About Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is a vast subregion of Asia, roughly described as geographically situated east of the Indian subcontinent, south of China
, and northwest of Australia
. The region is bounded by the Bay of Bengal in the west, the Indian Ocean in the south, the South China Sea
in the center, and the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean in the east.
Regions in Southeast Asia
The area consists of two separate geographic regions. The northern portion is known as Mainland Southeast Asia
, or Indochina, situated on the Indochinese peninsula; it comprises the countries of Myanmar
, West Malaysia
(Peninsular Malaysia), Laos
, and Vietnam
The second region is known as the Malay Archipelago or Maritime Southeast Asia
. It comprises the two huge archipelagos of Indonesia
and the Philippines
. East Malaysia (Sabah) and Brunei
share the island of Borneo with Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island. Also part of the Malay Archipelago is Singapore
, the city-state just south of Peninsular Malaysia, and East Timor
(Timor-Leste on the island of Timor).
There are more than 25,000 islands and islets in Southeast Asia. The largest islands in Southeast Asia are New Guinea, which is shared by Indonesia and Papua New Guinea; and Borneo, shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Sumbawa, and Flores are the largest islands of Indonesia. Luzon and Mindanao are the largest islands of the Philippines. Other major Filipino islands are Negros, Samar, Palawan, Panay, and Mindoro.
The image shows Mount Merapi, an active volcano and one of the many volcanoes in Indonesia. In the foreground is the 9th-century Prambanan, a Hindu temple on the island of Java. The Prambanan Temple Compounds is the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire is a belt-shaped zone of volcanic activity surrounding the Pacific Ocean, where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Almost all parts of the Indonesian and Philippines archipelagos lie within the western portion of the Ring of Fire. Among the most active volcanoes are Mt. Mayon and Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, and Krakatoa, Mt. Merapi, Mt. Kerinci, Mt. Mahameru (Semeru), Mount Sinabung, Mt. Dukono, and Mt. Ibu in Indonesia.
Mount Hkakabo (5,881 m) and Mount Gamlang (5,870 m) are the highest mountains in Southeast Asia, both located on the Myanmar-Chinese border in northern Myanmar.
Puncak Jaya (4,884 m), a limestone mountain, is the highest in Indonesia, located on the island of New Guinea. Mount Apo (2,954 m), a dormant stratovolcano on the island of Mindanao, is the highest mountain in the Philippines.
ASEAN and the Indomalaya ecozone
Ten countries in Southeast Asia are member states of ASEAN
, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The association is an intergovernmental organization established for economic growth, political stability, active collaboration, mutual assistance, and educational and cultural integration.
The combined areas of Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and portions of southern China comprise the Indomalaya ecozone, one of Earth's eight great ecozones (or biogeographic realms), vast regions in which ecosystems share a largely similar fauna and flora.
The Indomalaya ecozone is home to four bear species like the Asian black bear and the Giant panda. The region is host to various cats, several species of leopards like the clouded leopard, the Asian golden cat, and the Asian tiger. Southeast Asia boasts an abundance of reptiles, such as frogs, turtles, geckos, skinks, snakes, lizards, and crocodiles. Examples of large reptiles are the Yangtze alligator and the Siamese crocodile, snakes like the Burmese python and the king cobra, and monitor lizards such as the Asian water monitor and the Komodo dragon. Several monkeys and apes live in the Indomalaya ecozone, such as macaque, gibbon, langur, and the Orangutan. It is also home to big mammals like the Javan rhinoceros, the Water buffalo, the Asian tapir, and the Indian elephant.