Southeast Asia is the part of Asia east of India and south of China. The region includes the nations of Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and most of Indonesia.
Southeast Asia has rich, fertile soil. Its main farm products are rice, rubber, spices, and tea. The region’s forests produce most of the world’s teak wood. Parts of the area have rich oil deposits and tin and gem mines. Manufacturing has become an increasingly important industry.
Europeans began to take over Southeast Asia in the 1500′s. They were attracted by the area’s natural riches, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States all ruled parts of the region. After World War II (1939-1945), the Philippines and the major British colonies were able to gain independence peacefully. Other groups in Southeast Asia fought wars to gain independence.
In the 1950′s, what had been the colony of French Indochina was divided into Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam. In 1975, the Vietnam War ended with Communist North Vietnam conquering non-Communist South Vietnam. The Communists unified North and South Vietnam into the single country of Vietnam. In a Communist country, the government owns all the land, factories, and banks.