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Southeast Asian Nations Gain Independence

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The Philippines Achieves Independence

In 1946, the United States gave the Philippines independence. The United States also promised money to help the Filipinos rebuild their economy. To win the aid, however, the Filipinos had to agree to a trade deal. For the next few decades, the United States kept naval and air bases on the islands. Many Filipinos wanted the bases closed. In 1991, the United States left the bases.

From 1966 to 1986, Ferdinand Marcos led the country. He was elected president but after a few years ruled as a dictator. He then harshly put down dissent and stole millions of dollars from the country. When he lost an election to Corazón Aquino in 1986, he refused to leave office. A large public outcry forced him to step down.

What happened in the Philippines after it gained independence?
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British Colonies Gain Independence

Burma was the first British colony in Southeast Asia to become independent. Nationalist leader Aung San helped drive the British out of Burma. Burma changed its name to Myanmar in 1989. Since 1962, generals have ruled the country. Myanmar has been torn by conflict often. Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her opposition to this military rule.

After World War II, the British moved back into the Malay peninsula. They tried to form a country there. But ethnic conflict between Malays and Chinese who lived in the area stopped them. In 1957, independence was given to Malaya, Singapore, and parts of two distant islands.

Singapore later declared independence as a city-state. Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world. It is also a banking center. Its economy creates a high standard of living.

Which Southeast Asian British colonies won independence and how did they accomplish it?
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Indonesia Gains Independence from the Dutch

Sukarno led an independence movement in Indonesia while Japan held that country. After World War II, he quickly declared an independent Indonesia. The Dutch at first tried to regain control over their former colony. But in 1949 they recognized Indonesia's independence.

Indonesia is spread out. It has 13,600 islands and includes people from 300 different groups that speak 250 different languages. It has been difficult for leaders to unite the nation. In 1967, a general named Suharto took control. He ruled until 1998. Many criticized him for taking over the island of East Timor and for corruption in his government. In the late 1990s Indonesia faced severe economic problems.

What challenges did Indonesia face?
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