Geography and History of the World © 2010 Indiana Edition
The Region Today: Southeast Asia
Although the countries of Southeast Asia today are relying mostly on agriculture,
they are developing into industrialized nations. As they become more urbanized
and use their natural resources in different industries, they are faced with a
variety of environmental problems.
The Economy Agriculture is the leading economic activity
in Southeast Asia, with rice the most important crop. Most farmers grow subsistence
crops, but rubber, sugarcane, and other crops serve as cash crops. The region
has a thriving forestry industry and is rich in mineral deposits. Industry is
growing rapidly in Southeast Asia, but the growth rate for both manufacturing
and service industries varies widely within the region. As the countries have
grown more interdependent, they have formed organizations to promote regional
development. Waterways provide major transportation routes and link the region
with the world. The development of other means of transportation and communication
depend on the level of industrialization in each country. Economic interdependence is growing in southeast Asia. The Association of southeast Asian Nations reflects this trend.
People and Their Environment Nations in Southeast Asia realize the need to minimize the impact of human activity on the environment. In recent years some Southeast
Asian countries have begun forest management and other programs to protect their
environments. Such efforts, however, are difficult to enforce or carry out,
and illegal logging continues to be a problem. Pollution is a growing problem. Cities have to deal with inadequate water supplies and sanitation, traffic jams, and overheating. In rural areas
contaminated water supplies, dumping of toxic waste, and smoke from forest fires
can affect people in the immediate area as well as far away. Excessive logging
has led to deforestation and major flooding. The people in the region periodically face
volcanic eruptions, flash floods, and typhoons. In addition to these natural disasters.