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Southeast Asia Today



Southeast Asia since 1945


Mainland  Region  - Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam


Island Nations -    Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia



·         It is only Southeast Asian country that was never a European colony.

·         It was a buffer state during the Age of Imperialism.

·         Government:- constitutional monarchy

·         Kingdom of Siam changed its name in 1939 to Thailand, "land of the free."

·         Joined UN 1946, SEATO 1954 (South East Asia Treaty Organization).

·         Thailand is currently facing separatist violence in its southern ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces.


Myanmar (formerly called Burma) -Won independence from Britain in 1948 and a democratic government was set up.  In 1962 a left-wing army revolt deposed the troubled democratic government.  A military government  took control.  Gen. Ne Win set the country on the path towards socialism. He abolished private enterprise and nationalized economy.  He ruled until July 1988.


Daw Aung San Suu Kyi -Leader of the main opposition party who was arrested for leading the democracy movement. She won the Nobel Peace Price in 1991.


The Choice - Documentary Video of Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar Subtitle)

Vietnam - Vietnam was a French colony until its independence in 1954.  It was called French Indochina.


Ho Chi Minh - Nationalist leader of the Vietminh.  Vietminh were communists


Dien Bien Phu - Fought between the French and the Vietminh.

Geneva Accords –  Vietnam is split, Diplomats met at Geneva, Switzerland in 1954.

Vietnam was split at the 17th parallel


President Ngo Dinh Diem - Leader of South Vietnam from 1954 - 1963

·         Pro-U.S. was the leader in south, while Ho Chi Minh leader was in north

·         Leader of South Vietnam from 1954 - 1963

o   JFK sought a "limited partnership" with Diem

o   President Diem is assassinated with the quiet approval of the U.S. government.


1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

·         President Johnson Announces Retaliation for Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

·         This was the closest thing to a declaration that the U.S. did.



Tet Offensive 1968

·         Negative turning point for the U.S.  Vietcong’s offensive during the Vietnamese New Year’s celebrations


      1973 - U.S. Withdraws from Vietnam.

·         A cease-fire is arranged and the U.S. leaves Vietnam.

·         58,000 U.S. servicemen were killed during the “conflict”


Effects of War

·         2 million Vietnamese were killed.

·         A mutilated Vietcong veteran makes his way to Tay Ninh on his adapted tricycle. Indo-China has the highest percentage of amputees in any population worldwide.

o   Refugees - 10 million Vietnamese fled to other countries for safety.



1975 Fall of Saigon - 2 years after the Americans left, the communists overran the south.


Vietnam today - Vietnam as one unified communist nation.


Cambodia - Won independence from France 1955.

In 1969, the U.S. bombed suspected communist base camps in Cambodia, killing thousands of civilians and dragging the country unwillingly into the US-Vietnam conflict.

U. S. & South Vietnamese troops invaded in 1970 to eradicate Vietnamese communist forces but were unsuccessful; they did manage, however, to push Cambodia's leftist guerillas (the Khmer Rouge) further into the country's interior.

Cambodian Civil War

Fighting soon engulfed the entire country, with Phnom Penh falling to the Khmer Rouge in 1975.


Pol Pot - Leader of the Kmer Rouge.  Kmer Rouge overthrew Lon Nol and renamed the country to Kampuchea 1975 - 1978

The Killing Fields” –Genocide -Almost 1/3 of the country’s population

(3 million people) was killed by his government


Indonesia - Archipelago – with so many different islands – tremendous - Cultural Diversity

Indonesia gained its independence from in 1949.

General Suharto seizes power in 1965

1975 Indonesia siezed control of East Timor.

Practice Questions - Southeast Asia


_____1.  Which statement is valid about the history of Southeast Asia?

a.       Industrialization has strengthened the traditional beliefs and lifestyles of the people.

b.      The area has experienced little European contact.

c.       Superpower influence has brought peace and prosperity to the region.

d.      Religious beliefs have both unified and divided the people of the region.



_____2. From the perspective of the North Vietnamese, the war in Vietnam in the 1960’s

              was a battle between

a.       fascism and liberalism

b.      nationalism and imperialism

c.       republicanism and totalitarianism

d.      theocracy and monarchy


_____3. Which of these nations is located closet to the Philippines, Malaysia, and  



a.       Korea    b. Vietnam     c. Somalia      d. Pakistan



_____4. Many people in Southeast Asia hope for the timely arrival of the summer  

              monsoons  each year because

a.       floods are the only way to water their farmlands

b.      daily temperatures often reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit

c.       little rain has fallen for many months

d.      oases provide water for nomadic herders



_____5. The major goal of the Green Revolution has been to

a.       decrease the use of modern farm machinery

b.      decrease population growth

c.       increase agricultural output

d.      increase the number of traditional farms



_____6. Singapore and Hong Kong have become major economic powers by taking

              advantage f their

a.       abundant mineral resources

b.      imported cheap labor from Japan

c.       profits from agricultural surpluses

d.      favorable location on international trade routes


_____7. The Buddhist religion teaches that salvation is earned by

1.      following the Ten Commandments

2.   worshiping Allah as the one true god

3.   learning to give up selfish desire

4.        being baptized and confirmed

_____8.  With which nation are Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge, and genocide associated?

a.      Korea

b.      Japan

c.      Myanmar (Burma)

d.      Cambodia (Kampuchea)


______9. Which has been a characteristic of many Southeast Asian countries since

                 World War II?

a.      internal struggles for power that lead to political instability

b.      isolation from the influence of the superpowers

c.      democratic governments based on the principles of the French Revolution

                  d.      fundamentalist Islamic governments supported by Iran