Mainland and Maritime Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is a sub-region of Asia. It is roughly defined as geographically situated east of Indian subcontinent, north of Australia, south of China, between Pacific Ocean (in east) and Indian Ocean (in west). The Southeast Asia entails unique dissimilar geographic regions. One of these regions is the mainland Southeast Asia, which is as well regarded as Indochina, on Indochinese peninsula. It entails nations of Laos, West Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia), Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, and Thailand.
Other regions include Maritime Southeast Asia or Malay Archipelago. This region entails such countries as Brunei (on island of Borneo) and East Malaysia (including Malayan states of Sabah as well as Sarawak on northern part of Borneo). It also comprise of all islands of the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Singapore. Alongside Indian subcontinent alongside lowland southern China Southeast Asia forms Indomalaya ecozone. This is among the eight great ecozones which encompass the land surface of the Earth. The map below gives this illustration:
Map#1: Shows nations and regions of Southeast Asia with borders, main cities, capital
Peninsular Southeast Asia region remains a rocky area crossed by several mountains as well as exhausted by prodigious rivers like the Ayeyarwady, Thanlwin, Mekong, and Chao Phraya. Insular Southeast Asia is comprised of several volcanic alongside coral islands. Southeast Asia has the tropical rainy climate with exemption of northwestern part that has humid subtropical climate.
The west monsoon winds remain vigorous for economic welfare of this area. Most of area remain under the cover of tropical forest. Rice remains chief crop being grown in this region; tea, rubber, spices as well as coconut remain significant crops. This region has a diverse minerals as well as produces most of global tin.
Southeast Asia lies virtually amid tropics and hence there are resemblances in climate and plant as well as animal life in the entire area. The temperatures remain largely warm but cooler in the highland regions. Various jungle and sea commodities remain distinct to this region, and hence much wanted in the early times international traders. Many minor islands in eastern Indonesia remained initially the solely global foundation for nutmeg, mace alongside cloves.
The whole area is influenced by monsoon winds blowing frequently from northwest as well as reversing to blow from southwest. Such a system of wind also allowed traders from outside region to reach and exit regularly. Due to such a reliable pattern of wind, Southeast Asia has become an assembly point for the trade between China and India, the two major markets of ancient Asia.
Geography and Climate of Southeast Asia
There is, however, particularly dissimilarities in physical environment of island and mainland Southeast Asia. The different feature of the mainland geography remains the extended rivers which start in the highlands which separate Southeast Asia from northwest India and China.
The next feature remains the widespread lowland plains which are detached by forested hills as well as mountain ranges. Such productive plains remain greatly matched to rice growing tribal cohorts, like Thais, the Vietnamese and Burmese. These groups created settled cultures which ultimately offered basis for contemporary states. The highlands became occupied by ethnic clusters.
These groups showed their sagacity of identity via unique panaches in jewelry, clothing as well as hairstyles. The next feature of the Southeast Asian mainland is extensive coastline. The societies which advanced in such areas were share of the maritime trading system which connected Southeast Asia to China and India despite the firm agrarian base.
The maritime Southeast Asian islands can vary from very vast for example Sumatra, Luzon, Borneo, and Java to small pinpoints on the map (Indonesia said to entail 17000 islands). Due to interior of such islands remained jungle covered as well as usually dismembered by highlands, the land travel was difficult. Southeast Asians, however, got it calmer to navigate the region by boat amid diverse regions.
It was frequently supposed that land splits as well as zones where individuals shared similar languages and remained bare to the similar religious as well as influences of culture. The contemporary boundaries established by colonial powers, for example, amid Indonesia and Malaysia do not depict rational division of culture.
The next feature of the Southeast Asian maritime is seas. Besides less deep underwater ditches, oceans remain extremely shallow. This shallowness of ocean imply that they are rather warm as well as extremely salty. This provides a perfect atmosphere for fish, seaweeds, coral, alongside additional merchandises. However, seas in certain regions remain jagged, the area in general, with an exemption of Philippines, remain free of typhoons and hurricanes. Nevertheless, various active volcanoes alongside island world are extremely vulnerable to activities of earthquake.
The most of influences which precast communities of Southeast Asia precede European colonizers who came from ancient Chinese as well as Indian origin. Many inordinate civilizations, encompassing Khmers’ alongside Malays’, have succeeded in the area (Kunstadter, 2017). In late fifteenth century, influences of Islam grew firm but stay overwhelmed by Europeans’ arrivals.
Historical Influences on Southeast Asia
The Europeans later created their supremacy all over Southeast Asia; solely Thailand was never occupied by Europeans. Due to strategic position of Southeast Asia between India and Japan, alongside significance of routes for shipping which cross it, it became the point of clashes between Japanese and Allied powers throughout the Second World War.
The Southeast Asian nations have since resurfaced following the end of the war as sovereign nations. These nations have been overwhelmed by political chaos, ethnic strife, feeble economies as well as social disparities, but the condition of many Southeast Asia countries enhanced in 1980s alongside 1990s. During the entire period of 1960s alongside early 70s, nevertheless, open conflict were witnessed between factions of non-Communist alongside Communist throughout most of this area. This was more pronounced in Vietnam, Cambodia as well as Laos.
- The Dominant Settlement Patterns in Southeast Asia
There are different patterns of settlement in Southeast Asia. There are more urbanized region than other regions. For example, in Singapore, entire region is narrowly clustered with structures. A better instance of this closely clustered design of settlement is the Bangkok in Thailand (Hirschman & Bonaparte, 2012). The dominant patterns of settlement of major cities in Southeast Asia with high population densities show clustering of building patterns because of the restraints of land assets.
These settlements of urban always incline to stay clustered since urban dwellers settlements remain highly engaged in actions such as manufacturing and business. All such activities require transportation as well as services. Therefore, clustering settlement together allows the people to have easy transportation accessibility (Acharya, 2014). Density of population in Southeast Asia regions remain typically greater within rural settlements as well as incomes of individuals in urban settlements are always sophisticated than incomes in the rural areas.
Linear settlements is also dominating the patterns of settlements in Southeast Asia. This has been witnessed along the core transport roads, canals, rivers and railways. Arrangements of buildings takes the form of a linear pattern which follows road transport hence making traveling calmer for the settlers residing in such a settlement. These instances can be seen in Philippines, along Philippines’ foremost roads as well as sideways canals in Vietnam.
The rural settlements incline to be liner and situated lengthways a river since rural settlements remain mostly engaged in such actions as fishing, farming, and growing of crops among others. The population density in this region is low, with few social amenities including clinics, schools, public transport, among others. The living of the resident in this settlement remains closely associated to the main function and physical environment of the settlement.
Settlement Patterns in Southeast Asia
Dispersed settlements are established with individual building being dispersed all over a vast region or enormous open spaces. Certain examples of dispersed settlements are farmlands and forests. This pattern occurs usually because of limited natural resources and fertile soil, culminating into residents being dispersed out to make sure adequate land for agriculture functions as well as for acquiring resources from the ground. An instance in Southeast Asia with dispersed settlement pattern is in Philippines. They have been found in rural areas due to small population sizes as well as low population densities in such areas.
The major economic activities in the region include trade, industrial, manufacturing, farming, and fishing among others. Other major economic activities include clothing industry, electronics manufacturing, tourism and even foreign investment from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, Australia, US and Europe. Singapore for example remains a hub for financial and trade activities in the region while Brunei’s economy remains an oil export-based (Elson, 2016). In the rest of region, agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in ever country except Singapore and Brunei.
Settlement patterns are extremely closely related to climate, economic activities, physical landscape, location of water, resources as well as access of trade routes in the region. Historically, residents settled close to trade routes, by which it is always water routes, in regions of hospitable terrain and climates. This general pattern is even in practice today (Kabisch, Qureshi & Haase, 2015).
The solely difference is that humans of contemporary world remain more adapted to harsher climates as well as more rugged terrains alongside trade has ceased from being a factor dictating settlement patterns. Various factors that affect settlement locations in Southeast Asia region have been acknowledged.
Nevertheless, the factor which plays the most critical role is rivers. When Southeast Asia got its initial colonization by Europeans, they established trading ports along rivers and seas. Therefore, to date, extensive alterations of dominated port cities have created in countries like Singapore. Sources have also shown that in modern and ancient times, residents have sought out every kind of ways to settle alongside water bodies, particularly rivers. They have historically been an effective draw to migrants who search for fresh water for drinking, cooking as well as food.
Lakes and streams have long been desirable sites for hunting animals that come to drink from them in addition to provision of an abundance source of fish. Rivers have as well had a spiritual significance thereby drawing people to visit, pray, celebrate as well as settle along the river banks. Rivers also remain significant because they remain the primary paths for water transport. Transport remain vital for trade and trade remains critical for wealth of a nation. In certain Southeast Asia regions, water transport remains generally faster as well as cheaper than most means of travel on the land.
Economic Activities in Southeast Asia
Water has further been counted as a resource which is always in good supplies and need not any up keeping. An instance is in Vietnam. Vietnam is, however, not well-developed compared to other countries. Therefore, water transport remains a commonly utilized in Vietnam. Rivers offer water for agriculture also. Nations like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam do enormous crop planting (wet agriculture), hence they require abundance of water. Therefore, settling along river permits people to draw in abundance water with less effort due easy accessibility.
The most advantage of Southeast Asia is that it is the most objectively beautiful region on Earth. The region is covered in dense jungle and peppered with gorgeous beaches. It is also full of incredible wildlife. It has also certain spectacular urban centers, lately stimulated by enormous economic growth Southeast Asia unfortunately faces various environmental challenges.
The act of pulling individuals out of poverty and into the developed world in the region has come at the expense of local environment, particularly the tourism sector. This is because it relies fundamentally on the primeval natural resources (Blaikie & Brookfield, 2015).
Most environmental issues in the region inextricably connected, and working to improve one will always have added benefits for others. Some of these challenges include endangered species conservation, pollution of air, coral reefs obliteration, deforestation, water security, as well as augmented urbanization (Gaveau et al., 2014).
Southeast Asia remains one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The discussion has presented this region’s key features including physical environmental features, dominant settlement patterns, history of settlements, special advantages and disadvantages, relationship between economic activities, physical environment and settlement patterns, and major economic activities. As reflected in the discussion, the major economic activities undertaken in Southeast Asia include agriculture, manufacturing, trade, fishing and tourism. The dominant settlement patterns include cluster, linear and dispersed settlement patters. These settlement patterns have a close linkage to economic activities. It is shown that people settle along rivers and even road transport routes. Some of the special disadvantages facing Southeast Asia include air pollution, deforestation and endangered species conservation.
Acharya, A. (2014). Constructing a security community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the problem of regional order. Routledge.
Blaikie, P., & Brookfield, H. (Eds.). (2015). Land degradation and society. Routledge.
Elson, R. E. (2016). The end of the peasantry in Southeast Asia: A social and economic history of peasant livelihood, 1800-1990s. Springer.
Gaveau, D. L., Salim, M. A., Hergoualc'h, K., Locatelli, B., Sloan, S., Wooster, M. ... & Verchot, L. (2014). Major atmospheric emissions from peat fires in Southeast Asia during non-drought years: evidence from the 2013 Sumatran fires. Scientific reports, 4.
Hirschman, C., & Bonaparte, S. (2012). Population and society in Southeast Asia: a historical perspective. Demographic Change in Southeast Asia: Recent Histories and Future Directions. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University.
Kabisch, N., Qureshi, S., & Haase, D. (2015). Human–environment interactions in urban green spaces—A systematic review of contemporary issues and prospects for future research. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 50, 25-34.
Kunstadter, P. (2017). Southeast Asian tribes, minorities, and nations (Vol. 1). Princeton University Press.
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