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Southeastern Asia, when not referring to specific political entities, or more commonly as Southeast Asia, especially when defined as a certain region with political borders, is generally considered to be the land east of India and south of China (including, in some definitions, the nations of Han Zhuang and Yunnan, of the Chinese Union). This is often meant to include the offshore islands of western Macronesia, as well, usually east until the Wallace Line. Being thus situated, Southeast Asia has been highly influenced by the Indians and Chinese, as well as later on by Arabs and Europeans, among others.
Sundarapore City, Sundarapore, is the largest city in Southeast Asia. Other major cities include Bangkok (Siam), Sunda Kelapa (Java), Kuala Lumpur (Malaya), Saigon (Vietmoi), and Manila (Luzon). Some areas contain high population densities, but much of the land is also sparsely populated, especially the interiors of the islands. There are quite a few large nature preserves and many small cultural areas that are non-national - that is, they are not governed by a single higher power. These de-facto semi-sovereign nations include the tiny North Sentinelese semi-nation of the Andaman Islands, where in 2004, after the earthquake, an Indian relief helicopter was driven away by a barrage of arrows, coincidentally verifying that the population had not been wiped out.
Southeast Asia is noted for its wealth of language families. These include Sino-Tibetan, which can be further differentiated into Chinese languages, Tibetan languages, and Burman languages. A major language family scattered throughout insular Southeast Asia, Malaya, and Champa is Polynesian. (Polynesia refers to Macronesia and Micronesia.) Then, there is Tai-Kadai, languages of which are spoken in Siam, Lanna, Lan Xang, Tai, and other lands. The Austro-Asiatic family is perhaps the the language family with the longest history in Southeast Asia, with migrations of other peoples accounting for the other families being there. The Austro-Asiatic family includes Viet (of Vietnam and Vietmoi, Khmer of Cambodia, many hill peoples' languages in Lan Xang, Malaya, Lanna, and the Trans-Indian Nations. Papua, if considered part of the region, would include numerous language families of its own. In addition to these families, there is a huge influence from Indo-European languages - first in the form of Sanskrit, and later with English, Netherlandish, Spanish, and others. Arabic also has an influence on languages of the region, especially those with larger Muslim populations.
Major religions include Theravada Buddhism of much of the western interior, Mahayana Buddhism of the eastern continental seaboard and scattered about ethnic-Chinese settlements, Hinduism of much of the islands and Malaya, Islam strung throughout various islands (especially Sumatra and Java), and Christianity and Catharism of major cities. Atheism and agnosticism also take up large percentages of the population, especially in the cities.
Climate and Nature
Most of Southeastern Asia is humid and tropical. It straddles the equator and only a tiny percentage of the land area is outside of the tropical zone. While there are no deserts in the region, the islands around and including Timor are far drier than the ones surrounding them. In the northern areas, there are deciduous trees, but most of the region is covered with broadleaf evergreen plants. Both terrestrial and marine biodiversity ranks among the highest in the world. For example, just on Sundarapore island itself, within city limits, is a rainforest that contains more species of plants than is found in all of North America. Southeast Asia also boasts the largest concentration of Asian elephants in the world, and is the only home of the Orang-utan. Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and other islands are noted for the Komodo Dragon, the largest lizard on earth, and offshore, Macronesia boasts the greatest number of species of coral and fish in the world. Much of the area is still either formally protected, or little-settled. The population of insular Southeast Asia tends to either be quite urbanized, or of the hunter-gatherer persuasion, and the centers of the islands are almost devoid of people. The continental portion is slightly different, with much more cultivation, but many natural areas remain there, too. However, even deforestation in limited areas carries with it the threat of extinction to many of the species that call that area home, as the tremendous diversity often means that many species are not very widespread.
- Bangka (Netherlandish Territory)
- Belitung (British Territory)
- (Han Zhuang)
- Lan Xang
- Trans-Indian Nations
Note: Countries in parentheses are sometimes, but not always, counted as part of Southeast Asia.