Until the 20th century, the area we now call Southeast Asia was referred to as the East Indies.
Most of us have heard the geographic term Southeast Asia…and have a general idea of where this area is.
The orange-colored countries on the UN map below are countries considered to be in Southeast Asia.
And it turns out there are two parts to Southeast Asia — Mainland Southeast Asia and Maritime Southeast Asia. Here is the wiki definition:
Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia.
The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic and volcanic activity.
Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions: Mainland Southeast Asia, also known as Indochina, comprises Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, and Maritime Southeast Asia comprises Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines, Christmas Island, and Singapore.
These countries, with the exception of East Timor, are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Established in 1967,
ASEAN was founded by the countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. In 1984, Brunei Darussalam joined, followed by Viet Nam on in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, making up the current ten Member States of ASEAN.
And to date, there are still Sovereignty issues over some islands in this area. See my earlier post related to China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam each claiming competing sovereignty over areas in the South China Sea – UNCLOS and the China-Philippine Standoff over Scarborough Shoal.