The history of Indonesia dates back to Java Man (Homo erectus) who after migrating from Africa reached Oceania (half a million years ago). He was followed by the ancestors of the present-day Papuans (about 60,000 years ago) and eventually reached New Guinea and Australia as well (30-40,000 years ago). Finally Malayo-Polynesian groups reached Java and Sumatra (fourth millennium BC). This group is today the primary ethnic group in Indonesia. Trade contracts with India, China and Southeast Asia introduced advanced cultures and religions to what is now Indonesia. Indian traders intoduced both Hinduism and Buddhism. They were largely overwealmed by Islam ibntroduced by both Indian and Arab traders (8th and 9th centuries). Indonesia's abundant spices attracted Portuguese traders who were the first Europeans to reach Asia (16th century). Indonesia was eventually colonized by the Dutch and became known as the Dutch East Indies (17th century). As in the rest of Asia, nationalist stirring in the early 20th century began to challenge European rule. Nationlist figures like Sukarno were inprisoned by the Dutch. Oil made the DEI a valuable colonial assettt and Japan needed oil to continue its war in China. The Japanese at the onset of World War II in the Pacific invaded and occupied the DEI (1942). Indonesian nationalist figures like Sukarno largely collaborated with the Japanese who offered, but never granted independence. The Japanese occupation proved to be a disaster. Largely because the Japanese ceased food stocks, about 4 million people died, largely new to famine. The Japanese demonstrated, however, the fragility of Dutch colonial rule. Nationalist groups launchef a 4-year guerilla war on Java follwing the War. Indonesia officially achieved its independence (1949). General Sukarno dominated the country for two decades a period during which the Communist Party (PKI) grew in strength. Sukarno appears to have been involved in a Communist coup (1965). The coup was supressed by the Army commannded by General Soeharto who launched a bloody campaign to eliminate the PKI and its suporters. General Soeharto replaced Sukarno and dominated Indonesia for three decades. Oil exports became a mainstay of the ecomomy . The Asian financial crisis devestated the Indonesian economy (1997). The economic crisis led to violent riots and other disturbances forced Soeharto to resign (1998). This made possible democratic elections the establishment of a democratic regime.
Humans appeared to have reached what is now Indonesia near the end of the long migration east from Africa (1.5-1.6 million years ago). Evidence for this is cut marks on two bovid bones found in Sangiran. Anthropolgists believe them to have been made by clamshell tools. Sumatra and Java at the time because of low sea levels was still attached to the Southeast Asian mainland. This is to date the oldest evidence for human presence in
Indonesia. These early homonids may have developed mariy\time skills earlier than previously believed. Anthropolgists discovered stone tools on Flores Island dating (1 million years ago). This find is the earliest known ecidence that homonoids had developed maritime technology permitting sea crossings. The first
fossilised remains of early humans in Indonesia were Java Man (Homo erectus). The fossils were discovered by Dutch anatomist Eugène Dubois at Trinil during 1891> Java Man has been dated (0.7 million years ago). Other Homo erectus fossils were found at Sangiran in the 1930s by another Dutch anthropologist, Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald. He also discovered fossils at Ngandong alongside advanced stone toos. Recent studies have dated the tools (550,000 and 143,000 years old). Another Homo erectus skull was discovered at Sambungmacan. Another interesting Indonesia find was on the island of Flores. There anthroplogists found fossils of a new small hominid dated (74,000 and 13,000 years old). They have been named Flores Man (Homo floresiensis). They have engenered considerable discussion among the scientific community. The adults are believed to have stood only 3 foot tall. The general assessment is that they are a modern subspecies related to Homo erectus. There small stature seems to be the result of island dwarfism. Flores Man is believed to have shared their island with modern humans (Homo sapiens until (about 10000BC). The modern Indonesian archipelago was formed during the thaw after the latest ice age. Java man was followed by fully modern humans (Homo sapiens), the ancestors of the present-day Papuans (about 60,000 years ago). Early humans travelled by sea and spread from mainland Asia eastward to New Guinea and Australia. Atatomically modern humans reached Indonesia (about 45,000 years ago). They eventually reached New Guinea and Australia as well (30-40,000 years ago). Recent work on Timor (in the easter reaches of the Indonesian Arcipelgo) has found that humans there had advanced maritime skills (42,000 years ago). The conclusion was based on the finding that they were eating big deep sea fish such as tuna. Themodern people of Indonesia appea to have arrived in relstively recent times (2000 BC). At this time there was a wave of seafaring Austronesian people from Asia who dispersed throughout maritime Southeast Asia and Oceania. Some may have reached as far west as Madagascar. Austronesian people form the majority of the modern population of Indonesia and many areas of Oceania.
Finally Malayo-Polynesian groups reached Java and Sumatra (fourth millennium BC). They settled on a stretch of islands along the equator which became known as Nusantara. This group is today the primary ethnic group in Indonesia. Over time kingdoms and other principalities emerged. S They shared characteristics with other Southeast Asian kingdoms. The Nusantara kingdoms tended to bse based their conception of state primarilu on people more than space or territory. Trade contracts with India, China and Southeast Asia introduced advanced cultures and religions to what is now Indonesia. Indian traders intoduced both Hinduism and Buddhism. One of the first Indianized empires with Hinduism was Sriwijaya. It was located on the coast of Sumatra around the strategically important straits of Malacca which served as the hub of an impressive trading network that reached to many parts of the archipelago more than a thousand years ago. On Java to the east, large kingdoms in the interior of the island erected exquisite religious structures, most notably Borobudur. This is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. The last and most powerful of these early Hindu-Javanese kingdoms was the Majapahit Empire (14th century). At their peak, they controlled or influenced to some degree what is modern Indonesia. They maintaining contacts with trading outposts as far away as the west coast of Papua New Guinea.
They were largely overwealmed by Islam introduced by both Indian and Arab traders (8th and 9th centuries).
Indian Muslim traders firstbbegan spreading Islam in what is now Indonesia (8th centuries). Arab trders followed. These men were not missionaries in the Christiansence, buttraders who brought their faith with them. Over time the rulers and other elites of the native states began convertying to Islam. At the time Marco Polo reportedly visited northern Sumatra, the first Muslim principalities were well established there (late-13th century). Soon afters, rulers on Java's northern coast also were converted and conquered the Hindu-based Majapahit Empire in the Javanese interior. Islam gradually spread throughout the Indonesian archipelago as more native states were conquered and the rulers gradually converted their subjects.
Contacts with the West world strongy affect Nusantara. The European voyages of discovery brought European contact with Nusantara for the first time. The Portuguese were the first to arrive (early-16th century). Indonesia's abundant spices attracted Portuguese traders and they movedeast seekingtrade with China. The Portuguese conquered Malacca, located on the Malay peninsula (1511). This was at the time a part of Nusantara.
The spice trade was an important part of the European desire to trade with the East without an Arab intermeduary.
At a time before refrigeration or even canning, Europeans prized spices for flavoring sometimes unappealing food. But flavoring was only part of the spice story. Spices like cloves, nutmeg and mace were widely believed to prevent or cure terrible diseases like plague, venereal disease, and other infirmities. As a result, spices were emensely valuable. The Dutch followed closely behind the Portuguese and landed at Banten shore in Java (1512).The Dutch and Portuguese vied for control of what is now Indonesia and the valuable spice trade. Dutch control was finally settled by the Dutch-Portuguese Wars associated with the Dutch War for Independence (17th century). The Dutch thus wrested control of the spice trade from Portuguese. The first Dutch arrivals were traders working as part of the (Vereniging Oost Indische Compagnie (Royal East Indies Company, VOC). The Dutch for the next two centuries traded with the native people and establisheda a virtual monopoly on the spice trade (into the 18th century). There were several Dutch pacification campaigns when local principalities attempted to interfere with trade. Indonesia was eventually formally colonized by the Dutch and became known as the Dutch East Indies (DEI). The Dutch began to more more formally rule the DEI (19th century). Dutch planters began growing sugar and coffee in plantatios on Java. For a time these plab\ntations produced three-fourths of the world supply of coffee which is why coffee iscoloquially known as java. Nationalist feelings begn to develop in the early-20th century. This was supressedby the Dutch who arrested leaing nationalists like Sukarno. The nationalist achieved little political progress, but gradually popular attitudes changed. The DEI was a vast archipelago inhabited by hundreds of ethnic groups who had little in common for most of Dutch colonial rule. Gradually in the early-20th century the idea of Indonesian national identity began to grow, generated by opposuition to Dutch rule as the common thread. (This is similar to the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars which stimulated European nationalist sentiment in the early-19th century.) Hasyim Asy'ari founded Nahdlatul Ulama as a kind of reaction to the reaction to the modernist Muhammadiyah organization (1926). Also in the early-20th century the Dutch in the DEI and the British on their area of Borneo began developing valuable oil resources.
The Great Depression which began on Wall Street in America spread to other countries (1929). Economies like the DEI based on exporting raw materials suffered. Sukarno was arrested by the Dutch and tried for poltical offenses. He delivered his famous nationalist speech, 'Indonesia Accuses', which was given as part of his defenxe (1930).
The Dutch East Indies (DEI) figured prominently in Japan's decession to launch the Pacific War. The Netherlands itself was invaded and occupied by the NAZIs (May 1940). The Dutch royal family and the Dutch government fled to London and established a government-in-exile. The Dutch DEI colonial administration in Batavia recognized the government-in-exile. The DEI was one of the principal colonies the Japanese wanted for their empire because of the petroleum resources, primarily located on Sumatra and Borneo (shared with Britain). Japan had virtually no petroleum and had been importing American oil. Japan needed oil to continue its war in China. Importing oil from America was a serious strategic weakness for a country bent on war. The United States embargoed oil exports after the Japanese moved into French Indo-China. The Japanese demanded that DEI officials export oil to them and DEI officials complied. Even so the Japanese after the fall of the British bastion at Singapore (February 1942). The Japnese Navy smashed an Allied naval flotilla in the Battle of the Java Sea (February 1942), leaving the DEI defenseless. The Japanese then invaded the DEI (March 1942). Parchute landing seized the oil fields intact. Captured Allied soldiers were dealt with savagely. Dutch civilians were interned under terrible conditions. The Japanese despite their stunning successes benefitted little. The American submarine campaign by 1943 was making it difficult to ship raw material from the DEI and other occupied territories (Southern Resourse Zone) to the Japan Home Islands. The American destruction of the Imperial Fleet and reconquest of the Philippines (October 1944) made it virtually imposible. The Japanese in the DEI committed terrible attrocities despite the fact that the nationalist groups largely cooperated with them. There was nob resistance movement of any importance as in the Philippines. The Japanese occupation proved to be a disaster. Largely because the Japanese ceased food stocks, about 4 million people died, largely new to famine. Indonesian nationalist figures like Sukarno largely collaborated with the Japanese who offered, but of course never granted independence. The Japanese held most of the DEI throughoutthe War. The Japanese demonstrated, however, the fragility of Dutch colonial rule.
Although the Japanese World War II occupation was disaterous for the Indonesian people, it was a turning point for the nationalist movement. The Nationalists for the first time were able to get a hold of arms. The Japanese tightly controlled political activity during their occupation. The Indonesians which had collaborated with the Japanese could see clearly see see that the Japanesehad lost the War. They began preparing for the inevitable Japanese surrender and Indonesian independence. Sukarno and Hatta immediately after the Japanese surrender (August 1945) announced Indonesia independence. They thus became the founding fathers of the new nation. A Constitution fot the new nation was promulgated. Indonesia was the largest archipelago in the world, with over 17,000 islands, about 3,000 of which were inhabited. Despite the Japanese surrender in Tokyo, most of the DEI was still occupied by the Japanese. It would take some time for the Allies to move into the DEI and accept the Japanese surrender and even longer for Dutch colonial authorities and military forces to arrive. This gave the Indinesian nationalists precious time to organize. When the Dutch returned and tried to reestablish colonial rule, organized armed Indonesians resisted. The center if the resistance miovemnebt was Java. Nationalist groups launchef a 4-year guerilla war on Java follwing the War. The Dutch were eventually forced to recognize an independent Indonesia (1949). Two interesting phenomenon followed independence which surprised both the Dutch and Indibnesianswhich parted ways. . First the Dutch were surprised to learn that the loss of its valuable colony did not cause economic disaster, The Netherlandsactually became more prosperous without the DEI. Second, the Indonesians nationalist leaders imbued with anti-Western socialist theology expected an economic bonanza with independence. The new country, however, did not achieve economic prosperity by ousting the Dutch. Mismanafement, socialist policies, corruption, and authoritarian political rule left the Indonesians poor and underdeveloped despite their oil resources.
The independent Indonesians adopted a federal system upon independence. A new more democratic Provisional Constitution was approved (1950). here was an attempt to establish a liberal democratic system. This effort was not, however, founded on popular sentiment. There was no tradituon of democratic rule in Indonesia. And with the departure of the Dutch, the economy began to collapse. Indonesian officials had no real idea as to how to run an economy or promote economic growth. This the early indepenence era was unstable. The Communist Party with its simplistic slogans attracted sunstantial popular appeal. The longest-serving prime minister was in office amere years. The Government held a general election (1955). This would prive to be the first and for several decades the only democratic general election in Indonesia history. Political instability, however, continued. Ppresident Sukarno, backed by the Army, declared the 1950 Provisional Constitution void and reintroduced the 1945 Constitution (1957). This provided a blue print as originally untended for Sukarno, popularly known as Bung Karno (Comrade Sukarno), to increase his power. He carefully ballabce power among three contending forces-- the PKI, the Army with Muslim sentiment, and himself. President Sukarno managed to dominated Indonesia in this way for two decades becoming a spokesman for the Third World. Gradually the PKI grew in importance, unbalancing the tiad that Sukarno had crafted. Sukarno appears to have decided to ally himself with the PKI and help launch a Communist coup to destoy the power of the conservative, Muslim influenced Army (1965). The complete story of Sukarno's role has never been fully revealed. The PKI had plans to kill Army commanders and non-Communist leaders. The coup was, however, supressed by the Army with great violence. General Soeharto launched a bloody campaign to eliminate the PKI and its suporters. General Soeharto then replaced Sukarno and dominated Indonesia for three decades. Oil exports increased and with orice increases became a mainstay of the Indonesian ecomomy. The Asian financial crisis devestated the Indonesian economy (1997). The economic crisis led to violent riots and other disturbances forced Soeharto to resign (1998). This made possible democratic elections and the establishment of a democratic regime. Geberal Soeharto following bloody violence and widespred civil disorders was replaced by B.J. Habibie . Indonesia held its first democratic election since 1955 (October 1999). Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid was edlected president.
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