Southeast Asia includes countries with political boundaries creating many shapes and sizes. The political borders were created through a combination of factors, including natural features, traditional tribal distinctions, colonial claims, and political agreements. The realm also has the fourth-most populous country in the world, Indonesia.
Muslims can be found in all mainland countries, but the most significant populations are in southern Thailand and western Burma Arakan. The Cham people of central Vietnam and Cambodia are also Muslim. Islam is the state religion in Malaysia and Brunei.
It lies east of the Indian subcontinent and south of China and is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. The term Indochina originally Indo-China was coined in the early nineteenth century. It emphasizes the cultural influence on the area of Indian civilization and Chinese civilization.
Southeast Asiavast region of Asia situated east of the Indian subcontinent and south of China. It consists of two dissimilar portions: a continental projection commonly called mainland Southeast Asia and a string of archipelagoes to the south and east of the mainland insular Southeast Asia. Extending some miles 1, kilometres southward from the mainland into insular Southeast Asia is the Malay Peninsula; this peninsula structurally is part of the mainland, but it also shares many ecological and cultural affinities with the surrounding islands and thus functions as a bridge between the two regions.
Mainland Southeast Asia including the southwestern part of China is a geographical region that encompasses some language groups distributed among numerous ethnic groups. This area is divided by the national boundaries of China, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia after their formation as nation states in the 20th century. As a result, Chinese characters are coming into wide use regardless of ethnic groups in southwestern China, just as are the Thai SiameseLao, Burmese, Quoc Ngu that is, the alphabetical writing system of the Vietnamese and Khmer scripts in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia respectively.
Beneath this diversity there are many religious practices and beliefs that have common roots in the prehistoric past of peoples of the region. This is not to say, as have some scholars, that the historic religions are merely a veneer and that those Southeast Asians who adhere to religions such as Buddhism have been, as Reginald LeMay said of the Northern Thai, animists from time immemorial. Although certain beliefs and practices can be seen as linking peoples of the present to ancient Southeast Asian religions, they have often been reformulated to make sense within worldviews shaped by historic religions.
Gold is fairly widely, though irregularly, distributed throughout Southeast Asia in igneous and metamorphic hard rock deposits and in sedimentary placer deposits. The historical sources inform us that the Chinese were clearly impressed by the quantities of gold present, and there is evidence to suggest that the gold deposits were one of the stimulating factors in the development of early contacts with India and China. Luzon and Mindanao in the Philippines, the Barisan mountain range in west Sumatra, western Borneo, Timor, parts of the Malaysian and Thai Peninsula, northern Burma, north and central Vietnam, Laos, northwest Cambodia in the Oddar Meanchey province, near Banteay Chhmar, its north-central area, in the Preah Vihear province in Rovieng district, and in the northeast in Rattanakiri province have all acquired a reputation as gold producers at one time or another, and the majority of these still produce small amounts of placer gold Bronson, 83; Miksic ; 19; Reinecke et al.
Mainland Southeast Asia is further divided into two parts. One is Vietnam, where Chinese influence is greater than Indian influence, and the other includes Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, where Indian influence is greater. The Malay Peninsula is a part of mainland Southeast Asia geographically, but is culturally closer to insular Southeast Asia.
Most comparative studies of pottery and other material culture in Mainland Southeast Asia MSEA have emphasised well-researched sites in Thailand, with little attention to the archaeological record from southern Vietnam. Recent excavations at An Son provide new opportunities to redress this disparity through comparative research between Neolithic sites in southern Vietnam and those in other parts of MSEA. This research employed systematic methods for data collection and statistical analysis in order to compare the ceramic assemblages and additional material culture at An Son, in the Mekong delta region of southern Vietnam, with 14 other sites in MSEA.
The region stretches south of China, from Myanmar in the west to the Pacific Ocean coast in the east. Geographically, the region is part of the Indochinese Peninsula, which is located in Southeast Asia. The northern part of the region features several mountain ranges, and the three largest river systems draining the region are the Irrawaddy River, Chao Phraya River, and the Mekong River, as well as their tributaries and distributaries.