11.5 Chapter Summary

Southeast Asia consists of two central geographic regions: the mainland portion that borders China and the insular region that consists of islands or portions of them between Asia and Australia. The large island of Borneo is split between the three countries of Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The only region of Southeast Asia that was not colonized by European countries was the Kingdom of Siam, which is part of the current country of Thailand. This French-colonized region has been often referred to as French Indochina. Britain, Holland, Portugal, and Spain were also primary colonizers of the realm.

Southeast Asia is diverse in both human and its physical landscapes. Tropical climates dominate the realm with mountains and coastal areas covering the mainland surfaces. This realm has a high rate of seismic activity with many active volcanoes and is susceptible to earthquake activity.

All the main world religions can be found here. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. East Timor and the Philippines are the only two predominantly Christian countries in Asia. Buddhism is the dominant religion of the mainland region. Both Malaysia and Singapore have sizeable Hindu minority groups.

Economic activities vary in Southeast Asia, with Singapore being an economic tiger and Brunei being an oil-rich emirate. Thailand is becoming a major manufacturing center, and the Philippines has been a destination for outsourced information jobs. Landlocked Laos and isolated Burma (Myanmar) have weak economies. Vietnam and Cambodia are recovering from political isolation.

Indonesia has the fourth-largest population in the world. Half of its people live on the island of Java. The Indonesian island of Bali has a Hindu majority and is a notable tourist destination. The island of Timor is divided between an Indonesian western half and the independent eastern half of East Timor, which is a former Portuguese colony.

 

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Introduction to World Regional Geography by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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