History of Southeast Asia

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Location of Southeast Asia
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Ancient kingdoms

Southeast Asia has been inhabited by human since the pre-historic time. Slowly, the communities there evolved to form complex cultures with influence from India and China.

In general, the ancient kingdoms in the region can be grouped into two distinct categories. The first is agrarian kingdoms. Agrarian kingdoms are kingdom that had agriculture as its main economic activities. Most of agrarian states were located on mainland Southeast Asia. Examples are the Ayutthaya kingdom based at the delta of River Chao Phraya and the Khmer Empire near Tonle Sap. The second type is maritime states. Maritime states were dependent on trade via sea routes. Malacca and Srivijaya for instance, were maritime states.

Prior to the 13th century, Buddhism and Hinduism were the main religions in Southeast Asia. All empires in mainland Southeast Asia were essential Buddhist states while the earlier maritime states were influenced by Hinduism.

On the mainland, a several empires thrived. They were based in modern-day Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Cambodia. The kingdom of Burma and those of based in Siam were under constant hostility while the kingdom in Cambodia in the end fell under Siam’s rule.

In the archipelago, first main power to arise was the Srivijaya of Sumatra. It became a major seaport and act as a middle point between India and China. As Muslim traders started to visit Southeast Asia, the Sultanate of Malacca rose into prominence and started to take over Srivijaya’s fame. Srivijaya was finally swept from the map after great internal strive occurred.

With Srivijaya gone, Islam continued to spread unchallenged in the 13th and the 14th century at the expense of Hinduism with Malacca functioning as the center of Islam in the region.

A few other sultanates in the archipelago were Brunei in Borneo and Sulu in the modern day Philippines. These sultanates however experience relatively few contacts with other kingdoms.

Colonial period

to be completed

See also

Further reading

  • Osborne, Milton. Southeast Asia. An introductory history. ISBN 1865083909.

External links

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