The Effects of Geography on Southeast Asia

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From the first traces of civilization, geography has played an immeasurable role in the structure, function, and culture of the peoples it has affected. It can be accredited with the greatest migrations in history, the comities of neighboring countries, and the need for civilizations to adapt. Geography has forever molded the actions taken by governments, and the policies they have adopted. It is often advantageous, but no more can it be rancorous. The geography of East and Southeast Asia specifically, influenced trading patterns and the relationships of respective countries. Geography’s effect on East and Southeast Asia would shape its framework for hundreds of years to follow.

Southeast Asia can be divided into two main regions. The first being the mainland, comprised of several peninsulas located between India and China. The second main region, island Southeast Asia is composed of approximately 20,000 islands. The two regions are separated by large mountains which act as both isolation agents and invasion barriers. The island portion housed the priceless, strategically inimitable, and yearned for Straits of Mallaca. Whoever commanded the Straits of Mallaca, commanded the most accessed and richest trading routes in Asia.

A vast and extensive trading route existed in the southern seas. The monsoons, or seasonal winds were the paramount influence on trading patterns. They determined with no amenability, the precise time and place ships could travel. During the interim, when merchants waited for the winds to alter direction, they would establish ports to sell their goods. These ports served a dual purpose; primarily they served as markets for new goods, but an inadvertent result of the establishment of these markets was cultural diffusion; the mixing of culture and philosophy amongst different peoples.

Despite the existence of cultural diffusion and the aforementioned interactions of different peoples, inhabitants of Southeast Asia maintained a hermitic...
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