Macro-cultural regions refer to vast regions covering a group of countries forming certain territorial units. The regions tend to have a certain level of mutual interdependence and they also share a lot of geographical experiences. In Asia, there are four major macro-cultural regions namely Islamic, Indic, Sino-Japanese, and South East Asia. The globe has been divided into these regions according to the major cultures of people in the specific regions. During the formation of these regions, in some instances, residents of different regions had to fight to defend their cultures and faith. One of those wars was the Sino-Japanese War which was won by the Chinese. Consequently, the Japanese were driven out of mainland China. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki by Japan and China.
Islam is a macro-cultural group that constitutes several countries in Asia. Muhammad founded the Islam religion in Asia in the 7th century. Medina and Mecca of Saudi Arabia are regarded as the cultural hearth of the Islamic culture since this is where it all began. In fact, statistics shows that 62% of the Muslims in the world live in Asia. Today, Islam has spread to several places in the Middle East, North Africa, and other regions in the world. It is one of the world’s largest macro-cultural regions. Trends now show that the Islamic culture is growing at a very high rate and has begun dominating the sub-Saharan region.
The spread of Islam is often attributed to trade routes, especially those connecting West Asia and China. The main Asian language spoken in the Islamic region is Arabic which has its origin in North Africa. There’s a condition that the Muslims must have knowledge of the Arabic language. However, Arabic is not the only language that the Muslims speak. Countries which contain the highest number of Muslims are India, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan.
The Indic macro-culture is sometimes referred to as the Indian continent or South Asia. Most people who live in this area are found between the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and the Arakanese which are located north, west, and east of Asia. Politically, the area includes Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Maldives. The Indic macro-culture covers 4.4 million km2 and had a population of 1.710 billion in 2015.
The Indic languages are spoken here. These languages include Hindi, Panjabi, and Bengali. There is another related language spoken in the region known as Sanskirt. However, it is linguistically significant from the others according to linguists. The major religions in the Indic religion are Hindu and Islam. The population of the Hindu is overwhelmingly big and then the second largest religion is Muslims. There are patches of Buddhism in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Sino is a Latin word that is used to refer to China. Sino-Japanese basically means a culture that comprises the Japanese and Chinese way of life. The Sino-Japanese Region is also referred to as Eastern Asiatic or Temperate Eastern Region. The area is covered by beautiful natural flora. It is dominated by a temperate habitat which has woody plants and gymnosperms.The Sino-Japanese region is divided into 13 provinces namely Ryukyu, Taiwanese, Sakhalin-Hokkaido, Volcanic-Bonin, Manchurian, Northern Chinese, Japan-Korean, Khasi-Manipur, Sikang-Yuennan, Northern Burmese, Central Chinese, Southeastern Chinese, and Eastern Himalayan. However, these subdivisions of the Sino-Japanese region are disputed in Takhtajan’s work. Regions that border this region are Circumboreal Region, Irano-Turanian, and the Indian, Indochinese and Malesian Regions.
The languages that dominate this region are the Mandarin languages. The Japanese, for instance, have a different language from the Chinese. But the written form of the language is derived from Chinese since they use the Chinese alphabet. There exists a Sino-Japanese vocabulary which possesses Japanese words that were borrowed from the Chinese. Religions that are common in the Sino-Japanese region are Buddhism and the ethnic religions. Some of the ethnic religions include Taoism and Confucianism.
1. Southeast Asia
The Southeast Asia macro-cultural region lies within the Southern Hemisphere. The area consists of two main geographic areas called Mainland Southeast Asia (Indochina) and Maritime Southeast Asia (Malay Archipelago and East Indies). The Mainland Southeast Asia comprises of Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, West Malaysia, Thailand, and Laos. On the other hand, Maritime Southeast Asia consists of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, Singapore, Nicobar Islands, Brunei, Philippines, Andaman, and East Malaysia.
The Southeast Asia region covers an area of 4,493,944 km2. In 2016, its population was estimated as 636,471,439 people. Inhabitants of this region speak a group of languages simply referred to as Southeast Asian Family. Some of the languages in this family include Sino-Tibetan, Austro-Asiatic, and Austronesian. Other languages spoken in the region include Burmese, English, Lao, Filipino, Khmer, Tamil, Tetum, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Indonesian. The Southeast Asia languages are highly associated with sub-cultures within the region. The major religions subscribed to by the inhabitants of the region are Buddhism and Islam. However, many citizens of Philippines are Christians of the Catholic denomination.
Southeast Asia is one of the most fragmented regions of the world. This is majorly attributed to its geographical appearance and the fact that the countries are not connected to each other. Most of them are islands and peninsulas. Hence, their geographic structures hinder unity and the ability to have a common trend of religion or language. The region is bordered by Bay of Bengal and South Asia to the west, Australia and the Indian Ocean to the south, the Pacific Ocean and Oceania to the east, and finally East Asia to the north.
Hence the Indic, Sino-Japanese, Islamic, and Southeastern Asia are the macro-cultural regions of Asia. Sino-Japanese people exhibit both Chinese and Japanese cultures. The Islamic region is made up of Muslim dominated countries while the Indic region is full of Indians. Then, the Southeastern Asians speak Mandarin languages. The regions divide Asia into four major regions depending on the major language, religion, or culture.
What are the Macro-Cultural Regions of Asia?
The four macro-regions of Asia are defined as: Islam, Indic, Sino-Japanese, and Southeast Asia.
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