By Charli Gisi and Cosette Zielinski
Geography: Bodies of Water
Geography: River Systems
Geography: Wildlife, Climate, and Vegetation
Geography: Landforms and Resources
Southeast Asia can be divided into two main parts: a mainland area and an insular area. An insular area is an area comprised of islands. In the southeastern corner of Asia, lies the mainland, and it is bordering the world’s two most populous countries: China and India. In this area, the Indian Ocean meets the Pacific Ocean, and thousands of islands stretch across miles of these salty yet tropical waters.
Geography: Peninsulas and Islands
Most of the mainland is occupied by a large peninsula called the Indochinese Peninsula, or simply Indochina. The Indochinese Peninsula is a large China continent.
6 out of 11 of Southeast Asia’s countries are peninsula that juts southward from the Asian continent. It is located between the Indian and located at least partly on the mainland peninsulas. These countries are: Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia (the western region of this divided country), Myanmar (also known as Burma), Thailand, and Vietnam.
The region’s other four countries, along with the eastern part of Malaysia, are located in the vast area of the Malay Archipelago.
Indonesia shares the islands of Timor, New Guinea, and Borneo with other countries. East Timor, which is one of the world’s newest countries, occupies the eastern half of Timor. The eastern region of Malaysia spreads across northern Borneo and surrounds the small country of Brunei.
Geography: Natural Resources
Southeast Asia contains and possesses a variety of rich mineral resources: tin, copper, lead, zinc, gold, and gemstones such as rubies and sapphires. Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are one of the world’s top tin producers, Indonesia accounting for roughly a fourth of the total world production of this commodity.
Teak, mahogany, and ebony are very common hardwood trees that grow in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, and have long been in a high demand. Several of the country's exports mainly include wood and wood products, though many countries have restricted logging, due to the low supply of it.
Southeast Asia is also rich in fossil fuels. Indonesia and Malaysia rank among the top 30 countries in the world in oil reserves and production. They rank among the top 15 in natural gas reserves and production
Geography: The Four Plates
In Southeast Asia, four major plates meet: the Eurasian Plate, the Indo-Australian Plate, the Pacific Plate, and the Indian Plate. All of the pressures and tensions that are produced by these four large plates have caused fracturing the Earth’s crust into many tinier plates across the region. This process has also produced the many islands and the fractured geography, as well as the volcanoes
Life In Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is home to around 625 million people. Indonesia has a population of approximately 250 million, which is 40 percent of the regional total. In the 1900s, many of the countries experienced rapid growth rate. Population tends to be greatly higher in areas with good soil and water for agriculture to thrive.
Culture: Ethnic and Language Groups
Southeast Asia’s population has a variety of ethnic groups. The five main groups that dominate the mainland are: the Burmese in Myanmar, the Siamese in Thailand, the Malay in Malaysia, the Mon-Khmer in Laos and Cambodia, and the Vietnamese in Vietnam. The largest group in Indonesia is the Javanese and the largest group in the Philippines is the Tagalog. Several languages are spoken throughout the area, such as: English, Spanish, and French, which arrived with colonialism. THough most of the languages are native to the region.
Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion across most of the mainland.
Islam is dominant on the southern Malay Peninsula and across the Indonesian islands. In the Philippines and East Timor, most people are Roman Catholic.
In some remote or isolated areas, people practice animist religions. Animism is the belief that all natural objects, such as trees, rivers, and mountains, have spirits.
In Thailand, likay are plays that feature singing, dancing, and vibrantly colored costumes. Actors improvise song lyrics, dialogue, and plots.
Shadow Puppet Theatre
In the popular shadow-puppet theater in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia, one puppeteer sings, chants, and controls the puppets behind a screen that is lit from the back.
Likay or music drama is a traditional performing art of central Thailand. Throughout its history, Likay has never lost its unique characteristics which are the beautiful costumes, the comic actions and the fast storytelling. It is still popular in modern Thai society, especially in rural areas, because of its entertainment value and the performers' ability to improvise and extemporize verse.
Shadow Puppet Theatre
Culture: Daily Life
Culture: Earning Money
Farming is the most common way to earn to money, rural villages depend on rice as a cash crop. Many farmers grow food only to feed themselves and their family, this is called subsistence farming.
Many countries have been focused on industry. Singapore developed into a major industrial center. Mining is a main contributor throughout several countries. Large portions of gold and copper are mined on the Indonesian part of the island New Guinea.
Plantations that produce: natural rubber and palm oil, while coconuts and sugar, can be found in Malaysia, Indonesia, and southern Thailand. Southeast Asia’s other top export crops include cacao, coffee, and spices.
Culture: Economic and Environmental Challenges
Protecting the environment is another challenge. Industries are the main cause for their pollution Tin mining has created huge wastelands in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Since the destruction and deforestation of tropical forest has gotten worse, Indonesia and Malaysia recently introduced laws to slow deforestation while still promoting economic growth. Dams along the Mekong River create hydroelectric power, but that also has created problems for the fishing industry. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand established the Mekong River Commission to encourage safe management and usage of the river and its resources.