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19
votes
2answers
642 views

What were the demographics and economics of South-East Asian islands around year 1400?

Background: Prior to the arrival of the Europeans on the scene, the island chains in South-East Asia, specifically in the area of today's Indonesia, Philippines and neighbouring states, housed a ...
18
votes
7answers
2k views

Why did Austronesian/Polynesian people not colonize Australia?

Australia hosted aboriginal populations since prehistory. However technologically advanced civilizations (in comparison) lived nearby, in Indonesia, Polynesia and New Guinea. Why was it not colonized ...
15
votes
14answers
8k views

Why does Europe have so few skyscrapers compared to East Asia?

The European Union has virtually no skyscrapers except the newly built 'The Shard' in London. There are also a series of newly-built state-funded skyscrapers in Moscow. On the other hand if you look ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

How wealthy was Singapore at its independence (1965)?

According to this article Is Singapore the Perfect Country for Our Times? Singapore's defining achievement is summed up in the title of its longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew's memoir, From Third ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Were there any Chinese expeditions to explore the world? If not, why not?

It occurred to me today that all essential historical exploration was done by the Europeans, who discovered the Americas and mapped most of the world. This got me wondering about Eastern ...
9
votes
2answers
372 views

What kind of armor did the soldiers use in pre-gunpowder Southeast Asia?

The tropical Southeast Asia (especially the Malay world, e.g. Malaysia/Indonesia) are very hot, and apparently wearing European-style full armor is very uncomfortable in hot climates. What kind of ...
8
votes
1answer
211 views

What is the reason for Burma/Myanmar's recent reforms?

In the last couple of days, the press has been granted much greater freedoms in Burma. They held elections last year and even released Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest (only a year or 2 after they ...
7
votes
1answer
650 views

Why did the island of Bali remain Hindu when most of the rest of Indonesia converted to Islam?

The Wiki page on the spread of Islam in Indonesia stresses that our knowledge of this macro-historical process is fragmentary, for instance often we don’t how the religion diffused out into the ...
3
votes
1answer
127 views

By what right/legitimacy did the Republic of Indonesia come to rule the country?

Before the Dutch rule, Indonesia consists of various sovereign kingdoms and sultanates. The Dutch left after armed fighting, so it was not like they peacefully left the sovereignty to a designated ...
2
votes
1answer
213 views

Was Angkor wat built on top of water?

I was watching a National Geographic Documentary. In that, it said that Angkor Wat was built on top of water. It was also told that it used to be an ancient observatory. Is this true? I searched all ...
2
votes
1answer
160 views

Does east-west/north-south orientation also impact large islands development?

According to Guns, Germs, and Steel, east-west vs north-south orientation has a lot of impact on a continental landmass' technological development. A landmass in east-west orientation (such as ...
2
votes
0answers
61 views

Was malaria worse on Hainan Island than elsewhere in south China?

I’m reading William Skinner’s “Chinese Society in Thailand” (1957). He notes that of the various speech-groups from different parts of south China that came to live in Siam, the Hainanese were one of ...
2
votes
0answers
92 views

How close did the French come to digging a canal across the Isthmus of Kra in the 1880s?

Ferdinand de Lesseps is known to history as the man who pushed through the construction of the Suez Canal in the 1860s. Later (from 1880 onward) he led an attempt to dig a canal through Panama, but ...
0
votes
0answers
58 views

Kaundinya in ancient south east Asia

How accepted, or disputed is the figure of Kaundinya, in the founding of the Indianised colonies of South East Asia? R.C. Majmudar considers Hon Tien, or Kaundinya, a credible figure in his works. ...