Southeast Asia

Pagan Kingdom

This empire was located in the fertile Irrawaddy River valley. This was an ideal location for rice farming. The first king was Anawratha. He conquered the surrounding areas. His conquests provided access to trading ports. The kingdom prospered from trade. He supported Theravada Buddhism. He and his successors built thousands of temples. Pagan became the center for Buddhism.

Khmer Empire

The Khmer Empire controlled most of the Southeast mainland. The rulers had adopted Hindu and Buddhism. The capital city Angkor was designed in the shape of the Hindu Universe. The most famous temple they built was known as Angkor Wat. It featured walls surrounding a temple with towers. Hindu myths were inscribed on the walls. They also had a astronomical observatory in the highest tower in the temple. They developed a sophisticated irrigation system which allowed them grow much more rice. As a result, they had more money to fund building. They pricy building projects and invaders resulted in bringing an end to this empire.

Trading Kingdoms

Several empires arose in islands south of the main land, but on the island of Java, the kingdom of Sailendra prospered. The people on the island relied on trade and agriculture. They adopted Mahayana Buddhism. They modeled art and architecture after it. One of their most famous architecture pieces was the  Buddhist monument at Borobudur. The monument has nine levels that symbolize the stages of the Buddhist spiritual journey. The Srivijaya were on the island of Sumatra. It was a very wealthy empire due having control of overseas traders through the Malacca and Sunda straits. They adopted Hinduism and Buddhism and blended them with their own beliefs. Their capital in Palembang on Sumatra was a Buddhist center for learning. An Indian kingdom attacked them. This severely weakened them and other kingdoms grew in power, this hurt their trade. A Muslim kingdom came and dominated trade. This cause the Srivijaya to dwindle.


Vietnam was strongly influenced by China. They were under the rule of the Han on and off for around 1000 years. They had many aspects of Chinese culture. They forced them to learn and adopt Chinese language and culture. They also had influences of Daoism and Confucianism. They also had used Chinese government  system, like bureaucracy and a civil service system. Despite all of these influence, they still kept many Vietnamese traditions. On several occasions the Vietnamese rebelled when the Chinese were weak. One of the most famous rebellions involved two sisters Trung Trac and Trung Nhi. They briefly drove out the Chinese. The Chinese soon regained control and the sister committed suicide. Their rebellion succeeded at the fall of the Tang Dynasty. They established the capital in Dai Viet. They held of later Chinese invasions. The Mongols also invaded but were defeated. The Vietnamese remained independent after that.