Asia: a Regional and Economic Geography

Asia: a Regional and Economic Geography

Asia: a Regional and Economic Geography

Asia: a Regional and Economic Geography

Excerpt

It is now more than a quarter of a century since the SYSTEMation of the first edition of this book in 1929. In the intervening years it is probably true to say that in no other continent has the world picture changed so fundamentally as in Asia. Those European powers which in 1929 controlled a quarter of Asia's area and a third of Asia's people have handed over the mantle of government to Asia's own leaders. The mandated areas of Syria and Palestine have become the Republics of Syria, Lebanon and Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of the Jordan; the erstwhile Indian Empire is now the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; the former province of Burma is now an independent republic; the Dutch East Indies have been succeeded over most of the territory by the Indonesian Republic. The United States' possession of the Philippines, taken over from Spain after the war of 1898, is now the independent Commonwealth of the Philippines, and French Indo-China has given place to a welter of states. In the years since 1929 the Japanese Empire had a brief period of expansion to become a Greater East Asian Empire, only to be reduced to a core corresponding to Japan proper of old. China, but newly a republic, has passed through the phase of Japanese dominance, and the terror of civil war, to become a communist state and ally of Soviet Russia. Korea, from Japanese dominance, became the first battle-ground of United Nations' forces, only to be divided by a troubled peace. Last, but not least, is the upsurge of national consciousness throughout all the countries of the continent.

It is scarcely surprising that the first edition of this book reads rather as an historic document. The basic facts of physical geography--of structure, relief, climate, soils and vegetation--remain unchanged but vastly more fully studied and better understood than in the past. Where no literature formerly existed much research, albeit of varying quality, has now been published and authoritative regional studies have been made.

When first I went to Burma in 1921 it was to explore for oil and other minerals. I travelled there leisurely by sea; I took my portable gramophone to districts where European music never before had been heard. When I revisited my old haunts seventeen years later, radio had brought the whole world into instantaneous contact. When again I went to India on the eve of independence I stepped out of the plane on Indian soil within thirty-six hours . . .

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