• Unit 9: East and Southeast Asia

    The region of East and Southeast Asia is home to nearly one-third of the world's population. China is its largest country in terms of area and population. The region is highly urbanized because many of the countries are small islands – it includes some of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world. The physical geography is diverse, although much of the region has a tropical climate. The region is tectonically active due to its proximity to the Ring of Fire, with earthquake, volcano, and tsunami hazards.

    A history of colonialism within and beyond the region continues to influence its human geography. Like other regions, it is culturally diverse and sees conflicts among its ethnic and religious groups. Territorial disputes continue to this day, especially with respect to China. East and Southeast Asia is a critical player in the global economy because it is home to several global financial and electronics manufacturing centers. Generally, the region has a moderate level of income inequality. It includes the communist countries of China, Vietnam, and Laos.

    Because several countries are in various stages of industrialization, the associated environmental issues are particularly acute. Like the region of South Asia, the region of East and South East has incurred further environmental damage due to outsourcing. Overseas companies locate their production facilities in places like Vietnam, which results in air, water, and soil contamination.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

    • 9.1: Maps of East and Southeast Asia

      Let's begin our examination of East and Southeast Asia by studying some maps of the region.

    • 9.2: The Physical Geography of East and Southeast Asia

      The region of East and Southeast Asia includes the mainland and insular (or island) countries. The South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Sea of Japan separate the mainland and insular countries of East and Southeast Asia. The mainland and insular sub-regions include the countries listed below. Three of the countries in the insular region include many islands, while Malaysia straddles the mainland and insular sub-regions.

      Malaysia extends from the Malay Peninsula in the west, across the South China Sea, to the island of Borneo in the east. Indonesia is the world's largest island country and includes more than 17,000 islands. The Philippines includes more than 7,500 islands. Given the challenges associated with governing a country separated by large bodies of water, some countries, such as Indonesia, have chosen to grant some provinces more autonomy.

      • The mainland countries of East and Southeast Asia include Cambodia, China, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), North Korea, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.
      • The insular countries of East and Southeast Asia include Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Timor-Leste (East Timor).
    • 9.3: Tsunami Hazards

      The Sumatran-Andaman earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004, generated a tsunami that devastated parts of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and the Maldives.

    • 9.4: Volcano Hazards

      Indonesia has suffered from several volcanic eruptions since Mount Krakatoa and Mount Tambora erupted in the early 19th century – although they have not been as large, they have been devastating.

    • 9.5: Human Settlement and Civilization in East and Southeast Asia

      Given that Chinese civilization stretches back 4,000 years, tracing the evolution of this region's human geography is challenging.

    • 9.6: Confucianism and Taoism

      The videos you just watched refer to Confucianism and Taoism as religions, but many people argue we should call them philosophies.

      Taoism encourages its followers to respect and protect nature. It teaches the need for peace and harmony between humans and the environment. The nomadic population of Mongolia provides yet another example of an indigenous culture that has survived in harmony with the land their ancestors chose to settle.

    • 9.7: China and the Silk Routes

      Unlike the isolationist Qin Dynasty, Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty connected China to the Silk Routes because he wanted to take advantage of the trade opportunities the network offered.

    • 9.8: Medieval Empires of the Southeast Asian Peninsula

      There are more than a thousand temples in the Angkor Wat archaeological site, which covers about 400 sq km. In 2021, scientists published research suggesting that as many as 700,000–900,000 people may have lived in this Khmer metropolis during the 13th century.

    • 9.9: Colonialism in East and Southeast Asia

      The European powers colonized much of East and Southeast Asia, but there are some notable exceptions. Europe never colonized Thailand, which served as an independent buffer between British Myanmar (Burma) in the west and French-controlled Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos in the east.

    • 9.10: Political Conflict and Change in East and Southeast Asia

      In this section, we touch on some of the international and domestic conflicts in East and Southeast Asia since World War II.

    • 9.11: The Modern Landscape and Patterns of Economic Development in East and Southeast Asia

      This region has experienced significant economic growth, but the benefits are not evenly distributed. Long considered one of the Four Asian Tigers, Hong Kong is undergoing changes that could affect its position as a global business hub. A former British colony, Hong Kong was not transferred to China until 1997.

    • Unit 9 Assessment

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