Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia includes Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and the islands between mainland Asia and Australia. The prehistoric culture of Southeast Asia was largely animistic ancestor and spirit worship before contact with India introduced Hinduism and Buddhism to most areas in the 1st century AD except in remote areas and in Vietnam where domination by Chinese culture forbade the adoption of Buddhism. Similarly China extended influence over some areas of ancient Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam which it totally dominated for much of its history forming a somewhat syncretic bridge between China and Southeast Asia, especially during periods of lessening cultural domination. Empires such as the Khmer empire took Indian influence and diverged to develop an independent native style as exemplified by the sculpture at Angkor Wat.