More Muslims live within this realm than any where else in the world. Very few people realize this, believing that Islam and the adherents of Islam, Muslims, are mostly found in the Middle East. Only about 20% (1 in 5) of the Muslim population is found in the Middle East. Indonesia is the fourth most populous globally, a Democracy, and a predominantly Muslim country. Malaysia is mostly Muslim, too, and a Democracy.
But Islam is not the only religion. The Philippines is Roman Catholic (named after Spain’s King Philip, right?). Buddhism and Hinduism are both practiced in this realm. And a little Confucian thought (its not a religion, but a philosophy), and some Shintoism (the belief that the spirits of ancestors inhabit our natural environment) is also sprinkled throughout the region.
Indonesia was once part of OPEC, (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), up until 2009. In order to be part of OPEC, though, the country must export oil. In 2009, Indonesia had to use all of its petroleum to support its own energy demands, and had to withdraw from OPEC. What this event foretells, though, is that as countries energy demands increase, many countries that export energy will have less and less to export. That scarcity will drive up prices, as supply contracts and demand increases.
Singapore represents a globally city-state. People around the world, while perhaps not able to find Singapore on a map, recognize the importance of the city-state. I use the term “city-state” because that is what Singapore is, both a city AND a country. With the 17th largest economy in the world, Singapore is important both within the Southeast Asian region, and globally – and it is one of the safest places in the world.
The realm is very active geologically-speaking. Indonesia and Malaysia are frequently struck by earthquakes; Banda Aceh, the epicenter of the 2004 tsunami, is located on the northwestern tip of Sumatra in Indonesia. Over 150 active volcanoes are found here in Indonesia alone. Some volcanoes are venerated as deities by local cultures. Government officials, in hopes of drawing upon local support during elections, will align themselves with certain volcanoes and the spiritual essence associated with those volcanoes.