THE COUNTRIES OF EASTERN ASIA 501. is the big peninsula between the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea. This big region is a land of brown men. The eastern part be longs to France; the western part is Burma, which, you have already learned, belongs to England; and the central part is the independent kingdom of Siam. These countries have heavy rains in summer.
Much of the land is hilly and mountainous, with large rivers flowing down from Tibet, the same ones we crossed on our hard, cold journey over the roof of the world.
Most of the country of Indo-China is covered with forests, from which the people send us teak timber, a wood much used in making the decks of steamships.
Most of the people of these three coun tries make their living as farmers, much as the people of India do. The chief export of all these countries is rice. It is grown in the swampy lands along the streams, and floated down in little boats to the ports of Rangoon in Burma, Bangkok in Siam, and Saigon in French Indo-China. It is then sent by shiploads to Japan, Australia, Africa, and Europe.
502. Malay the southern end of Indo-China is the Malay peninsula, with the English colony called the Straits Settlements at its southern end. The city of Singapore, on an island at the tip end of the Malay peninsula, is a great trading center for ships that come from other parts of the world to Siam, the Philippines, the East India Islands, China, and Japan. Singaporg is also a great coal ing station for ships going from England to China. Other coaling stations on this route are Colombo in Ceylon, Aden in Arabia, Suez, and Gibraltar. All of these
coaling stations are parts of the British Empire.
503. East Indian many islands lying south and east of Indo-China are called the East Indies. To the north of them lie the Philippines which, you remember (Sec. 260), belong to the United States. The Netherlands claim most of the East Indies, all the way from Sumatra in the west to New Guinea in the east.
There are many interesting tribes in these islands, one of which is the tribe of Dyaks. They live in Borneo, and have houses big enough to hold thirty or forty families.
Travelers tell us that the Dyaks get along with much less quarreling than we would if we lived so close together.
Another of the East India islands is Java (Sec. 254), which is very full of pepple.
It has more people than all of Asia west of Afghanistan, more people than all of the United States west of the Mississippi River. The Dutch rule in Java. The rich plains are dotted with villages, like the valley of the Ganges River in India, the valley of the Yangtze in China, or the lowlands of Japan. You remember (Sec. 254) that the people of Java sell us sugar. They also send us an important medicine, qui nine, which is made from the bark of a tree that grows on the hillsides of Java. (Fig. 476).
The East Indies produce nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and other spices. They were the first articles of trade that came from these islands. It was to find a new way to the land of spices that Columbus made his great journey.