Satellite map of Southeast AsiaSoutheast Asia lies south of China, east of India and north of Australia. The region has around 600 million inhabitants, living on the mainland peninsula or across the 24,000 islands to the south and east. Indonesia has by far the largest population of the Southeast Asian nations, with more than 244 million people. Part of Malaysia shares a long narrow peninsula with Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), the other part sharing the island of Borneo with Indonesia and Brunei. The city-state of Singapore occupies an island off the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia.
On the southeastern mainland of Asia are the mountainous, forested countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Great rivers, such as the Mekong and Chao Phraya, flow through the region, creating fertile valleys, where large quantities of crops such as rice and tropical fruits are grown. Although rich in jade, gems, natural gas and oil, Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in the world because of its long-running civil war. Neighbouring Laos, where 80% of the population is employed in agriculture, also suffers from widespread poverty. The economy of Cambodia has grown steadily in recent years, thriving on its oil, natural gas, agriculture, textiles, construction and tourist industries.
Indonesia has the most active volcanoes in the world: 86. The 1815 eruption of Tambora caused about 92,000 deaths.
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