Sunday, June 26, 2011

Inland Waterways in India

National Waterway 1

Allahabad — Haldia stretch of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system.
Estd = October 1986.
Length = 1620 km
Fixed terminals = Haldia, BISN (Kolkata), Pakur, Farrakka and Patna.
Floating terminals = Haldia, Kolkata, Diamond Harbour, Katwa, Tribeni, Baharampur, Jangipur, Bhagalpur, Semaria, Doriganj, Ballia, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Chunar and Allahabad.

National Waterway 2

Sadiya — Dhubri stretch of Brahmaputra river.
Estd = September 1982.
Length = 891 km
Fixed terminals = Pandu.
Floating terminals = Dhubri, Jogighopa, Tezpur, Silghat, Dibrugarh, Jamgurhi, Bogibil, Saikhowa and Sadiya

National Waterway 3

Kottapuram-Kollam stretch of the West Coast Canal, Champakara Canal and Udyogmandal Canal.
Estd = February 1993
Length = 205 km
Fixed terminals = Aluva, Vaikom, Kayamkulam, Kottappuram, Maradu, Cherthala, Thrikkunnapuzha, Kollam and Alappuzha.

National Waterway 4

Kakinada - Puducherry stretch of Canals and the Kaluvelly Tank, Bhadrachalam – Rajahmundry stretch of River Godavari and Wazirabad – Vijayawada stretch of River Krishna.
Estd = November 2008
Length = 1095 km

National Waterway 5

Talcher - Dhamra stretch of the Brahmani River, the Geonkhali - Charbatia stretch of the East Coast Canal, the Charbatia - Dhamra stretch of Matai river and the Mangalgadi - Paradip stretch of the Mahanadi River Delta.
Established = November 2008
Length = 623 km

National Waterway 6

Lakhipur to Bhanga of river Barak.
Length = 121 km

Friday, April 15, 2011




The concepts of devising climate classes that combine temperature and precipitation characteristics, but of setting limits and boundaries fitted into known vegetation and soil distributions were actually carried out in 1918 by Dr. Wladimir Koppen of the University of Graz, in Austria. Koppen was both a climatologist and a plant geographer, so his main interest lay in finding climate boundaries that coincided approximately with boundaries between major vegetation types. Although he was not entirely successful in achieving his goal, his climate system has appealed to geographers because it is strictly empirical and allows no room subjective decisions.

The classification was subsequently revised and extended by his students to become the most widely used of climatic classifications for geographical purposes.


The Koppen system is strictly empirical. This is to say that each climate is defined according to fixed values of temperature and precipitation, computed according to the averages of the year or of individual months. In such a classification, no concern whatsoever is given to the causes of the climate in terms of pressure and wind belts, air masses, fronts, or storms. It is possible to assign a given place to a particular climate sub-group solely on the basis of the records of the temperature and precipitation of that place, provided, of course, that the period of record is long enough to yield meaningful averages. Air temperature and precipitation are the most easily obtainable surface weather data, requiring only simple equipment and a very elementary observer education. A climate system based on these data has a great advantage, in that the area covered by each sub-type of climate can be delineated (outlined, profiled) for large regions of the world.


As with any regional classification, this system is not universally applicable. It utilizes, for example, only the data or mean monthly temperature and precipitation. There is not provision for variations in the strength or constancy of winds, temperature extremes, precipitation intensity and range, amount of cloud cover, or the net radiation balance. Its greatest inadequacies perhaps lie in its application to humid dry boundaries, and it should not be considered for land management and planning purposes, where more precise and varied factors should be utilized.


Despite these and other disadvantages, this system has been used mainly because of four reasons that have special value.
1. It has precise definitions that can be applied easily to standardize data that are available for locations throughout the world.
2. There is a reasonable correlation globally with major vegetation regions.
3. It requires a minimum amount of calculation.
4. It is widely used in educational circles throughout the world.


The Koppen features a short hand code of letters designating major climate groups, sub-groups within the major groups and further sub-divisions to distinguish particular seasonal characteristics of temperature and precipitation.

Major Groups

Five major climate groups are designated by capital letters as follows:

A–Tropical Rainy Climate: Average temperature of every month is above 64.4oF (18oC). These climates have no winter season. Annual rainfall is large and exceeds annual evaporation.

B–Dry Climate: Potential evaporation exceeds precipitation on the average throughout the year. No water surplus; hence no permanent streams originate in B Climate Zones.

C–Mild, Humid (Mesothermal) Climates:
Coldest month has an average temperature under 64.4oF (18oC), but above 26.6oF (-3oC); at least one month has an average temperature above 50oF (10oC). The sea climates have both a summer and a winter season.

D– Snowy Forests (Microthermal) Climates:
Coldest month has an average temperature under 26.6oF. Average temperature of warmest month is above 50oF.

E–Polar Climates: The average temperature of warmest month is blow 50oF. The climates have no true summer.


Four of these five groups (A, C, D and E) are defined by the temperature
averages, whereas one (B) is defined by the precipitation to evaporation ratios. This procedure may seem to be of fundamental inconsistency. Groups A, C and D have sufficient heat and precipitation for both of high trunk trees, e.g., forest and woodland vegetation.


Sub-groups within the five major groups are designate by a second letter, according to the following codes:-

S – Steppe Climate: A semi-arid climate with about 15-30 inches (38-76 cm) of rainfall annually at low latitudes.

W – Desert Climate:
Arid climate. Most regions included have less than 10 inches (25 cm) of rainfall annually.

The letters S and W are applied only to the dry B climates, yielding two combinations – BS and BW.

f:- Moist. Adequate precipitation in all months. No dry season. This modifier is applied to A, C and D groups, yielding combinations – Af, Cf and Df.

w:- Dry season in the winter of the respective hemisphere (low sun season). This modifier is applied to A, C and D groups, yielding combinations – Aw, Cw and Dw.

s:- Dry season in the summer of the respective hemisphere (high sun season).

m:- Rainforest climate. Despite short, dry season in monsoon type of precipitation cycle. Applies to only A climates (Am).

Types of Climates

From the combination of the two letter groups, twelve distinct climates emerge as follows:

Tropical Rainforest Climate (Af):
Rainfall of the driest month is 6 cm or more.

Monsoon variety of Af (Am): Rainfall of the direst month is less than 6 cm. The dry season is strongly developed.

Tropical Savanna Climate (Aw): At least one month has rainfall less than 6 cm. The dry season is strongly developed.

Steppe Climate (BS): A semi-arid climate characterized by grasslands. It occupies an intermediate position between the desert climate “BW” and the more humid climates of A, C and D groups.

Desert Climate (BW): An arid climate with annual precipitation usually less than 40 cm.

Mild Humid Climate with no dry season (Cf): Temperate rainy climate, moist in all seasons. Precipitation of the driest month averages more than 3 cm.

Mild Humid Climate with a dry winter (Cw): Temperate rainy climate with dry winter. The wettest month of summer has at least 10 times the precipitation of the driest month of winter or 70% or more of the mean annual precipitation falls in the warmer six months.

Mild Humid Climate with a dry summer (Cs):
Temperate rainy climate with dry summer. Precipitation of the driest month of summer is less than 3 cm. Precipitation of the wettest month of winter is at least 3 times as much as that of the driest month of summer or 70% or more of the mean annual precipitation falls in the six months of winter.

Snowy Forest Climate with a moist winter (Df): Cold snowy forest climate with moist in all seasons.

Snowy Forest Climate with a dry winter (Dw): Cold snowy forest climate with dry winter.

Tundra Climate (ET): Mean temperature of the warmest month is above 0oC, but below 10oC.

Perpetual Frost Climate (EF):Ice-sheet climate. Mean monthly temperatures of all months are below 0oC.

Further Variations

To differentiate more variations in temperature or weather elements, Koppen added a third letter to the code group. Meanings are as follows:
a: With hot summer; warmest month over 71.6oF. Used for C and D climates.
b: With warm summer; warmest month below 71.6oF. Used for C and D climates.
c: With cold, short summer; less than 4 months over 50oF. Used for C and D climates.
d: With very cold winter; coldest month below –36.4oF. Used for D climates only.
h: Dry, hot; mean annual temperature over 64.4oF. Used for B climates only.
k: Dry, cold; mean annual temperature under 64.4oF. Used for B climates only.

Analyzed according to the Köppen system, India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the west, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, to humid tropical regions supporting rain forests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different micro climates. The nation has four seasons: winter (January and February), summer (March to May), a monsoon (rainy) season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to December).


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jet Stream is the Jet Stream?

The jet stream is a river of wind that blows horizontally through the upper layers of the troposphere, generally from west to east, at an altitude of 20,000 - 50,000 feet (6,100 - 9,144 meters), or about 7 miles (11 kilometers) up. 

A jet stream develops where air masses of differing temperatures meet. For this reason, surface temperatures determine where the jet stream will form. The greater the difference in temperature, the faster the wind velocity inside the jet stream. Jet streams can flow up to 200 mph (322 km/h), are 1000's of miles long, 100's of miles wide, and a few miles thick.

Where the jet stream begins
o    Air warmed in the tropics around the equator fuels the jet stream as it rises. Hitting the tropopause at about 58,000 feet (the layer of the atmosphere separating the troposphere from the stratosphere), it is drawn toward the colder air at the north and south poles.

Jet Stream Atmospheric Positions  
Positions of jet streams in the atmosphere. Arrows indicate directions of mean motions in a meridional plane.

How it forms a convection cell       At higher latitudes, the warm air cools and sinks, drawing more warm air in behind it. The cooled air flows back towards the equator, creating a loop or convection cell.

Why the jet stream flows on an easterly course     
As the earth rotates on its axis, so does the air around it. Due to this easterly rotation, rising warm air builds up momentum going the same direction. Thus, the jet stream cannot flow due north or due south, but makes an angular approach from the west, toward both poles.

Why the jet stream is so fast   Objects and air at the equator rotate around the earth's axis much faster than they do at more northerly or southerly latitudes. Thus, as the warmer air is drawn toward the poles, it moves faster, relative to the earth's surface. Because the rising warm air feeding the jet stream happens all along the equator, the effects accumulate, giving rise to high-speed winds.

The size of the jet stream
o    The jet stream is no more than three miles thick, a few hundred miles wide and circles the earth. The size changes as temperature and other air masses meet the jet stream, causing it to shift its course.

o    Jet streams move around the Earth in a narrow band. They are created by the difference in temperatures between two air masses, usually cold polar air and warm tropical air. The temperature variance creates gradients in air pressure, which in turn affects the strength of the winds in the jet stream. The greater the variance, the greater the wind speed. Jet stream winds normally are 100 to 200 mph but can reach speeds as high as 300 mph.

o    A jet stream develops where air masses of differing temperatures meet, so surface temperatures help determine where they will form. The jet stream is snakelike, undulating like a river, because of the pressures on either side from the warm and cold air masses.
When the jet stream is pushed south by a cold air mass, it allows high pressure to sink and create colder-than-normal weather in the South. In the opposite situation, when northern regions get warmer than normal, the jet stream has been pushed north by tropical air.

Jet streams travel from west to east in both hemispheres.

o    Jet streams were discovered in the 1920s by meteorologist Wasburo Ooishi, who was using weather balloons for his study of high elevation wind patterns over Japan. In 1939, German meteorologist H. Seilkopf was the first to use the term "jet stream" in a published scientific paper.

However, it wasn't until World War II, when the Japanese used the jet stream for fire balloon attacks on the American mainland, that the upper-level winds gained public recognition. Wiley Post, an American aviation pioneer, is credited with being the first person to fly within a jet stream. He and other WWII military pilots flying Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers found the jet stream made high altitude flights difficult.

Weather Effects
o    Currents travel at varying wind speeds within a jet stream, with the greatest speeds at the core. A jet stream contains jet streaks, where the wind velocity is higher than the rest of the stream. The jet streaks cause air to rise, lowering the air pressure at the Earth's surface. When surface pressures are low, the rising air can form clouds, precipitation and storms.
Air Travel
o    Jet streams play a major role in air travel. Eastbound flights usually take less flying time than westbound flights because of help from the fast-moving air. Jet streams can contain wind shear, a violent and sudden change in wind direction and speed, which is a major threat in air travel. Wind shear has caused airliners to suddenly lose altitude, putting them in danger of crashing. In 1988, the FAA decided that all commercial aircraft must have wind-shear warning systems, but it wasn't until 1996 that all airlines had them on-board.

Types of Jet Streams !!! 

SUBTROPICAL JET STREAMS.— These jets, like the polar-front jets, are best developed in winter and early spring. During summer, in the Northern Hemisphere, the subtropical jet weakens considerably, and it is only identifiable in sporadic velocity streaks around the globe. During winter, subtropical jets intensify and can be found between 20° and 50° latitude. Their maximum speed approaches 300 knots, although these higher wind speeds are associated with their merger with polar-front jets. The core is most frequently found between 35,000 and 40,000 feet. A subsidence motion accompanies subtropical jets and gives rise to predominantly fair weather in areas they pass over. These jets are also remarkably persistent from time to time, but they do fluctuate daily. Sometimes they drift northward and merge with a polar-front jet. Over Asia in summer, the subtropical jet is replaced by the tropical easterly jet stream.

TROPICAL EASTERLY JET STREAM.— This jet occurs near the tropopause over Southeast Asia, India, and Africa during summer. The strongest winds are over southern India, but they are not as intense as the winds encountered in polar-front or subtropical jet streams. This jet is closely connected to the Indian and African sum-mer monsoons. The existence of this jet implies that there is a deep layer of warm air to the north of the jet and colder air to the south over the In-dian Ocean. This warm air is of course associ-ated with the maximum heating taking place over India in summer, while the colder air is over the ocean. The difference in heating and cooling and the ensuing pressure gradient is what drives this jet.

POLAR-NIGHT JET STREAM.— This jet meanders through the upper stratosphere over the poles. It occurs only during the long winter night. Remember, night is 6 months long over the pole in which winter is occurring. The polarstratosphere undergoes appreciable cooling due to the lack of solar radiation. The horizontal temperature gradient is strongly established bet-ween the equator and the pole, and the pressure gradient creates this westerly jet. The temperature gradient breaks down intermittently during middle and late winter in the Northern Hemisphere; therefore, the jet is intermittent at these times. In the Southern Hemisphere the temperature gradient and jet disappear rather abruptly near the time of the spring equinox.

Detailed explanation on how the Jet Streams affect the Monsoons and the Indian Sub Continent ?

Jet Streams are fast flowing winds blowing in a narrow zone in the high altitude above 12000 m in troposphere. There are a number of separate jet streams whose speed varies from 110 km/h in summer to about 184 km/h in winter.
In winter the sub-tropical westerly jet streams bring rain to the western part of India, especially Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. In summer the sub-tropical easterly jet blows over Peninsular India approximately at 14ON and bring some rain and storm.

There are different jet streams and in respect of the climate and monsoons of India it is the Subtropical Jet Stream (STJ) and the countering easterly jet that are most important. As the summertime approaches there is increased solar heating of the Indian subcontinent, this has a tendency to form a cyclonic monsoon cell situated between the Indian Ocean and southern Asia. This cell is blocked by the STJ which tends to blow to the south of the Himalayas, as long as the STJ is in this position the development of summer monsoons is inhibited. During the summer months the STJ deflects northwards and crosses over the Himalayan Range. The altitude of the mountains initially disrupts the jet but once it has cleared the summits it is able to reform over central Asia. With the STJ out of the way the subcontinental monsoon cell develops very quickly indeed, often in a matter of a few days. Warmth and moisture are fed into the cell by a lower level tropical jet stream which brings with it air masses laden with moisture from the Indian Ocean. As these air masses are forced upward by north India’s mountainous terrain the air is cooled and compressed, it easily reaches it’s saturation vapour point and the excess moisture is dissipated out in the form of monsoon rains. The end of the monsoon season is brought about when the atmosphere over the Tibetan Plateau begins to cool, this enables the STJ to transition back across the Himalayas. This leads to the formation of a cyclonic winter monsoon cell typified by sinking air masses over India and relatively moisture free winds that blow seaward. This gives rise to relatively settled and dry weather over India during the winter months. This year has been something of an exception. Atmospheric changes over the southern Pacific Ocean led to warmer than usual waters flowing into the Indian Ocean. This provided additional moisture to feed the monsoon systems. Further to the north the polar jet stream stalled due to being countered by Rossby Waves, there was a large kink in the stream and this was centred over Russia. The stalled system prevented weather systems being drawn across Russia and the kink acted as a barrier trapping hot air to the south and cold air to the north. The consequence of this static mass of hot air was the heatwave that devastated Russia. With the jet stream stalled the STJ was unable to transit across the Himalayas as it would do ordinarily, the monsoon cell to the south, fed by warmer waters in the Indian Ocean, had nowhere to go and as a consequence it deposited vast amounts of rain over Pakistan, Himalchal Pradesh amd Jammu and Kashmir and this led to extensive flooding.

The Somali Jet

The monsoon wind that is deflected to the north as it crosses the equator is further deflected to the east by the mountains of Africa. The progress of the southwest monsoon towards India is greatly aided by the onset of certain jet streams including the crucial Somali jet that transits Kenya, Somalia and Sahel and exits the African coast at 9 degrees north at low level and very fast. J. Findlater, a British meteorologist observed this low level jet stream was found to be most pronounced between 1.0 and 1.5 km above the ground. It was observed to flow from Mauritius and the northern part of the island of Madagascar before reaching the coast of Kenya at about 3º S. Subsequently it ran over the plains of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia before reaching the coast again around 9º N. The jet stream appears to be fed by a stream of air, which moves northwards from the Mozambique Channel.

The major part of this low level jet penetrates into East Africa during May and, subsequently, traverses the northern parts of the Arabian Sea before reaching India in June. Observations suggest that the strongest cross equatorial flow from the southern to the northern hemisphere during the Asian Summer Monsoon is in the region of the low level jet. This has intrigued meteorologists, because it is not clear why the major flow of air from the southern to northern hemisphere should take place along a narrow preferred zone off the East African coast. The importance of the low level jet arises from the fact that its path around 9º N coincides with a zone of coastal upwelling. As the strong winds drive away the surface coastal waters towards the east, extremely cold water from the depths of the sea rise upwards to preserve the continuity of mass. This upwelling is brought about by strong low level winds. After the low level jet moves towards the Indian coastline around 9º N, it separates into two branches. One appears to move to the northern parts of the Indian Peninsula while the other recurves towards the southern half of the Indian coastline and Sri Lanka. It is still not clear why the jet separates into two branches. Findlater analysed the wind profile for the months of July and August and found a relationship between the cross-equatorial airflow, between 1.0 and 1.5 km, over Kenya and the rainfall over western India. He opined that an increase in the cross-equatorial flow was followed by an increase in rainfall over the west coast. 

The Somali Current

Oceanographers have been interested in yet another phenomenon, which appears to have some relationship with the low level jet stream off the coast of eastern Africa. This ocean current named the Somali Current, flows northward from the equator to 9º N, where it separates from the coast. It is a fairly strong current with a velocity maximum of 2 m m/s, but speeds as large as 3 m m/s have also been observed. The Somali Current may be considered to be a western boundary current of the Indian Ocean. But, its peculiar feature is a reversal in direction with the onset of the summer monsoon. In winter, this current is from north to the south running southwards from the coast of Arabia to the east African coastline; but with the advent of the summer monsoon it reverses its direction and flows from the south to the north. This suggests a relationship with the reversal of monsoon winds, but usually the oceans respond very slowly to changes in atmospheric circulation and oceanographers have wondered why the Somali Current reverses its direction and reaches its maximum speed nearly a month earlier than the onset of southwesterly monsoon winds.
Sub-tropical Westerly and Tropical Jet Streams

Certain interesting changes take place in the upper atmosphere with the advent of the summer monsoon. Towards the end of May, a narrow stream of air, which moves from the west to the east over northern India, suddenly weakens and moves to a new location far to the north of the Himalayas. This is known as sub-tropical westerly jet stream. Its movement towards the north is one of the main features associated with the onset of the monsoon over India. As the westerly jet moves north, yet another jet stream sets in over the southern half of the Indian peninsula. This flows in the reverse direction from the east to west. It is called tropical easterly jet, and it exhibits periodic movements to the north and south of its mean location during the hundred-day monsoon season beginning with the first of June and ending around mid-September.

The altitude at which the winds attain their maximum strength in the tropical easterly jet is around 150 hPa, but the maximum winds associated with the sub-tropical westerly jet occur at a lower altitude of 300 hPa. A remarkable feature of the tropical easterly jet is that it can be traced in the upper troposphere right up to the west coast of Africa. HPa refers to 'hecta Pascal' and is a unit of measure of atmospheric air pressure

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All you wanted to learn about South-East Asia !!!

Southeast Asia Comprises of ??
Southeast Asia (or Southeastern Asia) is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic and volcanic activity.

Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions: Mainland Southeast Asia, also known as Indochina, comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, and Maritime Southeast Asia, which is analogous to the Malay Archipelago, comprises Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. Geographically Hong Kong, Macau,and Taiwan are sometimes grouped in the Southeast Asia subregion, although politically they are rarely grouped as such. The same is true for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, and occasionally regions of the Seven Sister States such as Manipur.

Mainland Southeast Asia includes:
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Peninsular Malaysia

Maritime Southeast Asia includes:
  • East Malaysia
  • Brunei
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • East Timor

Looking into each region
North Australia

"Aussie" is a colloquialism that was used during World War I to refer to Australian-born people of British or Irish ancestry. Initially used to describe a happy-go-lucky character capable of battling through hard times, the term was employed after World War II to distinguish those born domestically from "new" immigrants from western and southern Europe.

The Arnhem Land plateau is an enormous sandstone tableland, roughly the size of Switzerland, that lies in Australia’s tropical north. The western areas of this plateau are part of the World Heritage Kakadu National Park, and the larger eastern part lies in the west of Arnhem Land. This is country that has been home to Indigenous people for tens of thousands of years and the rock paintings found throughout the plateau are thought to represent the longest continuous record of human culture anywhere in the world.

Brunei Darussalam

A tiny country with a small population, Brunei was the only Malay state in 1963 to choose to remain a British dependency rather than join the Malaysian Federation.
It became independent in 1984 and, thanks to its large reserves of oil and gas, now has one of the highest standards of living in the world.
Its ruling royals, led by the head of state Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, possess a huge private fortune.

(Andaman Nicobar Islands )
In the Andaman Islands, the various Andamanese people maintained their separated existence through the vast majority of this time, diversifying into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups. By the 1850s when they first came into sustained contact by outside groups, the indigenous people of the Andamans were:
  • the Great Andamanese, who collectively represented at least 10 distinct sub-groups and languages;
  • the Jarawa;
  • the Jangil (or Rutland Jarawa);
  • the Onge; and
  • the Sentinelese (most isolated of all the groups).

The indigenous people of the Nicobars (unrelated to the Andamanese) have a similarly isolated and lengthy association with the islands. There are two main groups:
  • the Nicobarese, or Nicobari, living throughout many of the islands; and
  • the Shompen, restricted to the hinterland of Great Nicobar.

The fate of Cambodia shocked the world when the radical communist Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot seized power in 1975 after years of guerrilla warfare.
An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died during the next three years, many from exhaustion or starvation. Others were tortured and executed.
Today, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and relies heavily on aid. Foreign donors have urged the government to clamp down on pervasive corruption.

China (Hainan)

China is the world's most populous country, with a continuous culture stretching back nearly 4,000 years.
Hainan has always been on the fringe of the Chinese cultural sphere. Traditionally, the island was a place of exile for criminals and disgraced officials. As a frontier region celebrated by such exiled poets as Su Dongpo, Hainan acquired an air of mystery and romance. The influx of large numbers of mainlanders after 1950 - particularly in the 1970s, when young Chinese from southern Guangdong were assigned to state farms to help develop Hainan, and in the 1980s, when thousands more came to take advantage of the economic opportunities offered - has perpetuated the frontier atmosphere on the island.
East Malaysia

Malaysia boasts one of south-east Asia's most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability.
Its multi-ethnic, multi-religious society encompasses a majority Muslim population in most of its states and an economically-powerful Chinese community.

East Timor

East Timor's road to independence - achieved on 20 May 2002 - was long and traumatic. The people of the first new nation of the century suffered some of the worst atrocities of modern times. An independent report commissioned by the UN transitional administration in East Timor said that at least 100,000 Timorese died as a result of Indonesia's 25-year occupation, which ended in 1999.


Spread across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population.
Ethnically it is highly diverse, with more than 300 local languages. The people range from rural hunter-gatherers to a modern urban elite.
Indonesia has seen great turmoil in recent years, having faced the Asian financial crisis, the fall of President Suharto after 32 years in office, the first free elections since the 1960s, the loss of East Timor, independence demands from restive provinces, bloody ethnic and religious conflict and a devastating tsunami.

Thailand is the only country in south-east Asia to have escaped colonial rule. Buddhist religion, the monarchy and the military have helped to shape its society and politics.
The 1980s brought a boom to its previously agricultural economy and had a significant impact on Thai society as thousands flocked to work in industry and the services sector.

Laos, one of the world's few remaining communist states, is one of east Asia's poorest countries. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 it has struggled to find its position within a changing political and economic landscape.
Communist forces overthrew the monarchy in 1975, heralding years of isolation. Laos began opening up to the world in the 1990s, but despite tentative reforms, it remains poor and dependent on international donations.

Christmas Islands
The Territory of Christmas Island is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It is located 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, 360 km (220 mi) south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and 975 km (606 mi) ENE of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, also called Cocos Islands and Keeling Islands, is a territory of Australia, located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Christmas Island and approximately midway between Australia and Sri Lanka. The territory consists of two atolls and twenty-seven coral islands, of which two, West Island and Home Island, are inhabited with a total population of approximately 600.
Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. The Philippines exhibits aspects found in other Asian countries with a Malay  heritage, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. Traditional festivities known as barrio fiestas (district festivals) to commemorate the feast days of patron saints are common. The Moriones Festival and Sinulog Festival are a couple of the most well-known. These community celebrations are times for feasting, music, and dancing. Some traditions, however, are changing or gradually being forgotten due to modernization. The Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company has been lauded for preserving many of the various traditional folk dances found throughout the Philippines. They are famed for their iconic performances of Philippine dances such as the tinikling and singkil that both feature the use of clashing bamboo poles.


Racial and religious harmony is regarded by the government as a crucial part of Singapore's success and played a part in building a Singaporean identity.Due to the many races and cultures in the country, there is no single set of culturally acceptable behaviours. People in Singapore are generally well educated, and although the country is socially conservative, some liberalisation has occurred. Foreigners also make up 42% of the population in Singapore and have a strong influence on Singaporean culture. A.T. Kearney named Singapore the most globalised country in the world in 2006 in its Globalization Index.The Economist Intelligence Unit in its "Quality-of-Life Index" ranks Singapore as having the best quality of life in Asia and eleventh overall in the world.


The climate in Southeast Asia is mainly tropical–hot and humid all year round with plentiful rainfall. Southeast Asia has a wet and dry season caused by seasonal shift in winds or monsoon. The tropical rain belt causes additional rainfall during the monsoon season. The rain forest is the second largest on earth (with the Amazon being the largest). An exception to this type of climate and vegetation is the mountain areas in the northern region, where high altitudes lead to milder temperatures and drier landscape. Other parts fall out of this climate because they are desert like.

Tropical Climate Regions

  • Overview
    • tropical rain forest climate dominates Southeast Asia
    • parts of mainlands and some islands have tropical savanna or humid subtropical
    • highlands climate found in highest mountain areas
  • Tropical Rain Forest Climate
    • little variation in temperature and mostly wet conditions year-round
    • 79 degree F daily temperature average creates hot, humid, and rainy conditions
    • rainfall averages between 79 and 188 inches/year
    • humidity between 80 and 90 percent
    • Malaysian rain forest
      • 145,000 flowering plant species
      • region's oldest forest, dating back millions of years
      • layers of vegetation
        • peat swamp forests in river valleys
        • sandy coastal soil supports shrubs
        • mangrove swamp forests cover tidal mud flats
        • leathery evergreens in lowlands with poor soil
        • resins - organic compounds - produced by evergreens used for medicines and varnishes
  • Singapore
    • once an island covered by dense rain forest and surrounded by mangrove trees
    • now urban area with one of world's highest population densities (16732 people per square mile)
    • population 4 million
    • endemic - native to a particular area
    • urbanized setting replaced natural habitat
    • 80% trees and shrubs imported
    • one of only two cities (Rio de Janeiro) that have rain forest areas within
  • Tropical Savanna Climate
    • second most prominent climate zone
    • southeast across Indochina Peninsula and along southeast Indonesia
    • alternate wet and dry seasons
    • tropical grasslands and scattered trees
    • Indochina Peninsula dry season from four to eight months
    • Seasons
      • Mainland and North of Equator
        • summer monsoon rains from May through September
        • winter dry season from October to April
        • first few months of winter cooler and last hot
      • Indonesia South of Equator
        • wet and dry cycles reversed
        • hot dry season from South Pacific tradewinds from May to September
        • monsoons bring rain from October to April
  • Humid Subtropical Climate
    • part of Southeast Asia's mainland - most of Laos, part of Thailand, and northern Myanmar and Vietnam
    • relief from hot, humid temperatures
    • cool, dry season from November to April
    • lower temperatures in Shan Plateau of Myanmar (tropical Scotland)
Highlands Climate

  • mountainous areas of Myanmar, New Guinea, and Borneo
  • cooler temperatures from rest of area
  • deciduous - broad-leafed trees that lose leaves in autumn
  • deciduous forests covered in moss found on lower slopes
  • evergreens at higher elevations
  • Myanmar highlands have rhododendrons


Austronesian peoples predominate in this region. The major religions are Buddhism and Islam, followed by Christianity. However, a wide variety of religions are found throughout the region, including many Hindu and animist-influenced practices.

Introduction of Islam to Southeast Asia:
The actual timing and introduction of Islamic religion and religious practice to Southeast Asia is somewhat of a debate. European historians have argued that it came through trading contacts with India, whereas some Southeast Asian Muslim scholars claim it was brought to the region directly from Arabia in the Middle East. Other scholars claim that Muslim Chinese who were engaged in trade introduced it.
Whatever the source, scholars acknowledge that Muslim influence in Southeast Asia is at least six centuries old, or was present by 1400 A.D. Some argue for origins to at least 1100 A.D. in the earliest areas of Islamic influence, such as in Aceh, northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
Whatever exact dates and sources one chooses to support, there is no doubt that Islamization of many peoples in present-day Malaysia, southern Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, and the southern Philippines occurred within a few hundred years. The process of religious conversion absorbed many pre-existing Southeast Asian beliefs (often referred to as 'animism', or the belief in the power of invisible spirits of people's ancestors and the spirits of nature to influence the fortunes of humans on earth).
The scholar Anthony Reid, Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, argues that this process of Islamization (and Christianization in the Philippines) occurred rapidly in Southeast Asia, especially during the period of 1550-1650.
For example, Islam became strong in eastern Indonesia, especially coastal kingdoms of Sulawesi, Lombok, Kalimantan, Sumbawa, Makassar, and in Sulu and Magindanao (Cotabato Province) in the southern Philippines from 1603-1612. This does not mean that rulers and their subjects in these areas were totally devoted to upholding all of the basic rules of Islam. It means that Islamic influence was present, as evidenced through ruling elites' obligation to renounce the consumption of pork and to pronounce the daily five prayers. Some also practiced circumcision during this period.

Respect for Gods, Nature, Spirits
Duty vs. Rights Priority of responsibility over liberty Southeast Asia
Community Communitarianism, Communalism, Fellows, Other-centeredness SEA
Bayanihan Helping each other in the community Philippines
Nitu, Anito Gods and nature spirits (Austronesian) Insular Southeast Asia
Nat (Burmese) Gods Burma
Phii (Thai) Spirits Mainland Southeast Asia
Deva, Devata, Diwata (Sanskrit) Goddess, spirits SEA
Brahma (Sanskrit) Indian God the Creator important in Therevada Buddhism that supplements Brahamanistic practices Mainland SEA
Angkor Thom Brahma image in temple Cambodia
Shaman Informal village religious leader;  medium between the visible and spirit worlds; involves in healing and divination Southeast Asia
Amulets Philippine Anting-Anting, Buddha images SEA
Aswang A sort of human vampire the top part of whose body flies at night to feed on human blood and internal organs Philippines


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.

ASEAN and India
India’s focus on a strengthened and multi-faceted relationship with ASEAN is an outcome of the significant changes in the world’s political and economic scenario since the early 1990s and India’s own march towards economic liberalisation. India’s search for economic space has resulted in our ‘Look East’ policy. ASEAN’s economic, political and strategic importance in the larger Asia-Pacific Region and its potential to become a major partner of India in trade and investment is a significant factor in our policy paradigms. ASEAN’s steady expansion westward to include Myanmar has also brought it to our land boundaries. It now provides a land bridge for India to connect with the ASEAN countries. ASEAN, on its part, seeks access to India’s professional and technical strengths. Our traditional friendship with the CLMV countries also makes India a valuable ally for promoting the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI).


These are the nine of the most prominent cities in Southeast Asia:
  • Bangkok — Thailand's bustling, cosmopolitan capital with nightlife and fervour
  • Jakarta — The largest metropolitan city in southeast asia, and beautiful life in the evening
  • Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) — The Bustling Metropolis that has become Vietnam's largest city and the economic centre of the south
  • Kuala Lumpur — grown from a small sleepy Chinese tin-mining village to a bustling metropolis
  • Luang Prabang — a UNESCO World Heritage City known for its numerous temples, colonial era architecture, and vibrant night market
  • Manila — historic, bustling, awe-inspiring, Manila is a blend of cultures and flavors with many places to see
  • Phnom Penh — a rough city striving to retain the name of "Paris of the East", as it was known before 1970
  • Singapore — modern, affluent city with a medley of Chinese, Indian and Malay influences
  • Yangon (formerly Rangoon) — the commercial capital of Myanmar, known for its pagodas and colonial architecture 
    tanahlot2.jpg (8595 bytes)
    Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia
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    Balinese Rice Farmer, Indonesia
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Other destinations

These are some of the largest and most famous destinations outside of major cities.
  • Angkor Archaeological Park — magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire
  • Bali — unique Hindu culture, beaches and mountains on the Island of the Gods
  • Boracay — long white sand beaches and bustling nightlife
  • Borobudur — one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world
  • Gunung Mulu National Park — fantastic limestones caves and karst formations
  • Ha Long Bay — literally translated as "Bay of Descending Dragons", famous for its scenic rock formations
  • Komodo National Park — the komodo is the biggest reptile in the world, and it can only be found in this national park
  • Krabi Province — beach and watersports mecca, includes Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta
  • Preah Vihear — cliff-top temple pre-dating Angkor Wat


Pre-historic Southeast Asia was largely underpopulated. A process of immigration from India across the Bay of Bengal is referred to as the process of Indianization. Exactly how and when it happened is contested; however, the population of the mainland region largely happened through immigration from India. The Sanskrit script still used as the basis for modern Thai, Lao, Burmese and Khmer has its roots from this process. On the other hand, population of the archipelegos of East Timor, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as Malaysia on the mainland is thought to have come about though immigration from Taiwan.


  • Thailand's capital; Bangkok serves as one of Thailand's financial centers, it is the gateway to the whole of Thailand who boasts itself as the only country who wasn't colonized by any Western power as well as one of the most visited countries in Asia.
  • Ayutthaya became the capital of early Thailand; Siam, it had been a major trading capital in Asia due to its location in between China and India.
  • Sukhothai was one of the former capitals of early Thailand, today it stands in ruins and is a popular destination for tourists for its temples and Buddha statues. King Ramkhamhaeng the great has a connection with Sukhothai, he created the Thai alphabet, laid foundations for politics, religion and Monarchy which makes Sukhothai important in History.
  • Angkor Wat in Cambodia is considered an architectural wonder which made it as a UNESCO World heritage site, the temple is first build as a Hindu temple but as Jayavarman VII converted to Buddhism, the temple was converted into a Buddhist temple.

India and South East Asia
In the 1970s and 1980s, India's close ties with the Soviet Union and its pro-Soviet, pro-Vietnamese policies toward Cambodia precluded development of any constructive relations between India on the one hand and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations  on the other. Furthermore, India's military buildup, particularly of its naval capabilities and naval installations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, worried ASEAN policy makers, who saw India as a potential threat to regional security. Indian-ASEAN relations improved in the 1990s as the result of the end of the bipolar world system, the UN-brokered peace settlement in Cambodia, and the breakup of the Soviet Union. For its part, New Delhi sought to boost economic and trade ties with the region and to establish closer political and defense ties in order to counteract China's growing influence in Southeast Asia. ASEAN countries grew less concerned with India's regional ambitions after New Delhi's decision to curtail its naval buildup because of financial restraints. In January 1992, ASEAN accepted India's proposal to become a "sectoral dialogue partner" in the areas of trade, technical and labor development, technology, and tourism. India's new role was expected to facilitate economic cooperation. In January 1993, India and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation.
India has had close ties with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam as a result of its 1954-73 chairmanship of the International Commissions of Control and Supervision established by the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina. These relations were enhanced by India's friendship with the Soviet Union, particularly after 1971 and, in the case of Vietnam, shared perceptions of the threat from China. With regard to Cambodia, India recognized the Vietnamese-installed regime in 1980 and worked to avert censure of the regime in the annual UN General Assembly and triennial Nonaligned Movement summit meetings. In the late 1980s, Indian diplomats attempted to facilitate the search for peace in Cambodia, and India participated in the 1989 Paris Peace Conference on Cambodia and in subsequent efforts to find a solution to the Cambodian situation. New Delhi played a minor but nevertheless constructive role before and after the Agreement on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict and three other documents were signed in Paris on October 23, 1991.
 India contributed more than 1,700 civilian, military, and police personnel to the United Nations Advanced Mission in Cambodia and the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia.
 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
 The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) was set up in 1993 as a
regional security cooperation and dialogue platform. The Forum grew out of
deliberations in the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference between the Foreign
Ministers of ASEAN and its full dialogue partners. In 1995 the ARF agreed to an
evolutionary approach to effectively tackle security issues and adopted a 3-stage
process viz 1st stage – Confidence Building Measures (CBMs); 2nd stage –
development of preventive diplomacy; and 3rd stage – elaboration of approaches
to conflicts. ASEAN values of consensus, confidence building and progress at a
pace comfortable to all have guided the ARF process since inception.

At present ARF has 27 member states. These include: the 10 ASEAN
countries - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar,
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; the 10 ASEAN Dialogue Partners
- Australia, Canada, China, EU, India, Japan, ROK, New Zealand, Russia and
United States; and 7 other countries, namely, Bangladesh, DPRK, Mongolia,
Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Sri Lanka.

India's Participation in ARF
participation in the ARF demonstrates our increasing engagement in the
Asia-Pacific region, both in the politico-security and economic spheres and
underlines our commitment to the objective of sustaining regional peace and
stability. Our participation is consistent with our “Look East” policy, and
development of closer links with the ASEAN as a full-dialogue partner

India has been an active participant in the various ARF processes. India
has organized several seminars, workshops and training programmes for ARF
Members. The themes of these activities have included peacekeeping, maritime
security, anti-piracy and cyber security. India co-chaired the ARF-ISG on
Confidence Building Measures and Preventive Diplomacy meetings for the intersessional
period 2009-10. Vietnam was the ASEAN co-Chair. An ARF-ISG
meeting was held in New Delhi from 9-11 November 2009. India had also cochaired
the 6th ARF-ISM on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, held in
Indonesia in February 2008. In November 2008 and March 2009, India organized
two training programmes on maritime security in Chennai. In May 2009 a UN
Peacekeeping course was organized in New Delhi.


Important Physical Geographic Points about Southeast Asia

1. Southeast Asia is located on the equator, which means almost the entire region falls within the humid tropics.

2. Southeast Asia is conventionally divided into two cultural, linguistic, and geographic regions:
a. Mainland Southeast Asia - the countries of Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam;
b. Insular Southeast Asia - the island or peninsular countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, East Timor.

3. While many countries in Southeast Asia today have dense populations, in the past the region had considerably lower population density than major Asian countries like India, China and Japan.
The low population density placed a premium on the ability of leaders and rulers to attract people to various population centers. River valleys, deltas, and major maritime trading ports that were well-positioned along trading routes between India and China were the areas where early population centers, major kingdoms, and great temples first arose. Southeast Asian maritime skills were highly developed in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

The combination of rice agriculture and maritime skills led to the development of two different kinds of classical Southeast Asian states: inland states, based on rice agriculture, and maritime states, based on trade and raiding.

Upland and Lowland Distinctions in Southeast Asia:
Just as the great civilizations of Southeast Asia were located along rivers, deltas, coastal areas or geographic locations suitable for intensive rice agriculture, there are similar geographic contrasts in the characteristics of peoples who live in the lowland areas versus the highland areas.
Generally, upland areas can be characterized as having lower population densities, greater heterogeneity in languages, cultures, and ethnicity, greater political fragmentation, and slash burn cultivation of root or grain crops.

Slash and burn cultivation, or swidden agriculture, is based on a system wherein standing tropical forest is cut and cleared before the rainy season begins. After the timber dries, farmers burn the cut area, which leaves a thick layer of ash on the soil. When the ash is mixed with the soil, it provides important nutrients and phosphate that increase soil fertility and hence the productivity and size of crops. The rainy season further pushes these nutrients into the soil. After one or two years of cultivation, the farmer needs to cut down a new area of the forest and abandon the original plots for 10-15 years so that the forest will grow back. Slash and burn cultivation usually necessitates some mobility of the population over time, hence requiring a fairly large area of land per person.

Wet rice agriculture, in contrast, is a form of permanent agriculture that involves radically transforming the landscape. Farmers must build terraces and irrigation canals to regular the flow of water from streams and rivers. Nutrients are provided through the algae that form in the water of the rice paddies. This type of rice agriculture is more intensive, and responds well to increased labor inputs. Hence, since in tropical lowland areas a farmer can get two seasons a year of rice without difficulty, wet rice was the support base for many Southeast Asian states.

Modern environmental pressures:
In 1997, 13 of the world's most polluted cities were in Asia. One-third of Asians did not have access to clean water; one-half did not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.
The financial crisis in Asia during the 1997-99 period halted or slowed the fairly recent efforts by Southeast Asian states to invest in greater environmental regulations and conservation efforts. Even as environmental budgets were cut by many governments whose currencies lost value during this period, the need for foreign exchange created powerful pressures to export ever-larger quantities of fish, minerals, agricultural and plantation products. Furthermore, while many states already have lost most of their primary forest cover, additional incentives now exist to increase commercial tropical timber production and export. Total forest plantations in Indonesia covered 3.8 million hectares in 1994, and the Indonesian government hopes to increase this amount to 8 million hectares by 2005. Similarly, the Philippines already has lost 99% of the forest cover it had 100 years ago.
In Indonesia, illegal fishing (dynamite fishing, cyanide fishing for aquarium fish exports) also appears to have increased during this period of financial crisis.
Some economists view the devastation to the forest and marine resource environments of Southeast Asian countries to be a more serious, longer-lasting problem than economic recovery and banking reforms in the region.

Stability and Instability in Southeast Asia
    1. Asian (Authoritarian) "Democracies"
      1. Thailand
      2. Malaysia
      3. Singapore
      4. Philippines
    1. Asian Authoritarian Governments
      1. Indonesia (in transition)
      2. Burma
      3. Brunei
      4. Laos
      5. Vietnam
      6. Cambodia (in transition)
    1. Period of Non-Crises
      1. End of external and internal Communist threats
      2. End of struggles for independence
      3. Regional cooperation
    1. Economics
      1. Flourishing free enterprise economies
      2. Liberalizing command economies (Vietnam, Laos)
    1. Primary Problems for Foreign Investors
      1. Infrastructure weaknesses (stemming from remarkable economic successes)
      2. Bureaucratic obstacles
      3. Environmental degradation (traffic, pollution, water contamination, crime, urban alienation)
      4. Corruption
      5. Cost of living
      6. Gap between urban rich and rural poor
      7. Cultural difference
    1. Primary Opportunities
      1. Vietnam - The New Economic Frontier
      2. Thailand - Stability, Discipline, Inexpensive Labor, Gracious Citizenry
      3. Singapore - Antiseptic, Technological, Safe, Orderly, Entrepreneurial
      4. Philippines - English language, Educated, Democracy, Coming out of malaise
      5. Malaysia - relatively non-corrupt, infrastructure
      6. Indonesia - vast population, inexpensive labor

Impact of Colonialism

Six countries: Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, and the United States, had colonies in Southeast Asia.

The Portuguese had the least impact on Southeast Asia.  They captured Malacca in 1511, holding it until the Dutch seized it in 1641.  Otherwise, they maintained only a small piece of territory on the island of Timor, southeast of Bali.

Spain ruled the Philippines from its conquest of Cebu in 1565 and Manila in 1571 until its defeat in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The Netherlands
Dutch colonialism falls into two periods.  the first, that of the V.O.C., or Dutch East India Company, lasted from 1605 to 1799.  The V.O.C. had little interest in territorial administration; its primary concern was to maximize profits through trading monopolies.
When the V.O.C. collapsed in 1799, the Dutch government took control of its assets in 1825, after the Napoleonic Wars, and began to bring the Indonesian archipelago under its administrative authority.  This process was completed during the 1930s.
At the end of the Second World War, the Dutch had hoped to retain the Netherlands East Indies as a colony, but the Indonesians opposed the return of the Dutch, setting up a republic in 1945.  In 1949, after four years of fighting, the Indonesians gained their independence with the assistance of the United Nations which served as a mediator between the Indonesians and the Dutch.

Great Britain
The British conquered Burma, fighting three Anglo-Burmese Wars in 1824-26, 1852, and 1885-86.  Unlike other colonies which maintained their ethnic identity, Burma was a province of British India.  The Burmese, therefore, had two sets of rulers, the British at the top with the Indians in the middle.  In 1935 the British agreed to separate Burma from India, putting this agreement into effect in 1937.  Burma was able to negotiate its independence from Great Britain in 1948.
Penang (acquired in 1786), Singapore (founded by Raffles in 1819), and Malacca (Melaka, acquired in 1824), were governed by Britain as the Straits Settlements.  The Straits Settlements served as a base for British expansion into the Malay Peninsula between 1874 and 1914.  When the Malay States entered into negotiations for their independence--achieved in 1957--Penang and Malacca became part of Malaysia as did Singapore in 1963.  However, Singapore was asked to withdraw from the federation in1965.  Singapore has been an independent city state since that date.   Sarawak and Sabah which joined Malaysia in 1963 continue to remain members of the federation.

France moved into Vietnam in 1858, capturing Saigon in 1859.  Using the south, then called Cochin China, as a base the French moved west and north completing the conquest of Indochina by 1907.  (Indochina--the five territories under French authority: Cochin China, Annam, Tongking, Laos, and Cambodia.)  The French also wanted to retain their colony after the Second World War.  The Vietnamese rejected French rule, and after defeating the French at Dien Bien Phu, obtained their independence at the Geneva Conference in 1954.

The United States
The United States moved into the Philippines as a result of the peace settlement with Spain in 1898.  The Filipinos were granted a Commonwealth (internal autonomy) government in 1935, and their independence in 1946.

Thailand continued to be independent.  It was the only Southeast Asian state to remain independent during the colonial period.

Nobel Prize Winners    

·         Aung San Suu Kyi Daughter of Aung San;
·          Leader of National League for Democracy Burma Bishop Belo Important church leader who fought for national freedom and democracy
·         East Timor Jose Ramos Horta Professor; International spokesperson for national liberation East Timor

Terrorist Groups    

  1. Abu Sayyaf Engage in kidnap for ransom, killing, beheading     Philippines 
  2. Al Qaeda cells International terrorist ring under Osama bin Laden    Southeast Asia      

Physical Features
  • Mountains
    • dominate landscape
    • most peaks below 10,000 feet
    • create geographical and political barriers
    • western and northern higlands separate region from India and China
    • three cordilleras run north to south
      • Arakan Yoma Range in western Myanmar
      • Bilauktaung Rnage between Myanmar and Thailand
      • Annam Cordillera separating Vietnam from Laos and Cambodia
    • island mountains form part of Ring of Fire
    • Indonesian and Philippine islands marked by craters
    • mineral-rich volcanic material breaks down and leaves rich, fertile soil, making Southeast Asia highly productive agricultural area

  • Volcanoes of Indonesia and the Philippines
    • 327 volcanoes stretch across Indonesia
    • Java, home to 17 of Indonesia's 100 active volcanoes, is one of Ring of Fire's most active areas
    • 1883 eruption of Krakatau destroyed everything
      • now monitor volcanic activity to be prepared
    • 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo 20th century's most powerful
      • 55 miles north of Philippine capital Manila
      • damaged town of Angeles
      • foot deep layer of ash over U.S. Clark Air Force Base

  • Rivers
    • waterways for transportation, communication, and food
    • silt and deposits of sediment creat fertile agricultural regions
    • mainland rivers originate in northern highlands and flow south to Gulf of Thailand
      • Irrawaddy in Myanmar
      • Chao Phraya in Thailand
      • Red in Vietnam
      • Mekong between Thailand and Loas and through Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into South China Sea, where it adds 50 feet/year to shoreline from sediment
    • island rivers shorter and flow in various directions
      • Indonesian rivers flow south to north
      • Borneo's rivers flow from center outward