddhism, were the most prominent icons. 
The Greek army led by Alexander the Great stayed in the Hindu Kush region of South Asia for several years and then later moved into the Indus valley region. Later, the Maurya Empire extended over much of South Asia in the 3rd century BCE. Buddhism spread beyond south Asia, through northwest into Central Asia. The Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan and the edicts of Aśoka suggest that the Buddhist monks spread Buddhism (Dharma) in eastern provinces of the Seleucid Empire, and possibly even farther into Western Asia.    The Theravada school spread south from India in the 3rd century BCE, to Sri Lanka, later to Southeast Asia.  Buddhism, by the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE, was prominent in the Himalayan region, Gandhara, Hindu Kush region and Bactria.   
From about 500 BCE through about 300 CE, the Vedic-Brahmanic synthesis or "Hindu synthesis" continued.  Classical Hindu and Sramanic (particularly Buddhist) ideas spread within South Asia, as well outside South Asia.    The Gupta Empire ruled over a large part of the region between 4th and 7th centuries, a period that saw the construction of major temples, monasteries and universities such as the Nalanda.    During this era, and through the 10th century, numerous cave monasteries and temples such as the Ajanta Caves, Badami cave temples and Ellora Caves were built in South Asia.   
Medieval era Edit
Islam came as a political power in the fringe of South Asia in 8th century CE when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh, and Multan in Southern Punjab, in modern-day Pakistan.  By 962 CE, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in South Asia were under a wave of raids from Muslim armies from Central Asia.  Among them was Mahmud of Ghazni, who raided and plundered kingdoms in north India from east of the Indus river to west of Yamuna river seventeen times between 997 and 1030.  Mahmud of Ghazni raided the treasuries but retracted each time, only extending Islamic rule into western Punjab.  
The wave of raids on north Indian and western Indian kingdoms by Muslim warlords continued after Mahmud of Ghazni, plundering and looting these kingdoms.  The raids did not establish or extend permanent boundaries of their Islamic kingdoms. The Ghurid Sultan Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad began a systematic war of expansion into North India in 1173.  He sought to carve out a principality for himself by expanding the Islamic world.   Mu'izz sought a Sunni Islamic kingdom of his own extending east of the Indus river, and he thus laid the foundation for the Muslim kingdom that became the Delhi Sultanate.  Some historians chronicle the Delhi Sultanate from 1192 due to the presence and geographical claims of Mu'izz al-Din in South Asia by that time. 
The Delhi Sultanate covered varying parts of South Asia and was ruled by a series of dynasties, called Mamluk, Khalji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi dynasties. Muhammad bin Tughlaq came to power in 1325, launched a war of expansion and the Delhi Sultanate reached it largest geographical reach over the South Asian region during his 26-year rule.  A Sunni Sultan, Muhammad bin Tughlaq persecuted non-Muslims such as Hindus, as well as non-Sunni Muslims such as Shia and Mahdi sects.   
Revolts against the Delhi Sultanate sprang up in many parts of South Asia during the 14th century. After the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Bengal Sultanate came to power in 1352 CE, as the Delhi Sultanate began disintegrating. The Bengal Sultanate remained in power through the early 16th century. It was reconquered by the armies of the Mughal Empire. The state religion of the Bengal Sultanate was Islam, and the region under its rule, a region that ultimately emerged as the modern nation of Bangladesh, saw a growth of a syncretic form of Islam.   In the Deccan region, the Hindu kingdom Vijayanagara Empire came to power in 1336 and remained in power through the 16th century, after which it too was reconquered and absorbed into the Mughal Empire.  
About 1526, the Punjab governor Dawlat Khan Lodī reached out to the Mughal Babur and invited him to attack Delhi Sultanate. Babur defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. The death of Ibrahim Lodi ended the Delhi Sultanate, and the Mughal Empire replaced it. 
Modern era Edit
The modern history period of South Asia, that is 16th-century onwards, witnessed the start of the Central Asian dynasty named the Mughals, with Turkish-Mongol roots and Sunni Islam theology. The first ruler was Babur, whose empire extended the northwest and Indo-Gangetic Plain regions of South Asia. The Deccan and northeastern region of South Asia was largely under Hindu kings such as those of Vijayanagara Empire and Ahom kingdom,  with some regions such as parts of modern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh under local Sultanates such as the Shia Islamic rulers of Golconda Sultanate. 
The Mughal Empire continued its wars of expansion after Babur's death. With the fall of the Rajput kingdoms and Vijayanagara, its boundaries encompassed almost the entirety of the Indian subcontinent.  The Mughal Empire was marked by a period of artistic exchanges and a Central Asian and South Asian architecture synthesis, with remarkable buildings such as the Taj Mahal.  At its height, the empire was the world's largest economy, worth almost 25% of global GDP, more than the entirety of Western Europe.  
However, this time also marked an extended period of religious persecution.  Two of the religious leaders of Sikhism, Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur were arrested under orders of the Mughal emperors and were asked to convert to Islam, and were executed when they refused.    Religious taxes on non-Muslims called jizya were imposed. Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples were desecrated. However, not all Muslim rulers persecuted non-Muslims. Akbar, a Mughal ruler for example, sought religious tolerance and abolished jizya.    
In Aurangzeb's time, almost all of South Asia was claimed by the Mughal Empire. Under Aurangzeb's rule, South Asia reached its zenith, becoming the world's largest economy and biggest manufacturing power, estimated over 25% of world GDP, a value higher than China's and entire Western Europe's one.   The economic developments on South Asia waved the period of proto-industrialization. 
After the death of Aurangzeb and the collapse of the Mughal Empire, which marks the beginning of modern India, in the early 18th century, it provided opportunities for the Marathas, Sikhs, Mysoreans and Nawabs of Bengal to exercise control over large regions of the Indian subcontinent.  
Maritime trading between South Asia and European merchants began after the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama returned to Europe. British, French, Portuguese colonial interests struck treaties with these rulers and established their trading ports. In northwest South Asia, a large region was consolidated into the Sikh Empire by Ranjit Singh.   After the defeat of the Nawab of Bengal and Tipu Sultan and his French allies, the British Empire expanded their interests till the Hindu Kush region.
Contemporary era Edit
In 1905, the Government of India initiated the partition of Bengal, a decision which was eventually reversed after Indian opposition. However, during the partition of India, Bengal was partitioned into East Pakistan and West Bengal. East Pakistan became the People's Republic of Bangladesh after the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.  
According to Saul Cohen, early colonial era strategists treated South Asia with East Asia, but in reality, the South Asia region excluding Afghanistan is a distinct geopolitical region separated from other nearby geostrategic realms, one that is geographically diverse.  The region is home to a variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands that are typical of much larger continents. It is surrounded by three water bodies – the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea – and has acutely varied climate zones. The tip of the Indian Peninsula had the highest quality pearls. 
Indian plate Edit
Most of this region is resting on the Indian Plate, the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate, separated from the rest of the Eurasian Plate. The Indian Plate includes most of South Asia, forming a land mass which extends from the Himalayas into a portion of the basin under the Indian Ocean, including parts of South China and Eastern Indonesia, as well as Kunlun and Karakoram ranges,   and extending up to but not including Ladakh, Kohistan, the Hindu Kush range and Balochistan.    It may be noted that geophysically the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet is situated at the outside of the border of the regional structure, while the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan are situated inside that border. 
The Indian subcontinent formerly formed part of the supercontinent Gondwana, before rifting away during the Cretaceous period and colliding with the Eurasian Plate about 50–55 million years ago and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. It is the peninsular region south of the Himalayas and Kuen Lun mountain ranges and east of the Indus River and the Iranian Plateau, extending southward into the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea (to the southwest) and the Bay of Bengal (to the southeast).
The climate of this vast region varies considerably from area to area from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north. The variety is influenced by not only the altitude but also by factors such as proximity to the seacoast and the seasonal impact of the monsoons. Southern parts are mostly hot in summers and receive rain during monsoon periods. The northern belt of Indo-Gangetic plains also is hot in summer, but cooler in winter. The mountainous north is colder and receives snowfall at higher altitudes of Himalayan ranges.
As the Himalayas block the north-Asian bitter cold winds, the temperatures are considerably moderate in the plains down below. For the most part, the climate of the region is called the Monsoon climate, which keeps the region humid during summer and dry during winter, and favours the cultivation of jute, tea, rice, and various vegetables in this region.
South Asia is largely divided into four broad climate zones: 
- The northern Indian edge and northern Pakistani uplands have a dry subtropical continental climate
- The far south of India and southwest Sri Lanka have an equatorial climate
- Most of the peninsula has a tropical climate with variations:
- Hot subtropical climate in northwest India
- Cool winter hot tropical climate in Bangladesh
- Tropical semi-arid climate in the center
Maximum relative humidity of over 80% has been recorded in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Sri Lanka, while the area adjustment to Pakistan and western India records lower than 20%–30%.  Climate of South Asia is largely characterized by monsoons. South Asia depends critically on monsoon rainfall.  Two monsoon systems exist in the region: 
- The summer monsoon: Wind blows from the southwest to most parts of the region. It accounts for 70%–90% of the annual precipitation.
- The winter monsoon: Wind blows from the northeast. Dominant in Sri Lanka and Maldives.
The warmest period of the year precedes the monsoon season (March to mid June). In the summer the low pressures are centered over the Indus-Gangetic Plain and high wind from the Indian Ocean blows towards the center. The monsoons are the second coolest season of the year because of high humidity and cloud covering. But, at the beginning of June, the jetstreams vanish above the Tibetan Plateau, low pressure over the Indus Valley deepens and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) moves in. The change is violent. Moderately vigorous monsoon depressions form in the Bay of Bengal and make landfall from June to September. 
Climate change in South Asia is causing a range of challenges including sea level rise, cyclonic activity, and changes in ambient temperature and precipitation patterns. 
Land and water area Edit
This list includes dependent territories within their sovereign states (including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes land and internal waters.
Country Area EEZ Shelf EEZ+TIA Afghanistan 652,864 0 0 652,864 Bangladesh 148,460 86,392 66,438 230,390 Bhutan 38,394 0 0 38,394 India 3,287,263 2,305,143 402,996 5,592,406 Nepal 147,181 0 0 147,181 Maldives 298 923,322 34,538 923,622 Pakistan 881,913 290,000 51,383 1,117,911 Sri Lanka 65,610 532,619 32,453 598,229 Total 5,221,093 4,137,476 587,808 9,300,997
The population of South Asia is about 1.749 billion which makes it the most populated region in the world.  It is socially very mixed, consisting of many language groups and religions, and social practices in one region that are vastly different from those in another. 
There are numerous languages in South Asia. The spoken languages of the region are largely based on geography and shared across religious boundaries, but the written script is sharply divided by religious boundaries. In particular, Muslims of South Asia such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan use the Arabic alphabet and Persian Nastaliq. Till 1952, Muslim-majority Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) also mandated only the Nastaliq script, but after that adopted regional scripts and particularly Bengali, after the Language Movement for the adoption of Bengali as the official language of the then East Pakistan. Non-Muslims of South Asia, and some Muslims in India, on the other hand, use their traditional ancient heritage scripts such as those derived from Brahmi script for Indo-European languages and non-Brahmi scripts for Dravidian languages and others. 
The Nagari script has been the primus inter pares of the traditional South Asian scripts.  The Devanagari script is used for over 120 South Asian languages,  including Hindi,  Marathi, Nepali, Pali, Konkani, Bodo, Sindhi and Maithili among other languages and dialects, making it one of the most used and adopted writing systems in the world.  The Devanagari script is also used for classical Sanskrit texts. 
The largest spoken language in this region is Hindustani language, followed by Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada and Punjabi.  In the modern era, new syncretic languages developed in the region such as Urdu that is used by the Muslim community of northern South Asia (particularly Pakistan and northern states of India).  The Punjabi language spans three religions: Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism. The spoken language is similar, but it is written in three scripts. The Sikh use Gurmukhi alphabet, Muslim Punjabis in Pakistan use the Nastaliq script, while Hindu Punjabis in India use the Gurmukhi or Nāgarī script. The Gurmukhi and Nagari scripts are distinct but close in their structure, but the Persian Nastaliq script is very different. 
English, with British spelling, is commonly used in urban areas and is a major economic lingua franca of South Asia. 
In 2010, South Asia had the world's largest population of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs,  about 510 million Muslims,  as well as over 25 million Buddhists and 35 million Christians.  Hindus make up about 68 percent or about 900 million and Muslims at 31 percent or 510 million of the overall South Asia population,  while Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs constitute most of the rest. The Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians are concentrated in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, while the Muslims are concentrated in Afghanistan (99%), Bangladesh (90%), Pakistan (96%) and Maldives (100%). 
Indian religions are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.  The Indian religions are distinct yet share terminology, concepts, goals and ideas, and from South Asia spread into East Asia and southeast Asia.  Early Christianity and Islam were introduced into coastal regions of South Asia by merchants who settled among the local populations. Later Sindh, Balochistan, and parts of the Punjab region saw conquest by the Arab caliphates along with an influx of Muslims from Persia and Central Asia, which resulted in spread of both Shia and Sunni Islam in parts of northwestern region of South Asia. Subsequently, under the influence of Muslim rulers of the Islamic sultanates and the Mughal Empire, Islam spread in South Asia.   About one-third of the world's Muslims are from South Asia.   
Religion in British India in the 1871-1872 Census (data includes modern-day India, Bangladesh, most of Pakistan (including Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan), Kashmir, and coastal Myanmar)) 
Country State religion Religious population as a percentage of total population Ahmadiyya Buddhism Christianity Hinduism Islam Kiratism Sikhism Others Year reported Afghanistan Islam - - - - 99.7% - - 0.3% 2019  Bangladesh Islam 0.06% 0.6% 0.4% 9.5% 89.5% - - - 2011  Bhutan Vajrayana Buddhism - 74.8% 0.5% 22.6% 0.1% - - 2% 2010   India None - 0.7% 2.3% 79.8% 14.2% - 1.7% 1.3% 2011   Maldives Sunni Islam - - - - 100% - - -    Nepal None - 9% 1.3% 81.3% 4.4% 3% - 0.8% 2013  Pakistan Islam 0.22% - 1.59% 1.85% 96.28% - - 0.07% 2010  Sri Lanka Theravada Buddhism - 70.2% 6.2% 12.6% 9.7% - - 1.4% 2011 
Largest urban areas Edit
South Asia is home to some of the most populated urban areas in the world. According to the 2020 edition of Demographia World Urban Areas, the region contains 8 of the world's 35 megacities (urban areas over 10 million population): 
Rank Urban Area State/Province Country Population  Area (km 2 )  Density (/km 2 )  1 Delhi National Capital Region India 29,617,000 2,232 13,266 2 Mumbai Maharashtra India 23,355,000 944 24,773 3 Kolkata West Bengal India 17,560,000 1,351 12,988 4 Dhaka Dhaka Division Bangladesh 15,443,000 456 33,878 5 Karachi Sindh Pakistan 14,835,000 1,044 14,213 6 Bangalore Karnataka India 13,707,000 1,205 11,381 7 Chennai Tamil Nadu India 11,324,000 1,049 10,795 8 Lahore Punjab Pakistan 11,021,000 853 12,934
Cricket is the most popular sport in South Asia,  with 90% of the sport's fans in the Indian subcontinent. 
India is the largest economy in the region (US$2.957 trillion) and makes up almost 80% of the South Asian economy it is the world's 5th largest in nominal terms and 3rd largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates (US$10.385 trillion).  India is the only member of powerful G-20 major economies and BRICS from the region. It is the fastest-growing major economy in the world and one of the world's fastest registering a growth of 7.3% in FY 2014–15.
India is followed by Bangladesh, which has a GDP of ($378.656 billion) and a GDP per capita of $2214, which is 3rd in the region. It has the fastest GDP growth rate in Asia. It is one of the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world, and It is also listed among the Next Eleven countries. It is also one of the fastest-growing middle-income countries. It has the world's 33rd largest GDP in nominal terms and is the 27th largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates ($1.015 trillion). Bangladesh's economic growth crossed 7% in fiscal 2015–2016 after almost a decade in the region of 6%, It's expected to grow by 8.13% in 2019–2020. Pakistan has an economy of ($314 billion) and ranks 5th in GDP per capita in the region.  Next is Sri Lanka, which has the 2nd highest GDP per capita and the 4th largest economy in the region. According to a World Bank report in 2015, driven by a strong expansion in India, coupled with favorable oil prices, from the last quarter of 2014 South Asia became the fastest-growing region in the world 
According to the World Bank's 2011 report, based on 2005 ICP PPP, about 24.6% of the South Asian population falls below the international poverty line of $1.25/day.  Afghanistan and Bangladesh rank the highest, with 30.6% and 43.3% of their respective populations below the poverty line. Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka have the lowest number of people below the poverty line, with 2.4%, 1.5% and 4.1% respectively. India has lifted the most people in the region above the poverty line between 2008 and 2011, around 140 million. As of 2011, 21.9% of India's population lives below the poverty line, compared to 41.6% in 2005.  
  
Population below poverty line (at $1.9/day) Population under-nourished (2015)  Life expectancy (2018)  (global rank) Global wealth report (2019)    World Bank  (year) Multidimensional Poverty Index (2017)  Population in Extreme poverty (2017) CIA Factbook (2015)  Total national wealth in billion USD (global rank) Wealth per adult in USD Median wealth per adult in USD (golabl rank) Afghanistan 54.5% (2016) 55.9% 24.9% 35.8% 26.8% 64.5 (151st) 25 (116th) 1,463 640 (156th) Bangladesh 24.3% (2016) 41.7% 16.7% 7.5% 16.4% 72.3 (108th) 697 (44th) 6,643 2,787 (117th) Bhutan 8.2% (2017) 37.3% 14.7% 12% No data 71.5 (115th) No Data No Data No Data India 21.9% (2011) 27.9% 8.8% 21.2% 15.2% 69.4 (130th) 12,614 (7th) 14,569 3,042 (115th) Maldives 8.2% (2016) 0.8% 0.0% 16% 5.2% No data 7 (142nd) 23,297 8,555 (74th) Nepal 25.2% (2010) 34% 11.6% 25.2% 7.8% 70.5 (124th) 68 (94th) 3,870 1,510 (136th) Pakistan 24.3% (2015) 38.3% 21.5% 24.3% 22% 67.1 (140th) 465 (49th) 4,096 1,766 (128th) Sri Lanka 4.1% (2016) No data No data 8.9% 22% 76.8 (56th) 297 (60th) 20,628 8,283 (77th)
The major stock exchanges in the region are Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) with market Capitalization of $2.298 trillion (11th largest in the world), National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) with market capitalization of $2.273 trillion (12th largest in the world), Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) with market capitalization of $72 billion.  Economic data is sourced from the International Monetary Fund, current as of April 2017, and is given in US dollars. 
One of the key challenges in assessing the quality of education in South Asia is the vast range of contextual difference across the region, complicating any attempt to compare between countries.  In 2018, 11.3 million children at the primary level and 20.6 million children at the lower secondary level were out-of-school in South Asia, while millions of children completed primary education without mastering the foundational skills of basic numeracy and literacy. 
According to UNESCO, 241 million children between six and fourteen years or 81 percent of the total were not learning in Southern and Central Asia in 2017. Only sub-Saharan Africa had a higher rate of children not learning. Two-thirds of these children were in school, sitting in classrooms. Only 19 percent of children attending primary and lower secondary schools attaining a minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics.   According to a citizen-led assessment, only 48% in Indian public schools and 46% of children in Pakistan public schools could read a class two level text by the time they reached class five.   This poor quality of education in turn has contributed to the some of the highest highest drop-out rates in the world. While over half of the students complete secondary school with acquiring requisite skills. 
In South Asia, classrooms are teacher-centred and rote-based, while children are often subjected to corporal punishment and discrimination.  Different South Asian countries have different education structures. While by 2018 India and Pakistan has two of the most developed and increasingly decentralised education systems, Bangladesh still had a highly centralised system, and Nepal is in a state of transition from a centralized to a decentralized system.  In most South Asian countries children's education is theoretically free the exceptions being the Maldives, where there is no constitutionally guaranteed free education, as well as Bhutan and Nepal where fees are charged by primary schools. But parents are still faced with unmanageable secondary financial demands, including private tuition to make up for the inadequacies of the education system. 
The larger and poorer countries in the region, like India and Bangladesh, struggle financially to get sufficient resources to sustain an education system required for their vast populations, with an added challenge of getting large numbers of out-of-school children enrolled into schools.  Their capacity to deliver inclusive and equitable quality education is limited by low levels of public finance for education,  while the smaller emerging middle-income countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan have been able to achieve universal primary school completion, and are in a better position to focus on quality of education. 
Children's education in the region is also adversely affected by natural and human-made crises including natural hazards, political instability, rising extremism and civil strife that makes it difficult to deliver educational services.  Afghanistan and India are among the top ten countries with the highest number of reported disasters due to natural hazards and conflict. The precarious security situation in Afghanistan is a big barrier in rolling out education programmes on a national scale. 
According to UNICEF, girls face incredible hurdles to pursue their education in the region,  while UNESCO estimated in 2005 that 24 million girls of primary-school age in the region were not receiving any formal education.   Between 1900 and 2005, most of the countries in the region had shown progress in girls' education with Sri Lanka and the Maldives significantly ahead of the others, while the gender gap in education has widened in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bangladesh made the greatest progress in the region in the period increasing girls’ secondary school enrolment from 13 percent to 56 percent in ten years.  
With about 21 million students in 700 universities and 40 thousand colleges India had the one of the largest higher education systems in the world in 2011, accounting for 86 percent of all higher-level students in South Asia. Bangladesh (two million) and Pakistan (1.8 million) stood at distant second and third positions in the region. In Nepal (390 thousand) and Sri Lanka (230 thousand) the numbers were much smaller. Bhutan with only one university and Maldives with none hardly had between them about 7000 students in higher education in 2011. The gross enrolment ratio in 2011 ranged from about 10 percent in Pakistan and Afghanistan to above 20 percent in India, much below the global average of 31 percent. 
Parameters Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka Primary School Enrollment  29% 90% 85% 92% 94% 96% 73% 98% Secondary School Enrollment  49% 54% 78% 68% N/A 72% 38% 96%
According to World Health Organization (WHO), South Asia is home to two out of the three countries in the world still affected by polio, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with 306 & 28 polio cases registered in 2014 respectively.  Attempts to eradicate polio have been badly hit by opposition from militants in both countries, who say the program is cover to spy on their operations. Their attacks on immunization teams have claimed 78 lives since December 2012. 
The World Bank estimates that India is one of the highest ranking countries in the world for the number of children suffering from malnutrition. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world and is nearly double that of Sub Saharan Africa with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity, and economic growth. 
According to the World Bank, 70% of the South Asian population and about 75% of South Asia's poor live in rural areas and most rely on agriculture for their livelihood  according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation. In 2015, approximately 281 million people in the region were malnourished. The report says that Nepal reached both the WFS target as well as MDG and is moving towards bringing down the number of undernourished people to less than 5% of the population.  Bangladesh reached the MDG target with the National Food Policy framework – with only 16.5% of the population undernourished. In India, the malnourished comprise just over 15 percent of the population. While the number of malnourished people in the neighborhood has shown a decline over the last 25 years, the number of under-nourished in Pakistan displays an upward trend. There were 28.7 million hungry in Pakistan in the 1990s – a number that has steadily increased to 41.3 million in 2015 with 22% of the population malnourished. Approximately 194.6 million people are undernourished in India, which accounts for the highest number of people suffering from hunger in any single country.  
The 2006 report stated, "the low status of women in South Asian countries and their lack of nutritional knowledge are important determinants of high prevalence of underweight children in the region". Corruption and the lack of initiative on the part of the government has been one of the major problems associated with nutrition in India. Illiteracy in villages has been found to be one of the major issues that need more government attention. The report mentioned that although there has been a reduction in malnutrition due to the Green Revolution in South Asia, there is concern that South Asia has "inadequate feeding and caring practices for young children". 
Systems of government Edit
Country Capital Forms of government Head of state Head of government Legislature Official language Currency Coat of arms / National Emblems Afghanistan Kabul Unitary presidential Islamic republic President House of Elders,
India is a secular federative parliamentary republic with premier as head of government. With most populous functional democracy in world  and world's longest written constitution,    India has been stably sustaining the political system it adopted in 1950 with no regime change except that by a democratic election. India's sustained democratic freedoms are unique among the world's newer establishments. Since the formation of its republic abolishing British law, it has remained a democracy with civil liberties, an active Supreme Court, and a largely independent press.  India leads region in democracy index. It has a multi-party system in its internal regional politics  whereas alternative transfer of powers to alliances of Indian left-wing and right-wing political parties in national government provide it with characteristics of a two-party state.  India has been facing notable internal religious conflicts and separatism however consistently becoming more and more stable with time.
Foundation of Pakistan lies in Pakistan movement started in colonial India based on Islamic nationalism. Pakistan is a federal parliamentary Islamic republic and was the world's first country to adopt Islamic republic system to modify its republican status under its otherwise secular constitution in 1956. Pakistan's governance is one of the most conflicted in the world. The military rule and the unstable government in Pakistan has become a concern for the South Asian region. Out of 22 appointed Pakistani Prime ministers, none has been able to complete a full term in office.  The nature of Pakistani politics can be characterized as a multi-party system. Pakistan's governance is one of the most conflicted in the region. The military rule and the unstable government in Pakistan have become a concern for the South Asian region. In Nepal, the government has struggled to come in the side of democracy, and it only showed signs in the recent past, basically in the 21st century, to support the democratic system.
Bangladesh is a unitary parliamentary republic. Law of Bangladesh defines it as both Islamic  as well as secular.  The nature of Bangladeshi politics can be characterized as a multi-party system. Bangladesh is a unitary state and parliamentary democracy.  Bangladesh also stands out as one of the few Muslim-majority democracies. "It is a moderate and generally secular and tolerant — though sometimes this is getting stretched at the moment — alternative to violent extremism in a very troubled part of the world", said Dan Mozena, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh's legal code is secular, more citizens are embracing a conservative version of Islam, with some pushing for sharia law, analysts say. Experts say that the rise in conservatism reflects the influence of foreign-financed Islamic charities and the more austere version of Islam brought home by migrant workers in Persian Gulf countries. 
Afghanistan has been a unitary presidential Islamic republic since 2004. Afghanistan has been suffering from one of the most unstable regimes on earth as a result of multiple foreign invasions, civil wars, revolutions and terrorist groups. Persisting instability for decades have left country's economy stagnated and torn and Afghanistan remains one of most poor and least developed countries on the planet, leading to the influx of Afghan refugees to neighboring countries like Iran. 
The unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic of Sri Lanka is oldest sustained democracy in Asia. Tensions between Sinhalese and Tamils led to Sri Lankan civil war that undermined the country's stability for more than two and a half decades.  Sri Lanka however, has been leading region in HDI with per capita GDP well ahead of India and Bangladesh. The political situation in Sri Lanka has been dominated by an increasingly assertive Sinhalese nationalism, and the emergence of a Tamil separatist movement under LTTE, which was suppressed in May 2009.
Nepal was the last Hindu state in world before becoming a secular democratic republic in 2008. The country has been ranked among world's poorest in terms of GDP per capita but has made considerable progress in development indicators outpacing many other South Asian states.
Bhutan is a Buddhist state with a constitutional monarchy. The country has been ranked as the least corrupt and peaceful with most economic freedom in the region in 2016. Myanmar's politics is dominated by a military Junta, which has sidelined the democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Maldives is a unitary presidential republic with Sunni Islam strictly as the state religion.
Governance and stability
Parameters Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka Fragile States Index  102.9 85.7 69.5 75.3 66.2 82.6 92.1 81.8 Corruption Perceptions Index (2019)  (Global rank out of 179 countries) 16 (173rd) 26 (146th) 68 (25th) 41 (80th) 29 (130th) 34 (113th) 32 (120th) 38 (93rd) The Worldwide Governance
Indicators (2015) 
Government Effectiveness 8% 24% 68% 56% 41% 13% 27% 53% Political stability and absence
1% 11% 89% 17% 61% 16% 1% 47% Rule of law 2% 27% 70% 56% 35% 27% 24% 60% Voice and accountability 16% 31% 46% 61% 30% 33% 27% 36%
Regional politics Edit
India has been dominant geopolitical power in the region    and alone accounts for most part of the landmass, population, economy and military expenditure in the region.  India is a major economy, member of G4, has world's third highest military budget  and exerts strong cultural and political influence over the region.   Sometimes referred as a great power or emerging superpower primarily attributed to its large and expanding economic and military abilities, India acts as fulcrum of South Asia.  
Bangladesh and Pakistan are middle powers with sizeable populations and economies with significant impact on regional politics.  
Partition of India in 1947, subsequent violence and territorial disputes left relations between India and Pakistan sour and very hostile  and various confrontations and wars which largely shaped the politics of the region and led to the creation of Bangladesh.  With Yugoslavia, India found Non-Aligned Movement but later entered an agreement with former Soviet Union following western support for Pakistan.  Amid the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, US sent its USS Enterprise to the Indian Ocean what was perceived as a nuclear threat by India.  India's nuclear test in 1974 pushed Pakistan's nuclear program  who conducted nuclear tests in Chagai-I in 1998, just 18 days after India's series of nuclear tests for thermonuclear weapons. 
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 accelerated efforts to form a union to restrengthen deteriorating regional security.  After agreements, the union was finally established in Dhaka in December 1985.  However, deterioration of India-Pakistan ties have led India to emphasize more on sub-regional groups SASEC and BBIN.
South Asia continues to remain least integrated region in the world. Meanwhile, in East Asia, regional trade accounts for 50% of total trade, it accounts for only a little more than 5% in South Asia. 
Populism is a general characteristic of internal politics of India. 
The region, together with part of South Asia, was well known by Europeans as the East Indies or simply the Indies until the 20th century. Chinese sources referred the region as Nanyang (" 南洋 "), which literally means the "Southern Ocean". The mainland section of Southeast Asia was referred to as Indochina by European geographers due to its location between China and the Indian subcontinent and its having cultural influences from both neighboring regions. In the 20th century, however, the term became more restricted to territories of the former French Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). The maritime section of Southeast Asia is also known as the Malay Archipelago, a term derived from the European concept of a Malay race.  Another term for Maritime Southeast Asia is Insulindia (Indian Islands), used to describe the region between Indochina and Australasia. 
The term "Southeast Asia" was first used in 1839 by American pastor Howard Malcolm in his book Travels in South-Eastern Asia. Malcolm only included the Mainland section and excluded the Maritime section in his definition of Southeast Asia.  The term was officially used in the midst of World War II by the Allies, through the formation of South East Asia Command (SEAC) in 1943.  SEAC popularised the use of the term "Southeast Asia," although what constituted Southeast Asia was not fixed for example, SEAC excluded the Philippines and a large part of Indonesia while including Ceylon. However, by the late 1970s, a roughly standard usage of the term "Southeast Asia" and the territories it encompasses had emerged.  Although from a cultural or linguistic perspective the definitions of "Southeast Asia" may vary, the most common definitions nowadays include the area represented by the countries (sovereign states and dependent territories) listed below. This conglomeration of countries is based upon the regions of general proximity formerly controlled or dominated by the Western colonial powers of Great Britain, France, Holland, Spain and the U.S. It bears no universal commonality in culture, language, religion, ethnicity, or system of government.
Ten of the eleven states of Southeast Asia are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), while East Timor is an observer state. Papua New Guinea has stated that it might join ASEAN, and is currently an observer. Sovereignty issues exist over some islands in the South China Sea.
Political divisions Edit
Sovereign states Edit
(km 2 )
(/km 2 )
USD (2020) 
Int$ (2020) 
HDI (2019 report) Capital Brunei 5,765  437,479 74 12,455,000,000 $85,011 0.838 Bandar Seri Begawan Cambodia 181,035  16,718,965 90 26,730,000,000 $5,044 0.594 Phnom Penh East Timor 14,874  1,267,974 85 2,938,000,000 $5,321 0.606 Dili Indonesia 1,904,569  267,670,543 141 1,111,713,000,000 $14,841 0.718 Jakarta Laos 236,800  7,061,507 30 19,127,000,000 $8,684 0.613 Vientiane Malaysia 329,847  31,528,033 96 365,303,000,000 $34,567 0.810 Kuala Lumpur * Myanmar 676,578  53,708,320 79 65,994,000,000 $7,220 0.583 Nay Pyi Taw Philippines 300,000  106,651,394 356 356,814,000,000 $10,094 0.718 Manila Singapore 719.2  5,757,499 8,005 362,818,000,000 $105,689 0.938 Singapore Thailand 513,120  69,428,453 135 529,177,000,000 $21,361 0.777 Bangkok Vietnam 331,210  95,545,962 288 261,637,000,000 $8,677 0.704 Hanoi
Geographical divisions Edit
Southeast Asia is geographically divided into two subregions, namely Mainland Southeast Asia (or the Indochinese Peninsula) and Maritime Southeast Asia (or the similarly defined Malay Archipelago) (Javanese: Nusantara ).
Although Peninsular Malaysia geographically situated in Mainland Southeast Asia, it also shares many similar cultural and ecological affinities with surrounding islands, thus it serves as a bridge of two subregions.  Geographically, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India is also considered a part of Maritime Southeast Asia. Eastern Bangladesh and Northeast India have strong cultural ties with Mainland Southeast Asia and are sometimes considered transregional areas between South Asia and Southeast Asia.  Similarly, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands have strong cultural ties with Maritime Southeast Asia and are sometimes considered transregional areas between Southeast Asia and Australia/Oceania. On some occasions, Sri Lanka has been considered a part of Southeast Asia because of its cultural and religious ties to Mainland Southeast Asia.   The eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which is not a part of Indonesia, namely, Papua New Guinea, is sometimes included as a part of Maritime Southeast Asia, and so are Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau, which were all parts of the Spanish East Indies with strong cultural and linguistic ties to the region, specifically, the Philippines. 
East Timor and the eastern half of Indonesia (east of the Wallace Line in the region of Wallacea) are considered to be geographically associated with Oceania due to their distinctive faunal features. Geologically, the island of New Guinea and its surrounding islands are considered as parts of the Australian continent, connected via the Sahul Shelf. Both Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are located on the Australian Plate, south of the Java Trench. Even though they are geographically closer to Maritime Southeast Asia than mainland Australia, these two Australian external territories are not geologically associated with Asia as none of them is actually on the Sunda Plate. The United Nations geoscheme has classified both island territories as parts of Oceania, under the Australia and New Zealand (Australasia) subregion.
The region was already inhabited by Homo erectus from approximately 1,500,000 years ago during the Middle Pleistocene age.  Homo sapiens, the ancestors of modern Australo-Melanesians, reached the region by around 45,000 years ago,  having moved eastwards from the Indian subcontinent.  Rock art (parietal art) dating from 40,000 years ago (which is currently the world's oldest) has been discovered in the caves of Borneo.  Homo floresiensis also lived in the area up until at least 50,000 years ago, after which they became extinct.  During much of this time the present-day islands of western Indonesia were joined into a single landmass known as Sundaland due to lower sea levels.
In the late Neolithic, the Austronesian peoples, who form the majority of the modern population in Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, and the Philippines, migrated to Southeast Asia from Taiwan in the first seaborne human migration known as the Austronesian Expansion. They arrived in the northern Philippines in 2200 BC and rapidly spread further into the Northern Mariana Islands and Borneo by 1500 BC Island Melanesia by 1300 BC and to the rest of Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Vietnam, and Palau by 1000 BC.   They often settled along coastal areas, assimilating the preexisting Australo-Melanesian peoples such as Orang Asli of peninsular Malaysia, Negritos of the Philippines, and Papuans of New Guinea.  
The Austronesian peoples of Southeast Asia have been seafarers for thousands of years. They spread eastwards to Micronesia and Polynesia, as well as westwards to Madagascar, becoming the ancestors of modern-day Malagasy people, Micronesians, Melanesians, and Polynesians.  Passage through the Indian Ocean aided the colonisation of Madagascar, as well as commerce between Western Asia, eastern coast of India and Chinese southern coast.  Gold from Sumatra is thought to have reached as far west as Rome. Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History about Chryse and Argyre, two legendary islands rich in gold and silver, located in the Indian Ocean. Their vessels, such as the vinta, were capable to sail across the ocean. Magellan's voyage records how much more maneuverable their vessels were, as compared to the European ships.  A slave from the Sulu Sea was believed to have been used in Magellan's voyage as a translator.
Studies presented by the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) through genetic studies of the various peoples of Asia show empirically that there was a single migration event from Africa, whereby the early people travelled along the south coast of Asia, first entered the Malay peninsula 50,000–90,000 years ago. The Orang Asli, in particular the Semang who show Negrito characteristics, are the direct descendants of these earliest settlers of Southeast Asia. These early people diversified and travelled slowly northwards to China, and the populations of Southeast Asia show greater genetic diversity than the younger population of China.  
Solheim and others have shown evidence for a Nusantao maritime trading network ranging from Vietnam to the rest of the archipelago as early as 5000 BC to 1 AD.  The Bronze Age Dong Son culture flourished in Northern Vietnam from about 1000 BC to 1 BC. Its influence spread to other parts Southeast Asia.    The region entered the Iron Age era in 500 BC, when iron was forged also in northern Vietnam still under Dong Son, due to its frequent interactions with neighboring China. 
Most Southeast Asian people were originally animist, engaged in ancestors, nature, and spirits worship. These belief systems were later supplanted by Hinduism and Buddhism after the region, especially coastal areas, came under contact with Indian subcontinent during the 1st century.  Indian Brahmins and traders brought Hinduism to the region and made contacts with local courts.  Local rulers converted to Hinduism or Buddhism and adopted Indian religious traditions to reinforce their legitimacy, elevate ritual status above their fellow chief counterparts and facilitate trade with South Asian states. They periodically invited Indian Brahmins into their realms and began a gradual process of Indianisation in the region.    Shaivism was the dominant religious tradition of many southern Indian Hindu kingdoms during the 1st century. It then spread into Southeast Asia via Bay of Bengal, Indochina, then Malay Archipelago, leading to thousands of Shiva temples on the islands of Indonesia as well as Cambodia and Vietnam, co-evolving with Buddhism in the region.   Theravada Buddhism entered the region during the 3rd century, via maritime trade routes between the region and Sri Lanka.  Buddhism later established a strong presence in Funan region in the 5th century. In present-day mainland Southeast Asia, Theravada is still the dominant branch of Buddhism, practiced by the Thai, Burmese, and Cambodian Buddhists. This branch was fused with the Hindu-influenced Khmer culture. Mahayana Buddhism established presence in Maritime Southeast Asia, brought by Chinese monks during their transit in the region en route to Nalanda.  It is still the dominant branch of Buddhism practiced by Indonesian and Malaysian Buddhists.
The spread of these two Indian religions confined the adherents of Southeast Asian indigenous beliefs into remote inland areas. Maluku Islands and New Guinea were never Indianised and its native people were predominantly animists until the 15th century when Islam began to spread in those areas.  While in Vietnam, Buddhism never managed to develop strong institutional networks due to strong Chinese influence.  In present-day Southeast Asia, Vietnam is the only country where its folk religion makes up the plurality.   Recently, Vietnamese folk religion is undergoing a revival with the support of the government.  Elsewhere, there are ethnic groups in Southeast Asia that resisted conversion and still retain their original animist beliefs, such as the Dayaks in Kalimantan, the Igorots in Luzon, and the Shans in eastern Myanmar. 
Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms era Edit
After the region came under contact with the Indian subcontinent circa 400 BCE, it began a gradual process of Indianisation where Indian ideas such as religions, cultures, architectures, and political administrations were brought by traders and religious figures and adopted by local rulers. In turn, Indian Brahmins and monks were invited by local rulers to live in their realms and help transforming local polities to become more Indianised, blending Indian and indigenous traditions.    Sanskrit and Pali became the elite language of the region, which effectively made Southeast Asia part of the Indosphere.  Most of the region had been Indianised during the first centuries, while the Philippines later Indianised circa 9th century when Kingdom of Tondo was established in Luzon.  Vietnam, especially its northern part, was never fully Indianised due to the many periods of Chinese domination it experienced. 
The first Indian-influenced polities established in the region were the Pyu city-states that already existed circa 2nd century BCE, located in inland Myanmar. It served as an overland trading hub between India and China.  Theravada Buddhism was the predominant religion of these city states, while the presence of other Indian religions such as Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism were also widespread.   In the 1st century, the Funan states centered in Mekong Delta were established, encompassed modern-day Cambodia, southern Vietnam, Laos, and eastern Thailand. It became the dominant trading power in mainland Southeast Asia for about five centuries, provided passage for Indian and Chinese goods and assumed authority over the flow of commerce through Southeast Asia.  In maritime Southeast Asia, the first recorded Indianised kingdom was Salakanagara, established in western Java circa 2nd century CE. This Hindu kingdom was known by the Greeks as Argyre (Land of Silver). 
By the 5th century CE, trade networking between East and West was concentrated in the maritime route. Foreign traders were starting to use new routes such as Malacca and Sunda Strait due to the development of maritime Southeast Asia. This change resulted in the decline of Funan, while new maritime powers such as Srivijaya, Tarumanagara, and Medang emerged. Srivijaya especially became the dominant maritime power for more than 5 centuries, controlling both Strait of Malacca and Sunda Strait.  This dominance started to decline when Srivijaya were invaded by Chola Empire, a dominant maritime power of Indian subcontinent, in 1025.  The invasion reshaped power and trade in the region, resulted in the rise of new regional powers such as the Khmer Empire and Kahuripan.  Continued commercial contacts with the Chinese Empire enabled the Cholas to influence the local cultures. Many of the surviving examples of the Hindu cultural influence found today throughout Southeast Asia are the result of the Chola expeditions. [note 2]
As Srivijaya influence in the region declined, The Hindu Khmer Empire experienced a golden age during the 11th to 13th century CE. The empire's capital Angkor hosts majestic monuments—such as Angkor Wat and Bayon. Satellite imaging has revealed that Angkor, during its peak, was the largest pre-industrial urban centre in the world.  The Champa civilisation was located in what is today central Vietnam, and was a highly Indianised Hindu Kingdom. The Vietnamese launched a massive conquest against the Cham people during the 1471 Vietnamese invasion of Champa, ransacking and burning Champa, slaughtering thousands of Cham people, and forcibly assimilating them into Vietnamese culture. 
During the 13th century CE, the region experienced Mongol invasions, affected areas such as Vietnamese coast, inland Burma and Java. In 1258, 1285 and 1287, the Mongols tried to invade Đại Việt and Champa.  The invasions were unsuccessful, yet both Dai Viet and Champa agreed to become tributary states to Yuan dynasty to avoid further conflicts.  The Mongols also invaded Pagan Kingdom in Burma from 1277 to 1287, resulted in fragmentation of the Kingdom and rise of smaller Shan States ruled by local chieftains nominally submitted to Yuan dynasty.   However, in 1297, a new local power emerged. Myinsaing Kingdom became the real ruler of Central Burma and challenged the Mongol rule. This resulted in the second Mongol invasion of Burma in 1300, which was repulsed by Myinsaing.   The Mongols would later in 1303 withdrawn from Burma.  In 1292, The Mongols sent envoys to Singhasari Kingdom in Java to ask for submission to Mongol rule. Singhasari rejected the proposal and injured the envoys, enraged the Mongols and made them sent a large invasion fleet to Java. Unbeknownst to them, Singhasari collapsed in 1293 due to a revolt by Kadiri, one of its vassals. When the Mongols arrived in Java, a local prince named Raden Wijaya offered his service to assist the Mongols in punishing Kadiri. After Kadiri was defeated, Wijaya turned on his Mongol allies, ambushed their invasion fleet and forced them to immediately leave Java.  
After the departure of the Mongols, Wijaya established the Majapahit Empire in eastern Java in 1293. Majapahit would soon grow into a regional power. Its greatest ruler was Hayam Wuruk, whose reign from 1350 to 1389 marked the empire's peak when other kingdoms in the southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali came under its influence. Various sources such as the Nagarakertagama also mention that its influence spanned over parts of Sulawesi, Maluku, and some areas of western New Guinea and southern Philippines, making it one of the largest empire to ever exist in Southeast Asian history.  ( p107 ) By the 15th century CE however, Majapahit's influence began to wane due to many war of successions it experienced and the rise of new Islamic states such as Samudera Pasai and Malacca Sultanate around the strategic Strait of Malacca. Majapahit then collapsed around 1500. It was the last major Hindu kingdom and the last regional power in the region before the arrival of the Europeans.  
Spread of Islam Edit
Islam began to make contacts with Southeast Asia in the 8th-century CE, when the Umayyads established trade with the region via sea routes.    However its spread into the region happened centuries later. In the 11th century, a turbulent period occurred in the history of Maritime Southeast Asia. The Indian Chola navy crossed the ocean and attacked the Srivijaya kingdom of Sangrama Vijayatungavarman in Kadaram (Kedah) the capital of the powerful maritime kingdom was sacked and the king was taken captive. Along with Kadaram, Pannai in present-day Sumatra and Malaiyur and the Malayan peninsula were attacked too. Soon after that, the king of Kedah Phra Ong Mahawangsa became the first ruler to abandon the traditional Hindu faith, and converted to Islam with the Sultanate of Kedah established in 1136. Samudera Pasai converted to Islam in 1267, the King of Malacca Parameswara married the princess of Pasai, and the son became the first sultan of Malacca. Soon, Malacca became the center of Islamic study and maritime trade, and other rulers followed suit. Indonesian religious leader and Islamic scholar Hamka (1908–1981) wrote in 1961: "The development of Islam in Indonesia and Malaya is intimately related to a Chinese Muslim, Admiral Zheng He." 
There are several theories to the Islamization process in Southeast Asia. Another theory is trade. The expansion of trade among West Asia, India and Southeast Asia helped the spread of the religion as Muslim traders from Southern Yemen (Hadramout) brought Islam to the region with their large volume of trade. Many settled in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. This is evident in the Arab-Indonesian, Arab-Singaporean, and Arab-Malay populations who were at one time very prominent in each of their countries. Finally, the ruling classes embraced Islam and that further aided the permeation of the religion throughout the region. The ruler of the region's most important port, Malacca Sultanate, embraced Islam in the 15th century, heralding a period of accelerated conversion of Islam throughout the region as Islam provided a positive force among the ruling and trading classes. Gujarati Muslims played a pivotal role in establishing Islam in Southeast Asia. 
Trade and colonisation Edit
Trade among Southeast Asian countries has a long tradition. The consequences of colonial rule, struggle for independence, and in some cases war influenced the economic attitudes and policies of each country. 
From 111 BC to 938 AD northern Vietnam was under Chinese rule. Vietnam was successfully governed by a series of Chinese dynasties including the Han, Eastern Han, Eastern Wu, Cao Wei, Jin, Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang, Sui, Tang, and Southern Han.
Records from Magellan's voyage show that Brunei possessed more cannon than European ships, so the Chinese must have been trading with them. 
Malaysian legend has it that a Chinese Ming emperor sent a princess, Hang Li Po, to Malacca, with a retinue of 500, to marry Sultan Mansur Shah after the emperor was impressed by the wisdom of the sultan. Han Li Po's well (constructed 1459) is now a tourist attraction there, as is Bukit Cina, where her retinue settled.
The strategic value of the Strait of Malacca, which was controlled by Sultanate of Malacca in the 15th and early 16th century, did not go unnoticed by Portuguese writer Duarte Barbosa, who in 1500 wrote: "He who is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice".
Western influence started to enter in the 16th century, with the arrival of the Portuguese in Malacca, Maluku and the Philippines, the latter being settled by the Spanish years later. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the Dutch established the Dutch East Indies the French Indochina and the British Strait Settlements. By the 19th century, all Southeast Asian countries were colonised except for Thailand.
European explorers were reaching Southeast Asia from the west and from the east. Regular trade between the ships sailing east from the Indian Ocean and south from mainland Asia provided goods in return for natural products, such as honey and hornbill beaks from the islands of the archipelago. Before the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the Europeans mostly were interested in expanding trade links. For the majority of the populations in each country, there was comparatively little interaction with Europeans and traditional social routines and relationships continued. For most, a life with subsistence-level agriculture, fishing and, in less developed civilizations, hunting and gathering was still hard. 
Europeans brought Christianity allowing Christian missionaries to become widespread. Thailand also allowed Western scientists to enter its country to develop its own education system as well as start sending Royal members and Thai scholars to get higher education from Europe and Russia.
During World War II, Imperial Japan invaded most of the former western colonies. The Shōwa occupation regime committed violent actions against civilians such as the Manila massacre and the implementation of a system of forced labour, such as the one involving 4 to 10 million romusha in Indonesia.  A later UN report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of famine and forced labour during the Japanese occupation.  The Allied powers who defeated Japan in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II then contended with nationalists to whom the occupation authorities had granted independence.
Gujarat, India had a flourishing trade relationship with Southeast Asia in the 15th and 16th centuries.  The trade relationship with Gujarat declined after the Portuguese invasion of Southeast Asia in the 17th century. 
The United States took the Philippines from Spain in 1898. Internal autonomy was granted in 1934, and independence in 1946. 
Contemporary history Edit
Most countries in the region enjoy national autonomy. Democratic forms of government and the recognition of human rights are taking root. ASEAN provides a framework for the integration of commerce and regional responses to international concerns.
China has asserted broad claims over the South China Sea, based on its nine-dash line, and has built artificial islands in an attempt to bolster its claims. China also has asserted an exclusive economic zone based on the Spratly Islands. The Philippines challenged China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2013, and in Philippines v. China (2016), the Court ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China's claims.  
Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia and is also the largest archipelago in the world by size (according to the CIA World Factbook). Geologically, the Indonesian Archipelago is one of the most volcanically active regions in the world. Geological uplifts in the region have also produced some impressive mountains, culminating in Puncak Jaya in Papua, Indonesia at 5,030 metres (16,503 feet), on the island of New Guinea it is the only place where ice glaciers can be found in Southeast Asia. The highest mountain in Southeast Asia is Hkakabo Razi at 5,967 metres (19,577 feet) and can be found in northern Burma sharing the same range of its parent peak, Mount Everest.
The South China Sea is the major body of water within Southeast Asia. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore, have integral rivers that flow into the South China Sea.
Mayon Volcano, despite being dangerously active, holds the record of the world's most perfect cone which is built from past and continuous eruption. 
Geographically, Southeast Asia is bounded to the southeast by the Australian continent, the boundary between these two regions runs through Wallacea.
Geopolitically, the boundary lies between Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian region of Western New Guinea (Papua and West Papua). Both countries share the island of New Guinea.
The climate in Southeast Asia is mainly tropical–hot and humid all year round with plentiful rainfall. Northern Vietnam and the mountainous parts of Laos and Myanmar are the only regions in Southeast Asia that feature a subtropical climate, which have a cooler winter with potential snow. The majority of Southeast Asia has a wet and dry season caused by seasonal shifts in winds or monsoon. The tropical rain belt causes additional rainfall during the monsoon season. The rainforest is the second largest on Earth (with the Amazon rainforest being the largest). An exception to this type of climate and vegetation is the mountain areas in the northern region, where high altitudes lead to milder temperatures and drier landscape. Other parts fall out of this climate because they are desert-like.
Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the world.   Climate change will have a big effect on agriculture in Southeast Asia such as irrigation systems will be affected by changes in rainfall and runoff, and subsequently, water quality and supply.  Climate change is also likely to pose a serious threat to the fisheries industry in Southeast Asia.  Despite being one of the most vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change in the world, Southeast Asian countries are lagging behind in terms of their climate mitigation measures. 
The vast majority of Southeast Asia falls within the warm, humid tropics, and its climate generally can be characterised as monsoonal. The animals of Southeast Asia are diverse on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, the orangutan, the Asian elephant, the Malayan tapir, the Sumatran rhinoceros and the Bornean clouded leopard can also be found. Six subspecies of the binturong or bearcat exist in the region, though the one endemic to the island of Palawan is now classed as vulnerable.
Tigers of three different subspecies are found on the island of Sumatra (the Sumatran tiger), in peninsular Malaysia (the Malayan tiger), and in Indochina (the Indochinese tiger) all of which are endangered species.
The Komodo dragon is the largest living species of lizard and inhabits the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang in Indonesia.
The Philippine eagle is the national bird of the Philippines. It is considered by scientists as the largest eagle in the world,  and is endemic to the Philippines' forests.
The wild Asian water buffalo, and on various islands related dwarf species of Bubalus such as anoa were once widespread in Southeast Asia nowadays the domestic Asian water buffalo is common across the region, but its remaining relatives are rare and endangered.
The mouse deer, a small tusked deer as large as a toy dog or cat, mostly can be found on Sumatra, Borneo (Indonesia), and in Palawan Islands (Philippines). The gaur, a gigantic wild ox larger than even wild water buffalo, is found mainly in Indochina. There is very little scientific information available regarding Southeast Asian amphibians. 
Birds such as the green peafowl and drongo live in this subregion as far east as Indonesia. The babirusa, a four-tusked pig, can be found in Indonesia as well. The hornbill was prized for its beak and used in trade with China. The horn of the rhinoceros, not part of its skull, was prized in China as well.
The Indonesian Archipelago is split by the Wallace Line. This line runs along what is now known to be a tectonic plate boundary, and separates Asian (Western) species from Australasian (Eastern) species. The islands between Java/Borneo and Papua form a mixed zone, where both types occur, known as Wallacea. As the pace of development accelerates and populations continue to expand in Southeast Asia, concern has increased regarding the impact of human activity on the region's environment. A significant portion of Southeast Asia, however, has not changed greatly and remains an unaltered home to wildlife. The nations of the region, with only a few exceptions, have become aware of the need to maintain forest cover not only to prevent soil erosion but to preserve the diversity of flora and fauna. Indonesia, for example, has created an extensive system of national parks and preserves for this purpose. Even so, such species as the Javan rhinoceros face extinction, with only a handful of the animals remaining in western Java.
The shallow waters of the Southeast Asian coral reefs have the highest levels of biodiversity for the world's marine ecosystems, where coral, fish, and molluscs abound. According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat (Indonesia) is the highest recorded on Earth. Diversity is considerably greater than any other area sampled in the Coral Triangle composed of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea. The Coral Triangle is the heart of the world's coral reef biodiversity, the Verde Passage is dubbed by Conservation International as the world's "center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity". The whale shark, the world's largest species of fish and 6 species of sea turtles can also be found in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean territories of the Philippines.
The trees and other plants of the region are tropical in some countries where the mountains are tall enough, temperate-climate vegetation can be found. These rainforest areas are currently being logged-over, especially in Borneo.
While Southeast Asia is rich in flora and fauna, Southeast Asia is facing severe deforestation which causes habitat loss for various endangered species such as orangutan and the Sumatran tiger. Predictions have been made that more than 40% of the animal and plant species in Southeast Asia could be wiped out in the 21st century.  At the same time, haze has been a regular occurrence. The two worst regional hazes were in 1997 and 2006 in which multiple countries were covered with thick haze, mostly caused by "slash and burn" activities in Sumatra and Borneo. In reaction, several countries in Southeast Asia signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution to combat haze pollution.
The 2013 Southeast Asian Haze saw API levels reach a hazardous level in some countries. Muar experienced the highest API level of 746 on 23 June 2013 at around 7 am. 
Even prior to the penetration of European interests, Southeast Asia was a critical part of the world trading system. A wide range of commodities originated in the region, but especially important were spices such as pepper, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. The spice trade initially was developed by Indian and Arab merchants, but it also brought Europeans to the region. First, Spaniards (Manila galleon) who sailed from the Americas and Kingdom of Portugal, then the Dutch, and finally the British and French became involved in this enterprise in various countries. The penetration of European commercial interests gradually evolved into annexation of territories, as traders lobbied for an extension of control to protect and expand their activities. As a result, the Dutch moved into Indonesia, the British into Malaya and parts of Borneo, the French into Indochina, and the Spanish and the US into the Philippines. An economic effect of this imperialism was the shift in the production of commodities. For example, the rubber plantations of Malaysia, Java, Vietnam, and Cambodia, the tin mining of Malaya, the rice fields of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and the Irrawaddy River delta in Burma, were a response to the powerful market demands. 
The overseas Chinese community has played a large role in the development of the economies in the region. The origins of Chinese influence can be traced to the 16th century, when Chinese migrants from southern China settled in Indonesia, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries.  Chinese populations in the region saw a rapid increase following the Communist Revolution in 1949, which forced many refugees to emigrate outside of China. 
The region's economy greatly depends on agriculture rice and rubber have long been prominent exports. Manufacturing and services are becoming more important. [ citation needed ] An emerging market, Indonesia is the largest economy in this region. Newly industrialised countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, while Singapore and Brunei are affluent developed economies. The rest of Southeast Asia is still heavily dependent on agriculture, but Vietnam is notably making steady progress in developing its industrial sectors. [ citation needed ] The region notably manufactures textiles, electronic high-tech goods such as microprocessors, and heavy industrial products such as automobiles. [ citation needed ] Oil reserves in Southeast Asia are plentiful. [ citation needed ]
Seventeen telecommunications companies contracted to build the Asia-America Gateway submarine cable to connect Southeast Asia to the US  This is to avoid disruption of the kind caused by the cutting of the undersea cable from Taiwan to the US in the 2006 Hengchun earthquakes.
Tourism has been a key factor in economic development for many Southeast Asian countries, especially Cambodia. According to UNESCO, "tourism, if correctly conceived, can be a tremendous development tool and an effective means of preserving the cultural diversity of our planet."  Since the early 1990s, "even the non-ASEAN nations such as Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Burma, where the income derived from tourism is low, are attempting to expand their own tourism industries."  In 1995, Singapore was the regional leader in tourism receipts relative to GDP at over 8%. By 1998, those receipts had dropped to less than 6% of GDP while Thailand and Lao PDR increased receipts to over 7%. Since 2000, Cambodia has surpassed all other ASEAN countries and generated almost 15% of its GDP from tourism in 2006.  Furthermore, Vietnam is considered as a rising power in Southeast Asia due to its large foreign investment opportunities and the booming tourism sector, despite only having their trade embargo lifted in 1995.
Indonesia is the only member of G-20 major economies and is the largest economy in the region.  Indonesia's estimated gross domestic product for 2020 was US$1,088.8 billion (nominal) or $3,328.3 billion (PPP) with per capita GDP of US$4,038 (nominal) or $12,345 (PPP). 
Stock markets in Southeast Asia have performed better than other bourses in the Asia-Pacific region in 2010, with the Philippines' PSE leading the way with 22 percent growth, followed by Thailand's SET with 21 percent and Indonesia's JKSE with 19 percent.  
Southeast Asia's GDP per capita is US$4,685 according to a 2020 International Monetary Fund estimates, which is comparable to South Africa, Iraq, and Georgia. 
Country Currency Population
(2020)  
(2020) $ billion 
GDP per capita
Main industries Brunei B$ Brunei dollar 437,479 $10.647 $23,117 0.1% 0.3% Petroleum, Petrochemicals, Fishing Cambodia ៛ Riel 16,718,965 $26.316 $1,572 -2.8% 2.5% Clothing, Gold, Agriculture East Timor US$ US dollar 1,318,445 $1.920 $1,456 -6.8% 0.9% Petroleum, Coffee, Electronics Indonesia Rp Rupiah 270,203,917  $1,088.768 $4,038 -1.5% 2.1% Coal, Petroleum, Palm oil Laos ₭ Kip 7,275,560 $18.653 $2,567 0.2% 6.5% Copper, Electronics, Tin Malaysia RM Ringgit 32,365,999 $336.330 $10,192 -6% -1.1% Electronics, Petroleum, Palm oil Myanmar K Kyat 54,409,800 $70.890 $1,333 2% 6.1% Natural gas, Agriculture, Clothing Philippines ₱ Peso 109,581,078 $367.362 $3,373 -8.3% 2.4% Electronics, Timber, Automotive Singapore S$ Singapore dollar 5,850,342 $337.451 $58,484 -6% -0.4% Electronics, Petroleum, Chemicals Thailand ฿ Baht 69,799,978 $509.200 $7,295 -7.1% -0.4% Electronics, Automotive, Rubber Vietnam ₫ Đồng 97,338,579 $340.602 $3,498 2.9% 3.8% Electronics, Clothing, Petroleum
Southeast Asia has an area of approximately 4,500,000 square kilometres (1,700,000 sq mi). As of 2018, around 655 million people live in the region, more than a fifth live (143 million) on the Indonesian island of Java, the most densely populated large island in the world. Indonesia is the most populous country with 268 million people, and also the 4th most populous country in the world. The distribution of the religions and people is diverse in Southeast Asia and varies by country. Some 30 million overseas Chinese also live in Southeast Asia, most prominently in Christmas Island, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, and also as the Hoa in Vietnam. People of Southeast Asian origins are known as Southeast Asians or Aseanites.
Ethnic groups Edit
The Aslians and Negritos were believed as one of the earliest inhabitants in the region. They are genetically related to the Papuans in Eastern Indonesia, East Timor and Australian Aborigines. In modern times, the Javanese are the largest ethnic group in Southeast Asia, with more than 100 million people, mostly concentrated in Java, Indonesia. The second-largest ethnic group in Southeast Asia is Vietnamese (Kinh people) with around 86 million population, mainly inhabiting in Vietnam, thus forming a significant minority in neighboring Cambodia and Laos. The Thais is also a significant ethnic group with around 59 million population forming the majority in Thailand. In Burma, the Burmese account for more than two-thirds of the ethnic stock in this country, with the Indo-Aryan Rohingya make up a significant minority in Rakhine State.
Indonesia is clearly dominated by the Javanese and Sundanese ethnic groups, with hundreds of ethnic minorities inhabited the archipelago, including Madurese, Minangkabau, Bugis, Balinese, Dayak, Batak and Malays. While Malaysia is split between more than half Malays and one-quarter Chinese, and also Indian minority in the West Malaysia however Dayaks make up the majority in Sarawak and Kadazan-dusun makes up the majority in Sabah which are in the East Malaysia. The Malays are the majority in West Malaysia and Brunei, while they forming a significant minority in Indonesia, Southern Thailand, East Malaysia and Singapore. In city-state Singapore, Chinese are the majority, yet the city is a multicultural melting pot with Malays, Indians and Eurasian also called the island their home.
The Chams form a significant minority in Central and South Vietnam, also in Central Cambodia. While the Khmers are the majority in Cambodia and form a significant minority in Southern Vietnam and Thailand, the Hmong people are the minority in Vietnam, China, and Laos.
Within the Philippines, the Tagalog, Visayan (mainly Cebuanos, Warays and Hiligaynons), Ilocano, Bicolano, Moro (mainly Tausug, Maranao, and Maguindanao) and Central Luzon (mainly Kapampangan and Pangasinan) groups are significant.
Countries in Southeast Asia practice many different religions. By population, Islam is the most practised faith, numbering approximately 240 million adherents, or about 40% of the entire population, concentrated in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Southern Thailand and in the Southern Philippines. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world.
There are approximately 205 million Buddhists in Southeast Asia, making it the second-largest religion in the region, after Islam. Approximately 38% of the global Buddhist population resides in Southeast Asia. Buddhism is predominant in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Singapore. Ancestor worship and Confucianism are also widely practised in Vietnam and Singapore.
Christianity is predominant in the Philippines, eastern Indonesia, East Malaysia, and East Timor. The Philippines has the largest Roman Catholic population in Asia. [ citation needed ] East Timor is also predominantly Roman Catholic due to a history of Indonesian  and Portuguese rule. In October 2019, the number of Christians, both Catholic and Protestant in Southeast Asia, reached 156 million, of which 97 million came from the Philippines, 26 million came from Indonesia, 11 million came from Vietnam, and the rest came from Malaysia, Myanmar, East Timor, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei.
No individual Southeast Asian country is religiously homogeneous. Some groups are protected de facto by their isolation from the rest of the world.  In the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, Hinduism is dominant on islands such as Bali. Christianity also predominates in the rest of the part of the Philippines, New Guinea, Flores and Timor. Pockets of Hindu population can also be found around Southeast Asia in Singapore, Malaysia, etc. Garuda, the phoenix who is the mount (vahanam) of Vishnu, is a national symbol in both Thailand and Indonesia in the Philippines, gold images of Garuda have been found on Palawan gold images of other Hindu gods and goddesses have also been found on Mindanao. Balinese Hinduism is somewhat different from Hinduism practised elsewhere, as Animism and local culture is incorporated into it. Christians can also be found throughout Southeast Asia they are in the majority in East Timor and the Philippines, Asia's largest Christian nation. In addition, there are also older tribal religious practices in remote areas of Sarawak in East Malaysia, Highland Philippines, and Papua in eastern Indonesia. In Burma, Sakka (Indra) is revered as a Nat. In Vietnam, Mahayana Buddhism is practised, which is influenced by native animism but with a strong emphasis on ancestor worship.
The religious composition for each country is as follows: Some values are taken from the CIA World Factbook: 
Country Religions Andaman and Nicobar Islands Hinduism (69%), Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and others Brunei Islam (67%), Buddhism, Christianity, others (indigenous beliefs, etc.) Cambodia Buddhism (97%), Islam, Christianity, Animism, others East Timor Roman Catholicism (97%), Protestantism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism Indonesia Islam (87.18%), Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, others  Laos Buddhism (67%), Animism, Christianity, others Malaysia Islam (60.4%), Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Animism Myanmar (Burma) Buddhism (89%), Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Animism, others Philippines Roman Catholicism (80.6%), Islam (6.9%-11%),  Evangelicals (2.7%), Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) (2.4%), Other Protestants (3.8%), Buddhism (0.05%-2%),  Animism (0.2%-1.25%), others (1.9%)  Singapore Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, others Thailand Buddhism (94.50%), Islam (4.06%), Christianity (0.7%), Hinduism (0.011%), others (0.094%) Vietnam Vietnamese folk religion (45.3%), Buddhism (16.4%), Christianity (8.2%), Other (0.4%), Unaffiliated (29.6%) 
Each of the languages has been influenced by cultural pressures due to trade, immigration, and historical colonization as well. There are nearly 800 native languages in the region.
The language composition for each country is as follows (with official languages in bold):
Indonesia has over 700 languages in over 17,000 islands across the archipelago, making Indonesia the second most linguistically diverse country on the planet,  slightly behind Papua New Guinea. The official language of Indonesia is Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), widely used in educational, political, economic, and other formal situations. In daily activities and informal situations, most Indonesians speak in their local language(s). For more details, see: Languages of Indonesia.
The Philippines has more than a hundred native languages, most without official recognition from the national government. Spanish and Arabic are on a voluntary and optional basis. Malay (Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia), Mandarin, Lan-nang (Hokkien), Cantonese, Hakka, Japanese and Korean are also spoken in the Philippines due to immigration, geographic proximity and historical ties. See: Languages of the Philippines
The culture in Southeast Asia is very diverse: on mainland Southeast Asia, the culture is a mix of Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Thai (Indian) and Vietnamese (Chinese) cultures. While in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia the culture is a mix of indigenous Austronesian, Indian, Islamic, Western, and Chinese cultures. Also Brunei shows a strong influence from Arabia. Vietnam and Singapore show more Chinese influence  in that Singapore, although being geographically a Southeast Asian nation, is home to a large Chinese majority and Vietnam was in China's sphere of influence for much of its history. Indian influence in Singapore is only evident through the Tamil migrants,  which influenced, to some extent, the cuisine of Singapore. Throughout Vietnam's history, it has had no direct influence from India – only through contact with the Thai, Khmer and Cham peoples. Moreover, Vietnam is also categorized under the East Asian cultural sphere along with China, Korea, and Japan due to a large amount of Chinese influence embedded in their culture and lifestyle.
Rice paddy agriculture has existed in Southeast Asia for millennia, ranging across the subregion. Some dramatic examples of these rice paddies populate the Banaue Rice Terraces in the mountains of Luzon in the Philippines. Maintenance of these paddies is very labour-intensive. The rice paddies are well-suited to the monsoon climate of the region.
Stilt houses can be found all over Southeast Asia, from Thailand and Vietnam to Borneo, to Luzon in the Philippines, to Papua New Guinea. The region has diverse metalworking, especially in Indonesia. This includes weaponry, such as the distinctive kris, and musical instruments, such as the gamelan.
The region's chief cultural influences have been from some combination of Islam, India, and China. Diverse cultural influence is pronounced in the Philippines, derived particularly from the period of Spanish and American rule, contact with Indian-influenced cultures, and the Chinese and Japanese trading era.
As a rule, the peoples who ate with their fingers were more likely influenced by the culture of India, for example, than the culture of China, where the peoples ate with chopsticks tea, as a beverage, can be found across the region. The fish sauces distinctive to the region tend to vary.
The arts of Southeast Asia have an affinity with the arts of other areas. Dance in much of Southeast Asia includes movement of the hands as well as the feet, to express the dance's emotion and meaning of the story that the ballerina is going to tell the audience. Most of Southeast Asia introduced dance into their court in particular, Cambodian royal ballet represented them in the early 7th century before the Khmer Empire, which was highly influenced by Indian Hinduism. Apsara Dance, famous for strong hand and feet movement, is a great example of Hindu symbolic dance.
Puppetry and shadow plays were also a favoured form of entertainment in past centuries, a famous one being Wayang from Indonesia. The arts and literature in some of Southeast Asia are quite influenced by Hinduism, which was brought to them centuries ago. Indonesia, despite conversion to Islam which opposes certain forms of art, has retained many forms of Hindu-influenced practices, culture, art, and literature. An example is the Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet) and literature like the Ramayana. The wayang kulit show has been recognized by UNESCO on 7 November 2003, as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
It has been pointed out that Khmer and Indonesian classical arts were concerned with depicting the life of the gods, but to the Southeast Asian mind, the life of the gods was the life of the peoples themselves—joyous, earthy, yet divine. The Tai, coming late into Southeast Asia, brought with them some Chinese artistic traditions, but they soon shed them in favour of the Khmer and Mon traditions, and the only indications of their earlier contact with Chinese arts were in the style of their temples, especially the tapering roof, and in their lacquerware.
Traditional music in Southeast Asia is as varied as its many ethnic and cultural divisions. Main styles of traditional music can be seen: Court music, folk music, music styles of smaller ethnic groups, and music influenced by genres outside the geographic region.
Of the court and folk genres, Gong chime ensembles and orchestras make up the majority (the exception being lowland areas of Vietnam). Gamelan and Angklung orchestras from Indonesia, Piphat /Pinpeat ensembles of Thailand and Cambodia and the Kulintang ensembles of the southern Philippines, Borneo, Sulawesi and Timor are the three main distinct styles of musical genres that have influenced other traditional musical styles in the region. String instruments also are popular in the region.
On 18 November 2010, UNESCO officially recognized angklung as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and encourage the Indonesian people and government to safeguard, transmit, promote performances and to encourage the craftsmanship of angklung making.
The history of Southeast Asia has led to a wealth of different authors, from both within and without writing about the region.
Originally, Indians were the ones who taught the native inhabitants about writing. This is shown through Brahmic forms of writing present in the region such as the Balinese script shown on split palm leaf called lontar (see image to the left — magnify the image to see the writing on the flat side, and the decoration on the reverse side).
The antiquity of this form of writing extends before the invention of paper around the year 100 in China. Note each palm leaf section was only several lines, written longitudinally across the leaf, and bound by twine to the other sections. The outer portion was decorated. The alphabets of Southeast Asia tended to be abugidas, until the arrival of the Europeans, who used words that also ended in consonants, not just vowels. Other forms of official documents, which did not use paper, included Javanese copperplate scrolls. This material would have been more durable than paper in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia.
In Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore, the Malay language is now generally written in the Latin script. The same phenomenon is present in Indonesian, although different spelling standards are utilised (e.g. 'Teksi' in Malay and 'Taksi' in Indonesian for the word 'Taxi').
The use of Chinese characters, in the past and present, is only evident in Vietnam and more recently, Singapore and Malaysia. The adoption of Chinese characters in Vietnam dates back to around 111 B.C. when it was occupied by the Chinese. A Vietnamese script called Chữ Nôm used modified Chinese characters to express the Vietnamese language. Both classical Chinese and Chữ Nôm were used up until the early 20th century.
However, the use of the Chinese script has been in decline, especially in Singapore and Malaysia as the younger generations are in favour of the Latin Script.
Different Countries in Southeast Asia
In northern Thailand, the dry season extends from November through May, with the latter half of that time period experiencing higher relative temperatures. Expect temperatures to hover around 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) in Bangkok during this time. The rainy season up north starts in May and ends in November. In places like Chiang Mai and Pai, this means cloudy, hot, and sticky weather, but with less rainfall than southern destinations. Southern Thailand is different however, with the east and west coasts experiencing a slightly offset rainy season. Generally speaking, the monsoonal rains run roughly from June through October, with September being the wettest month overall. Yet, on the Andaman side of Thailand (near Phuket and Koh Lanta) rains come as early as April and in the east (near Koh Tao and Koh Samui) monsoon rains hold off until September.
The nice thing about traveling to Laos is that the weather isn't affected by coastal proximity. And while both a dry and rainy season still exist, travel here year-round can be pleasant. Northern Laos experiences a tropical climate, while the southern part of the country is subequatorial, making the weather experience wildly different across its various regions. Add to that the mountainous highlands, where additional cooling and a drop in humidity takes place no matter what the season. In the dry season, from November to April, the northeast monsoonal winds bring cooler temps and low humidity with an average temperature in Vientiane of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), perfect for visiting the Buddhist temples and shrines. But during the rainy season, from January to May, expect heat and humidity to persevere with the same city experiencing 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) on average.
Vietnam doesn't have significant shifts in weather or temperature throughout the year, but because of its elongated shape, the weather differs significantly between the north and the south. Temperatures in Hanoi can be quite cool, actually, with lows reaching 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) during the months of December, January, and February. Northern regions have hot and humid summers and cool and wet winters. The southern part of Vietnam lies within the tropical monsoon zone with November through April being relatively dry and May through October being the rainy season when average temperatures in Ho Chi Minh City are 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Hit the beach in the south during the dry season to enjoy tolerable weather and a cool dip, or surf, in the ocean.
The tropical islands of Indonesia make an excellent choice for destination travel. When Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and other northern locales are inundated with rain, these islands are experiencing their dry season with temperatures in Bali averaging around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). The Indonesian archipelago is broad and geological features can influence the weather, though you'll always find a relatively dry nook or cranny to enjoy, even during the rainy season. Days are coolest during the dry season, which opposes Thailand's dry season and lasts from June to September, when temperatures hover around 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius). It's a great time to lounge on a remote beach or go snorkeling or diving to see world-class coral reefs. July is the busiest month to visit, but come November and April, the rains come in and the place clears out.
Like Indonesia, the Philippines is spread across a vast archipelago with many islands, volcanoes, and geological features that affect weather. Although technically farther east than much of Southeast Asia, the Philippines is still subject to the southwest monsoon season which brings heavy rains from June to September. Because certain island destinations are difficult to reach when the seas become rough, it's best to visit during the dry season from December to May. However, avoid May and October if possible, however, as typhoons can touch down during these months causing mass devastation and leaving you stranded. June and July are some of the coolest months in Manila, hovering around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), making it a great time to walk around the ancient walled city of Old Manila.
Tiny Singapore is only 1.5 degrees north of the equator where the weather remains reasonably consistent throughout the year. Here, no particular season is better than another for traveling. The temperatures stay pretty much the same throughout the year, averaging around 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), but scorching afternoons can shoot up over 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Luckily, showers tend to pop up at random times during the day to cool things down. So, grab a jacket before you head out to the country's famous botanical gardens because, while the seasons barely differ here, you may encounter a passing shower should you visit between November and January.
Formative Chinese Civilization
Timeline of China
2000 BC-500 AD
1 2 3 4 5 4 6 4 7 8 9 10 11 12 dynasties 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 Xia Shang Western Zhou Han Tang Song Yuan Ming Qing 4 periods of major disunity 11 Republic of China 12 People's Republic of China
Summary of Chinese History
ca. 2000 BC-500 AD
formative age of Chinese civilization (Xia > Shang > Western Zhou > Han) medieval China
"golden age" of China (Tang and Song) > age of Mongol rule (Yuan) modern China
Early Modern China (Ming and Qing) > Republic (interwar government) > PRC (modern China)
Civilization in East Asia began ca. 2000 BC, with the rise of the city of Erlitou by the Yellow River. 54 The culture that flourished at this city (and peripheral settlements) is known as the Erlitou civilization . It is uncertain whether this marks the birth of Chinese civilization.
The oldest historical dynasty of China is the Shang dynasty, which began ca. 1600 BC. It is "historical" in that written records of the dynasty have been confirmed by archaeological evidence thus, the history of the state of China definitely extends back to at least 1600 BC. Written records also claim that the Shang were preceded by the Xia dynasty, which spanned ca. 2000-1600 BC. This period roughly matches the lifespan of the Erlitou civilization.
Consequently, it has been proposed that the "Erlitou civilization" was simply the first phase of the Chinese state, ruled by the Xia dynasty. Physical evidence for this claim is scarce, however Erlitou may have been a distinct state that preceded China. Regardless, Erlitou civilization should be included in a summary of Chinese history, as it exerted strong cultural influence on the Shang dynasty.
The resilience of the Chinese state is truly remarkable. Time and again, the nation was torn apart by civil war, peasant revolt, and/or foreign invasion, and each time it recovered and prospered once more. Invaders came from only one place: the Eurasian Steppe (see History of the Steppe). A76,14
Chinese history can be divided into ancient, medieval, and modern periods. The ancient period was the formative age of Chinese civilization in other words, it was during this period that China grew into a strong, centralized state, and the core elements of Chinese culture developed. These elements include the Chinese writing system, Confucianism, and a professional civil service. 14,16,23
Since ancient times, Confucianism has remained the most influential school of philosophy in China. Though not a religion (see Religion), it has served an equivalent role, given that it provides detailed guidance on how people should live. Confucianism is primarily concerned with social order it assigns everyone a rank within a social hierarchy (including within the family) and prescribes duties for each rank, as well as rules for interaction between and within ranks. A75
Confucianism encourages preservation of traditional ways and obedience to one's "betters" in the social hierarchy. It could therefore be argued that, while effective for maintaining political and social order, Confucianism inhibits progress. Innovation is discouraged, foreign ideas are rejected, and questioning of authority is unthinkable. A75-76,A203,A483-85
Another key feature of Chinese civilization was a professional, merit-based, and extremely powerful civil service. Civil servants enjoyed generous salaries and staff, and were considered to occupy the second tier of Chinese society (beneath the royal family). Thanks to competitive evaluations (for admissions and promotions) and anti-nepotism laws, corruption was a minor problem, at least in times of peace and stability. A196
These competitive evaluations were based primarily on written exams that tested knowledge of Confucian texts, which ensured that a strong Confucianist focus was maintained throughout the entire civil service. Perhaps this is the secret to China's longevity: though often torn apart by invasion or civil war, the civil service (unified by the ideals of Confucianism) was always there to put the nation back together and restore traditional society, regardless of which dynasty was in charge. A75,A194-96
The ancient period began with three long dynasties: Xia , Shang , and Western Zhou . Throughout these dynasties, Chinese union was only loosely achieved. The Western Zhou dynasty was succeeded by a long period of civil war.
Civil strife was finally ended by the Qin dynasty, which lasted less than two decades. It was succeeded by the much longer Han dynasty, under which China finally became a strongly unified state, and Chinese civilization emerged in its fully mature form. A69,19,48 (Given the brevity of the Qin dynasty, it is omitted from the timeline at the beginning of this section.)
Starting with the Han dynasty, and continuing throughout the medieval period, Chinese technological progress was unmatched anywhere in the world. Gunpowder, paper, the compass, the mechanical clock, and the blast furnace were all invented in China, centuries before they came into use by Europeans. A193 Indeed, gunpowder and paper (to take two key examples) were invented exclusively by China.
Mature Chinese Civilization
Timeline of China
2000 BC-500 AD
1 2 3 4 5 4 6 4 7 8 9 10 11 12 dynasties 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 Xia Shang Western Zhou Han Tang Song Yuan Ming Qing 4 periods of major disunity 11 Republic of China 12 People's Republic of China
Summary of Chinese History
ca. 2000 BC-500 AD
formative age of Chinese civilization (Xia > Shang > Western Zhou > Han) medieval China
"golden age" of China (Tang and Song) > age of Mongol rule (Yuan) modern China
Early Modern China (Ming and Qing) > Republic (interwar government) > PRC (modern China)
The Han dynasty was followed by another long, politically fractured age, which spanned the remainder of antiquity and stretched into the medieval period. China was finally reunited by the Sui dynasty (which lasted only decades), followed by the much longer Tang dynasty. (Due to its brevity, the Sui dynasty is omitted from the above timeline.)
The Tang dynasty and its successor, the Song dynasty, are often together considered the golden age of China. Chinese science, art, and literature all flourished brilliantly during this period. Moreover, the golden age witnessed the diffusion of Chinese culture to Korea and Japan, thus adding those regions to the sphere of East Asian civilization. 29
China fell completely under foreign rule for the first time when it was conquered by the Mongol Empire (ca. 1200-1300). When this happened, the capital of the Mongol Empire was moved to China, and the Mongol emperor took on the additional role of Chinese emperor. Thus began the Yuan dynasty (aka Mongol dynasty). By the time China had been conquered, however, the Mongol Empire was on the verge of falling apart when this occurred (ca. 1300), the Yuan dynasty's power became limited to China and Mongolia.
Native Chinese rule resumed with the Ming dynasty, which carried China into the modern period. Together, the Ming and Qing dynasties comprise early modern China, which featured unprecedented prosperity, stability, and expansion of population and territory. 49,50 The Ming moved the Chinese capital to Beijing (where it has remained), at the heart of which they built the Forbidden City , a palace complex that served as the centre of Chinese government throughout the Ming/Qing period.
By this time, China had developed a strong commercial naval presence in the waters of Southeast Asia. Chinese voyages seeking trade (or demanding tribute) plied this region, and even ventured westward as far as Arabia and East Africa. Unlike Europe, however, China showed no interest in overseas conquest or colonization. A203,K238-39
Another mysterious feature of early modern China is the seizing-up of technological progress. As noted earlier, China was the clear technological leader of the medieval world. Yet in the Early Modern period, Chinese invention stagnated, while Europe entered a permanent state of rapid scientific progress.
This dramatic historic reversal may be explained by the exceptional conservatism that emerged in the late Ming dynasty and persisted throughout the Qing dynasty. It included a policy of extreme isolationism, which prohibited most international trade and travel consequently, the aforementioned merchant navy was dismantled. Although China was already resistant to foreign ideas, this heightened isolationism virtually guaranteed that European advances would remain unknown. (Meanwhile, Europe adopted foreign advances at every opportunity, including those of China.)
Perhaps the sheer prosperity and stability of the Ming/Qing period was detrimental to technological progress. In a Confucianist society, stable conditions are ideal for the strict maintenance of tradition. Arguably, only an environment of conflict and uncertainty can interrupt this tradition sufficiently to generate innovation.
The Qing dynasty (aka Manchu dynasty) was China's second period of foreign rule. The Manchu are the native people of Manchuria today, they constitute an ethnic minority within China. 27 Although the Qing brought China to new heights of peace and prosperity, this dynasty eventually declined to overpopulation, famine, and government corruption, leaving the nation vulnerable to European imperialism. The culmination of this decline was the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest civil conflict in history. B283,26
Japan and Korea
The history of Korea will be given only the briefest of treatments here. From ancient times, various native kingdoms emerged in this region. Starting with the Han dynasty, China intermittently fought with these kingdoms, sometimes gaining partial control of the Korean peninsula. Multiple kingdoms ruled Korea until the late medieval period, when the peninsula was united as a single state (Choson). This state endured until the Second World War, after which the peninsula was divided into North and South Korea. 56
A Japanese state did not emerge until the early medieval period, when the Yamato clan achieved loose control over much of Japan (ca. 500). As Chinese influence radiated from the west, the Yamato chief adopted the title of emperor, and a Chinese-style bureaucratic government was established (though the actual governing power of the Japanese emperor would never rival that of his Chinese counterpart). 31 The "age of Yamato rule" (ca. 500-800) was the formative period of Japanese civilization.
Timeline of Japan
1 2 3 4 5 1 age of Yamato rule ca. 500-800 2 Heian period ca. 800-1200 3 shogunate ca. 1200-1870 4 imperial Japan ca. 1870-WWII 5 modern Japan ca. WWII-present
Summary of Japanese History
age of Yamato rule
the Yamato clan (with its chief as emperor) rules Japan Heian period
nobles of the Fujiwara clan rule Japan shogunate
warlords rule Japan
(civil war between regional warlords > unity under the Tokugawa)
Japan, ruled by an oligarchy, modernizes and amasses a Pacific empire modern Japan
Japan flourishes as a democracy
In terms of protection from hostile foreigners, geography was kind to Japan. Whereas China and Korea endured frequent invasions by Steppe nomads, Japan experienced only two. Both were attempted by the Mongols during the Mongol Empire period, and both were repelled. A209,A275
Ca. 800, the emperor became a figurehead as power was usurped by royal officials, especially members of the Fujiwara clan, who fractured the nation into semi-independent regions thus did Japan become a decentralized oligarchy. (All emperors from this point forward in Japanese history are figureheads.) The era of Fujiwara rule, known as the Heian period (ca. 800-1200), witnessed the maturation of Japanese civilization, in which adopted Chinese cultural material developed into uniquely Japanese forms. 31
The Heian period ended in civil war. 30 It was succeeded by the shogunate (ca. 1200-1870), a military dictatorship ruled by the "shogun", whose actual ruling power was initially limited. 43 During the first half of the shogunate period, Japan was torn apart by civil war between independent regions, each ruled by local captains and their soldiers. 31
The shogunate, like Ming/Qing China, banned virtually all contact (including trade) with the outside world. This plunged Japan into centuries of isolation. As in China, the ruling elite was determined to maintain stability and order, to which the outside world was perceived as a serious threat. A275,B211
The second half of the shogunate period, known as the Edo period (aka Tokugawa period), witnessed the firm union of Japan under the Tokugawa dynasty. The stability of this period has earned it the nickname Great Peace. Moreover, despite Japan's severe isolation, the Edo period featured vibrant economic growth. A274,K242-43
In the mid-19th century, Japan's destiny was changed forever when it was forced (by the United States) to open trade relations with the West, conducted under severely lopsided agreements. Soon after this traumatic event, the shogun was deposed by an oligarchy of nobles (i.e. clan leaders) who set Japan on a path of rapid modernization, military build-up, and expansionism. (This reaction to Western imperialism contrasts sharply with that of China, where modernization would not be embraced for some decades.)
The ensuing period may be termed the imperial age of Japan (ca. 1870-WWII). An early victory was the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), in which Japan battled Russia for control of Manchuria and Korea. Japanese victory came as a surprise to the world, and announced the nation's rise as a great power. A392-3,3,30
Japan fought with the Allies in World War I. During the interwar period, the nation prepared to assemble a massive Pacific empire allying with Germany and Italy, these plans were executed during World War II (see World War II). 3 After the war, Japan was subject to American occupation, which was withdrawn only gradually. 30
Postwar Japan served as a key American ally during the Cold War. The nation also embraced democracy and achieved a tremendous economic recovery. 42 As of 2012, Japan was the world's third-largest economy.
Unlike South Asia, China was never added to a European empire. In the nineteenth century, however, China faced the same inescapable fate as Japan, as European powers (especially Britain) forced the nation to open trade relations under skewed terms early Chinese exports (of which tea was the largest) flowed mainly to Britain. With the fall of the shogunate, China also had to contend with Japanese expansionism. K240-41,15
When the Qing dynasty was finally overthrown, a nominal republic (actually a dictatorship) was established, though its governing power was limited by internal dissent and a rival party (the communist party). This Republic of China spanned roughly the interwar period. The country became sharply divided, as the government maintained popularity in the cities but faced a surging tide of rural unrest, due to neglect and mistreatment of the agricultural population. A447-48,15,40
For several years after World War II, war raged within China between the Republic government and the aforementioned communist party this struggle is known as the Chinese Civil War . The communists ultimately won, largely by garnering rural support via promises of land redistribution. They subsequently established the current Chinese government: the People's Republic of China (also a dictatorship). The ousted republic government took refuge on Taiwan (along with some two million supporters), which it continues to govern to this day. K424-25 (The name "Republic of China" now denotes Taiwan.)
The leader of the communist party was Mao Zedong, who ruled China until the 1970s. 45 Though his reign was incredibly brutal, Mao remained in power until his death from natural causes.
China thus became a Cold War enemy of the United States (see Cold War). While Chinese relations with the USSR were initially strong, they quickly deteriorated, leaving China in the unusual position of being a communist Cold War nation outside the Soviet sphere. Two main factors in this deterioration may be identified: imperial rivalry and disagreement over Marxist policy. The first factor is evident enough, as Russia had been eroding Chinese territory for centuries. A482
The disagreement over Marxist policy requires a more detailed explanation. Marxism is a political theory that capitalist governments will eventually be overthrown by the working class, who will establish a "dictatorship of the proletariat" (see Marxism). This dictatorship will proceed to transform the nation into a communist state (in which there is no government: everything is owned in common, and all production and distribution is conducted according to ability and need).
The USSR was the first country to put this theory into practice this nation's approach to Marxism is often referred to as orthodox Marxism (or "Leninism", or "Marxism-Leninism"). According to this approach, city workers (as opposed to rural workers) will be the driving force behind the creation of a communist state therefore, one prerequisite to communism is a large urban working class, which means that a Marxist nation must pursue rapid industrialization. Orthodox Marxism also calls for a large bureaucracy, for although the "dictatorship of the proletariat" will be overseen by the working class, the administration of this dictatorship will be conducted by a bureaucracy of highly-educated intellectuals. A482-84,51
At first, Mao's government embraced orthodox Marxism, and consequently enjoyed a rich flow of Soviet funding and technological expertise. Before long, however, Mao alienated Russia by shifting to a starkly different vision of the path to communism, which came to be known as Maoism. This unorthodox version of Marxism was limited mainly to Mao-era China. A482-84,44
Mao had watched as Soviet Marxism, despite its lofty stated intentions, gave rise to widespread government corruption and economic stagnation. This contributed to his view that intellectuals and bureaucrats cannot be trusted, as they are only interested in seizing power for themselves. Indeed, he came to argue that any political or economic centralization would generally result in corruption and poor economic growth. A482-84,44,46
Mao claimed that the true force for communist reform lay in the country rather than the city a natural opinion for Mao to hold, given the political division of China (which, as noted earlier, consisted of rural support for the communists and urban support for the Republic). Instead of urban workers and intellectual-bureaucrats, Mao argued that the communist transition would be led by rural workers (i.e. the Chinese peasantry) guided by their own simple wisdom (and, of course, Mao's enlightened rule). 46
Mao first put his views into action with the Great Leap Forward , a several-year program implemented ca. 1960. It was intended to boost economic growth via rapid decentralization, including small-scale communal farms and factories. One infamous example of the latter is Mao's plan for national steel production, which was to be achieved in thousands of tiny backyard furnaces. Apart from being massively unrealistic, the Great Leap Forward was poorly and hastily implemented, ultimately begetting a terrible famine that killed tens of millions. A482,45
The other principal event of Mao's reign was the Cultural Revolution , which spanned his final ten years in office. 46 It was essentially a massive campaign of violence against intellectuals, bureaucrats, and political rivals, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions imprisoned or driven from the country. Universities were shut down, traditional and foreign art and literature were widely destroyed, and Mao's personal writings became compulsory study material. A483,47
Although China has remained a dictatorship since the age of Mao, state control of the economy has been relaxed, allowing for foreign investment and privatization of much industry. 40 China's economy has since taken a dramatic upturn, currently reigning as the world's second-largest.
In the late twentieth century, four Asian nations apart from the three giants (Japan, China, and India) achieved extraordinary economic growth and development. 3 These so-called Asian Tigers are South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. (While actually part of China, Hong Kong is largely autonomous, and is thus often discussed as though it were a separate nation.) In the view of the IMF, the Asian Tigers are the only countries in East/South/Southeast Asia apart from Japan to reach "developed" status. 52
East and South Asia
HIST 15200 Introduction to East Asian Civilization II (J. Ketelaar) This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This is a three-quarter sequence on the civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea, with emphasis on major transformation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. Taking these courses in sequence is not required.
HIST 14303 Modern Korean History (J. Jeon, Teaching Fellow) This course focuses on the modern history of a country that is well known for shifting its course at dizzying speed. Beginning with the last monarchic dynasty's "opening" to the world in the late nineteenth century, the course will move on to deal with radical transformations such as Japanese colonization and Korea's subsequent liberation in 1945 the civil war, national division, and dictatorship in the two Koreas and the economic miracle and democratization in the South and nuclear development in the North. How do we understand recent events, such as the South Korean president's impeachment in 2017 and the North Korean leader's high-profile diplomatic détentes in 2018? Do they come out of nowhere, or can we find an underlying consistency based on an understanding of the long twentieth century? Through a careful study of Korea's modern history, this course is designed to reveal the longer trajectories of Korea's historical development, showing how the study of this contentious peninsula becomes a study of modern world history.
HIST 24508 Human Rights in Japanese History (K. Pan, Von Holst Prize Lecturer) This course examines how the modern concept of "rights" and "human rights" localized in Japan and how different parties in Japan have used the language of human rights in attempts to remake Japan's social, cultural, and legal landscape. We will explore a wide range of topics including the translation of Eurocentric rights talk in East Asia, colonization and decolonization, statelessness and migration, transitional justice and reconciliation, biopolitical rights and bio-citizenship, indigenous rights, and women and gender-specific rights. Throughout the course we pay special attention to the ways in which rights talk and human-rights politics in Japan intertwine with the country's efforts to modernize and build the "nation within the empire" and, after its defeat in WWII, to close off its "long postwar" and reconcile with its neighbors. This is an introductory course, and no previous knowledge of Japanese history or the international history of human rights is required. However, you should be prepared to read (and watch, browse, and listen to) a wide array of primary and secondary sources that destabilize the most common vocabulary and concepts we take for granted in contemporary human-rights talk such as race, state responsibility, and the very notion of universalism so central to the idea of human rights.
HIST 24806 History of Japanese Philosophy (J. Ketelaar) What is philosophy and why does looking at Japanese philosophy make a difference? By examining Buddhist, Confucian, Shinto, and modern academic philosophical traditions, this course will provide a history of ideas found in Japan and central to thinking about being/nonbeing, government, ethics, aesthetics, economics, faith, and practice.
HIST 56706 Colloquium: Modern Korean History II (B. Cumings) To the extent possible, research papers should be based in primary materials ideally this means Korean, Japanese, or Chinese materials, but some students cannot use Korean or another East Asian language for research until they embark on dissertations. An abundance of English-language research materials are available on twentieth-century Korea: American, Korean, and Japanese official reports, the Foreign Relations of the United States series, newspapers, paper collections, microfilms, dissertations based in primary materials, etc.
HIST 59000 Colloquium: Persian Historical Texts (J. Woods) This course will focus on the study and utilization of narrative, normative, and archival sources in Persian. Texts of the major Iranian historians and biographers will be subjected to close reading and analysis. The scripts, protocols, and formula used by Irano-Islamic chancelleries will also be introduced and the form and content of published and unpublished archival documents will be transcribed and examined in their institutional context. Knowledge of Persian required.
Watch the video: The History of Southeast Asia: Every Year (May 2022).