Saturday, June 9, 2012

Countries of Southeast Asia - Part 2

This group of middle to small population countries of Southeast Asia contains three countries scarred by war and lack of freedoms. Malaysia stands out as the only democratic country, although it has laws discriminating some of its minorities. Interestingly, Malaysia is also the only country in this group with a Muslim majority and the only one with GDP per capita bigger than some European Union countries. The rest are predominantly Buddhist and very poor.

Burma (Myanmar). Population: 60 million.
Area: 680,000 km2.
Capital: Naypyidaw.
Official language: Burmese. 111 languages spoken.
Religion: 89% Buddhist, 5% Christian, 3% Muslim.
GDP per capita in PPP: 1,300 USD.
Currency: kyat.
Democratic? Not yet.
Myanmar has been in a state of civil war since gaining independence in 1948.

Malaysia. Population: 28 million.
Area: 330,000 km2.
Capital: Kuala Lumpur.
Official language: Malaysian. 137 languages spoken.
Religion: 61% Muslim, 20% Buddhist, 9% Christian, 6% Hindu.
GDP per capita in PPP: 15,600 USD.
Currency: ringgit.
Democratic? Yes.
The Malaysian king is elected for a 5 year term from the 9 hereditary rulers of Malay states.

Cambodia. Population: 14 million.
Area: 180,000 km2.
Capital: Phnom Penh.
Official language: Khmer. 23 languages spoken.
Religion: 96% Buddhist, 2% Muslim, 1% Christian.
GDP per capita in PPP: 2,500 USD.
Currency: riel.
Democratic? No.
Cambodia is infamous for the Khmer Rouge terror led by Pol Pot, which killed 1/5 of the population.

Laos. Population: 6 million.
Area: 240,000 km2.
Capital: Vientiane.
Official language: Lao. 84 languages spoken.
Religion: 67% Buddhist.
GDP per capita in PPP: 2,700 USD.
Currency: kip.
Democratic? No.
According to this shocking article in The Guardian, between 1964 and 1973 US bombers dropped more ordnance on Laos than was dropped during the whole of the second world war.

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