The region of Southeast Asia includes 11 countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam. Southeast Asia covers about 4.5 million km2 with a total population of more than 655 million.
All of Southeast Asia lies between the tropics, so they share certain similarities in climate. Generally, the temperature is warm around the year, but it gets cooler in higher areas. The northern region of Vietnam is the only area that has 4 seasons in a year like countries in the west. Southeast Asia receives plentiful of the year due to the monsoon season. Thanks to its special geological location, this region is home to different landscapes – mountain ranges, plains and plateaus, and water in the form of both shallow seas and extensive drainage systems. The system of distinctive landscapes explains the impressively diverse flora and fauna in the region. Various species are only found in the forests or on a few islands of Southeast Asia.
A distinctive feature of Southeast Asia is the cultural diversity. There are estimated a thousand languages spoken in Southeast Asia. Archeological evidence dates human habitation of Southeast Asia to around a million years ago, yet migration into the region also has a long history. The wide coverage of land, the migration of the ethnicities and the influence of Chinese culture in some countries have resulted in a variety of cultures in this part of the world.
Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity are all practiced within Southeast Asia. Hinduism is also practiced in some areas such as in Bali (Indonesia), where it is the primary faith, in central Borneo, northern Laos, and northern Myanmar.
In Southeast Asia, agriculture is the main source of livelihood, except Brunei and Singapore. And the primary form of agriculture is wet-rice cultivation. The harvest seasons may vary depending on the region’s climate, but farmers usually crop twice a year. Taking advantage of its strategic locations, countries in Southeast Asia have seen an increase in trading. Some of the popular export goods from Southeast Asia are rice, coffee, palm oil, and manufactured food.