South-East Asia is a region with a mix of cultural entities but significant similarities in respect of ethnic and religious distribution. These are points which the first section of this chapter illustrates by means of pen-pictures of the countries in the region. These countries span westward to the Indian Ocean and eastward to the Pacific; they thrive on international trade in primary products such as timber, rubber, palm oil, cocoa, tin and petroleum; they have long been a focal point for traders of East and West; and they have a history of conquest, having been colonised by nations such as Portugal, The Netherlands, Britain, France, Spain and Japan.