The Indies or East Indies (or East India) is a term that has been used to describe the lands of South and Southeast Asia, occupying all of the present India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and also Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Malaysia and most of Indonesia. In a more restricted sense, the Indies can be used to refer to the islands of Southeastern Asia, especially the Malay Archipelago. The name "Indies" is derived from the river Indus and is used to connote parts of Asia that came under Indian cultural influence (except Vietnam which comes under the Sinosphere).
Dutch-held colonies in the area were known as the Dutch East Indies before Indonesian independence, while Spanish-held colonies were known as the Spanish East Indies before the Philippines' independence. The East Indies may also include Indochina, the Philippine Islands, Brunei, Singapore and East Timor. It does not, however, include western New Guinea (West Papua), which is part of Melanesia.
The inhabitants of the East Indies are sometimes called East Indians, distinguishing them both from inhabitants of the Caribbean (which is also called the West Indies) and from the indigenous peoples of the Americas who are often called "American Indians." However, the peoples of the East Indies comprise a wide variety of cultural diversity, and the inhabitants do not consider themselves as belonging to a single ethnic group. Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam are the most popular religions throughout the region, while Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and various other traditional beliefs and practices are also prominent in some areas. The major languages in this area draw from a wide variety of language families, and should not be confused with the term Indic, which refers only to a group of Indo-Iranian languages from South Asia.
The extensive East Indies are subdivided into two sections (from a European perspective), archaically called Hither India and Further India. The first is the former British India, the second is modern Southeast Asia or the ASEAN Bloc.
Regions of the East Indies are sometimes known by the colonial empire they once belonged to, hence, British East Indies refers to Malaysia, the Dutch East Indies means Indonesia, and Spanish East Indies means the Philippines.
Historically, the king of Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) was identified with "Prester John of the Indies", since that part of the world was imagined to be one of "Three Indias".
Read more about Indies: History
Famous quotes containing the word indies:
“As the Spanish proverb says, He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. So it is in travelling; a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge.”
—Samuel Johnson (17091784)
“It is my duty to prevent, through the independence of Cuba, the U.S.A. from spreading over the West Indies and falling with added weight upon other lands of Our America. All I have done up to now and shall do hereafter is to that end.... I know the Monster, because I have lived in its lairand my weapon is only the slingshot of David.”
—José Martí (18531895)