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A Geographical Look at Southeast Asia: A Region of Beautiful and Exotic Lands
Southeast Asia Physical map of southeast Asia depicting countries and bodies of water
Subregion of Asia Countries Main Bodies of Water Andaman Sea Bay of Bengal Great Channel Gulf of Thailand Gulf of Tonkin Indian Ocean Philippine Sea Pacific Ocean South China Sea Timor Sea • Brunei • Cambodia • East Timor • Indonesia • Malaysia • Myanmar • Philippines • Singapore • Thailand • Vietnam
Vocabulary to Consider • Archipelago- Chain of islands • Cordilleras- Parallel mountain ranges or plateaus • Fauna- Animal life • Flora- Plant life • Endemic- Species native to a particular area • Insular- Island; island-like countries
Geography • The area/region known as Southeast Asia was formed millions of years ago by the colliding of the Eurasian, Philippine and Indo-Australian tectonic plates • Stretching from the Asian mainland close by the Indian Ocean to the Pacific, the region includes archipelagos, islands and huge landmasses such as the Indo-China and Malay Peninsulas. • Southeast Asia is sometimes discussed in two different settings; Mainland SE Asia and Island SE Asia
Geography Con’t Mainland SE Asia Island SE Asia Brunei East Timor Indonesia Philippines Singapore • Cambodia • Laos • Malaysia (considered both a mainland and island country) • Myanmar • Thailand • Vietnam
Comparing Lands Southeast Asia is about half the size of the Continental US
Mountains • Annam Cordillera- separates Vietnam from Laos and Cambodia • ArakanYoma Range- located in western Myanmar • Bilauktaung Range- borders Myanmar and Thailand
Ring of Fire The Ring of Fire is the circle of volcanoes bordering the Pacific Ocean. An arc of islands east of China marks where the Pacific, Philippine and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Plate movements cause frequent earthquakes that can generate tsunamis and violent volcano eruptions. Java, an Indonesian island, is one of the Ring of Fire’s most active areas.
Rivers • People of SE Asia rely on the waterways for transportation, communication and food • Mainland rivers originate in the northern highlands of SE Asia and southern China. Most of these rivers flow southward to the Gulf of Thailand • Rivers’ silt and deposits of sediment help to create fertile agricultural regions • Irrawaddy River- located in Myanmar • Chao Phraya River- located in Thailand • Red Hong River- located on Vietnam • Mekong River- begins in China, forming the border between Thailand and Laos, runs through Cambodia and South Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea
Natural Resources • Fossil Fuels (coal, oil, natural gas; Indonesia is a member of OPEC) • Minerals (nickel, iron, copper, tin, zinc, tungsten and manganese) • Gems (rubies, sapphires, pearls and jade) • Fauna (orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos) • Flora (orchids, rubber trees, mahogany and teak)
Rafflesiaarnoldii- Also known as the “Corpse Flower” Noted for producing the largest individual flower on earth, and a strong odor of decaying flesh - the latter point earning it the nickname of "corpse flower". It is an endemic plant that occurs only in the rainforests of Sumatra Island, Indonesia. Blossoms are usually 3ft or more wide.
Climate • Tropical rainforest- most of the region; 79*C daily temps, wet/humid all year round, humidity between 80-90% • Tropical savanna- mostly in Indonesia and along Indo-china Peninsula. Also consists of wet and dry seasons as well as monsoon rains • Humid subtropical- mainly located on the mainlands including Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. Myanmar is sometimes referred to as “Tropical Scotland” because of its cooler climate. • Highlands- mountainous areas such as Myanmar, New Guinea and Borneo; cooler
Environmental Pollution • Increased manufacturing raises the standard of living but also creates industrial waste • Growing populations and crowded conditions have actually overheated the city of Bangkok • Volcanic eruptions and forest fires help to contribute to pollution • Deforestation has allowed heavy tropical rains to easily erode topsoil because root systems were not in place • Rock waste from mining has had a negative effect on rivers as well as local vegetation