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The Waters Around Malaysia, Not Somalia, Are the World’s Worst for Pirates

More than 40 percent of pirate attacks over the last two decades took place in Southeast Asia

Sunrise over the Straits of Malacca. (Photo: SUPRI/Reuters/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Despite the attention that piracy in the Horn of Africa has received in extensive media coverage—and the 2013 movie Captain Phillipspiracy in that part of the world has actually plunged. Today, it's not East Africa but Southeast Asia that suffers from the world's most pirate-infested waters, Time reports.  

The Malacca and Singapore straits are the epicenter of this problem. As Time writes, around 120,000 ships pass through that area each year, and China and Japan have up to 80 percent of their oil delivered through these waterways. And pirates are well aware. According to the United Nations, 41 percent of the world's pirate attacks between 1995 and 2013 took place in the Malacca and Singapore straights—compared to just 28 percent for the West Indian Ocean, off Somalia. 

As Time reports, there's little sign that the piracy problem in Southeast Asia is abating. Corruption in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia is rampant, and regional politics get in the way of coordinated anti-piracy measures. And while law enforcement does patrol for pirates, the resources to back up those efforts are lacking.

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