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