National Histories: Asia

national histories Asia
Figure 1.--This scene from a Hindu temple was probanly taken about 1890. Except for a few people wearing modern dress, it could have been taken centuries earlier. Put your cursor in the image to see the rest of the photograph. We do not knw which temple this. Perhaps some one will recognize it. Asia unlike Africa and th Americas ath the time of the Europeam maritime pot reach was home to some vey adbanced civilizations. In fact many of the important technological advances since fall of Rome originatd in China and India. For most of this time, it ws Asian thatwas th most prosperous andtechnologically advanced area and Europe a backwater. One of the great questins of history is why modrnity, including modern science, free market capitalism, democracy, and the Ibdustrial Revolution emerged from Europe and not Asia.

Civilization first appeared in Western Asia (Mesopotamia--Tygris Euprates and Egypt--the Nile) and Southern Asia (Indus River). Egypt of course is in Africa, but the civilization has been more associated with the Middle East than Africa. Later civilization developed in China (Yellow River). The reason for this is the high yields available in river valleys as well as the available flora and fauna. Given the early appearance of civiization and the importance of Asian civilizatons such as the Persians, Chinese, and Arab Caliophate, the core historical question is why did the findamental economic, political, and social achievements occur in Western Europe, a region until relatively late in world history was backward and underdeveloped. The decline of the Caliphate and the turn inward to fundamentalist Islam which restricted science and free thought explains the faiure of the Middle East. More interesting is why China failed to make the leap to modern industry and politcal development. This is an especially intreauging question because until about 1500, China was technologically more advanced than Europe. Here are the national histories we have compiled on Asian countries.


Afganistan has an incredibly interesting history. Many of the major towns were founded by Alexander the Great. Islam was spread to Afghanistan by the Arabs who with the Turks, Mongols, Persians, and Indian Moguls have ruled the country. The 19th century found Afghanistan as the center of the "Great Game" pitting the Russians in Central Asia with the British in India. Many royal regimes appeared in Afganistan which both welcomed the British and delivered disastrous military defeats. Much of the subsequent history of Afganistan has been the tension betwwen western reformers andIslmaic fundamentalists. More than one Afgani king has been deposed and killed by the fundamentalists. Nadir Shah established a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Despite efforts by NAZI infiltrators, Afghanistan stayed neutral during World War II. After the war the king was deposed and by the 1970s an incresingly pro-Soviet government communist sought tp modernize the country through often brital measures This was met by increasingly successful resistance from the Muhajedeen. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to support the beleagered communist regime. After 10 years of bitter fighting, the Soviets finally withdrew, leaving their Afghani allies to their fate. Afghanistan is still a country in which an armed conflict over power between opposing political factions continues. Afghanistan has in the process been devastated, producing the world’s largest ever single refugee case-load, at times as high as 6.2 million persons. Throughout the following years while a bitter struggle over power between the various muhajedeen groups ensued with the strict fundamentalist Tailaban, until November, 2001 and the American war on terrorism, controling most of the country.


Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world with a recorded history streaching back an estimated 3,500 years. The Armenian homeland is the Armenian plateau, central and eastern Anatolia and southwestern Caucasia--the highlands which once dominate the southern lowlands of Syria and Mesopotamia. Early Armenian history is associated primarily with the Hittites and the Urartians and the great civilizaions of Mesopotamia. Later Armenia history is associated with the Persian Empire. Armenia was never conquwered by Alexander, although of course Persia was. With Alexander's defeat of the Persian, Armenia, at least the upper classes were Hellenized. Armenia was briefly independent under king Tigran (Tigranes) the Great (about 90 BC). Armenia became the first state to establish Christianity as an official religion. The Eastern Empire known as the Byzantine Empire sought to control Armenia by underminining the authority of the native nobility and serious weakening Aemenia's social structure. Armenia was less able to resist waves of foreign invaders (Arabs, the Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, various Turkmen tribes) which followed. These waves of foreign invaders grdually changed the ethnic makeup of the Armenian plain and the dillution of the Armenian presence. Finally the Ottomans after finally taking Constantinople (1453) turned eastward an added Armenia to their growing empire. The Islamic Ottomans were relatively tolerant to religious diversity, at least in comparison to contemporary Christian practices. The Ottomans created the Armenians as a millet, meaning a civil-religious minority governed by the Armenian Church within the overall authority of Empire. Although the Ottoman were an advanced civilization in the 15th century. The Ottomans expanded into the Balkans and for a time threatened Western Europe. Armenians and Turks for several centuries lived in relative harmony. Armenians became known as the "loyal millet". More than a million mostly Christian Armenians were murdered by Ottoman authorities during World War I. Clara Barton led the first Red Cross relief effort conducted outside the United States. The killings provoked wide-spread international contamination, but no country intervened to stop the killings. Another series of pogroms occurred in 1909. The Ottomans entered World war I on the side of the Central Power (Germany and Austria-Hungary) in late 1914. The wide-spread, organized genocide against the Armenians began in 1915. Accounts on the numbers of Armenians vary. The estimate of 1.0 million is often used,but some accounts are as high as 1.5 million. The modern Republic of Armenia was created out of the Soviet Union. Armenia has been involved in a war with Azerbejan over the desputed territory of Karabagh. The desplute resulted from the ethnic patch work quill of the Soviet Union.


Bangledash is a modern creation, but Bengal has a long history. The area of modern Bangladesh was included in a succession of Indian empires. During this era there was struggle for religious dominance between Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam reached northern India (late-12th century). Mohammed Bakhtiar Khalzhi from Turkistan captured Bengal with only 20 men (1199). Northeastern India was was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent up till the 16th century. The area was ruled by Mughal viceroys. During the Nughal era, the arts flourished and overland trade expanded. The Portuguese reached India (15th century). This opened Bengal to maritime trade. This would slowky undermine Mughal power. Europeans began to establish trading posts. The Bengals ousted the Portuguese (1633). The British East India Company negotiated the right to build a fortified trading post in Calcutta (1690). As Mughal power wained, provincial autonomy increased. A virtually independent dynasty of the Nengal nawabs roise to power. One of those nawabs attacked the British enclave in Calcutta and cramed the British he was able to seize in an airless underground cellar--the Black Hole of Calcutta. The British retook Calcutta a year later and the British Government replaced the East India Company following the Indian Mutiny (1857). East India Company clerk Robert Clive found himself effectively ruling Bengal. Today it is one of the poorest countries in the world. When Briritain gave India its independence. Bengal became East Pakistan in political union with West Pakistan. Gradually Bengali nationalism exerted itself, especialy when politically dominant West Pakistan attemoted to make Urdu the national language. The Pakistani Army attemoted to reverse an election won by Bengali nationalists. A horific 11-day war ensued in which the Indian Army intervened. The result was an independent Bangladesh (1971).


Bhutan as a small mountaneous kingdom has been influenced by the larger countries surrounding it (China, India, and Tibet). There was also a short period of British influence durung the Raj. Bhutan is by China (Tibet) to the north and India to the south and is very clode to Bangladesh. The other Himalayan kingdom is located a few miles to the west. . The country is ruled by a hereditary monarch. It is a very traditional societies with an economy based on agriculture. Bhutan is a largely Buddhist country with influences from both India and Tibet. The legal system is based on Buddhist law and English common law. The heart if Bhutan is the Kathmandu Valley which had been the enter if the monarchy for 1,500 years. Nepal began to emerge from its medieval isolation in the 16th century when the House of Gorkha by Dravya Shah (1559). Gorkha monarchs expanded the kingdom into a major state into what is now India (late 18th century). This brought Bhutan into conlict with the British East India Company. The Anglo- Nepalese War (1814-16) was fought in the later stage of the Napoleonic War in Europe. (At about the same time as the British foughtb a war with America.) The Treaty of Sagauli ended the War, but left Bhutan with its much reduced modern boundaries.


See Mynamar.


The Funan Kingdom is seen as the important first Cambodian civilization (1st century BC). The kingdom was strongly influenced by Indian culture and Indian influences are observeable in its culture, art, and political system. The Funan Kingdom introduced an alphabetical system, religions and architectural styles were also Indian contributions to the Funan Kingdom. The Funan Kingdom influenced a commercial culture in the Mekong Delta (1st-6th centuries AD). A Kymer Empire began to rise (6th century). Jayavarman II, a Khmer prince, founded a new kingdom (9th century AD). Strongly influenced by India and Hinduism, he founded a cult that centered on Shiva. Jayavarman declared himself a devaraja (god-king), linking himself to Shiva. Jayavarman ininiated a vast building program, including both architecture and sculpture. Jayavarman and his successors constructed a vast irrigation system around Angkor. This led to a huge increase in agricultural production which supported a Kymer Empire (9th-15th centuries). The Angkor Wat complex is the result of the Kymer Empire. There may be as many as 1,000 temples there, many with inscriptions of historical importance. The Kymer Empire expanded into much od Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia). The power of the Kymer Empire began to decline (13th century). As the only surviving historical writings are temple inscriptions, the reason for this decline are not fully understood. There are various theories, including the increasing military power of Thai kings, the rise of Theravada Buddhism, and enviromental changes reducing the productivity of irrigated the rice raising areas around Angkor. Camboduan authors describe the "Dark Ages" of Cambodian history (13-14th centurues). Thai and Vietnamese rulers gradually encroached upon Cambodia (15th-19th centuries). What was left of Cambodia in the early 19th century were invaded by Vietnamese and Thai armies which fought over control of the country (1830s). Large areas of Cambodia were devestated. King Norodom requested French intervention (1854). He signed a treaty with France. This ended the wars with Thailand and Vietnam, but converted Cambodia into a French protectorate. The French formally institutd a protectorate (1863). The French built many improvements designed to modernize the country's infrastructure, especially trade and transportation. They gave relatively little attention to the educational system, in part so as not to dirupt traditioinal Kymer society. France made Cambodia a part of the Union of Indo China (1884). The French-Simese Trearty restored the western provinces of Cambodia (1907). After the First Vietamese War, France granted Cambodia independence (1955). The Cambodian momarchy under King Sihanouk sought to steer a neutral path, but Cambodia was eventually drawn into the Vietnam War. The victory of the Kymer Rouge (1975) ushered in a tragic period of Cambodia history. The Kymer Rouge sought to remake Cambodian society through a terrible genocide.


China has had a long and turbulent history. An understanding of the basic events and movements in Chinese history is necessary to understand the fashion trends. Fashion also reflected those trends. Interestingly because of the long tradition of writing in China and Chinese schoolarship as well as continuity over long periods, more is known about early Chinese history than many comparable eras in the West. The First Emperor, Fu Hsi, is often seen to be the founder of Chinese civiization and social order around 3000 BC. Little is known about many early emperors, but others are known in some detail. In many ways it was the Mongols who brought China into the modern era. The Ming overthrew the Mongols but were in turn replaced by another northern tribe, the Manchu. European imperlism preyed upon the decaying Manchy regime in the 19th century, forcong a number of unequal treaties on China. The British fought the Opium Wars to force China to accept opium. The British and other Europeans as well as the Japanese carved out coastal enclaves. A Republic was formed under Dr. Sun Yat-sen determined to reform China and build a government that could resist foreign incursions (1911). This set in motion a struggle for power among warlords, Nationalists and Communists. Chang Kai-shek and the nationalists emerged victorious. The Communists were not compkletely defeated, but after the Long March established themselves in northwestern China. Then the Jpanese attacked, first in Manchuria (1931) and than China proper (1937). China fought Japan alone until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and British installations (1941) brought America and Britain into the War. China suffered terribly in the War. Much of the country was occupied by the Japanese, but despite the commitment of most of the Imperial Army, the Japanese were unable to defeat the Nationalists who retired west to remote Chunking. The defeat of Japan (1945) set in motion a civil war between the Nationalists and Communists. The Communists emerged victorious and established the People's Republic (1948-49). Chang's Nationalists retired to Taiwan


India has an extraordinaryly colorful history in which the sub-continent's geography has played a central role. The Indus Valley was one of the great cradles of civilization. Less is known about the Indus Valley civilization than the other early civilizations, byr they are believed to have had contacts with Mesopotamian civilizations. Historian debate the role of Aryan invadrs. A succession of Hindu kingdoms fighting wars with each other dominate the history of India. Invaders have at times played in mportant rokles, but the Himilayas has effectively isolated India and its people from outside influence. In that environment two of the world's great religiins developed: Hinduism and Budhism. Invaders intriduced a third--Islam. Many invaders have fought to enter the mountain passes that connected India with the Middle East: Persians, Greeks, and Mongols. Other foreigners took sea routes: Arabs, Portuguese, French, and British. Hindu kingdoms resisted Alexander, but finally fell to the Moguhls and then go the British. Both empire have left a lasting imprint. One of the ironies of history is that the principal national elements that unite this vibrant, diverse countey come from the British Raj: democracy, law, and the English language. They are also key factors in the emergence of India as an economic powehouse in the 21st century.


A revered legend attributes the creation of Japan to the sun goddess, from whom the country's emperors descended. The country's actual written history of Japan began when Japan was first mentioned in Chinese texts (1st century AD). The Yamato clan located in Kyoto achieved dominance over much of Japan (5th century). Contacts with China developed, at first through Korea. Buddhism arrived in Korea and was accepted without destroying the old animist Shinto faith. The Yamato influebnced by China established an imperial system. Over time the warring nobility established considerable power, eclipsing that of the emperor and mainting independent armies manned by the famed samurai warrior class. The Minamoto clan prevailed in the wars which plagued Japan and established a military government--the Shogonate (1192). The first Shogun was Yoritomo. The Shoguns ruled Japan for sevent centuries, but payed deference to the emperor in Edo (Tokyo). The first Europeans, Portuguese traders arrived (1542). This brought trade and Christianity, but the Shonguns decided both were a baleful influence on Japan. The Tokugawa Shonguns supressed Christianity and closed Japan off to Europeans (1603-1867). American Commodore Perry sailed his Black Fleet into Tokyo harbor and reopened Japan (1853). Thoughtful Japnese saw that still largely feudal Japan could not nesist Wesern technology. A civil war resulted in the overthrow of the Shogun and the creation of a superficially Western-style government under the emperor Meiji (1868). Japan quickly made the transition from a medieval to a modern economy. The Japanese followed European models. The country formed a parliamentary government (1889), but the social and political modernization lagged the economic modernization--a development that would lead to the 20th century Pacific War. A rising industrial base allowed Japan to create the most powerful military in Asia. Conscription was established. Japan began using it rising military power to build an overseas empire. Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War acquired Formosa (Taiwan), the Pescadores Islands, and interests in southern Manchuria (1894-95). Jaopan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) expanded its influence in Manchuria and Korea and added southern Sakhalin (1904-05). Japan formally annexed Korea (1910). Japan joined Britain in World War I and acquired Germany's Pacific islands and Chinese treaty port (1914-18). The Treaty of Versailles awarded Japan a mandate over the islands (1919). America pressured Japan to sign the Washington Naval Treaties (1921–22) which required Japan to respect national integrity of China and to limit naval construction. This angered the Japanese military who considered it a national affront. The military assasinated politicans who disagreed with them and gradually came to dominate the Japanese Government. Military commanders seized Manchuria and set up a puppet state, Manchukuo under the last Manchu--Emperor Pu-Yi. Next the military invaded China proper (1937). The United States, Britain, and France protested. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and joined the Axis (1940). Japan's expansion in Asia was made possible by its industrial develoment. Many military commanders were convinced, however, that ut was the country's racial superority and Yanato-spirit that had made Jpan great. They decided to eliminate the only real threat to further expansion--the American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. The devestating Japanese carrier attack brought America into World War II and launched one of the most barbaric wars in the bloody history of war (1941-45). After seizing large areas of the Pacific and Southeast Asia, the Japanese were stopped at Midway by the same American Navy they failed to destroy at Pearl Harbor (June 1942). American industry produced military forces which the Japanese could not compete, although military leaders were prepared to fight to the death on the Home Islands as they had in a series of bloody Pacific island engagemnents. Two atomic bomb attacks and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria convined Emperor Hirohito to surrender (August 1945). General Douglas MacArthur as supreme commander of the U.S. occupation oversaw the political and social modernization of Japan. Under MacArthur Japan acquired a democratic constitutin, labor unioins were empowere, the franchise broadened, and women given equal rights. Japan also demilitarized. The American occupation ended (1952), but string security relatins remain to this day. Japan's postwar economic recovery, as in Germany, was remarkable. The Japanese threw the same energy that had been devoted to the military into technology and industrial manufacturing. Japan today is one of the most prosperous and productive in the world.




Korea is a peninsula streaching south from Manchuria toward Japan. This geography has in large measure determined the history of Korea. Large powers from Manchuria abd China to the north and Japan from the south have over time invaded abd dominated Korea. The ealiest Korean state may have been a Chinese colony--Kojoseon. Three Kingdoms developed on the penib=nsula and were eventually unified by Silla. The Three Kingdoms accepted Buddhism and with Buddhism came increased Chinese cultural influences. Wang Kon founded the Goryeo Dynasty (918). This was the derivation of the modern name Korea. The Goryeo Dynasty was suplanted by the Yi family which established the Joseon Dynasty (1392). The Yi set up a state structure based on the Confusian ideal. The Goryeo rulled for centuries, facing invasions from China, the Mongols, and the Japanese. Korea became a Chinese vassal state (17th century). It became known as the Hermit Kingdom. As the dominant military power in northeastern Asia, Japan was able to annexed and colonize Korea (1910). The Japan began a brutal attempt to extinguish Korean culture. Japanese authorities did not permit Koreans to speak their own language in public. The Japanese in the early colonial period did not expell Christian missionaries. Chistinity gradually became associate with resistance to Japanese domination. The Allies at the Cairo Conference committed to Korean indedendence (1943). Japan surrendered to the Allies ending the Pacific War (June 15, 1945). Soviet troops which had attacked the Japanese in Manchuria entered the Korean Peninsula from the north. Americans landed in the south. The country was divided into Soviet and American occupation zones at the 38th parallel. As in Germany, cooperation proved impossible. The North Koreans Army crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 to forcibly unify Korea. The Soviets had provided modern weapons in great quantity to the Noryth Koreans. Embolded by the Communist victory in China during 1948-49, Kim-il-Jong obtained Stalin's approval for the attack. President Truman ordered the United States military to support South Korea and obtained United Nations support.


The Lao people are believed to have begun to migrate into Southeast Asia from southern China (8th century AD). The first Laotian state was the Lan Xang kingdom (14th century). It split into three kingdoms (1713). The three kingdoms weakened by the split were overwealmed by the Thais. France ended Thai rule and established a proitectorate (1893) as part of Indochina. Nationalist movements developed in Indochina during the early 20th century. The Japanese occupied Indochina during World War II which fueld the growrth of the nationaslists movements. France reestablished control after the defeat of the Japanese (1946). King Luang Prabang was constitutional monarch of Laos during French rule. France granted semiautonomy (1949). As aresult of the growing iet Minh rebellion in Vietnam, France granted Laos independence within the French Union (1950). Prince Souphanouvong from Ciet Minh conrolled territory organized the Pathet Lao, a Communist guerrila force (1951). Pathet Lao forces invaded central Laos leading to a civil war. A temporary ceasefire resulted from the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and an ensuing armistice. The Pathet Lao were left in control of the two northern provinces (1955). The Royalists were left in controlm of the rest of Laos. The French transferred full sovereignty to the Laotian Kingdom as a result of the Paris Agreements of 1954. Prince Souvanna Phouma, the royal prime minister, and Pathet Lao leader Prince Souphanouvong, the prime minister's half-brother, agreed to a unified government (1957). Thd Pathet Lao were to participate in the govermnent and their forces were to integrateon into the Royal Lsotian Army. This agreement broke down and fighting resumed (1959). The struggle became more complicated when Gen. Phoumi Nosavan, who controlledmost of the Royal Army, supported a pro-Western revolutionary government headed by Prince Boun Oum in the south. General Phoumi took Vientiane (December 1960). Souvanna Phouma fled to Cambodia. The Soviet bloc supported Souvanna Phouma. Another cease-fire was arranged (1961). The three princes agreed to a coalition government headed by Souvanna Phouma. Laos' future was determined in large measure by the much larger Vietnamn War.


From prehistoric times, geography has played a key role in Malaysian history. Geography ditected the first wave of humans out of Africa following the coast of southern Asia down the Malasian Peninsula. These were same people that migrrated on to New Guinea and Australia and are the ancestors of modern Australian aboriginees. Traves of these original people were subsequently wiped out by a larger wave out of Africa which moved into the Middle East and Central Asia before populating China and Southeast Asia. The country's recorded history begins with tomb stones found in Bujang Valley and Merbok Valley in the state of Kedah (1st century BC). Geography has fashioned Malaysia as a maritime crossroad between East and West introducing cultural and religious ideas. Hindu influences reached Malaysia from India and Buddhist influences from China. Islamic influence reached Malaysia during the Melaka Sultanate spread by traders from both the Middle East and India (15th century). The Sultan of Melaka adopted Islam and played an inportant role in spreading the religion/. The Sultanate also helped expand trade ties with China. The Portuguese als guide by geography were the first Europeans to reach Malaysia. Seeking to dominate the spice trade, the Portuguese attacked the Sultanate (1511). The Portuguese introduced Catholic Christianity. to the locals. The Dutch seized Melaka (1641). The British who through the Industrial Revolution emerged as the dominate world naval power. They began to play an important rfole (late-18th century). The British founded crown colony states which became known as the Straits Settlements. They also interbened in the affairs of the small independent states bon the Peninsula. The British also competed with the Dutch on East Malaysia (Borneo). Sabah was made a British protectorate under the Chartered Company, British North Borneo. The Brooke family came to rule Sarawak as the so-called White Rajah for 100 years. The Japanese after Pearl Harbor landed on the Malay Penibnsula (December 1941). They shocked the world by moving south againsr inefectual British resistance and seized Singapore (February 1942). It was of considerable importance because so much of the world rubber supply came from Malaya. Malsysia and Singapore remained in Japanrese hanbds until the Japanese surrender to the Americans (August 1945). The British recoccupied Malaysia (September 1945), but their colonial; role was weakened by the War whicvh gave rise to a nationalist movement. The British defeated a Communist insurefency (1948). The British granted independence to the Malay States of Malaya (1957). Tunku Abdul Rahman became the country's first Prime Minister. Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined to form Malaysia (1963). Largely Chinese Singapore seceded and cdecided to go its own way (1965). Independence Malaysia has had five Prime Ministers namely, Tunku Abdul Rahman (known as Father of Independence), Tun Razak (Father of Development), Tun Hussein Onn (Father of Unity), Tun Dr Mahathir (1981- ) has been the the longest serving primeminister. The the current primemMinister is Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


The Maldives are an island group off the southern tip of Asia. There are nearly 1,200 islands, about 900 of ewhich are inhabited. The islands form a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented in a north-south direction. The Maldive isalands are situated on the trade routes between the Arab Middle East/western India and the to the east. Thus many different people settled on the islands over time. Arab domination of the sea routes resulted in the islands becoming Islamicized. The islands were an independent Islamic sultanate for most of its political existance (1153-1968). The British establish a protectorate (1887) although they did not meddle much in domestic affirs. Th British supressed the slave trade, although slavery was not totally eliminated. The British granted independence (1965). The country is notable as the last country to firmally ablolish slvery. Unlike other island groups off India, the Maldives did not become part of independent India (1947). The Maldives today are best known as a tourist delight with azure seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees. The economy which depended largely on fishing has been diversified with tourism.


Mongolia is located on the vast plains of central Asia. Warlike nomadic tribes frim central Asia have played amajor role in history, at times attacking west and at times attacking east toward China. It was pressure from nomadic tribes that deove the Germans toward the Roman Empire, eventually overrunning it. At times the nomads have focused on the riches of nearby China. The construction of the Greal Sall was a response to their depredations. Genghis Khan united the Mongol tribes (1205). Genghis from his Mongolian homeland conducted a series of military cmpaigns with built the largest empire in human history. Only his early demise prevented the Mongols from entering Western Europe. His descendents rulled China. China eventually threwoff Mongol rule. The Chinese seized Inner Mongolia (1635). And subsequently subgegated Outer Mongolia. As part of the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War which spilled into Siberia, Outer Mongolia broke away from China (1921). The Soviet-dominated Mongolian People's Republic was declared (1924). They never were formally annexed by the Soviet Union, but the government was controoled by the Soviets. The Chinese retained control of Inner-Mongolia. The Communists after the Revolution combined Inner Mongolia with Mongol areas of western Manchria and the former privince of Jehol to form the the Inner Mongolian Autinomous Region.


Burma on the Bay of Bengal east of India and Bangladesh is one of the principal Southeatern Asian countries. It was one of powers that competed for dominance in the region. The country is dominated by the Irrawaddy River rising in the eastern Hmilayas in the north. The Irrawaddy and its tributaries created a huge area suitable for rice agriculture. The Burmese moved south into the Irawwaddy Valley from Tibet (about the 8th century AD). Anawratha established Burmese dominance (11th bcentury). He also inroduced Hinayana Buddhism (11th century). Buddhism continues to be the principal religion to this day. The Mongols under Kublai Khan conquered Burma ending the dynasty (1287). The Shans rose to power as Mongol vassals and rules for three centuries. Burmese overthrough the Shan (1546) and Burmese dynasties seized control and riled until the arrival of the British. The British after establishing the Raj In neighboring India, colonized Burma piecemeal (19th century). This occured as a result of the Burma Wars. This began as a result of conflict between the Arakan Kingdome in western Burma and British-held Chittagong to the north. Burmese fiorces defeated the Kingdom of Arakan (1784-85). Burmese forces invaded India (1823). The British responded with a seaborne expedition of mostly Indian troops that took Rangoon with little resisance (1824). The Treaty of Yandabo formally ended the First Anglo-Burmese War (1826). It was a major battleground of World War II. The country was seized by the Japanese at the onset of the Asia/Pacific War (1942). This cut the Burma Road, seveing China's connection with the Allies. It became a major World War II battlefield and was finally retaken by the Allies (1944-45). Britain found it difficult to reimpose its authotity after the War. Burma achieved its independence (1948). Like many newly independent countries at the time, there was a general rejection of democracy and free market capitalis. Burma adopted many Soviet approaches ibxluding state socialism. The result is that Burma has gradually become one of the world's poorest countries. Burma under British rules was on of the most prosperous areas of Southeast Asia. Military rule including repression, mismanagement, and coruption have tuned the country into one of the poorest in the region. The country was ruled by General Ne Win engineered a coup (1962). Ne Win stepped down (1988). A civilian democracy movement called for an end to military rule. The military supressed the movement with considerable violence. Casualy estimates vary. The military nenamed the country Mynamar (1998). The military allowed democratic elections (1990). The National League for Democracy (NLD) won a resounding victory with over 80 percent of the legislative seats. The military refused, however, to cede power. NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spent many years in detention. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1991). The economy has continued to decline. International observers rate the military regime as one of the most corrupt in the world. Buddhist monks led protests (2007). The country continues to be ruled by a brutal military regime which has supressed a popular democracyb movement. As a result of coruption and incompetence, the military has reduced most Burmese to poverty.


Nepal is a small Himalayan country wedged between India and Tibet. Nepal because of its lack of coastline and high mountains, it has led an extremely isolated national life. The Nepalese are primarily Hindu with a Buddist minority and small numbers of Muslims. Nepal was dominated by the Gurka (18th century). The first treaty was signed withbthe British (1792). Nepal signed treaties with the British, but Nepal was never incorporated into the British Raj or colonized by the British. The British recruited Gurkas for military service. Nepal througout its history has never been conquered by an outside power. The British recognized the kingdom's full soverignity (1923). Actual power was in the hands of the Rama family from which premiers were chosen. A revolt resulted in shifting power to the formerly figurehead monarchy (1951). The King proclaimed a new constitution with a bicameral legislature which chose the premier.


Pakistan is a modern creation, one of the two succesor states to follow the British Raj (1947). Pakistn was formed as a Muslim state. The history of the Indus Valley and Islam on the sub-continent goes much further back. The Indus Valley is one of the great centers of civilization (2500–1700 BC). The Indus Valley was isolated by the Himalyas, but there were sea contacts with great Middle Eastern civilizations. Alexander's army entered the Indus Valley and it was here the Army forced Alexander to stop his conquests. A Helenistic influebnce was added to the areas cultural heritage. A series of foreign invaders-—Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Mogols, Arabs, Turks, and others—controlled the region for over a millenia. Islam was introduced (711) and competed with the majority Hindu religion. A Mongol people estanlished the Mogul Empire and many became Muslims, especially in thr north eastand west (modern Pakistan and Bangledash. The Mogols ruled most of the subcontinent (16th-17th century). With the arrival of he French and British, Mogol power was already declining. The British became the dominant power and after the failed Sepoy Revolt seized control of the administration of the sub-continent (1857). This period became known as the British Raj. The British built a modern infrastructure and an educational system which provided the leaders of the independence movement. Gradually an independence movenment dominated by the Congress Party developed. Congress included all elements of Indian society, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and others. Muslim elements in Congress were concerned about their minority status. This had several roots. Muslims had ruled India for centuries and were concerned about life in a majority Hindu state. Islam is a religion that evolved in socities where Muslims controlled political power. In addition. conversion to Islam had been most successful among lower-class Indians who faced descrimination in an India governed by caste-conscious Hindus. This dymamic led to the formation of the nationalist Muslim League by Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1906). The independence movement let by Ghandi put increased pressure on British authorities. The rising influence of the Labour Party in Britain pushed self rule and eventual independence. The Muslim League supported Britain in World War II. Conress under Nehru and Gandhi while refusing to rise against the British, refused to support the British war effort. After World War II, Britin decided to grant India independence. Congress wanted a united Indi--all of the former Raj. Jinnah and the Muslim League demanded a separate state. Eventually to avoid comunal rioting Cngress acquiesed in partition along religious lines (August 1947). Jinnah was appointed governor-general. The partition of Pakistan and India along religious lines resulted in the greatest mass-migration in human history, involving 17 million people and unfortunally the communal violence Congress had hoped to avoid. And a series of wars between India and Pakistn over Khasmir followed (1949, 1965, 1971, and 1999). Pakistan declared a republic with Maj. Gen. Iskander Mirza as the first president. This began an era of military rule, in part because of the on-going military confrointation with India. Military rule prevailed for the next two decades. Tensions between East and West Pakistan existed from the creation of Pakistan ad finally outset and finally Begali nationalists declared independence (1971). Limited representative government was restored (1988). Bhutto's daughter and long-time Zia opponent, Benazir Bhutto, became Pakistans prime minister, a novely in a Muslim state. Political instability followed, in pat because of the rising influence of Islamic fundamnentalists. Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized control and formed another military government (1999). Pakistan today is increasingly seen as a failed state with rising levels of violence and abject poverty. The poverty and failed economy of Pakistan stands in sharp contrast to the rapidly expanding economy of modern India which has embraced democracy, plurlism, free market, and the rle of law. Islamic fundamentalists in defiance of the obvious evidence claim that Pakistan's failure is the result of insufficent devotion to Islam and this appears to resonate with many young Pakistanis.


Sikkim was a small Himilayan kingdom, but no longer exists as an independent country. It is bordered by Tibet, Nepal, Butan, and India. Archeologists have found evidence of three tribes (Naong, Chang and the Mon) living in what is now Sikkim. They were later conquered and assimilated by the Lepcha. China for centuries was the nominal suzerain. Guru Tashi, a Tibetian prince of the Minyak Dynasty entered Sikkim from the Kham district of Tibet. He founded the Namgyal (Chogyal) Monarchy. The Chogyal, meaning king or divine ruler, were the country's absolute rulers (1642-1975). This was similar to Bhutan where a related dynasty ruled. The modern history of Sikkim has been dominated by efforts by neighboring Nepal to conquer and absorb Sikkim. This began with border raids and was followed by actual invasion and territorial seizures. During the reign of Tenzing Namgyal (sixth Chogyal), Nepal invaded and occupied substantial areas of Sikkim (18th century). When the Nepali reached Rabdanste, the Chogyal fled north to Tibet seeking Chinese protection. The eboldened Nepali next began attacking areas in Tibet proper. This caused the Chinese to intervene, defeating the invading Nepali forces, but not occupying Napal. The resulting Sino-Nepal treaty resulted in the loss of small aeeas, but restored the Chogyal to the throne (1793). Tenzing Namgyal died in Lasha, Tibet, but his son Tsudphud Namgyal was sent to Sikkim and enthroned as Chogyal. While the Nepali subsequently refrained from attacking Tibet to the north, they continued attacks on India and Neal to the south and deast. By this timec India was largely controlled by the British East India Company. The British seeking to stabilize the situation along the northern border, cultivated relations with Sikkim. And the Chogyal saw the British as needed support against the Nepali Gorkhas. The British defeated the Nepali in the Anglo-Nepalese War fought at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe (1814-16). The Treaty of Sigauli broughpeace to the northern border. The British restored lost territory to Sikkim in the Treaty of Titalia. Sikkim became a British protectorate (1890). When India granted independence to India (1947), Sikkim unlike most of the princly states became independent. The Kingdom turned over responsibility for defense, foreign relations, and communications to India (1950). Magharaja Gyalsay Palden Thondup Nangyal became Chogyal (1965). He married an American, Hope Cook (1963). Sikkim because if the growing unpopularity of the monarchy voted to abrogated it and join India (1975). It is now the second smallest Indian state.


Archeologists differ as to when humans first reached the Malaysian peninsula and the island of Singapore (2500-1500 BC). Settlement wss similar to the wider Indonesia archipelago. The area was largely Ilamicized when the Europeans arrived. The European interest was generally focused on the spice trade. The Dutch abnd British were both inteeted. Sir Stamford Raffles established a trading post at Singapore, drawn by the natural anchorage (1819). Singapore was associated with British Malaya whivh had a complicated structure. It was a major British bastion in the Far East during Wirkd war II, Only weeks after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese seized Singapore which became a major Japanese naval base (1942). The British made it a separate Crown colony when the colony of the Straits Settlements was dissolved (1946). The other two British colonies on the peninsula (Penang and Malacca) were combined to become the Union of Malaya. The small island of Labuan was transferred to North Borneo. The Cocos (or Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island were transferred to Australia (1955 and 1958). Britain granted Singapore full internal self-government (1959). Lee Kwan Yew became the first prime minister and governed the new country with a strong hand. Singapore joined Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia (1963). It decided to withdraw from the Federation (1965). It then proclaimed itself an independent republic (1965). Singapore largeky Chinese and Christian population did not make a good fit with its largely Muslim neighbors. Under Lee's authoritarian rule, Singapore developed into one of the cleanest and most prosperous cities in Asia. Lee's strong-man rule and restrictions on civil libertirs and been criticised. S.R. Nathan was declared president without an election (199). He was the only candidate certified to run. , Lee Hsien Loong became the Singapore's third prime minister (2004). Lee People's Action Party (PAP) won almost all the parlimentary seats (2006).

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan recorded history, called the Mahavamsa or “Great History” began with the arrival of the Aryan Prince Vijaya who conquered the indigenous people (543 BC). He established the first Sinhalese kingdom. The next era was the early-Anuradhapura period (about 250 BC). King Devanampiya Tissa was the first ruler in the dynasty. It was during this period that a sapling of the Lord Buddha's sacred Bo Tree reached Sri Lanka. It was under this tree that the Lord Budda attained enlightenment. Anuradhapura became a major Buddhist center. King Kasyapa is associated with the late-Anuradhapura Period (459- ). He oversaw the construction of Sigiriya. The next period was the Polonnaruwa. The capital was moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa (1073). Three kingdomes became established. The Portugues and the Dutch which followed them defeated the coastal kingdomes, but were unable to successfully penetrate the inland kingdom of Kandy. The spices of the island were a powerful attraction. The British seized the island from the Dutch after the outbreak of the French Revolutuon (1796). It was the British who finally defeated Kandy. The British developed plantations, but Sinhalese resisted wirking on the plantations. The British imported more compliant workers from south India. Many Sinhalese peasants were unable to compete with the plantatioins and lost their land. The indpendence movement grew in strength following World war I. Brirain granted indeoendence as a dominion within the Commonwealth (1948).


Since the spectacular voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He) in the 15th century, China showed little interest in the sea. This extended even to Taiwan whuch became know as Formosa during the Portuguese period. The Chinese made no effort to interfere with the piracy that developed from the island in the 19th century. Mariners from many countries (American, Btitain, French, Japanese, and others) complained to the Imperial government they received no satisfaction (1870s). The Manchu Emperor told them that "Taiwan is beyond our territory." The French launched an expedition to attack the pirates and occupied much of the norther part of the island (1884-85). Only with the rise of Japanese power did the Imperial Government begin to take an interest. The Emperor declared Taiwan to be a "province" of the Empire (1887). The First Sino-Japanese War was fought in part over Taiwan (1895). The Imperial Government in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceded Taiwan to Japan in perpetuity. The Taiwanese with some Manchu support declared independence (May 25, 1895). Yje Japanese landed 12,000 soldiers in the north (May 29). The Taiwanese firces were crushed and and Japan quickly seized control of their new possession. Japanese forces entered Tainan in the south (October 21). The Japanese occupation regime was was harsh. Unlike the Manchus, however, they were not corrupt. They supressed piracy. They founded a modern educational system. Classes were taught in Japanese. The Japanese made important investments in infrastructure, communications, trains, roads, and industry. [Kerr] The Japanese remained firmly in control of Taiwan throughout World war II. The Allies at the Cairo Conference accepted Chiang Kai-shek's request that Taiwan be "returned to China." American planners considered an invasion of the island, but the Philippines and Okinawa were selected instead. The Allies agreed to allow that Chiang's troops to "temporarily occupy Taiwan, on behalf of the Allied forces." The Taiwanese welcomed the Chinese troops, glad to be finally rid of the Japanese. The Taiwanese whole finding the Chinese at first to be less brutal than the Japanese, found the Chinese to be repressive and corrupt. A series of incidents occurred. An incident in Taipei led to a massive demonstration (February 28, 1947). Chinese authorities were surprised and brought in additional troops from China. Taiwanese leaders, students, professionals, and community leades were arrested. Large numbers were executed. Some reports suggest that about 28,000 people were killed. Scholars describe what follows as the White Terror and thousands more were arrested and tortured and many executed by the Taiwan Garrison Command. The Kuomintang (KMT) was defeated by the Communists in the Civil War on the Mainland (1949). Chiang Kai-shek withdrew to Taiwan where he declared martial Law. This was necessary in part because the Chinese population that escaped to Taiwan was only about 15 percent of the populatiojn. There he was protected by the American 6th Fleet. Taiwan thus became a flash point in the Cold war. Martial Law and dictatorial KMT rule continued for four decades. The islands of Quemoy and Matsu were an issue in the 1960 presidential election. The KMT maintained the fiction that Nationalist China was the legitimate government of China and some day they would recover the Mainland. . The Allies and Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty ending World War II. Japan ceded Taiwan in the Treaty, but the future id the island was left up to the United Nations. While the KNT tightly controlled Taiwan politically, the island made considrable economic progress, becoming one of the Asian Tigers. Here the educated population and infrastructure left by the Japanese were an importnt factor. Nixon and Kissinger made their "opening" to China (1971). Beijing was awarded Taiwan's seat in the United Nations. The United States and China agreed to the Shanghai Communiqué (1972). The Communique is the basis for the United States "One China" policy.


Tajikistan is one of the new independent countries that emerged from the disolution of the Soviet Union in 1992. Modern Tajikistan was created was created as an autonomous Soviet republic in 1924. The Tajik people are considered by ethnologists to have descended from the Aryan aboriginies of Turkestan and are related to Persians. Most are Sunite muslems. The country is situated on the high Pamir plateau north of the Hindu Kush mountains and west of the Sarikol mountain range. During the Soviet era Tajikistan was a major supplier of cotton, but Soviet-style agriculture has done considerable ecological damage. Other crops include fruit, cereal grains, and sugar cane. There is also is also coal, lead zinc, and uranium mining as well as petroleum explitation. Until World War II, Tajikistan was a largely agraian region, but there has since been considerable industrialization. The modern capital Dushanbe did not exist as the capital of Tajikistan in the late 19th Century. The city only grew in the 1920s when it became the center of the Soviet administration of the region. It replaced the Ancient city of Hissor, which until then had been the regions capital city when what is now Tajikistan was part of the Sultanship of Bakara.


The Thais first began appeared in the area of modern Thiland (6th century). Thais and Kymers have left ancient walled cities and elaborate temples. The Thais dominated the westen area (13th century). The Chinese Mongol Court referred to the newly formed city state of Ayutthaya as “Hsien” which was pronounced something like Sayam / Siam -- this was the origins of the country's name until Thiland was afopted. The Thais fought wars with the Cambodians in the east and and the Burmese in the west. After the British established the Raj in India, the Europeans (Britain France, and the Netherlands) began colonizing Southeast Asia. Thailand was the only country that was able to avoid foreign colonial control. The British seized control of Burma (1824). The French seized control of Cambodia and Vietnam (1887). An Anglo-French accord guaranteed the independence of Thailand (1896). A military coup seized control from the monarchy became a figurehead and established representative government based on universal suffrage (1932). The military susequently seized effective control. Thailand during World War II joined the Axis. After Pearl Harbor, the Thais under Japanese pressure declared war on America and Britain (1942). The Thais allowed the Japanese in Indo-China (Vietnam) to pass through the country unimoeded to attack the British in Burma (1941). As the British were retaking Burma, the pro-Japanese Thai government fell and the new government repudiated the declaration of war. The Thais were concerned about Communist subversion after the Communist victory in China (1948) and North Vietnam (1953). They supported U,S, efforts to prevent a Communist takeover of South Viertnam and Cambodia. The United States supported Thasiland with $2 billion in economic and military aid. The Thais committed troops to South Vietnam andc allowed American bombing raids from bases in Thailand. The American withdrawl from Vietnam (1973) and subsequent collapse of South Vietnam and Cambodia (1975) forced the Thais to reorient their foreign policy. The United States withdrew its military forces (1976). Thailand now faces Muslim terror attacks in the southeast.


Tibet is a mountenous country which as result is one of the most isolated countries on earth. The population is largelybMongol in origin. Tibet flourish for some time as an independent kingdom. The religion is Lamaism which evolved in the 8th century AD from Mahayana Buddism originating in India. The Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama became the titualr heads of government. Isolated from the rest of the world, Tibet retained a pastoral way of life, unaffected by modern developments. China invaded Tibet (1720). Chinese control was largely titular. Tibet declared its independence afer China declared a republic (1913). The new Tibetian Government transferred territory to British India, The 13th Dalai Lama died (1933). China renewed its claim of soverignity, but had little means to establish more than nominal control. After the Communists seized control of China (1949) they invaded Tibet (1950). The Chinese built the first highway to Tibet, linking western Tibet with Sinkiang Privince. The Communists pursued land reforms and curtailed religious freedom, restricting the authority of monastic order, resuktung in a major rebellion (1959). The Chinese supressed the rebellion and the Dali Lama escaoed to India. The Chinese installed the Panchen Lama as a puppet ruler. The Chinese initiated attacks aling the Tibetian-Indian border (1962). The goal was to regain the territory that had been transferred to India.


Turkmenistan is one of the new central Asian countries created from the Soviet Union (1992). As a Soviet republic, it was often referred to as Turkmen or Turmenistan. During the Tsarist era it was often called the Transcaspian region or area beyond the Caspian Sea. Modern Turmenistan borders on the Caspian Sea. Iran, Afghanistan and Russia and Uzbeckistan on the north. Turkestan" (or Turkistan) and "Turkmenistan" are not synonymous in modern usage. Turkmenistan is the modern country and the the name of the former Soviet republic that became independent in 1992. Soviet usage, hoiwever, varied. Turkestan is most commonly used to describe the central Asian territories, peopled by a majority of Turkic-speaking peoples. It corresponds to the region formed by southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. The famed Silk Road passed through the area. Portions of Turkmenistan formed the Mariana Province of Ancient Persia. The area was ruled by the Arabs and became largely Islamicized (8-9th century). It then was conquered by Khorezm. The area fell to the Mongols (13th century), the Uzbecks (15th century), amd the Khana of Khica (about 1800 AD). The Russian conquuered the area as part of the Great Game as it pushed south at the expense of the Ottoman Empire and the the states of central Asia (1865-95). Large areas until ythe Soviet era were vert traditional, largely unchanged for centuries. After the Russian Civil War, Turistan became a constituent republic of the Soviet Union (1924). The Soviets launched an athesist campaign in this heavily Muslim area.


Famed Samarkand was captured by Aleander the Great (4th century BC). Modern Uzbekistan is the location of ancient Sogdiana. The Arabs conquered the area (712 AD). Samarkhand becoming an Islamic center of learning. Samarkand was almost destroyed by Genghis Kahn and the Mongols (1219). Samarkand became the capital of Timur's kingdom and his tomb is located there. Samarkand became an important commercial, intellectual, and spiritual center on the Silk Road from Europe to China. The Uzbeks, a remanent of the Golden Horde, seized control (16th century). Subsequently the area broke up into separate principalities (Khiva, Korkand, and Bukhara). All of West Turkestan was incorporated into Tsarist Russian hands (1875-76). The Soviets after the Revolution and Civil War seized control and established Uzbekistan as a constituent republic. Samarkhand, once the capital, became simply a principal city of the Soviet Uzbek Republic. The capital was established at Tashkent. There was a European and native section.


China has a long history in southern Asia. The Vietnamese history is much more recent. The Vienamnese are first noted at about the sanme time Akexander is carving out his empire in the West. They were a group of scattered tribes with cultural similarities, but no centralized political organization. They were first noted in southern China and what is now northern Vietnam. There is no recorded history to explain this early era, but there are legendary figures. Shadowy ancient kings susposedly ruled over Van Lang for thousands of years. One of these kings reportedly founded the small kingdom of Au Lac, in the Red River valley. This was suposedly the first Vietnamese political entity. There is no historical data to substantiate these legends. Whike the Vietnamese were pre-literate during this period, the Chinese were nit abd there is little in the voluminous Chinese historical record to shed light on early Vietnmese history. There is, however, archaeological evidence. The Red River Delta appears to have been a cultural hotspot. People there may have been among the first people of East Asia to develop agriculture. Archaeologists report a fairly advanced Bronze Age civilization in the Red River Delt (1st cebtury BC). What follows is competition often resultingvin war with the Han Chinese to the notth and the This and Kymers to the west. Over time the Chinese drove the Vietnamese south and the Vuetnamese spread south into southern Vietnam and the Mekong Delta. The Vietnamese primarily remained along the coast and the two important river valleys. The British moved into Southest Asia from India, including Burma and Mlaya to the west ad south and Jong Kong to the north. It was the the French who showed an interest in Vietnanm and the surrounding states. first French intervention in Southeast Asia w Cambodia which asked for protectiin from the Thais. The French victory in the Sino-French war (1884-85) opened the way to seize control of Vietnam. France seized control over northern Vietnam and formed Indochina (October 1887) from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia. The French added Laos to Indichina after the Franco-Siamese War. We do not yet have a history page on Vietnam. We do have a page on Assam/Vietnam royalty. There is a page on the Vietnam War.


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Created: 11:55 PM 10/7/2007
Last updated: 6:43 AM 3/15/2017