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This document is about Southeast Asia region. It lies on the east of the Asian sub- continent. As the world systems approach goes that divides the world into Core, Peripheral and Semi- peripheral regions, Southeast Asia falls in the Peripheral region as of today. Its difficult to decide the division in which may Southeast Asia may fall as the entire region has many countries, some of them have affluent economies, some developing and others in extreme poverty. There are many factors which determine this state. Besides this, many geographical factors of the region such as political, physical, economic and cultural geography are talked about briefly in this. Other notable topics such as geo-concepts, emerging issues and strategic implications for future business strategic planning are also taken into consideration so as to have a complete understanding of the region. Political geography covers the countries, boundaries etc. Physical geography is more about rivers, mountains, gulfs, volcanoes amongst others. Economic geography talks about the economy of the region whereas Cultural geography is about the ethnic groups, languages, religions, art etc. All of these will help in gaining competitive about the region I chose as the basis of my term end project.
OBJECTIVE & METHODOLOGY
Is Southeast Asia, a Core or a Periphery?
The ‘core’ nations are the highly economically developed countries with them reaping benefits from the economy of the rest of the world.
The ‘peripheral’ nations are the third world countries which are still in the developing stage with a very low standard of living.
The ‘semi-peripheral’ nations are those which are between the ‘core’ and the ‘peripheral’. They are the stabilising factors in the world system.
Southeast Asia is a combination of peripheral and semi- peripheral countries. Some of the countries have shown good levels of development but rest are still struggling to be economically independent. The region’s economy greatly depends on agriculture but manufacturing and services are fast catching up. Many of the countries that come in the Southeast Asian region are showing huge amount of economic development.
While Indonesia, an emerging market, is the largest economy in the region, Singapore and Brunei are already seen as affluent developed economies. Whereas Thailand, Malaysia and Philippines are considered as newly industrialized countries.. But the rest, such as East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos are still far behind in being economically uplifted. Agriculture is predominantly the main occupation of the region and Vietnam is working towards developing its industrial sectors. Also, textiles, electronic high-tech goods are manufactured here with reserves of oil found at some places.
Tourism has made economies of many countries take a high stride. It has boosted the income of locals with many people from all over the world coming up for holidaying in regions like Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore etc.
Almost half of the countries that fall under the Southeast Asia have most of its population below poverty line.
They work hard towards making their ends meet.
So, it won’t be difficult to assume and state that Southeast Asia has both Peripheral as well as Semi peripheral countries but as the majority of them are peripheral so the whole Southeast Asia, will be taken as being one of the Peripheral regions of the world which, in few years, is set to be amongst the ” semi peripheral” regions of the world.
Southeast Asia derived its name from it location in the world atlas. It lies in the south eastern part of the Asian continent. It is bounded roughly by China on the north, Pacific Ocean on the east and India on the west.
Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:
Mainland section consists of:
Maritime section consists of:
Papua New Guinea
Bandar Seri Bhagwan
City of Singapore
Southern China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau are sometimes grouped in the Southeast Asia sub region geographically. Vietnam is culturally and historically tied to East Asia rather than Southeast Asia.
ASEAN i.e. Association of Southeast Asian Nations was established on 8th August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration by Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, also known as the Founding Fathers.
It work towards betterment of the region.
Southeast Asia’s almost entire region falls within the humid tropics as it is located on the equator.
In the past, the region had considerably lower population density than major Asian countries like India, China and Japan but now many countries have dense populations.
The development of two different kinds of Southeast Asian states are based on the type of occupation i.e. inland states, based on rice agriculture, and maritime states, based on trade and raiding.
Mountains characterize a large portion of the area with the tallest being Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu but the most influential mountain is Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. Standing only 4,874 feet tall, this volcano’s eruptions have had a major impact on the country.
The geologic landscape is ruled by earthquakes and volcanoes, the Pacific Rim being the “Ring of Fire”.
There are many major rivers in the region. Some of them are:
The Red River: Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam is connected via water with North Vietnam.
The Irrawaddy River: It is the key river of Myanmar. It connects the international shipping ports through the Andaman Sea.
The Chao Phraya River: It is Thailand’s key river and supports intensively settled area around Bangkok.
The Mekong River : Passes through southern Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and China. It is the most important river of the region and helps in connectivity and transport between the mainland countries.
Southeast Asia is the most complicated maritime boundary network in the world.
The gulfs, bays, straits, inlets, and shipping routes form the region. Due to presence of bays, inlets, gulfs, straits in the region, conflict has taken shape. China takes the largest portion in the South China Sea though every country wants to have stake in these important shipping lanes.
Southeast Asia is highly influenced by China and India. Vietnam is said to be by far the most Chinese influenced. Western culture influence is easily seen in the Philippines due to the Spanish rule.
For example, people who eat with their fingers are more likely influenced by the culture of India. The culture of China, in which people eat with chopsticks and tea, as a beverage, can be found across the region.
Arts of this region have proximity to the arts of the surrounding areas. In some parts of Southeast Asia, arts and literature is quite influenced by Hinduism, brought into the region many centuries ago.
Southeast Asia is highly influenced by Indian dance forms, particularly of Hinduism. There are various dance forms such as Apsara Dance, strong hand and feet movement and Wayang, known for its shadow and puppetry plays which are quite famous in the form of entertainment.
Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia have Islam as their religion. It makes up to 40% of the total population practising Islam in Southeast Asia.
Besides this, there are followers of many other religions such as Buddhism, which is widely practiced in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar. People in Singapore and Vietnam are into Confucianism and ancestor worship. In eastern Indonesia, East Timor and Philippines, Christianity is prevalent.
Vietnam has many cultural similarities with China. As Islam is opposed to certain forms of art, still in Indonesia which is a Muslim dominated country, they have retained practices, arts, culture and literatures of Hinduism. Ramayana is true example of literature having foothold in the region.
Lao, Thai, Cambodian and Burmese cultures have Hindu gods, arts, dance movements fused into them.
Cultural pressures such as trade and colonisation has influenced the region to have many languages.
There are numerous languages spoken by people in the region but countries have their own official languages. Due to diversified religions, people know one or more languages other than their native language. For e.g. a Malaysian, may speak English, Chinese, Tamil as well as Malay as a second language.
Music is as diversified as the cultural and linguistic diversity. Music has its presence in form of court music, folk music, music styles of smaller ethnic groups etc. String instruments are very popular in the region with many other court and folk genres.
Southeast Asia has experienced rapid growth of economy since last few years. Known as one of the “East Asian Tigers”, Singapore has been a developed economy till date. But soon finding their place amongst the East Asian Tigers are Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Southeast Asia has been seen as an example of globalized capitalism as the main reason behind the growth of the economy is foreign direct investment in local industries by giants like US, Japan.
The islands in the region are major source of Petroleum and also for Logging.
While Malaysia is the world’s largest exporter of Oil Palm, Singapore has foothold as the world’s 2nd busiest Port and a major Banking and Financial hub.
The region is a combination of affluent as well as poor countries. On one hand, Singapore is highly developed whereas on the other hand, countries like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam face extreme poverty. This is mainly because two of the above stated countries are still under communist rule and till recently having faced wars.
Tourism plays a key role in developing the economy of the region. In recent times, there has been immense increase in the growth rate and the major contributor is tourism. Hard efforts are put into publicising and marketing the place to present the scenic beauty of the region. There have been huge footfalls in form of tourists who bring in money and in return boost the economy.
They are prospering economies. Malaysia has a vibrant oil industry. It is one of the top exporters of natural palm oil and rubber, which together with cocoa, pepper, pineapple and tobacco contribute towards the growth of the sector. Palm oil is also a major generator of foreign exchange.
Thailand is the second largest economy in the southeast asian region after Indonesia. It depends heavily on exports. Rice and Shrimp have been major products exported in the world. Other crops include corn, coconut, soybeans, rubber, sugarcane and tapioca.
It has a developed economy. Services provided alongwith export of electronics and chemicals form the main source of revenue for the economy, which in turn helps to purchase natural resources and raw goods for the country.
Exports of crude oil and natural gas, with revenues from the petroleum sector contribute towards the small but wealthy economy of the nation. It is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia also the fourth-largest producer of liquefied natural gas in the world.
It is the 5th largest economy of the region. Agriculture and industry, electronics and automobile parts, textiles and garments are the main sectors. Exports of minerals also contribute towards the economy.
It is one of the newly industrialized emerging economies of the world.
It is one of the most developing economies of the world. Mining and minerals exports help. Petroleum and coal are the main mineral exports.
Indonesia is the member of G-20 nations as it has the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is one of the emerging market economies of the world. Food, tourism, apparel, footwear, mining, cement, petroleum and natural gas, textiles, chemical fertilizers, plywood, rubber, are the major economy sectors.
There are several similarities throughout the region as in climate, plant life; animal life etc. Many sea and jungle products are found in this region which is rare otherwise. The entire region is affected by monsoon winds. There are many species of animals and birds. High levels of biodiversity can be seen in the shallow waters of the coral reefs in the region. There are many varieties of fishes seen in the water. Such as the whale shark, which is the world’s largest species can be seen in the South China Sea. Cambodia and Vietnam have claimed to have the richest freshwater fishing resources in the world. Mekong River is home to the giant Mekong catfish which is about 3 feet long. Giant snakehead and the Giant Bagarius are also found. The region is very rich in natural resources. Indonesia is considered a giant in world fishing business. The area is close to be fully exploited thus degrading the overall environment. Illegal fishing has gained momentum which is proving dangerous due to already diminishing fish stock.
Southeast Asia has many emerging issues which needs immediate attention. Many countries in the region are facing economic downturn. Countries like Thailand and Philippines are having hard time as their economies are going south. Importing oil has taken a huge toll as the rates are fixed in US dollars and their currency is weak as compared to the US dollar. There are other emerging social, environmental and security issues as the status of the region in terms of health is really disappointing. The region has become a hub of diseases after series of natural disasters. Human rights need urgent attention.
Security of the region is negligible as the plethora of islands makes it difficult to have complete security cover. Forest deforestation is making its way to the region. Environmentalists warn that it may have a huge impact on otherwise very much green region. Natural resources are being exploited and exhausted. There many traditional and non traditional issues to be addressed.
Strategic Implications for future business strategic planning:
Young, well-educated and increasingly affluent populations, growing GDP, high foreign currency reserves and low government borrowing are among the key factors. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines are the leaders of the pack, but Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are also seeing reasonable FDI
net inflows at around 10% of GDP The strong saving habits of Asians have been hailed as part of the reason the region may not suffer the same degree of downturn as Europe and the US. Malaysia and Indonesia in particular are seeing increasing activity in terms of spin-offs of non-core divisions by foreign MNCs.
Southeast Asia is a peripheral region in the world systems theory. Though it consists of developed, developing and under developed economies, still, when the density of the area along with population is taken into consideration then the underdeveloped and still developing nations take over the small but economically developed countries. By having an eagle eye’s view and prioritising all the points of the region, Southeast Asia is still a Peripheral region. But it surely has potential of getting into Semi – Peripheral regions of the world. It has lot of still untapped potential which can take the economies of the region to unmatched heights.
Southeast Asia is a combination of many cultures, languages and religions. It is highly influenced by the Indian and Chinese cultures. Many key rivers, mountains, volcanoes, gulfs, straits etc. form the physical region. There are many islands. So, in all, Southeast Asia is a region of diversity with great prospects.
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