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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

           Indian subcontinent      Indian cultural sphere      Western New Guinea

The Indies is a term that has been used to describe the lands of South and Southeast Asia,[1] occupying all of the present India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and also Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Malaysia and Indonesia. In a more restricted sense, the Indies can be used to refer to the islands of Southeastern Asia, especially the Malay Archipelago.[1][2] The name "Indies" is derived from the river Indus and is used to connote parts of Asia that come under Indian cultural influence.

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 Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean (which is also called the "West Indies"), and from the indigenous peoples of the Americas who are often called "American Indians." (In North America however, the term East Indian may be used for people originating in India living in North America.) 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".


Exploration of these regions by European powers first began in the late 15th century and early 16th century, led by the Portuguese explorers. These regions became important sources of trading goods, particularly cotton, indigo and spices after the establishment of European trading companies designed for the specific purpose: the British East India Company and Dutch East India Company, among others, in the 17th century.

The New World was initially thought to be the easternmost part of the Indies by explorer Christopher Columbus, who had grossly underestimated the westerly distance from Europe to Asia. Later, to avoid confusion, the New World came to be called the "West Indies", whilst the original Indies came to be called the "East Indies".

The racial designation East Indian was once primarily used to describe people of all of the East Indies, but more recently and wrongly, it has been used widely to refer to an Indian from India, in order to avoid the potential confusion from the term American Indian who were once simply referred to as Indians (see the Native American name controversy for more information).

See also


  1. ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of English 2e, Oxford University Press, 2003, East Indies/East India
  2. ^ "East Indies"

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

There is more than one meaning of Indies discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also indies



Wikipedia has an article on:



From Latin India

Proper noun




  1. The East Indies, including India, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and adjacent lands.
  2. The West Indies, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other islands of the Caribbean.

See also


Simple English

The Indies is a word used for places in South and Southeast Asia, including Indian Union, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and also Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, East Timor, Malaysia and Indonesia.


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