Region - Southeast Asia
Central Asia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/central_asia.htm) | East Asia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/east_asia.htm) | Southeast Asia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia.htm) | South Asia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/south_asia.htm)
Of the Asian regions, this is probably the most diverse and sprawling region, with the greatest variety of cultures, ranging from the world's most populous Islamic country (Indonesia) to a nation where the King must be a Buddhist (Thailand).
Geographically too, this regions encompasses both mainland nations, (Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, etc.), island nations (Indonesia and the Philippines), nations which have both a mainland and an island component such as Malaysia. These nations have varied populations, each nation having one or more dominant peoples, but also being home to a variety of tribal and other ethnic groups, many of which share linguistic, racial, and tribal ties to groups in other countries. Linguistically, this area is home to a multiplicity of languages; this is evidenced in the national languages of Singapore, a small country of 3 million people with 4 official languages: English, Hindi, Malay, and Chinese. A variety of alphabets and writing systems too exist in Southeast Asia: the Roman, Thai, Arabic, Burmese scripts are all vastly different, as are the Chinese characters used in Singapore and in Chinese Diaspora communities in Southeast Asia.
However, this area does share similarities other than simple geography. Historically, they have been subject to waves of influence and conquest: they have been vastly influenced by Indian culture and Indian civilizations of the past (Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma all share remnants of these vanished Indian civilizations.) All have also been greatly influenced by China, primarily in the area of trade and settlement; all are home to overseas Chinese communities with dominance in the fields of trade, economics and with ties to mainland China. All were subject to colonization and domination by the West (Thailand alone managed to remain free of outright colonization), by Portugal, Spain, France, Britain, the US, etc. All were conquered and ruled by Japan during WWII and have a lasting legacy from both Western and Japanese domination. The area today shares many security and economic ties as well as development and modernization issues.
- Brunei (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/brunei/intro.htm)
- Burma (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/burma/intro.htm)
- Cambodia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/cambodia/intro.htm)
- East Timor (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/east_timor/intro.htm)
- Indonesia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/indonesia/intro.htm)
- Laos (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/laos/intro.htm)
- Malaysia (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/malaysia/intro.htm)
- Philippines (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/philippines/intro.htm)
- Singapore (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/singapore/intro.htm)
- Thailand (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/thailand/intro.htm)
- Vietnam (http://asia.isp.msu.edu/wbwoa/southeast_asia/vietnam/intro.htm)