Geography of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is region in Asia which comprises of 11 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Each country has different physical geography which affects their culture and human interaction with the environment.

Brunei lies on the north western region of the island of Borneo and is bordered by the South China Sea and Malaysia. With its hilly lowlands in the western region, rugged mountains in the eastern part and swampy tidal plain in the coastal area, the temperature in Brunei has an equatorial climate and characterized by high temperature, high humidity and heavy rainfall. Its natural resources which are petroleum and natural gas have helped them to reach the highest GDP per capita in years, and helped them to have a better economy.

Cambodia is located on the Indochinese peninsula and is bordered by Thailand and Laos on the north and Vietnam on the east and south. The country consists chiefly of a large alluvial plain ringed by mountains with the Mekong River to the east. There are several mountainous regions, one of which forms a border along the coastline with another separating Cambodia from Thailand. This also causes illegal logging activities throughout the country and strip mining for gems in the western region that have resulted in habitat loss and declining biodiversity. The tenth largest river in the world, the Mekong River, is the longest river in Southeast Asia and the most important river in Cambodia. One of its important uses is that it is navigable for most of its “run” through the country, as well as the Mekong delta in the South. But also, it has bad effects such as declining fish stocks because of illegal fishing and overfishing.

East Timor is the part of the Malay Archipelago and the largest and easternmost of Lesser Sunda Islands. The highest point of East Timor is Mount Tatamailau. Because it is a newly developed country, their culture isn’t as rich compare to the other countries. The natural resources that can be found in this country are gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese and marble which will surely help to enrich their economy. But the widespread use of burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion of some of the forests.

Indonesia is the largest archipelago of the world. It falls between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. The country is predominantly occupied with 400 volcanoes, 100 of these are active. Many rivers also flow throughout the country which serves as transportation on some certain islands. Because the first humankind was found in Java, there are still many ethnic groups that can be located in the country. Their culture is rich with arts, dance and music that represent who they really are.

Laos is located at the northeast of Thailand and west of Vietnam. Its location has been a barrier between more powerful state neighbors, as well as for communication and trade. Migration has always been their international conflict. Like Indonesia, Laos is largely mountainous which are characterized by steep terrain which causes low agricultural potential for the country. The alluvial plains and terraces of the Mekong and its tributaries cover only about 20 percent of the land area.

Malaysia is on the Malay Peninsula, bordering Thailand and northern Borneo. Most of Malaysia is covered by forest, with a mountain range running the length of the peninsula. Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and the 20th tallest in the world. Numerous caves and islands also run through the Peninsula. This country also produces petroleum, timber, copper, iron and natural gas. But same as the other countries, Malaysia also have environmental problems such as deforestation, soil erosion and pollution.

Myanmar is located between Bangladesh and Thailand. It is divided into two classifications the Upper and Lower Myanmar. Lower Myanmar is comprised of coastal areas with thick tropical forests that have valuable trees in them with Upper Myanmar making up the interior parts of the country.  A major topographical feature of Myanmar is the Irrawaddy River system.  Since its deltaic plains are very fertile, it is considered to be the most important part of the country. Hkakabo Razi, the highest peak in Southeast Asia is located in Myanmar. With these, diverse creatures live in Myanmar.

Philippines lies in the circle of the Pacific Ring of Fire so the country experience frequent seismic and volcanic activities. The longest river is the Cagayan River of northern Luzon. The nearly circular Manila Bay is connected to the Laguna de Bay by means of the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf and the Moro Gulf are some of the important bays. Traversing the San Juanico Strait is the San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte. The Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands, that is why the language and people are diverse in its way.

Singapore is located between Malaysia and Indonesia. It is an island of 646 sq. km. It is located at one of the crossroads of the world. Singapore’s strategic position has helped it grow into a major center for trade, communications, and tourism. And they keep their environment clean and green.

Thailand shares borders with Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. The country includes central plain, Khorat plateau in the east and mountains scattered here and there. Natural calamities like droughts and landslides are quite common. The environment of Thailand faces threat from air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation and illegal hunting of wild life, which hampers the ecological balance.

Vietnam is located in southeast Asia along the South China Sea. The country is bordered by China, Laos, and Cambodia, and for the most part is separated from them by a long chain of mountains. It has a subtropical to a tropical climate from one part of the country to another. Vietnam gets lots of rain each year, and is ideal for the growing of rice, tropical fruits, and rubber trees.

It is seen that with the diverse culture and people that these countries have, there is still one characteristic that connects them all. 

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