South-East Asia - Region facts
South-east Asia is a subregion of Asia.
The name for the region was first coined in the 20th century. It was previously known as Further India (as opposed to the Indian subcontinent). The subregion includes 11 countries, some on the mainland, which is also known as Peninsular Southeast Asia or Indochina and some wholly in the archipelago.
Southeast Asia lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic and volcanic activity. Island arcs and archipelagoes lie southeast and also east of the Asian mainland. Southeast Asia is geographically divided into two regions, namely Indochina and the Malay Archipelago.
Indochina or sometimes mainland Southeast Asia includes all of :
Mount Kinabalu, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand (formerly Siam), Cambodia, Lao PDR (Laos), Vietnam
The Malay archipelago (Malay: Nusantara), variously Malay World, an ethno-cultural notion, or maritime Southeast Asia consists of:
Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, East Timor, Philippines
Malaysia is divided by the South China Sea. Peninsular Malaysia is on the mainland while East Malaysia is on Borneo, the largest islands in the region. However, Malaysia is often considered an archipelagic nation.
Geologically the Malay archipelago is very interesting, being one of the most active vulcanological regions in the world. Geological uplifts in the region have also produced some impressive mountains, culminating in Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo with a height of 4 101 m and also Puncak Jaya in Irian Jaya, Indonesia at 4 884 m, on the island of New Guinea.
There are various conflicting territorial and/or maritime claims, both among these countries and even involving other parties (notably both Chinas in the case of the Spratly Islands).
Contrary to common misconception, most of the inhabitants of archipelagic Southeast Asia are not Pacific Islanders. However, it is worth noted that the eastern parts of Indonesia (east of Wallace line) are geographically parts of Oceania.
The animals of Southeast Asia are diverse; on the island of Borneo, the Orangutan (man of the forest), the Asian Elephant, the Sumatran Rhinoceros and the Clouded Leopard can be also found. The bearcat can be found on the island of Palawan.
The Water Buffalo, both domesticated and wild, can be found all over Southeast Asia, where once it was found in much greater extent in South Asia, for example. The mouse deer, a small tusked deer as large as a dog or cat, can be found on Sumatra and Borneo; the animal figures in many Indonesian folktales and is thus known to children.
Beautiful birds such as the peafowl and drongo live in this Asia subregion as far east as Indonesia. The babirusa, a four-tusked pig, can be found in Indonesia as well. The hornbill was prized for its beak and used in trade with China. The horn of the rhinoceros, not part of its skull, was prized in China as well.
The Indonesian Archipelago is split by the Wallace Line. This line runs along what is now known to be a tectonic plate boundary, and separates Asian (Western) species from Australasian (Eastern) species. The islands between Java/Borneo and Papua form a mixed zone, where both types occur, known as Wallacea.
The shallow waters of the Southeast Asian coral reefs have the highest levels of biodiversity for the world's marine ecosystems, where coral, fish and molluscs abound. The whale shark can be found in the South China Sea.
The trees and other plants of the region are tropical; in some countries where the mountains are tall enough, temperate-climate vegetation can be found. These rainforest areas are currently being logged-over, especially in Borneo.
While Southeast Asia is rich in flora and fauna, Southeast Asia is facing severe deforestation which causes habitat loss for various endangered species such as orangutan and the Sumatran tiger. At the same time, haze has been a regular occurrence. The worst regional haze occurred in 1998 in which multiple countries were covered with thick haze. In reaction, several countries in Southeast Asia signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in order to combat haze pollution.
The Indian Ocean is comparatively more tranquil than the Southern Ocean, which aided the colonization of Madagascar by the Malay people, and the commerce between West Asia and Southeast Asia. The Indian Ocean is far calmer and thus open to trade earlier than the Atlantic or Pacific. The powerful monsoons also meant ships could easily sail them west early in the season, then wait a few months and return eastwards.
The gold from Sumatra reached as far west as Rome, two thousand years ago. Gold coins were in use on the coasts, but not inland of Sumatra. By the 1500s, European explorers were reaching Southeast Asia from the west Portugal and from the east Spain. A regular trade between the sailing ships east, from the Indian Ocean and south from mainland Asia provided goods in return for natural products such as honey and hornbill beaks from the islands of the archipelago.
A Chinese emperor who wished to maintain ties with Southeast Asia sent a princess, Hang Li Po, with a retinue of 500 to Malacca, to marry its Sultan after he was impressed by the wisdom of King Mansur. Hang Li Po's well (constructed 1459) is now a tourist attraction there, as is Bukit Cina, where her retinue settled. The strategic value of the Strait of Malacca, which was controlled by Sultanate of Malacca in the 15th and early 16th century, did not go unnoticed by Portuguese writer Duarte Barbosa, who in 1500 wrote "He who is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice".
But today strategic value also lies in manufacture of the world's microprocessors, for example, much of which lies in Southeast Asia, and in the shipments of oil in the region.
Early Agricultural Societies
Agriculture was a natural development based on necessity. Before agriculture, hunting and gathering sufficed to provide food. The chicken and pig were domesticated here, millennia ago. So much food was available that people could gain status by giving food away in feasts and festivals, where all could eat their fill. These big men (Malay: orang kaya) would work for years, accumulating the food (wealth) needed for the festivals provided by the orang kaya. These individual acts of generosity or kindness are remembered by the people in their oral histories, which serves to provide credit in more dire times. These customs ranged throughout Southeast Asia, stretching, for example, to the island of Papua. The agricultural technology was exploited after population pressures increased to the point that systematic intensive farming was required for mere survival, say of yams (in Papua) or rice (in Indonesia). Rice paddies are well-suited for the monsoons of Southeast Asia. The rice paddies of Southeast Asia have existed for millennia, with evidence for their existence coeval with the rise of agriculture in other parts of the globe.
Yam cultivation in Papua, for example, consists of placing the tubers in prepared ground, heaping vegetation on them, waiting for them to propagate, and harvesting them. This work sequence is still performed by the women in the traditional societies of Southeast Asia; the men might perform the heavier duties of preparing the ground, or of fencing the area to prevent predation by pigs.
Southeast Asia has been inhabited since pre-historic times. The communities in the region evolved to form complex cultures with varying degrees of influence from India and China.
The ancient kingdoms can be grouped into two distinct categories. The first is agrarian kingdoms. Agrarian kingdoms had agriculture as the main economic activity. Most agrarian states were located in mainland Southeast Asia. Examples are Ayutthaya, based on the Chao Phraya River delta and the Khmer Empire on the Tonle Sap. The second type is maritime states. Maritime states were dependent on sea trade. Malacca and Srivijaya were maritime states.
A succession of trading systems dominated the trade between China and India. First goods were shipped through Funan to the Isthmus of Kra, portaged across the narrow land, and then transhipped for India and points west. Around the sixth century CE merchants began sailing to Srivijaya where goods were transhipped drectly. The limits of technoogy and contrary winds made it impossible for the ships of the time to proceed directly from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea. The third system involved direct trade between the Indian and Chinese coasts.
Very little is known about Southeast Asian religious beliefs and practices before the advent of Indian merchants and religious influences from the second century BCE onwards. Prior to the 13th century, Buddhism and Hinduism were the main religions in Southeast Asia.
Several kingdoms developed on the mainland, initially in modern-day Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The first dominant power to arise In the archipelago was Srivijaya in Sumatra. From the fifth century CE, the capital, Palembang, became a major seaport and functioned as an entrepot on the Spice Route between India and China. Srivijaya was also a notable centre of Vajrayana Buddhist learning and influence. Srivijaya's wealth and influence faded when changes in nautical technology in the tenth century CE enabled Chinese and Indian merchants to ship cargo directly between their countries and also enabled the Chola state in southern India to carry out a series of destructive attacks on Srivijaya's possessions, ending Palembang's entrepot function.
Java was dominated by a kaleidoscope of competing agrarian kingdoms including the Sailendras, Mataram and finally Majapahit.
Muslim traders started to visit Southeast Asia in the Twelfth Century CE. Pasai was the first Muslim state. Srivijaya finally collapsed after internal strife. The Sultanate of Malacca, founded by a Srivijayan prince, rose to prominence under Chinese patronage and assumed Srivijaya’s role. Islam spread throughout the archipelago in the 13th and 14th century at the expense of Hinduism with Malacca functioning (after its rulers converted) as the center of Islam in the region.
Other sultanates, such as Brunei in Borneo and Sulu in the modern day Philippines experienced relatively few contacts with other kingdoms.
Europeans first came to Southeast Asia in the sixteenth century. It was the lure of trade that brought Europeans to Southeast Asia while missionaries also tagged along the ships as they hoped to spread Christianity into the region. Portugal was the first European power to establish a bridgehead into the lucrative Southeast Asia trade route with the conquest of the Malaccan Sultanate in 1511. The Netherlands and Spain followed and soon superseded Portugal as the main European powers in the region. The Dutch took over Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641 while Spain began to colonize the island of Philippines (named after Phillip II of Spain) from 1560s. In the form of the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch established the city of Batavia (now Jakarta) as the base for trading and expansion into the other parts of Java and a few surrounding territory. Britain, in the form of the British East India Company, came relatively late onto the scene. Starting with Penang island, the British which also temporarily possessed Dutch territories during the Napoleonic Wars, began to expand its Southeast Asian empire. In 1819, Singapore was established by Stamford Raffles as a key trading post for Britain as their rivalry with the Dutch instensified. However, their rivalry cooled in 1824 as the Anglo-Dutch treaty demarcated their respective interests in Southeast Asia. From the 1850s onwards, the pace of colonization shifted to a significantly higher gear. This phenomenon, known as New Imperialism, saw the conquest of nearly all Southeast Asian territories by the colonial powers (by now both Dutch East India Company and British East India Company were dissolved by their respective governments which in turn took over the administration of the colonies). Only the kingdom of Thailand was spared from the experience of foreign rule. However, Thailand itself was also greatly affected by the power politics of the Western powers. By 1913, the British dominated Burma, Malaya and the Borneo territories, the French controlled Indochina, the Dutch ruled the Dutch East Indies (Later known as Indonesia), the USA replaced Spain as Philippine’s colonial ruler and Portugal still managed to hold on to Portuguese Timor. Colonial rule has a profound effect on Southeast Asia. While the colonial powers profited much from the region's vast resources and large market, Colonial rule did develop the region to varying extent. Commercial agriculture, mining and an export base economy developed rapidly during this period. Increased labor demand resulted in mass immigration, especially from British India and China, brought about massive demographical changes. Institutions for a modern nation state like a state administrative body, courts of law, print capitalism and to a smaller extent, modern education sowed the seeds for the fledgling nationalist movements in the colonial territories. In the interwar years, these nationalist movements grew and often clashed with the colonial authorities as they clamored for self determination. The Japanese Occupation in World War Two was the turning point for these movements in their fight for independence. Japan broke the myth of the white man’s superiority and galvanized these nationalist groups. With the rejuvenated nationalist movements in wait, the Europeans returned to a very different Southeast Asia after the war. Indonesia declared independence in 17 August 1945 and subsequently fought a bitter war against the returning Dutch, Philippines were granted independence in 1946, Burma secured theirs from Britain in 1948 and the French were driven out from Indochina in 1954 but not after a bitterly fought war against the Vietnamese nationalists. Under the broader context of the Cold War, countering the threat of communism was a major theme in the decolonisation process. After suppressing the communist insurrection during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, Britain granted independence to Malaya and later, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak in 1957 and 1963 respectively. American intervention againist communist forces in Indochina meant that Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia had to go through a prolonged and protracted war in their route to independence. In 1975, Portuguese rule ended in East Timor. However, independence was shortlived as Indonesia annexed the territory soon after. Finally, British ended its protectorate of the Islamic Sulanate of Brunei in 1984, marking the end of colonial rule in Southeast Asia.
The Southeast Asian islands are a major source of world petroleum supplies; the region is also a center for logging.
Southeast Asia has experienced great economic growth since the 1980s; Singapore was one of the four original "East Asian Tigers" and in recent years Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have often been considered a new brood of "tigers." Tiger refers to the rapid growth of these economies. Much of this growth has been driven by foreign direct investment in local industries; the money came from the U.S. and Japanese TNCs; later from international investment portfolios. Because of this international investment, Southeast Asia was often considered an example of globalized capitalism by international economic experts. On a local level however, the growth was interpreted somewhat differently: "Asian values", a model of authoritarian governments firmly guiding economies toward rapid development, have been promoted by some regional leaders; confidence in this model was shaken by the Asian financial crisis of 1997, which occasioned a period of more cautious, slower growth. All of the southeast-asian states except East Timor are members of ASEAN. The ASEAN Free Trade Area has reduced tariff barriers between regional economies; the signatories have agreed to extend a free trade agreement with the People's Republic of China and Japan in coming years.
While Singapore is the 2nd busiest Port in the world and a major Financial and Banking hub, Malaysia is the world largest exporter of Oil Palm.
In sharp contrast to the hub of economic development in Singapore, there is persistent poverty in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Two Southeast Asian countries, Laos and Vietnam, are ruled by Communist parties; these have since 1986 both been gradually transitioning from planned to market economies. The poverty is a consequence of the war this region was embroiled in from 1941 to 1975, in Cambodia fighting continued until the late 1990s. Vietnam combines free market capitalism and communism, attracting multinationals, and encouraging small entrepreneurs. It has developed into the most prosperous of the three countries, even though it ranks among the world's poorest countries. Laos and Cambodia experience difficulties because of their rough or isolated terrain and their lacking infrastructure.
Southeast Asia has an area of approx. 4,000,000 km˛ (1.6 million sq miles). As of 2004, more than 593 million people lived in the region, far over a sixth of them (+114 million) on the Indonesian island of Java, the most densely populated island in the world. The distribution of the religions and people is diverse in Southeast Asia and varies by country. And about 30 million Overseas Chinese are living here, most prominently Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. see Chinatowns
Ethnic groups in the subregion
Southeast Asians are primarily of Asiatic stock. According to a recent Stanford study ([genetic study), the Southeast Asian population is entirely far from being homogenous. Although primarily descendants of Austronesian, Tai, and Mon-Khmer-speaking immigrants who migrated from Southern China during the Iron Age, there are overlays of Chinese genes (up to 54% in the Philippines), as well as European genes (3.4% in the Philippines - 45% in Mataram), and Papuan genes (55% in Irian Jaya).
Brunei: Malay (69%), Chinese (18%), Indigenous Bruneians (6%), Others (7%)
Cambodia: Khmer (94%), Chinese (4%), Vietnamese (1%), Others (mostly Chams) (1%)
East Timor: Tetun (10%), Mambae (8%), Makasae (8%), Tukudede (6%), Bunak (5%), Galoli (5%), Kemak (5%), Fataluku (3%), Baikeno (2%), Others (48%)
Indonesia: Javanese (45%), Sundanese (14%), Madurese (8%), Others (33%)
Laos: Lowland Lao (56%), Lao Theung (34%), Lao Soung (10%)
Malaysia: Malay and Orang Asli (60%), Chinese (30%), South Asian (7%), Others (3%)
Myanmar: Burman (68%), Shan (9%), Karen (6%), Rakhine (4%), Others (includes Chinese and South Asian) (13%)
Philippines: Filipino (80%), Chinese (10%), South Asian (5%), Europeans and Americans (3%), Arab (1%), Others (1%)
Singapore: Chinese (76%), Malay (15%), South Asian (7%), Others (2%)
Thailand: Thai (75%), Chinese (14%), Malay (4%), Khmer (3%), Others (4%)
Vietnam: Vietnamese (88%), Chinese (4%), Thai (2%), Others (6%)
It should be noted that each of the languages have been influenced by cultural pressures due to trade and historical colonization as well. Thus, for example, a Filipino, educated in English and Tagalog, as well as in his native tongue (ex., Visayan), might well speak another language, such as Japanese for economic reasons; a Malaysian might well speak Chinese as well as English, again for economic reasons.
The official languages have been italicizedBrunei:
Malay, Chinese dialects, indigenous Borneian dialects
Cambodia: Khmer, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese, Chamic dialects
East Timor: Tetun, Portuguese, Mambae, Makasae, Tukudede, Bunak, Galoli, Kemak, Fataluku, Baikeno, other Timorese dialects
Indonesia: Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Balinese,
Laos: Lao, Miao, Mien, Dao, Shan, and other Tibeto-Burman derived languages
Malaysia: Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, other Indian languages, various indigenous languages (of the Orang Asli and natives of Sabah and Sarawak).
Myanmar: Burmese, Shan dialects, Karen dialects, Arakan, Kachin, Chin, Chinese, Mon, other Indian hilltribes dialects, other Chinese dialects, English
Philippines: Filipino, English, Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Bicolano, Maranao, Maguindanao, other Chinese dialects, other Spanish dialects, other Indian languages, Arabic dialects, other Philippine languages and dialects
Singapore: Mandarin Chinese, Malay, Tamil, English, other Chinese dialects, other Indian languages, Arabic dialects.
Thailand: Thai, Chinese dialects, Isan, Shan, Lue, Phutai, Khmer, Mon, Mein, Hmong, Karen, Vietnamese
Vietnam: Vietnamese, Tay, Muong, Khmer, Chinese dialects, Nung, Hmong, Tai Dam, and other languages and dialects.
Rice paddy agriculture has existed in Southeast Asia for thousands of years, ranging across the subregion. Some dramatic examples of these rice paddies populate the Banaue Rice Terraces in the mountains of Northern Luzon in the Philippines, and in Indonesia. Maintenance of these paddies is very labor-intensive. The rice paddies are well-suited to the monsoon climate of the region.
Stilt houses can be found all over Southeast Asia, from Thailand and Laos, to Borneo, to Luzon in the Philippines, to Papua New Guinea.
The chief cultural influences over the Southeast Asian peoples in past few millennia have been from India as evidenced by the forms of writing, such as the Balinese writing shown on split palm leaf called lontar, below:
Balinese writing on palm leaf. Artifact can be seen in the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois
Balinese writing on palm leaf. Artifact can be seen in the Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois
The antiquity of this form of writing extends before the invention of paper 100 CE, in China. Note each palm leaf section was only several lines, written longitudinally across the leaf, and bound by twine to the other sections. The outer portion was decorated. The alphabets of Southeast Asia tended to be abugidas, until the arrival of the Europeans, who used words that also ended in consonants, not just vowels. Other forms of official documents, which did not use paper, included Javanese copperplate scrolls. This would have been more durable in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia.
Besides writing and weaponry, such as the distinctive Kris, other metalworking was used for musical instruments; the gamelan instruments consisted of gongs and other tonal, but percussive music. Most of the traditional music is based on a pentatonic scale as per Chinese influences.
Dance in Southeast Asia also includes movement of the hands, as well as the feet. Puppetry and shadow plays were also a favored form of entertainment in past centuries. The Arts and Literature in South East Asia is deeply influenced by Hinduism brought to them centuries ago. In Indonesia and Malaysia, though they converted to Islam, they retained many forms of Hindu influenced practices, Cultures, Arts and Literature. An example will be the Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet) and literatures like the Ramayana. This is also true for mainland South East Asia (excluding Vietnam). Dance movements, Hindu gods, Arts were also fused into Thai, Khmer, Laotian and Burmese cultures. In Vietnam, the Vietnamese share many cultural similarity with the Chinese. Examples would be the national costume of Vietnam, Ao Dai influenced by the Qi pao (Cheong Sam) of China and the Mahayana form of Buddhism which the Chinese and Vietnamese alike adhere to.
The peoples of Southeast Asia were trained to carry burdens on their heads; it was a common sight to see a child balancing a small object like a bowl on her head, in distinction to her mother or aunt balancing a much larger load.
As a rule, the peoples who ate with their fingers were more likely influenced by the culture of India, for example, than the culture of China, where the peoples first ate with chopsticks; tea, as a beverage, can be found across the region.
The religion of Southeast Asia was originally animist, then Theravada Buddhist (525 CE) and Hindu. Later influences in Indonesia and Malaysia were from Islam (1400s) and Christianity (1500s). The last Hindu court in Indonesia was to retreat to Bali by the later 1400s. In Mainland South East Asia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand retained the Theravada form of Buddhism that was brought to them from Sri Lanka and fused Buddhism with Hindu influenced Khmer culture. Countries in South East Asia, like Thailand, also eschewed from Christianity even though Christian missionaries were widespread. However, the Thais absorbed the science and technology from these Christian missionaries from the west so as to resist colonialism. King Mongkut (Rama IV) once remarked to a Christian missionary friend: "What you teach us to do is admirable, but what you teach us to believe is foolish".
The peoples of the South East have been seafarers for thousands of years, some reaching the island of Madagascar where their descendants live to this day. Their vessels were ocean-worthy well before the explorers from Europe were to reach them. Magellan's voyage records how much more maneuverable their vessels were, as compared to the European ships.Bergreen
Chinese merchants have followed the winds and currents of the monsoon season across Southeast Asia for thousands of years. Magellan's voyage records that Brunei possessed more cannon than the European ships; it was Chinese engineers who fortified Brunei, before 1521. Bergreen
The Peranakan are an unique Straits Chinese community that are found mostly in Malaysia and Singapore, though many can also be found in Indonesia. Large communities of the Peranakans can be found in Penang and Malacca (Malaysia) and Singapore. They have roots tracing to that of Hokkien from Fujian province, Southern China who intermarried with non Muslims Malay people like the Bataks and Balinese. Others say they were descendents of servants of Hang Li Poh who intermarried with locals. They retained the names, religions and cultures of their Chinese fathers while absorbing the language, food and culture of their Malay mothers.
Countries in mainland Southeast Asia practise mainly Buddhism. These countries are Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Singapore's population also largely practises Buddhism. In the Malay Archipelago, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei are mainly Muslim. Christianity is predominant in the Philippines and East Timor.
The religious composition for each country is as follows:
Brunei: Islam (67%), Buddhism (13%), Christianity (10%), indigenous beliefs, and others(10%)
Cambodia: Theravada Buddhism (93%), Animism, and others
East Timor: Christianity (95%)
Indonesia: Islam (81%), Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and others
Laos: Theravada Buddhism (60%), Animism, and others (40%)
Malaysia: Islam (61%), Mahayana Buddhism (20%), Christianity, Hinduism, and Animism
Myanmar: Theravada Buddhism (89%), Islam (4%), Christianity (4%), Hinduism (1%), and Animism
Philippines: Christianity (92%), Islam (5%), Buddhism and others (3%)
Singapore: Chinese Religions (Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism) (51%), Islam (15%), Christianity (14%), Hinduism (4%), others(16%)
Thailand: Theravada Buddhism (95%), Islam (3%), Hinduism, Christianity, and Taoism
Vietnam: Mahayana Buddhism (50%), Confucianism, and Christianity
Religions and peoples are diverse in Southeast Asia and not one country is homogenous. In the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, Hinduism is dominant on islands such as Bali. Christianity also predominates in Papua and Timor. Pockets of Hindu population can also be found around Southeast Asia in Singapore, Malaysia etc. Garuda (Sanskrit: Garuḍa), the phoenix who is the mount (vahanam) of Vishnu, is a national symbol in both Thailand and Indonesia; in the Philippines, gold images of Garuda have been found on Palawan; gold images of other Hindu gods and goddesses have also been found on Mindanao. It should be noted that Balinese Hinduism is somewhat different from Hinduism practised elsewhere as Animism and local culture is incorporated into it. Christian can also be found throughout Southeast Asia; they are in the majority in East Timor and the Philippines, Asia's largest Christian nation. In addition, there are also older tribal religious practices in remote areas of Sarawak in East Malaysia and Irian Jaya in eastern Indonesia. In Vietnam, the form of Mahayana Buddhism practiced is heavily influenced by the Animism and tribal religions, of the native peoples of the region. With a heavier importance placed upon Ancestor Worship that is different from many of Vietnam's cutural neighbors.