The Bhumibol Bridge in Thailand by night, also known as the Industrial Ring Road Bridge.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was founded on August 8, 1967 by the 5 founding countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Other countries joined: Brunei Darussalam (1984), Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997) and Cambodia (1999). The combined region of the ASEAN countries currently covers an area of 4.5 million km² and is therefore comparable in size with the European Union.
The original aim of the association was to improve cooperation with regard to economic, political and social aspects, and was later extended to safety, cultural and environmental issues.
In 2003, at the ASEAN summit, it was decided to create a community based on the "European model". The ASEAN community is based on three pillars:

  1. the political and security community
  2. the economic community (AEC)
  3. and the socio-cultural community.

Each of the three pillars represents a basic idea, which together with the initiative for ASEAN integration form a Roadmap for the ASEAN community.

The ASEAN Charter, which came into force on 15 December 2008, is intended to provide a basis for the further development of the ASEAN community and give it a legal personality. In addition, the Charter ground the commitment of ASEAN members to the rule of law, democracy, serious governance and the establishment of a human rights body.

ASEAN's real GDP grew by 4.4 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year and amounted to approximately US$ 2.686 trillion. This is due to strong private consumption, while exports have weakened. GDP growth of 4.9 percent is the forecast for ASEAN in 2016. The share of the middle class in the ASEAN countries will continue to grow, thus further stimulating ASEAN's consumption and domestic market.
With an average annual GDP growth of 6 percent over the last ten years and a population of about 620 million people, the ASEAN community will have an increasing economic impact.
Foreign direct investment also plays an important role in the development of the GDP of the ASEAN region. They rose from just under US$ 118 billion in 2013 to US$ 136 billion in 2014.

Comparison ASEAN

Country Population (in thousands) GDP (2014.billion US$) GDP change compared to 2013 Unemployment rate (2014) Import (2014.billion US$ Imported goods Export (2014.billion US$) Export goods
Brunei Darussalam 423 17.3 + 5.3% 3.8% 3.4 Machinery, transport equipment 10.5 Petroleum and natural gas
Indonesia 252,812 856.1 + 5.2% 6.1% 187 Petroleum, machinery, chemical products 183 Raw materials, natural gas, petroleum, textiles and clothing
Cambodia 15,408 16.7 + 7% 0.3% (2013) 10.9 Construction materials, motor vehicles, machinery 7.7 Textiles and clothing, wood, food
Laos 6,894 11.8 + 7.5% 1.4% 3.3 Machinery and equipment, petroleum products, consumer goods 2.3 Textiles and clothing, coffee, electricity, wood, metals
Malaysia 30,188 327 + 6.0% 2.9% 206 Electronics, petroleum, machinery, chemical engineering Products 232 Electronics, petroleum, natural gas, chemical, petrochemical Products
Myanmar 53,719 62.8 + 7.7% 4.0% 13.6 Machinery and transport equipment, petroleum, metals 9.7 Food, natural gas, jade, wood
Philippines 100,096 285 + 6.1% 6.8% 67.7 Electronics, Petroleum, Chemical Products, Food 61.8 Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Food, Raw Materials
Singapore 5,470 308 + 3.4% 2.0% 373 Electronics, petrochemistry, machinery, crude oil, chemical products 410 Electronics, petrochemistry, chemical products, machinery
Thailand 67,223 374 + 0.7% 0.8% 228 Petroleum, electronics, machinery, chemical engineering Products 228 Electrical engineering, food, motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts, chemical products
Vietnam 90,730 186 + 6.0% 2.5% 148 Electronics, chemical products, machinery, textiles and clothing 150 Electronics, textiles and clothing, foodstuffs