South and Southeast Asia

Civilization of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia

South and Southeast Asia are known for their long history of diverse cultures. South Asia, commonly referred to as the Indian Subcontinent, was home to the Harrapan civilization in the Indus Valley, one of the oldest in the world. The Mauryans formed the first extensive empire in the region in the 300s. At that time, foreign influences had already begun arriving, which over time, resulted in a number of multicultural states north of India. After the 500s C.E., no single power could claim dominance over the region for 500 years. Yet during this period of political fragmentation, India was immensely active in maritime trade on the extensive Indian Ocean routes that closely paralleled the land-based Silk Road in magnitude. The arrival of Muslim dynasties around 1000 C.E. returned centralized rule to India under the Delhi Sultanate. Islam's arrival, however, only added diversity to the culture of the region, which had given rise to Buddhism and Hinduism. Succeeding the Dehli Sultanate was the Mughal Empire, whose splendor and wealth are epitomized by the Taj Mahal.

Southeast Asia was a land that slowly became the crossroads between India, China and later, the Europeans. Some of the most unique episodes in history belong to Southeast Asia. At around 2500 B.C.E., the Polynesians began their great migrations across the ocean from their homelands on the Philippines. On mainland S.E Asia, powerful states began to form around 500 C.E., including the Khmer Empire of Cambodia, and the Srivajayan Empire of Sumatra. These and later states were linked to other Asian cultures through maritime trade routes. Hinduism, Buddhism, and later, Islam, spread to the region where they became well-established. However, the importance of the region for trading and the lack of extensive empires due to geography made it an area of great interest for European imperialism in the 1500s onward.

The Portuguese trader Vasco da Gama arrived in 1498, and other Europeans soon followed. By the 1800s, the Europeans had seized a great deal of South and South East Asia.

South and Southeast Asia
South and Southeast Asia: Military History