Southeast Asia is composed of 11 independent nations, each with their own government. However, of these states, 10 also form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, a group devoted to improving economic, political, and social growth in the region.
The governments of individual Southeast Asian nations are quite varied. The Asia Economic Institute classifies Timor Leste (East Timor), Indonesia, and the Philippines as republics, Brunei as a constitutional sultanate, Cambodia as a multiparty democracy lead by a constitutional monarchy, Laos and Vietnam as communist states, Myanmar as a military junta, Singapore as a parliamentary republic and Malaysia and Thailand as constitutional monarchies.
ASEAN is comprised of all Southeast Asian countries except East Timor, which as of 2014 has not yet been approved for membership despite filing a request in 2011. The organization was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, and its founding members were Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand. The fundamental principles of the group are mutual respect for the independence and territorial of integrity of all states, freedom from foreign influence and coercion, noninterference in the affairs of other member states, peaceful conflict resolution, the renunciation of military force and mutual cooperation among ASEAN members. It has since put forward initiatives in areas as diverse as economics, technology, trade and agriculture to encourage prosperity in Southeast Asia.