15.7 Southeast Asia and the Pacific

By the mid-1800s, leaders throughout Southeast Asia faced the growing threat of Western imperialism. Before long, Western industrial powers divided up the region in their race for raw materials, new markets, and Christian converts.

Illustration of native and westerners walking about a palm tree-lined area.

The headquarters of the Dutch East India Company was called Batavia Castle. It was located in present-day Jakarta. The East India Company built trading and military bases throughout the Spice Islands.


  • Describe how Europe and the United States built colonies in Southeast Asia.
  • Explain how imperialism spread to the islands of the Pacific.
  • Analyze how Australia and New Zealand achieved self-rule.

Key Terms

  • French Indochina
  • Mongkut
  • Spanish-American War
  • Liliuokalani
  • indigenous
  • penal colony
  • Maori

European Imperialism in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia commands the sea lanes between India and China. The region had long been influenced by both civilizations. In the 1500s and 1600s, European merchants gained footholds in Southeast Asia, but most of the peoples of the region remained independent.

When the Industrial Revolution set off the Age of Imperialism, the situation changed. Western powers, especially the Dutch, British, and French, used modern armies and technology to colonize much of Southeast Asia.

The Dutch East Indies

In the 1600s, the Dutch East India Company gained control of the fabled riches of the Moluccas, or Spice Islands. The Dutch then reached out to dominate the rest of the East Indies—what is now Indonesia. The region included larger islands, such as Java, Sumatra, and Borneo, as well as many smaller islands.

By 1800, the Dutch government had taken over these areas from the Dutch East India Company. During the next century, the Dutch faced uprisings, but they gradually extended their control. Like other imperialist powers, the Dutch expected their Southeast Asia colonies to produce profitable crops of coffee, indigo, and spices.

End ofPage 626

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments