The Growth of Trade, Trading Networks and Mercantilism in Pre-Colonial South-East Asia
It is sometimes questioned whether South-East Asia — the region which today embraces the mainland countries of Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; Peninsular Malaysia and the numerous islands of Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia — can be judged a unitary phenomenon (see Map 1.1). The question is more easily answered for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Modern South-East Asia has a coherence which was thrust upon it by colonialism, the Japanese occupation, and the post-colonial alliances. For the pre-colonial era, historians have identified trends drawing this region together from as early as the fourteenth century.1
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