Diverse Cultures of Southeast Asia

By: Allan Williams and Mckenzi Smith

Geography of Southeast Asia

  • Made up of two major regions
  • Mainland separated by mountains and high plateaus
  • Seasonal winds (monsoons) shape trading patterns
  • Diverse ethnic groups
  • Many societies were built around the nuclear family
  • Matrilineal decent was an accepted custom

Indian Culture Spreads to Southeast Asia

  • Hindu priest filter into Southeast Asia
  • Trade brought prosperity
  • Indian beliefs won widespread acceptance
  • Indians carried Islam
  • Traders spread Islamic beliefs

New Kingdoms and Empires Emerge

  • Kingdom of Pagan arose with fertile land
  • Indian influence helped shaped the Khmer empire
  • Most people preferred Buddhism
  • Hundreds of carved figures tell Hindu myths and glorify the king

Vietnam Emerges

  • River irrigated fertile rice paddies (fields)
  • Han armies conquer the region
  • They adopted the Chinese civil service system
  • Vietnamese nobles adopted the custom of speaking and writing the Chinese language
  • Vietnamese preserve the strong sense of the separate identity
  • Remained a tributary state of China


Matrilineal- inheritance through the mother

stupas- dome-shaped shrines

paddies- fields