GEOG 101 AMU Introduction to Geography American Military University Week 7 assistance is available at Domyclass
Asia….the very name roils American emotions. Here the United States
owned its only major colony. Here American forces triumphed over
Japanese enemies. Here the United States fought the only war it ever
lost. Here Washington’s worst Cold War fears failed to materialize. Here
American companies invested heavily when the Pacific Rim’s economic
growth transformed dormant economies into potential Pacific tigers.
Southeast Asia, once remote and stagnant, has taken center stage in our
Students will be able to:
- Recognize the major geographic qualities of Southeast Asia. (CO-2, CO-3)
- Identify the major climate types associated with the realm. (CO-3)
- Describe the state boundaries in Southeast Asia considering antecedent, subsequent, superimposed and relict boundaries. (CO-1, CO-5, CO-6)
- Relate the role of natural resource to the economic development of the realm. (CO-1, CO-3, CO-4)
- Contrast state territorial morphology. (CO-1, CO-5)
- Relate the broad economic prospects of the three Realms. (CO-6, CO-7, CO-8)
In this lesson, we will discuss:
- South Asia Physiographic Features
- Cultural Factors
The following activities and assessments need to be completed this week:
- World Regional Geography: People, Places, Globalization – Chapter 11
- Quiz 7
- Forum #7
- Assignment 3: Presentation
This lesson is devoted to Southeast Asia and the great geographic diversity of this physically small but culturally huge realm. Included are the impact of Chinese and Indian culture on the realm, the resulting Southeast Asian ethnic mosaic, and the later cultural modification and political organization resulting from the colonial period. The description of Southeast Asia’s regional geography utilizes the concepts of nation, state, and territorial morphology as unifying themes.
Topics covered will include:
- The Southeast Asian Realm
- Physical Geography of Southeast Asia
- The Mainland Region
- The Insular Region
- Human Geography of Southeast Asia
- The Realm’s Colonial History
- Economic Geography of Southeast Asia
This lesson is devoted to Southeast Asia and the great geographic diversity of this physically small but culturally expansive realm. Included are the impact of Chinese and Indian culture on the realm, the resulting Southeast Asian ethnic mosaic, and the later cultural modification and political organization resulting from the colonial period. The description of Southeast Asia’s regional geography utilizes the concepts of nation, state, and territorial morphology as unifying themes.
The Southeast Asian Realm
The very words “Southeast Asia” roil the emotions of many an American. Here, the United States owned its only major colony. Here, American forces triumphed over Japanese enemies. Here, the United States fought the only war it ever lost. Here, Washington’s worst Cold War fears failed to materialize. Here, American companies invested heavily when the Pacific Rim’s economic growth transformed dormant economies into potential Pacific tigers. Southeast Asia, once remote and stagnant, has taken center stage in our globalizing world.
Southeast Asia is a realm of peninsulas and islands, a corner of Asia bounded by India on the northwest and China on the northeast. Its western coasts are washed by the Indian Ocean, and to the east reach the vast Pacific. From all these directions, Southeast Asia has been penetrated by outside forces. Southeast Asia has been the scene of countless contests for power and primacy—the competitors have come from near and far. From India came traders; from China, settlers; from across the Indian Ocean, Arabs to engage in commerce and Europeans to build empires; and from across the Pacific, Americans.
Southeast Asia’s geography in some ways resembles that of Eastern Europe. It is a mosaic of smaller countries on the periphery of two of the world’s largest states. It has been a buffer zone between powerful adversaries. It is a shatter belt in which stresses and pressures from without and within have fractured the political geography. Like Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia exhibits great cultural diversity. This is a realm of hundreds of cultures and ethnicities, numerous languages and dialects, global as well as local religions, and diverse national economies ranging from high to low-income.
For so comparatively small a realm with so few countries, Southeast Asia displays a considerable variety of state morphologies. But these territorial morphologies do not determine a state’s viability, cohesion, or unity (or lack thereof), but can only influence these qualities. But as we will find in our survey of the realm’s regional geography, shape does play a key role in the still-evolving political and economic geography of Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia extends from the peninsular mainland to the archipelagos offshore. Because Indonesia controls part of New Guinea, its functional region reaches into the neighboring Pacific geographic realm. It is a realm of peninsulas and islands, with the rural and remote country of Laos as its only landlocked country. The realm’s physical geography includes thousands of beaches, bays, inlets, and gulfs.
A wide variety of physical and cultural landscapes are found in the realm’s islands and mainland alike. Most of Southeast Asia is located in the tropics, and rainfall is generally abundant. The tropical waters of the region help moderate the climate. The Indian Ocean borders the realm to the west, with the Pacific Ocean to the east. The South China Sea separates the two main geographic regions, the mainland of the north and the islands of the south
The realm includes three major rivers, the Mekong, Red, and Irrawaddy. All are located on the mainland and have their headwaters in the high elevations of Himalayans. The Mekong River, Southeast Asia’s Danube, has its source in China and borders or crosses five Southeast Asian countries, sustaining tens of millions of farmers, fishing people, and boat owners. It also helps form the political borders of Laos and Thailand on its way through Cambodia to Vietnam, where it creates a giant delta near Ho Chi Minh City. The Red River flows through Vietnam to the Red River delta on the Gulf of Tonkin. The Irrawaddy River flows through the length of Myanmar providing for the core area of the country.
Another major river of the mainland is the Chao Phraya of Thailand. With its many tributaries, the Chao Phraya’s valley is home to the largest population of the country. Many other rivers transport water and sediments from the interior to the coasts, often creating large deltas with rich soils. These agricultural areas allow for the production of rice and other food crops, which provide for the increasing population of the realm.
Human Geography of Southeast Asia
Although the great majority of Southeast Asians have the same ancestry, cultural divisions and local traditions abound, and are sustained by the realm’s divisive physiography. This physical geography, with its many islands coasts and harbors, and a predictable climate with rainy and dry seasons and wind patterns, has made Southeast Asia a meeting place for trade between India and China for many centuries. And like any other crossroads, Southeast Asia is marked with the influence of many religions, cultures, and languages.
Buddhism, which has its roots in the neighboring South Asian realm, made its way to Southeast Asia with some of the very first merchants, with whom the earliest Buddhist missionaries would travel. These missionaries remained in market cities for extended periods of time, and today Buddhism is the majority religion throughout the mainland region.
During the Middle Ages, the first merchants from Southwest Asia crossed the Indian Ocean to reach the trading posts of the realm, and like their predecessors they brought their religion with them. Today, Islam is the state religion in Malaysia and Brunei. Eighty-five percent of Indonesia’s population practices Islam as well, making it the largest Islamic nation in the world, though it is not Indonesia’s official state religion. Muslims also form a minority in Singapore and the southern Philippines. Buddhism and Islam are Southeast Asia’s most prevalent religions, but Hindu and Christian minorities are found throughout the realm as well, as are practitioners of the indigenous religions that predate all the religions brought by missionaries.
Southeast Asia is a very densely populated realm. Its most populous country, Indonesia, has an average of 280 people per square mile of land area. However, its density is sparse compared to the most densely populated nation in the world, Singapore. Each of Singapore’s 270 square miles has an average population of 17,320 people!
Overall, Southeast Asia’s population is growing at a rate of 1.6 percent per year, compared to the worldwide average of 1.3 percent. At this rate, the realm will see a 50 percent increase in its population by 2050. Several Southeast Asian nations have been taking steps towards slowing their population growth. While these efforts have been successful, they have also raised concerns about whether or not these nations will have enough young workers to enable their economies to thrive in coming years.
nother population trend affecting Southeast Asia has involved urbanization. Once an extremely rural and agrarian realm, there are currently eleven Southeast Asian cities with populations of over one million. Some of these primate cities, including Bangkok in Thailand, Jakarta in Indonesia, and the largest city in the realm, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, have experienced extremely rapid growth over the course of only the last few decades. Greater economic and educational opportunities have driven millions of rural Southeast Asians to major cities at rates that outpace the cities’ development in terms of services and facilities.
These migrations have resulted in unprecedented rates of urban poverty and increased competition for jobs and housing.
This migration to urban centers has also resulted in the mixing and intermingling of people from a wide range of different ethnic backgrounds who speak a large number of languages. It is estimated that one out of six of the thousands of languages known on the planet Earth are native to the Southeast Asian realm. Most of these languages stem from three language families: Malayo-Polynesian, Sino-Tibetan, and Mon-Khmer.
Missionaries, merchants, and migrants brought other languages there, just as they had other religions. In the Philippines, the native language of Tagalog (also called Pilipino) is spoken as the country’s official language, though many Filipinos speak the colonial languages of Spanish and English also. In Malaysia, Malay is the official language even though most Malaysians speak English. Chinese, Malay, Tamil, and English are the four official languages of Singapore, reflecting that tiny city-state’s global culture.
Diverse cultures have managed to coexist for the most part in Southeast Asia. In the mainland region recently migrated ethnic groups, such as the Hmong, coexist along with groups native to the region. A particularly notable exception is in Indonesia, where over 300 ethnic groups speaking over 250 languages live on the country’s thousands of inhabited islands. Since Indonesia gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1949, several of these groups have sought sovereignty for themselves. The independence of East Timor in 2002 further encouraged many of these groups, and has made it increasingly difficult for the Indonesian state to hold itself together.
Economic Geography of Southeast Asia
The Southeast Asian realm contains a number of rapidly emerging markets and fast-growing economies. The indirect result of this growth has been the widening of income disparities and uneven development. However, economic relations within the realm have intensified in recent years, while China’s influence has been growing steadily.
Singapore, a tiny but economically important state, leads the realm’s economic landscape. It owes its economic prosperity largely to the same trade routes that early Indian, Chinese, and Islamic merchants used centuries ago. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand stand as the realm’s emerging economies, experiencing considerable prosperity in comparison to those that are the least developed, which include Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
In colonial times, exploitation of natural resources caused a degree of environmental devastation. Today, that legacy has unfortunately continued. Export-oriented logging companies have reached deep into the realm’s tropical forests, damaging watersheds, denuding landscapes, and destroying wildlife habitats. Many countries in Southeast Asia have established bans on the export of timber in order to save the realm’s remaining rainforests.
Until the economic downturn of the 1990s, economic development in the region was a paragon for new global capitalism. Forty years ago the realm’s most economically developed economy was the Philippines, but political corruption and crony capitalism along with an unprecedented population explosion caused living standards to decline and economic growth to slow. As a result, many Filipinos migrated elsewhere to find better employment.
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia have long suffered the economic results of relative isolation, rugged terrain, and the ravages of war and government oppression. Myanmar, a nation whose land and resources indicate great economic potential, has also suffered from low economic development resulting from warfare and political instability.
In contrast, Malaysia has recently experienced great and rapid economic growth. Malaysians have begun moving away from an economic model based on plantation agriculture and natural resource extraction to one focused on manufacturing in a labor-intensive, high-tech sector. The economic boom that Malaysia has seen can largely be contributed to Chinese investment in the nation’s infrastructure.
Thailand, the site of much foreign investment in the manufacturing sector, and Indonesia, an oil-producing nation, are two other potential players on the future world economic landscape.