History of Indonesia

History of Indonesia

The history of Indonesia didn't begin when the Dutch explorers began a colony. The civilizations of Sumatra and Java were already advanced, having had their own history before the arrival of Europeans. From the 8th to 14th century Sumatra was a strictly Buddhist Kingdom. By the 14th century Majapahit and eventually Java, had become primary Hindu.

Early sea trade, spanning a period of one thousand years, brought culture and religion to the region, strongly influenced by Chinese migration. Buddhist and Hindu merchants arrived from as far away as India and this set the stage for the two Kingdoms known as Srivijaya and Majapalhit by the 8th century. Over the next 500 years trade and travel expanded into and out of Arabia and Melasian countries, bring Islam which would be the predominant religion in Indonesia.

By the 16th century, Indonesia saw explorers from Europe, including the Portugese and the English. They were the first European explorers to reach these lands, but toward the end of the century, the Dutch East India Company was in full force in Indonesia.

The Indonesian Buddhist Kingdom of Srivijaya spread to the Malay Peninsula and to the western side of Java. Gadjah Mada, a prominent minister of the Majapahit aligned the Hindu Kingdom with the Srivijaya and other parts of the region and it was the beginning the Indonesia as we know it today.

In Indonesia's next evolution, feudalism was born in when the Dutch took advantage of Indonesian people, exploiting their resources and riches. In 1602 the Dutch, with a fleet of ships, colonized some of the smaller Kingdoms and Hindu regions of Majapahit that had already been pushed out by Islam. The Dutch soon established one of the richest and most successful colonies in south east Asia, known as the Netherlands East Indies.

By the 19th century, the Dutch had lost their power in Indonesia as capitalism rose and feudalism fell the world over. Indonesians began to resist the power of the colonists and Indonesian students who were educated in the Netherlands, as well as those in professional positions, led the way. Sokarno, Indonesia's president was sent to prison for his involvement.

Japan also played a role in Indonesia's history. Japan occupied several parts of south-east Asia during WWII including much of Indonesia. Japan had a strong-hold here and hoped to create an imperialist system in the smaller nations south-east Asia. But after three years of occupation Japan finally gave it up to allied forces as the close of the war in the Pacific.

Soon after the close WWII, on August 17th, 1945, Indonesia finally became independent from the Dutch. It joined the United Nations in 1950 sending its own ambassador.

Indonesia is made up of over 17 thousand islands, with numerous religions, and ethnic customs. It has seen much in its long history and has learned much from the past, from the ancient Java Man through the early colonization of Dutch, and the occupation of the Japanese. It is still a rich region in south-east Asia whose history has given it its own personality.