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It then spread into Southeast Asia via Bay of Bengal, Indochina, then Malay Archipelago, leading to thousands of Shiva temples on the islands of Indonesia as well as Cambodia and Vietnam, co-evolving with Buddhism in the region.

Papua New Guinea has stated that it might join ASEAN, and is currently an observer.

Sovereignty issues exist over some territories in the South China Sea.

In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions: The region lies near the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic and volcanic activities.

Most Southeast Asian people were originally animist, engaged in ancestors, nature, and spirits worship.

They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BC, and as they spread through the archipelago, they often settled along coastal areas and confined indigenous peoples such as Orang Asli of peninsular Malaysia, Negritos of the Philippines or Papuans of New Guinea to inland regions.

Studies presented by HUGO (Human Genome Organization) through genetic studies of the various peoples of Asia, empirically points out that instead of the other way around, another migration from the south (Indonesia) first entered mainland Southeast Asia and then travelled slowly northwards to the Philippines and China.

Its total population is more than 641 million, about 8.5% of world's population.