Diverse Cultures of Southeast Asia

By Hannah Carson and Zakyia Baldwin

Geography of Southeast Asia

  • Southeast Asia is made up of 2 major regions. Mainland includes many peninsulas, the 2nd is island Southeast Asia which consists of more than 20,000 islands scattered between Indian Ocean and the South China sea.
  • The mainland is separated from the rest of Asia by mountains and high plateaus.
  • Mountains separate the four main river valleys of Southeast Asia
  • Despite the mountains traders and invaders pushes overland into the region
  • All seaborne trade between China and India had to pass through either the Malacca or Sunda straits.
  • Monsoons, or seasonal winds shaped trading patterns in the southern seas.
  • Ships traveled northeast in summer and southwest in winter.
  • Between seasons merchants harbored their vessels in Southeast Asian ports, which became important centers of trade, and culture.
  • International trade network linked India, Southeast Asia , and China to East Africa and the Middle east.
  • Key product of Southeast Asia was spices, only a fraction of those traded in the region made their way to the markets in Europe
  • People of Southeast Asia developed their own cultures before Indian of Chinese influences shaped the region.
  • In Thailand archeologists have found evidence that challenges old theories about when civilizations began In the region
  • Diverse ethnic groups speaking many languages settled in Southeast Asia. Living in isolated areas they followed their own religious and cultural patterns.
  • Many societies were built around nuclear families rather than extended families of China or India.
  • Women had greater equality in Southeast Asia than elsewhere in Asia.
  • Matrilineal descents, or inheritance through the mother was an accepted custom in Southeast Asia.
  • Women also had some freedom

Indian Culture Spreads to Southeast Asia

  • Indian merchants and Hindu priests filtered into Southeast Asia slowly spreading their culture.
  • Following the path of trade and religion came the influence of writing ,law, government ,art, architecture, and farming.
  • Indian Influence reaches its peaks
  • Indian traders settled in Southeast Asian port cities an growing numbers