Glencoe World Geography

Chapter 29: The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia

Chapter Overviews

Southeast Asia is a region of tropical beauty, with mountains ranges, volcanoes, and tropical rainforests dominating the landscape. The region consists of the mainland, the Indochina Peninsula, and the Malay Archipelagoῗ20,000 islands stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

The Land Southeast Asia was created by the collision of three tectonic plates and related volcanic activity and earthquakes. The mainland is dominated by mountain ranges, which create both geographic and political boundaries. The mountains on the islands are volcanoes, many of which are still active. Rivers provide transportation and food, and their silt and deposits of sediment create fertile agricultural areas. The region has rich natural resources. Fossil fuels are abundant, and Indonesia is a member or OPEC. Minerals and gems are also plentiful in the region. In some countries, however, these resources remain underdeveloped. Southeast Asia's plant and animal life is diverse, with many species unique to the region. Fishing is important to the region's economy and provides much of the people's diet.

Climate and Vegetation Southeast Asia owes much of its beauty to the monsoons, which bring abundant rains. Tropical rain forest climate dominates the region and is found on the islands and in coastal regions. Tropical savanna with tropical grasslands is found along the southeastern parts of Indonesia and across the Indochina Peninsula. Some parts of the region's mainland have a humid subtropical climate, and the northern areas of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam have lower temperatures. Temperatures are even cooler in the highlands climate of the mountainous areas of Myanmar, New Guinea, and Borneo, where deciduous trees and evergreens grow.

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