Indonesia: History of Indonesia

About the history of Indonesia throughout the years in the East Indies in general and Dutch.



How Created--Humans 1st inhabited the East Indies some 500,000 years ago. The 1st known civilization began about 2,000 years ago when Hindu traders 1st came to the islands for their spices. Various Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms dominated the islands for the next 1,400 years, establishing many of Indonesia's current cultural traditions.

Before the advent of Dutch colonial rule, which lasted from the early 17th century to just after W.W. II, the many people of Indonesia were split into small political groupings. Notable exceptions were the 2 early empires, Srivijaya (c. 700-c. 1200) and Majapahit (1293-c. 1520), which controlled large parts of the islands of Java and Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and other scattered islands. However, at no time prior to the arrival of the Dutch did any one kingdom control all of the islands that today constitute the state of Indonesia. The Dutch created a system of provincial administration for Indonesia, centering power in the city of Batavia (present-day Djakarta) on the most heavily populated island, Java.

As the Japanese left, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence, led by Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, declared independence (August 17, 1945). However, the Dutch, aided at 1st by the British, sought to reassert control. Fighting broke out, and the fledgling UN formed a commission to settle the dispute. Finally, the Dutch agreed to transfer sovereignty in December, 1949. In 1950 the United States of Indonesia transformed itself into the unitary Republic of Indonesia.

Originally the Dutch did not agree to allow West Irian (the western half of New Guinea island) to be part of Indonesia, but the UN turned the territory over to Indonesia in 1963. Since independence, several revolts have occurred outside of Java to secure more local autonomy, but none have been successful.

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