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The very term Southeast Asia was invented by American Naval strategists around 1940.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, Southeast Asia was home to several powerful kingdoms.Indonesia The world's largest archipelago nation with over 16,000 islands, spanning three time zones, and the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, but also nominally secular and deeply influenced by Hindu and Buddhist culture Malaysia Multicultural country (including Muslim Malays, mainly Buddhist Chinese, mainly Hindu Indians, and many Orang Asli aboriginal people, especially in Borneo) that ranges from skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur to jungle-dwelling tribes in Borneo Myanmar (Burma) Ancient country with staggering ethnical diversity, whose history includes both an indigenous empire and being part of the British Empire, now emerging from isolation under a strict military junta and opening up to tourism Philippines A unique fusion of the Asian traditions of non-confrontation and respect for elders combined with Spanish ideas of machismo, romance and sophistication (plus modern Americanization), the largest Christian nation in the region, and second largest archipelago with 7,641 islands – most with beautiful tropical beaches, warmth and friendly smiles Vietnam Firmly marching down the road to capitalism as one of the world's fastest growing economies, Vietnam has a blend of Southeast Asian and Chinese values and culture, and a huge diversity of both natural and cultural attractions Aside from East Timor, the other ten nations listed above are members of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.Hainan (part of China) and Taiwan have similar nature and cultural heritage to Southeast Asia.The region is also a very popular destination for retiring abroad, and several governments in the region offer special long-term visas specifically for retirees.Pre-historic Southeast Asia was largely underpopulated. A process of immigration from India across the Bay of Bengal is referred to as the process of Indianization.

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