Southeast Asia


Peninsula known as Indochina

Several Archipelagos to the south and east.

Countries include Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines


Rivers: Mekong, Irrawaddy & Salween.

Volcanoes: 100s - Ring of fire. 

Most countries lie close to the Equator.

Tropical climate


Tropical rain


Many types practiced Blended w/local beliefs






Daily Life

Most people are farmers or fishermen.

Live in small villages, but cities are growing.

Nuclear families

Rights of women vary.

Some education for children, but varies based on location and gender.


1st Europeans Portuguese (looking for spice trade)  Eventually all but Siam (Thailand) came under European domination.

Reasons :  Profits, Industrial revolution, colonies could raise cash crops (sugar, coffee, tea, cotton, rice), raw materials (hardwood trees, rubber plants, tin and oil).

Reactions:  Many local peoples felt resentment.  Immigration of Indian and Chinese laborers.  Poor working and living conditions.  Cash crops leave little time for growing your own food.


Geneva Conference of 1954 created Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

A communist government led by Ho Chi Minh took over in the north and a non-communist government backed by the United States took over in the south. 

In 1960 the Communist backed a rebellion in the south.  The US sent troops. Conflict ended with the Paris Peace Treaty of 1973.   In 1975 North overran the south and reunited the countries.


Communist forces (Khmer Rouge) led by Pol Pot also seized power in Cambodia. Renamed Kampuchea, they forced hundreds of thousands of city dwellers to work in rural work camps, where they often died.  (Rid the country of foreign influence) 1 mill killed (pop. = 7 mill)

In 1978 Vietnam invaded and overthrew Pol Pot, but China, who supported Cambodia, invaded Vietnam forcing Vietnam to withdraw its forces in 1989.  The years of upheaval and strife have led many people to flee this area as refugees


Philippines - captured by U.S. during war and given independence in 1946.  England also freed most of its colonies in a fairly peaceful transfer of power.

1986 dictator Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown and democracy was installed with Corazon Aquino.  Aquino faced ongoing communist uprisings and attempted military coups, and a devastating earthquake in 1990.

Main Ideas

1- SE Asia is a diverse culture with a long history of cultural interaction with China, India and the Middle East.

2.- Under European imperialism, SE Asia failed to develop diversified economies to sustain them after independence.

3.- WWII loosened European colonial bonds on SE Asia, but without long-standing traditions of democratic rule many governments adopted communist dictatorships and military regimes.

4.  Geopolitical factors, especially US efforts to stop the spread of communism, have influenced the recent history of SE Asia. (Domino Theory)