Things to know about the 10-nation ASEAN

Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia  — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Sunday signed a landmark declaration creating an ASEAN Community. Key things to know about this diverse region, consisting of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


POPULATION: 630 million people, accounting for almost 9 percent of the world's total population. The region is more populous than the European Union which has 500 million and North America with 444 million people. Largest member Indonesia has a population of 246 million, being the fourth populous country in the world. The smallest member, Brunei, has only 412,000 people.


GOVERNMENT: 10 member countries are governed by a variety of systems including elected democracies, monarchy, military junta, military-influenced civilian rule and Communist.


RELIGION: The region is home to a variety of ethnic groups, languages and religions. Indonesia, for example, is almost 90 percent Muslim, while the Philippines is more than 80 percent Roman Catholic, and Thailand is more than 95 percent Buddhist. Other religions include Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

Among the 10 countries, summit host Malaysia is the most multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and indigenous tribes.


TIME ZONES: The region is spread over four time zones. Four countries are 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, including Indonesia, some of whose eastern provinces are 8 and 9 hours ahead. Five countries are 8 hours ahead of GMT, while Myanmar is 6 hours and 30 minutes behind.


ECONOMY: If ASEAN were a single country, it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion. It is projected to double to $4.7 trillion by 2020, and would rank as the fourth-largest economy by 2050. Indonesia represents almost 40 percent of the region's economic output while Myanmar is still a nascent market with poorly formed institutions. 

The countries represent a range of economic development. The GDP of Singapore, one of the richest countries in the world, is more than 30 times higher than in Laos and more than 50 times higher than in Cambodia and Myanmar.


DRIVING: Five of the countries drive on the left side of the road and half on the other. In Myanmar, most cars are designed for driving on the left side, but traffic follows the European and American system.













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