ASEAN groups Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, by five countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Brunei joined the group in January 1984, followed by Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999.
The region has a combined population of about 537 million, and an area of around 4.5 million square kilometers.
The ASEAN Vision 2020, adopted by the ASEAN leaders during the group's 30th anniversary, agrees on a shared vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.
In 2003, the ASEAN leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established comprising three pillars, ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
ASEAN's highest decision-making body is the ASEAN summit.
The secretary-general of ASEAN is appointed on merit and accorded ministerial status. The secretary-general, who has a five-year term, is mandated to initiate, advise, coordinate and implement ASEAN activities.
(China Daily 01/15/2007 page6)