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Chapter 10 – Southeast Asia. A – The Southeast Asian Realm B – Insular Southeast Asia C – Continental Southeast Asia. A. The Southeast Asian Realm. Major issues A fragmented realm of numerous island countries and peninsulas.

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chapter 10 southeast asia

Chapter 10 – Southeast Asia

A – The Southeast Asian Realm

B – Insular Southeast Asia

C – Continental Southeast Asia

the southeast asian realm


The Southeast Asian Realm
  • Major issues
    • A fragmented realm of numerous island countries and peninsulas.
    • Physiography dominated by high relief, crustal instability, and tropical climates.
    • Exhibits characteristics of a shatter belt:
      • Political instability and conflict
    • Clustered population patterns.
    • Poor intraregional communications.
    • Cultural fragmentation (complex ethnic, linguistic, and religious patterns), situated in river basins.
the southeast asian realm1
The Southeast Asian Realm

Shan Highlands

Arakan Yoma

Mountain chains and valleys

Red River


Annamite Chain

Chao Phrya






the southeast asian realm2
The Southeast Asian Realm
  • A zone of interaction
    • Defined during WWII:
      • Political definition for a theater of operation.
    • Multicultural (Malay-Indonesian dominance).
    • Several political, economic and cultural forces:
      • China (cultural and immigrants).
      • India (cultural and immigrants).
      • Middle East (Islam after the 10th Century).
      • Europe (colonialism after the 16th century).
      • Japan (occupation WWII).
      • USA (Since 1898).


East Asia




Middle East

Southeast Asia


the southeast asian realm3
The Southeast Asian Realm
  • External influences
    • Have been stronger than internal influences.
    • China brought civilization and technology (early history).
    • India brought religion (Hinduism and Buddhism).
    • Middle Eastern countries brought Islam and trade.
    • Europe brought trade and colonialism.
    • USA and Japan brought imperialism (at different levels):
      • Recently brought trade and development.
  • Indochina
    • Often used to define the region.
    • Hint at the strong historical Chinese and Indian influence.
    • Notably refers to the former French colonies of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
southeast asian nations
Southeast Asian Nations






South China



Strait of Malacca



Pacific Ocean



Strait of


Indian Ocean

colonial territories in pacific asia by 1900
Colonial Territories in Pacific Asia by 1900




Great Britain


Hong Kong






Spain (USA

after 1898)



Dutch East Indies

East Timor

the southeast asian realm4
The Southeast Asian Realm
  • Maritime space
    • Archipelago of about 25,000 islands.
    • Plate tectonics created north-south ridges:
      • Intense volcanism.
      • Subduction.
    • Most of the Southeast Asian part of the Eurasian plate was above water during the last Ice Age (up to 16,000 years ago).
  • Huxley’s Line
    • Deep ocean trench separating Southeast Asia in two.
    • Division between the Asian and Australian ecosystems.
    • Also known as the Wallace Line.
the southeast asian realm5
The Southeast Asian Realm

Southeast Asia today

Land above sea level

18,000 years ago

Pacific Plate



Eurasian Plate


Huxley’s Line

Indo-Australian Plate


the southeast asian realm6
The Southeast Asian Realm
  • Shatter belt
    • Caught between stronger colliding external forces, under persistent stress, and often fragmented by aggressive rivals.
    • Historical and contemporary significance.
    • Theater of conflict during the cold war (1945-1991).
    • Vietnam Wars.
    • Cambodian Genocide.
  • Variety of political, economic and cultural landscapes
    • Least advanced economies of the region:
      • Laos, Cambodia and Burma.
    • Emerging nations:
      • Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand.
    • The leader: Singapore.
major ethnic groups in southeast asia
Major Ethnic Groups in Southeast Asia







the southeast asian realm7
The Southeast Asian Realm
  • Altitudinal ethnic stratification
    • Prevalent in Monsoon Asia, especially Southeast Asia.
    • Fertile / flatland occupied by the dominant ethnic group; higher populations.
    • Marginalization increases with altitude; isolation and lower populations.
  • Mekong
    • Lowlands: Vietnamese / Khmer.
    • Midlands: Lao.
    • Highlands: Hmong.



Dominant ethnic group




the southeast asian realm8
The Southeast Asian Realm
  • Southeast Asian Problems
    • Straining resources such as petroleum and lumber:
      • Destruction of the tropical forest.
      • Over fishing and coral reefs.
    • Pursuing economic integration policy (ASEAN):
      • Founded in 1967.
      • Promote regional security issues; later concerned economic isues.
      • Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
      • Laos, Burma (1997) and Cambodia (1999) joined later.
      • Common market by 2008.
      • Tariffs to be cut to 5% or less.
    • Changing political regimes.
    • Ethnic problems (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia).
insular southeast asia indonesia


Insular Southeast Asia: Indonesia

Strait of Malacca




Irian Jaya



Sunda Strait




insular southeast asia indonesia1
Insular Southeast Asia: Indonesia
  • Regional setting
    • From the Greek Indos (India) and Nesos (Island), literally the “Indian Islands.”
    • 17,000 islands:
      • About 6,000 inhabited.
      • Longest coastline in the world .
      • Three time zones.
      • Coastal zones supports approximately 60% of the population.
    • Controls two strategic straits:
      • Sunda and Malacca.
      • Through which much of the world’s oil traffic must pass.
  • Volcanism
    • Intense volcanic and seismic activity.
    • 300 volcanoes of which 200 have been historically active.
tectonic activity in indonesia
Tectonic Activity in Indonesia

December 26 2004; 9.0 Richter scale; 10 meters Tsunami; 250,000 killed.

Eurasian Plate

Philippines Plate

Australian Plate

Australian Plate


Exploded in 1883; Largest volcanic eruption in known history.

Explosion heard at 3,000 miles; 20 cubic kilometers of rock into the atmosphere.

Tsunami drowned 34,000 people and ashes burned to death 2,000 people.

30 meters waves that traveled 8,000 miles.

insular southeast asia indonesia2
Insular Southeast Asia: Indonesia
  • Demography
    • Population of 214 million.
    • The archipelago of diversity:
      • 87% are Muslim, Christian 9%, Hindu 2%.
      • The world’s largest Muslim population.
      • Animistic or Hindu-Buddhist beliefs.
      • 360 tribal and ethno-linguistic groups.
      • More than 250 different languages and dialects.
    • Population control:
      • Successful family planning strategies (50% decline in fertility between 1975 and 2000).
      • TFR of 2.4 (2001).
indonesia core and periphery
Indonesia: Core and Periphery

More than 200 people per sqr km



Outer islands (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Irian Jaya)

20% of the population on 93% of the land.

Most of the minorities.

Sparsely populated but abundant in resources.

Inner islands (Java, Madura and Bali)

Fertile land due to volcanic origin and monsoon (among the most fertile land in the world).

80% of the population on 7% of the land.

Mostly Javanese.

insular southeast asia indonesia3
Insular Southeast Asia: Indonesia
  • Plantation system and resources
    • The exploitation of Indonesia accounted for about 1/3 of the Netherlands's budget.
    • Tobacco, rubber and coffee plantations:
      • The Dutch stole a coffee tree from the port of Mocha (Ethiopia) and implemented its culture on the island of Java.
      • In the 17th century, most of the coffee coming from Mocha or Java.
    • Cultivation System:
      • Provided that a village set aside a fifth of its cultivable land for the production of export crops.
      • These crops were to be delivered to the government instead of taxes.
    • Discovery of oil (1920s):
      • Permitted the creation of the Royal Dutch Shell multinational.
      • Was of strategic importance during WWII.
continental southeast asia thailand


Continental Southeast Asia: Thailand
  • Profile
    • The “Land of the free”:
      • Never colonized by European powers.
    • The core along the Chao Phrya Valley.
    • Access to the Indian (Gulf of Bengal) and Pacific (Gulf of Thailand) oceans.
    • 62 million population:
      • Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%.
      • Buddhist 94.4%, Islam 4%, Hindu 1.1%, Christian 0.5%.
      • Muslims minority in the south (along the Malaysia border).

Chao Phrya Valley


Gulf of Thailand

Indian Ocean

continental southeast asia thailand1
Continental Southeast Asia: Thailand
  • History
    • Kingdom of Siam (1782).
    • Maintained independence from colonial powers:
      • Reforms and concessions.
      • Treaty with France and Britain guaranteeing independence (1896).
      • Played the game of diplomatic relations.
      • Conceded Laos and Western Cambodia to France.
      • Conceded the northern states of Malaysia and the Shan state (Burma) to Britain.
    • Seen as a buffer state between France and Britain.
    • Treaties to guarantee boundaries signed early 20th century.
    • Specialized in rice production:
      • Feed the neighboring European colonies (plantations).
      • Was indirectly incorporated in the colonial system.
      • Trade was in the hands of foreign interests.
continental southeast asia thailand2
Continental Southeast Asia: Thailand
  • Creation of modern Thailand
    • Constitutional monarchy:
      • Military coup (1932).
      • Establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
      • King as the head of state and symbol of unity.
      • Siam became Thailand (1939).
    • WWII:
      • Invaded by Japan and became allied.
      • Alliance shifted back to the United States against communism, thus receiving aid.
    • Vietnam War:
      • Boost for the economy:
      • R&R for US troops.
      • Refugees from Vietnam.
continental southeast asia thailand3
Continental Southeast Asia: Thailand
  • Economy
    • Rice is a primary commodity:
      • 5th largest rice exporter in the world.
      • Subject to fluctuation in prices and weather.
    • Agricultural diversification policies:
      • Primary an agricultural nation.
      • 80% of the population living in rural areas, 66% of the workforce.
      • Growth of rural population has involved deforestation.
    • Manufacturing:
      • Accounts for more than agriculture in the GDP (30% against 12%).
      • Japan is the major investor (40% of FDI).
    • Increased urbanization:
      • Notably in Bangkok; primate city.
      • 10 million population with congestion and overcrowding problems.
      • 50 times larger than the second largest city.
continental southeast asia thailand4
Continental Southeast Asia: Thailand
  • “One night in Bangkok”
    • Known for its sex tourism industry.
    • Thai culture liberal and tolerant.
    • Prostitution culturally accepted.
    • Subservient role of women.
    • Development of “sex districts”; Patpong.
    • Prostitutes increasingly coming from outside Thailand:
      • “Lack of supply”.
      • Each year, at least 10,000 girls and women enter Thailand from poorer neighboring countries for prostitution (Burma, Cambodia and Laos).
    • Changes:
      • Thailand is clamping down on the sex industry to change its image.
      • Curfews for bars (Midnight).
continental southeast asia vietnam
Continental Southeast Asia: Vietnam
  • Geographical setting
    • Coastal plain along the South China Sea with a population of 78 million.
    • Stands for “People of the south”.
    • Two major deltas: the Red River (Song Koi) and Mekong.
    • Natural penetration corridor towards China.
    • Only 5% of the territory is mountainous.
    • The south is more fertile than the north.
    • Most minerals resources are in the north.
  • Divided into three units
    • Tonkin (Hanoi).
    • Cochin China (Saigon).
    • Annam (Hue).


Red River Delta

Annamite Chain

Ho Chi Min City


Mekong River Delta

continental southeast asia vietnam1
Continental Southeast Asia: Vietnam
  • Colonial history
    • Strong Chinese influence.
      • Vietnam was a province of China.
      • Unified in the 1700s.
    • French influence from 1787:
      • Between 1884 and 1893 France captured Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
      • Renamed Indochina.
      • “Mission civilisatrice”.
      • Difficult colonial ruling because of different ethnic groups such as Thais, Laotians, Khmers and Viets.
    • Emergence of nationalism in early 20th century.
    • Japanese occupation increased nationalism.
continental southeast asia vietnam2
Continental Southeast Asia: Vietnam
  • Unification of Vietnam: Vietnam War
    • Civil War (1945-1954):
      • Civil war against the French occupation.
      • Ended in 1954 with the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel.
    • Involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War:
      • Started in 1950 with military aid to the French.
      • After the French defeat, the United States backed the South Vietnam government.
      • Facing strong guerilla warfare, the United States started to send troops in 1963.
      • By 1969, 600,000 troops were involved in the Vietnam War.
      • Withdrawn in 1973 and in 1975 South Vietnam surrendered.
      • 2 million people killed during the 1965-1975 war.
    • Conflicts with China (1979).
continental southeast asia vietnam3
Continental Southeast Asia: Vietnam
  • Economic recovery
    • Embargo imposed by the United States (1975-1994).
    • The first decade after the Vietnam War:
      • Very slow recovery.
      • Became a net importer of rice, instead of an exporter.
      • Communist style economic planning.
    • Liberalization of the economy (mid 1980s):
      • Introduction of market principles (Doi Moi).
    • Among the lowest labor costs in Pacific Asia:
      • Good level of education (88% literacy rate).
      • Favored foreign investments, notably (1994).
      • ASEAN joined (1995).
    • Differences between the north and the south, as the south was more exposed to capitalism.
continental southeast asia vietnam4
Continental Southeast Asia: Vietnam
  • Tourism
    • High tourism potential.
    • Long coastline; beach resorts.
    • Intact coral reefs.
    • Political and social stability.
    • Sub-tropical climate.
    • Original cuisine: often adapting French cuisine.
    • Lack of development has protected Vietnam's numerous natural resources.
continental southeast asia burma
Continental Southeast Asia: Burma
  • Overview
    • Ethnic diversity (50 million people):
      • Burmese (Tibetan and Chinese origin); 68%.
      • Chin (India), Shan (Thais) and Mon (Cambodia) minorities.
      • 70% of the population in agriculture.
    • Once the richest country in Southeast Asia.
    • Brief historical overview:
      • Became a British colony (1885).
      • Political unity.
      • Supported the Japanese invasion of 1941.
      • Independence granted (1948).
      • Burma was one of the few country refusing to become a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
      • Promoted exclusion.
continental southeast asia burma1
Continental Southeast Asia: Burma
  • Burmese path to socialism
    • Economic collapse:
      • Declared one of the poorest country in the world by the United Nations.
      • Foreign trade, mainly rice, handled by the government.
      • Impose quotas (15-20%) on farmers, purchased at low price.
      • Sold by the government at world price (institutionalized theft).
      • Millions of farmers put into bankruptcy.
      • 1 million Burmese working in Thailand.
      • 50% of the budget taken by the military.
    • The State Law and Order Restoration Council (1988):
      • Official name of the military governing body.
      • Burma was officially renamed Myanmar (1989).
      • Civil wars by ethnic minorities; control a third of the country.
continental southeast asia burma2
Continental Southeast Asia: Burma
  • Narcotic economy
    • Informal economy oriented along drug production:
      • Backed by the junta (military government).
      • 50-60% of the global opium production.
      • 80% of the heroin arriving in New York is coming from northern Thailand or Myanmar.
    • Parts of the country controlled by warlords:
      • Notably the Shan state, formally part of Thailand.
      • Constant struggles to control the lucrative drug market.
continental southeast asia burma3
Continental Southeast Asia: Burma
  • Conditions for drug production and trade
    • Poor rural population living on marginal land:
      • Limited productivity of rural land.
      • Difficult to access.
      • Often an ethnic minority.
    • Limited political control and rule of law:
      • Weak / corrupted nation state.
      • Civil unrest, especially in remote regions.
      • Lack of central government control.
      • Warlordism.
    • Porous boundaries:
      • Same ethnic groups on both sides.
      • Artificial or contested boundaries.
      • Difficult to enforce border control.
continental southeast asia burma4
Continental Southeast Asia: Burma
  • The Golden Triangle
    • Highlands of northern Indochina:
      • Overlaps Thailand, Laos and Burma, with parts of Vietnam and China (Yunnan province).
    • Lawless segment of the region:
      • Eastern Burma controlled by the United Wa State Army.
    • Opium production by mountain tribes (19th century):
      • Chased from southern China.
    • Fast growth in the 1990s:
      • Tripling production.
      • 98% of the production takes place in Burma.
    • 60-70% of the world’s opium:
      • 70% of the heroin in the US comes from the Golden Triangle.


Hong Kong







Phnom Penh

Drug Hub

continental southeast asia burma5
Continental Southeast Asia: Burma
  • Methamphetamine (“Ice”) is a more recent production:
    • Increase the amount of dopamine in the brain.
    • Instant addiction.
    • Severe withdrawal effect.
    • Known as Yaa Baa, “the drug that turns you mad”.
    • $35,000 to $50,000 per kilogram.
  • Shift in role:
    • Thailand now produces little opium.
    • Subject to intense drug trafficking along its border.
    • 2-3 million drug users in Thailand.
  • More lucrative than regular crops:
    • Poppy farmer earns $300 for 7 kg of raw opium.
    • Raw opium converted to 700 grams heroin brick in a factory worth $4,000.
    • Brick worth $80,000 in New York.
    • Turned into 28,000 doses of “cut” heroin earning $280,000.