The Republic of Indonesia ( Republik Indonesia ) was born on August 17, 1945 with the proclamation of independence of the Dutch East Indies by Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta .

The history of its territory begins beyond.


About 21,000 years ago, New Guinea was connected to Australia , forming the landmass called Sahul . Australia had been populated at least 40,000 years ago by migrations from the current Asian continent. In the Great Cave of Niah in Sarawak, we found a human skull that has been dated to 40,000 years ago . It is also the date of the rock paintings of the cave of Maros , in Celebes 1 . These migrations had been possible because at that time the sea level was lower than it is now. Migrations could also have occurred directly from Asia to New Guinea andSolomon Islands .

5,000 to 6,000 years ago, sea levels rose to the current situation, cutting off these populations from the Asian continent and preventing further migration for some time.

5,000 years ago ( 3000 BC ), people from the South China coast , farmers of millet and rice, began crossing the strait to settle in Taiwan. Around 2000 BC BC , migrations take place from Taiwan to the Philippines . New migrations are beginning soon from the Philippines to Sulawesi and Timor and from there, the other islands of the Indonesian archipelago . Around 1500 BC AD , another movement leads from the Philippines to New Guinea and beyond, the Pacific Islands . TheAustronesians are undoubtedly the first great navigators in the history of humanity [ref. necessary] .

Indonesia The population therefore has two origins, as evidenced by the results of a study by geneticists 2 .

Main article: Settlement of insular Southeast Asia .

Excavations have yielded many bronze objects whose technique and decoration show an influence of the civilization of Dong Son Vietnam ( E  -  st centuries BC. ).

First mentions

The Indian epic Ramayana , written between the iii th century BC. BC and iii th century AD. J. – C. , mentions the names of Suvarnadvipa , “the island of the gold”, which designates probably Sumatra , and of Yavadvipa , “the island of the millet”, that is to say Java .

In the st century AD. BC , the west of the Indonesian archipelago is part of a network centered on the kingdom of Fou-nan in the south of present-day Vietnam , port city -states that trade with India and the China. An interpretation of the Natural History of Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD. ) Suggests that “Indonesian” outrigger boats came to trade on the east coast of Africa 3 . Ptolemy (circa 90-168 AD ) mentions in Geography the names of “Iabadiou”, that is to say Java, and “Malaiou”, that is to say Malayu in the east of Sumatra.

Excavations in the mouth of the river Musi , downstream of Palembang in South Sumatra, around 2000 revealed the existence of two port sites which date from the st century AD. AD The objects found are evidence of trade relations with China and India.

Hindu-Buddhist period

Related Articles: Kingdom of Tarumanagara , Sriwijaya , Sailendra , Kingdom of Sunda , Kingdom of Kediri , Kingdom of Singasari and Majapahit .

The oldest written records to date in Indonesia are records from the Kutai region of East Kalimantan Province . Written in Pallava script from southern India, they appear on four sacrificial stone posts (called yupa in Sanskrit , the language of the sacred texts of Hinduism ), estimated to date from around 400 AD. AD

In the Karawang area east of Jakarta , inscriptions were also written in Sanskrit and Pallava script. They date from the th century AD. BC and attest to the existence of a king named Purnawarman, whose kingdom, Tarumanagara , extended in this region.

An inscription dated 683 apr. AD , discovered on the island of Bangka near Sumatra, proclaims that the ruler of Sriwijaya , at the head of 20,000 soldiers, embarked aboard 1,300 vessels. Arab and Chinese texts confirm that Sriwijaya was a powerful state that controlled the Straits of Malacca , at that time already an important seaway. The city-state of Sriwijaya was on the site of today’s Palembang.

An inscription found in Canggal in central Java, dated 732 AD AD , announces that Sanjaya, Lord of Mataram, erected a monument to honor Shiva . The so-called “Kalasan” inscription, also found in central Java and dated 778, mentions a Sailendra king who observes Buddhist rites. The temples in Central Java, built between the viii th and th centuries are Buddhist ritual as Borobudur or Shiva as Prambanan , but sometimes have elements of both rites, which coexisted.

Javanese inscriptions and Arabic texts show that in the ix th and th centuries Java, and probably other parts of present-day Indonesia, maintained trade with the east coast of Africa. The inscription of Kancana in particular, found in East Java and dated 860 AD J. – C. , mentions, in a list of dependent persons, the word jenggi , “zeng”. An Arab work, the Wonders of India , reports the testimony of a merchant named Ibn Lakis who in 945 sees arriving on the coast of Mozambique “a thousand boats” mounted by Waq-Waqwho come from islands “located in front of China” look for zeng products and slaves . In Arabic, Zeng or Zenj designate at the time the inhabitants of the east coast of Africa.

Prambanan in Java ; built during the Mataram Sanjaya Dynasty, is one of the largest Hindu temples in South East Asia.

For reasons not well understood, there are no more registration in the Central Java from the end of the th century . An inscription from East Java dated 1041 says King Airlangga has set up his palace in Janggala, in the region of present-day Surabaya . After his death, the center of power remained in East Java, passing through Kediri , Singasari and finally Majapahit Kingdom , which reached its peak under Hayam Wuruk (reigned from 1350 to 1389), assisted by his prime minister. Gajah Mada. The Nagarakertagama , epic poem written in 1365under his reign, draws up a list of the “tributary lands” of Majapahit, which besides Madura , Sunda and Bali , goes from Pahang on the Malay peninsula to “Gurun” in the Moluccas , while passing by Malayu to Sumatra and “Bakulapura” to Borneo . In fact, the territory actually controlled by Majapahit was limited to the western half of East Java, the other half being the Principality of Blambangan . After the death of Hayam Wuruk, feuds of succession lead to the decline of Majapahit, which disappears in 1478.

Kingdoms Muslims and Europeans arrived


Main article: Sultanate of Malacca .

Around 1400, a Buddhist prince from Palembang (South Sumatra) founded the port of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula. The rulers of Malacca soon converted to Islam . Chinese Grand Admiral Zheng He (or Cheng Ho), who will conduct seven expeditions to India , the Middle East and East Africa between 1405 and 1433, makes several stops in Java. Muslim, Zheng He notes the presence of Muslim Chinese communities in the ports of the north coast of Java, called Pasisir .


Main article: Demak Sultanate .

At the end of the xv th century , a Chinese Muslim named Cek Ko-po relies on Pasisir a principality that will become the kingdom of Demak . This new power began the conquest of the north coast of Java and East Java in 1527. The expansion of maritime trade xv th to the xvii th century, the rise of the Chinese communities and dissemination of Islam translate the urban development of Pasisir and the emergence of the port states of the archipelago.


Main article: Aceh Sultanate .

Making a stop in 1292 in Perlak , a port city in the territory of the current province of Aceh , Marco Polo notes that his sovereign is Muslim.

The Sultanate of Aceh was founded in the early xvi th century . After the Portuguese took over Malacca in 1511, Aceh managed to capture a significant portion of the activity that had made Malacca prosperous. The sultanate began the conquest of the east coast of Sumatra producing pepper and gold, which according to Tomé Pires , a Portuguese apothecary who lived in Malacca from 1512 to 1515, is not yet Islamized.

In the 1560s, Aceh established commercial and diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire. In 1602, a first expedition of the recently created English East India Company made a stopover in Aceh. The sultanate will know its apogee with Iskandar Muda (reign 1607-36). Iskandar defeats a Portuguese fleet at Bintan (Indonesian island near present-day Singapore) and conquers Pahang and Kedah on the peninsula. In 1629, Iskandar launched a fleet on Malacca, which was totally destroyed with 19,000 men lost. After the death of Iskandar Muda, Aceh begins a period of decline.


Main article: Kingdom of Gowa .

According to oral tradition of Makassar in southern Sulawesi , the Kingdom of Gowa was born in the xv th century the division in two of their kingdom between Gowa and Tallo. The first map that the Portuguese made of Sulawesi, in 1533 or 1534, does not mention the name of Goa but only that of “Toloc”, that is to say Tallo ‘. In 1544, a Portuguese trader from Malacca, Antonio de Paiva, mentions the name “Goa”. According to chronicles, around 1530, the king Matanré (reign 1510-47) undertakes the conquest of the neighboring principalities. Gowa controls the trade of gold produced in North Sulawesi, which he sells to the Sultanate of Ternate .

The king of Gowa converted to Islam in 1605. Campaigns in Gowa between 1608 and 1611 ended up imposing Islam in all Bugis and Makassar countries. The VOC established a post in Gowa in 1609. Sultan Alauddin, unwilling to accept a Dutch monopoly, traded with Asian and European merchants. A struggle began between the two powers, interrupted by treaties in 1637, 1655 and 1660. Sultan Hasanuddin sends embassies to Mataram in Java, without result.

In 1660, Prince Arung Palakka of the Bone , vassal of Gowa, rebelled. The revolt is repressed, but the rebels find refuge with the VOC in Batavia. In 1666, the VOC launched a fleet against Gowa, with Bugis and Moluccan troops on board. In 1667, the Dutch annihilated the Gowa fleet. Sultan Hasanuddin eventually surrendered in 1669. Bone and the other Bugis principalities freed themselves from the suzerainty of Gowa. The VOC expels the other Europeans from Gowa. The Dutch have become the dominant European power in the region, ahead of the English and Portuguese, who still control Timor .


Main article: Kingdom of Banten .

A first state seems to have been founded in Banten in 932 AD. J.-C. Banten was one of the maritime outlets of the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran .

According to tradition, the Sultanate of Banten was founded by Sunan Gunung Jati, one of the nine “saints” or Wali Sanga who, according to legend, spread the Muslim faith in Java. He was born in Pasai , a former sultanate in northern Sumatra, which Marco Polo had also visited in 1292. Gunung Jati married a sister of Trenggana, the ruler of Demak . In 1526, at the head of an army, Gunung Jati attacked and conquered Banten, who had freed himself from Pajajaran. Maulana Yusuf, the third ruler of Banten, submits Pajajaran in 1579, ending the last Sundanese kingdom.

In the xvii th century, Banten is a prosperous state, through the cultivation of pepper, one of those spices so popular that earned the arrival of Europeans in the Indonesian archipelago. The English established a permanent trading post there in 1603. Two ambassadors of Banten were received at the English court in 1682. In addition to part of West Java, the sultanate controls what constitutes the present province of Lampung in the south of Sumatra. The Dutch end up imposing their suzerainty on the sultanate.

In 1813, Banten became part of the Dutch East Indies. His last sultan was sent to exile in Surabaya by the Dutch in 1832.


Main article: Kingdom of Mataram .

The assassination of the Sultan of Demak in 1568 marked the end of the pre-eminence of the Pasisir cities , which lasted barely half a century. In 1577, Ki Gede Pamanahan, lord of Mataram , whose name seems to have remained from the time of the dynasty Sanjaya ( viii th century) moved his residence in Kota Gede (now a district of the city of Yogyakarta ). His son Senopati (reigned 1584-1601) undertook a series of military campaigns against the principalities of Central Java and Pasisir , claiming the authority of this “second Mataram”.

The grandson of Senopati (reigned 1613-1646) continues the work of conquest of his predecessors by first attacking East Java, then West Java. Mataram fails to take Batavia , founded in 1619 by the VOC ( Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or ” Dutch East India Company “), after two attempts of siege in 1628-29.

Kingdom of the Interior, Mataram forced the principalities of the Pasisir to destroy their fleets and forbade them maritime trade. His king took the title of Sultan Agung, “the great sultan”, in 1641.

After the death of Sultan Agung, Mataram begins its decline. The kingdom is undermined by wars of succession that the Dutch take advantage of. To fund their campaigns against rebel princes, the kings of Mataram go into debt with the VOC pledging their Pasisir territories. In 1755, the Treaty of Giyanti, imposed by the Dutch to the Javanese princes, puts an end to the wars of Javanese succession. The last princes of Blambangan converted to Islam around 1770 and pledged allegiance to the VOC . Java is now fully under Dutch control.

The Portuguese episode

The Portuguese Diogo Lopes de Sequeira arrives in Malacca 4 . There he meets Chinese people. The Sultan Mahmoud Syah first concluded a treaty of alliance and authorizes the installation of a factory, then under the influence of Moorish merchants, he ordered the massacre Portuguese. Most survive, perhaps after being informed by the Chinese. Some are taken prisoner 5. Malacca is then a cosmopolitan city where Chinese, Siamese, Arabs, Persians, Goujaratis, Bengalis, Malay, Armenians, come to exchange gold and silver of Luzon, mace of Banda, wood of Timor, fabrics of the Indies, pepper of Malabar, camphor from Borneo, China porcelain, Japanese silver, Ceylon and Pegu rubies in Burma, spices, perfumes, pearls, diamonds …

In August 1511 , a Portuguese fleet, part of Goa in India under the command of Viceroy Afonso de Albuquerque , seized Malacca , which had become the largest port in Southeast Asia, a kind of precursor to the current Singapore 6 . The royal family of Malacca takes refuge in the south of the peninsula and founds Johore . It retains its grip on the Malaysian states and the coasts of Sumatra . The prosperity of Malacca rests on a commercial network in which the Portuguese can not integrate. The city is rapidly collapsing.

In 1512 , Albuquerque sent Antonio de Abreu to Banda Islands 7 . Francisco Serrão accompanies him. He must avoid any military demonstration and appear only as a trader. His ship sank at Ambon , but he replaced it with a junk and reached Ternate and stayed nine years in the Maluku Islands . He becomes adviser of the Sultan of Ternate 8 .

The Spaniards of the Magellan Expedition , after having crossed the Pacific, reach in their turn the Moluccas the9 . They are well received by the Sultan of Tidore , happy to establish business relations and to make room for the Portuguese. The Spaniards load their cloves of clove and nutmeg.

A Portuguese counter is installed in Ternate on . On 21 August, a treaty was signed between the Portuguese of Malacca and the Kingdom of Pajajaran in the west of the island of Java 10 . With the Treaty of Zaragozasigned on, the Philippines returns to Spain , which abandons the Moluccas in Portugal .

The Portuguese can not control their territorial bases and the production of spices. In Sumatra , they make agreements with the Sultan of Aceh who provides them with pepper. In Java , they have to deal in East Java with the kingdom of Demak , which has to give up its ports but remains independent. West Java is held by the Sultanate of Banten , which is Indonesia’s largest pepper warehouse . The two attempts made by the Portuguese to seize it fail, and they must be content to make trade deals there too. In Borneo , the Portuguese intervene less and the Sultan of Bruneiexpands its possessions and the extension zone of Islam in the north-east of the island . In the Moluccas , the Portuguese make agreements with the sovereign of Ternate and the missionaries obtain numerous conversions in Ambon , Halmahera and Ternate .

The clove tree grows in the Moluccas ( Ternate , Tidore , Halmahera ) and nutmeg in Amboine and in the Banda Islands. Ancient speculation on spices brings substantial benefits. From Moluccas to Malacca , the price of cloves increases tenfold. This trade is mainly practiced, in the Indian Ocean and the Indonesian seas, by the traders of Java and Gujarat.. The Portuguese will try to establish direct relations and acquire a monopoly of transactions. Indonesian princes are obliged to reserve their spices for the Portuguese. Surpluses are destroyed to maintain prices. The spices are paid in gold not minted from Africa , which is obtained by the exchange of cotton and Indian handicraft products. Arab traders retain an important role in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea (pepper). The Portuguese can not evict the Spaniards from Manila ( 1571 ) who push to the Moluccas.

In 1570, the Portuguese assassinated Sultan Harun of Ternate . His successor Babullah finally succeeded in expelling them in 1575. In 1580, the Englishman Francis Drake stopped at Ternate, from which he brought back important cargoes. He thus creates the first English establishment overseas. His compatriot Thomas Cavendish crossed the Indonesian archipelago in 1586 . The arrival of new Europeans in Indonesia raises the price of spices, which seems to have tripled since the arrival of the Portuguese.

The annexation of Portugal by Spain (1580) made it difficult for traders in the Netherlands , independent in 1581 , to obtain spices in Lisbon to redistribute them in Europe. They seek new ways to reach the East Indies, but fail and will have to use the road opened by the Portuguese. The Dutchman Cornelius Houtmann leads a first expedition to Banten (Java) on behalf of Van Verre. He leavesand reached Banten fifteen months later. A treaty is concluded with the Sultan, and the journey continues to Bali . Worried, the Portuguese send a fleet of Goa to Banten, which arrives too late, while the Dutch are gone. Attacked by the Sultan of Banten, she must take refuge in Malacca. The Netherlands is enthusiastic and is preparing to organize new expeditions. In 1601, the Hispano-Portuguese are driven from the bay of Banten and the Dutch can organize their first “lodge” Javanese.

In the Moluccas, the Dutch of the VOC ( Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or Dutch East India Company , founded in 1602 ) take a first fort to the Portuguese at Ambon in 1605 . They ended up chasing them from the east of the archipelago around 1620 , then seized Malacca in 1641 .

In the Lesser Sunda Islands , the Portuguese established early xvii th century fortress in Kupang in the west of the island of Timor , but are abandoning. The VOC arrived on the island in 1613 and occupied Kupang in 1653.


The VOC was founded in 1602. It begins by ousting the Portuguese Maluku. In search of an establishment in Java, the company set up a station at the mouth of the Ciliwung River , on the outskirts of Jayakarta , vassal of Banten. In 1619, she seized Jayakarta, destroyed the city and founded on its ruins Batavia .

Main article: Dutch East India Company .

In 1628 the Sundanese prince Dipati Ukur, at the head of an army of 6,000 men, attacked Batavia . Faced with the technical superiority of the Dutch, the Sundanese must retreat. The Dutch start a hunt and eventually capture the prince. They deliver it to the king of Mataram, who has him beheaded. For his part Mataram will twice seat Batavia, without success.

At the end of the xviii th century, the company controls the Moluccas, South Sulawesi and half of Java.

In 1795 , the stadhouder (governor) of Holland Guillaume V of Orange-Nassau took refuge in England before the invasion of the French armies. From England, he sends a series of instructions to his administrators to sell the Dutch territories to England so that they do not fall into the hands of the French.

In 1799, the VOC was declared bankrupt. Its assets are taken over by the Government of the Netherlands .

The Netherlands Indies

In 1825, a prince of the court of Yogyakarta , Diponegoro , who contests the designation by the Dutch of his nephew as sultan, takes up arms. It follows a war that will end only in 1830 with the capture of Diponegoro, that the Dutch had invited to a negotiation. The Java war killed 15,000 in the Dutch army and more than 200,000 in the Javanese population (a census carried out around 1815 estimated the total population of Java at a little over 4 million).

Java now pacified, the Dutch can begin the economic development of the island. Governor van den Bosch set up a system of forced crops ( culuurstelsel ) whereby peasants had to devote 20% and then 33% of their land to cash crops. The abuses of this system end up being denounced in the Netherlands itself. The system is gradually abandoned. The agrarian law of 1870 opens Java to the private enterprise.

The English-Dutch Treaty of 1824 granted the British control over the territories claimed by Europeans south of Singapore , founded in 1819 by Thomas Stamford Raffles . He devotes the division of the Malay world into two parts, one integrated in the Dutch East Indies , the other in what will become the “British Malaya” and at independence, the Federation of Malaya .

In Bali , the early xix th century , the economy still depends mainly on the export of slaves. The Dutch are rather anxious to put an end to piracy and pillaging of wrecks, another lucrative activity of the Balinese. In 1846, the Dutch attack Buleleng kingdom in the north of Bali and install administrators there, as well as in the west of the island. From 1846 to 1906, the Dutch attack and successively submit the different Balinese kingdoms. The last is Badung in the south of the island, whose royal families, rather than surrender, commit the puputan , marching towards the Dutch who shoot until all are dead.

In 1820, Aceh produced more than half of the world’s pepper . Europeans and Americans take advantage of the competition that the various princes who sell their pepper sell themselves. One of these princes, Tuanku (Monseigneur) Ibrahim, emerges as the most powerful of them. In 1854, he launched an expedition and submitted the sultanates of Langkat , Deli and Serdang , threatening the Dutch, who already occupied the rest of Sumatra. In 1871, the Dutch signed with the English the treaty of Sumatra. The Dutch give up their possessions in West Africato the English. In exchange, they have their hands free for Aceh. In 1873, the US Consul in Singapore met with an Aceh envoy to discuss a treaty between the two countries. The Dutch decide to attack Aceh. Begins the long war of Aceh . Sultan Daud Shah surrendered in 1903, but the ulama , religious leaders, continued the resistance. The Dutch Indies reach their final form in 1908.

In 1899, a Dutch jurist, who had lived “in India” from 1880 to 1897, published an article entitled Een eereschuld (“A debt of honor”). He explains that the Netherlands owes a debt to the Indisch(native Dutch East Indies ) for all the wealth they have extracted. In 1901, Queen Wilhelmina announced the beginning of the “Ethical Policy” based on three principles: education, irrigation, emigration.

Birth of Indonesian Nationalism

The defeat of the Russians in front of the Japanese at Port Arthur in 1905 has an extraordinary impact throughout East Asia, destroying the myth of the invincibility of Westerners. In 1908 , students of the Javanese gentry founded the Budi Utomo . This event is considered the birth certificate of the Indonesian national movement. In 1911, Javanese batik merchants founded Sarekat Islam . The Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging (“Social-Democratic Union of India”), the future Indonesian Communist Party , was founded in 1914. Soekarno and other students of the Bandung Technical School founded the NIP (Partai Nasional Indonesia , “Indonesian National Party”). In 1927Mohammad Hatta , who was studying economics in the Netherlands , and three other Indisch studentsare arrested because of their political activities. At their trial, Hatta pronounces an indictment against Dutch rule, justifying Indonesian nationalism, which will be published under the title “ Indonesië Vrij ” (“Free Indonesia”).

Throughout the Dutch East Indies, students and young people form associations, which meet in congress in 1928 to pronounce the “Oath of Youth” by which they declare to adopt three ideals: a homeland, Indonesia, a nation, the Indonesian nation, one language, Indonesian. The 1930s were a turbulent period, during which the leaders of the nationalist movement Hatta , Sjahrir , Soekarno and others were arrested.

Japanese occupation

On July 7, 1937, Japan , already occupying Korea and Manchukuo , invaded China , beginning its conquest of the Far East . In Europe, German troops invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, after having unleashed the Second World War .

The Japanese had designs on the Dutch East Indies and their natural resources. The Dutch colony was part of their vision of a co-prosperity sphere of Greater East Asia . On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor . On January 10, 1942, they landed in the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch troops surrender on March 8, 1942. This is the end of the Dutch rule.

The first concern of the Japanese is to reorganize the economy of the Netherlands Indies in favor of their war economy. But for this, they need to mobilize the masses, especially Javanese. Soekarno decides to play the occupant’s game, convinced that he can take advantage of it. He thus participated in the creation of the “Center of Popular Power” (PUTERA in his Indonesian acronym) in 1943. The Japanese also created an army of Indonesian volunteers, the “defenders of the homeland” (PETA) authorized by the Japanese.

The occupation of the territory by Japan Shōwa leads to multiple abuses and crimes against opponents of the Soekarno regime and civilian populations, ranging from sexual slavery to forced labor and cannibalism . Official reports of the deaths of nearly 4 million people 11 .

In March 1945, as the Americans gradually regained control of the Pacific, the Japanese encouraged the creation of a “committee for the investigation of efforts to prepare for the independence of Indonesia” ( Dokuritsu Junbi Chosakai ). Under their auspices, the Piagam Jakarta (” Jakarta Charter”) – the preamble of the future constitution – is drafted and a “Pan-Indonesian Committee for Preparing Independence” set up.

Japan capitulates on August 15th. While awaiting the landing of allied troops, the Japanese occupation authorities, who had previously promised independence to Indonesians, were now ordered to maintain the status quo . Soekarnoand Hatta did not want any conflict with the Japanese. Youth movements demanded an immediate declaration of independence. They were supported by Sjahriranother Indonesian nationalist leader who led the passive resistance against the Japanese occupation and feared that the Allies would only consider independence as a gift from the Japanese. On the night of August 15 to 16, a group of young militants kidnaps Soekarno and Hatta to convince them to proclaim independence.

The independence of Indonesia is proclaimed on August 17, 1945 by Soekarno and Hatta. Soekarno is appointed president and Hatta vice president. This is the beginning of the period that Indonesians call Revolusi .

The Allies begin to regain control of the territory in mid-September. In October, British troops disembark at Surabaya to disarm Japanese soldiers. Believing that the British are preparing the return of the Dutch, the youngest Indonesian army opposes them. Faced with the violence of fighting to take the city, the British understand that something has changed in the former Dutch East Indies.

The first years of independence

The Revolusi 

At the end of 1945, the Dutch agreed to enter into discussions with the Indonesian government. However, they reoccupied Jakarta in early 1946, forcing the Indonesian government to settle in Yogyakarta . In an attempt to regain control of their former colony, they launched a first “police action”, called agresi by the Indonesians. At the end of 1946, the warring parties met at Linggarjati near Cirebon . The Dutch recognize the de facto sovereignty of the Republic over Java, Madura and Sumatra. The two parties agree to create in 1949 a ” Republic of the United States of Indonesia ” (Republik Indonesia Serikat ).

In December 1946, the Dutch announced in Denpasar in Bali the creation of a Negara Indonesia Timur (“State of Eastern Indonesia”). Faced with the difficulty of having their federal project accepted, in July 1947 the Dutch launched a second “police action”. After ten days, they must accept a call for a United Nations cease-fire . In January 1948, an agreement was signed between the two parties aboard the American warship USS Renville , which endorsed the Dutch project of a federal state in Indonesia. The PNI (Partai Nasional Indonesia) and the Muslim party Masyumioppose it. The Indonesian government, led by Amir Sjarifuddin , is forced to resign.

The Dutch still pursue their federal project and announce the creation of a series of puppet states in different parts of the archipelago, numbering 15 in 1948. In 1949, Republicans and Dutch hold a conference in Yogyakarta . The “Republic of the United States of Indonesia” (RUSI) is created on December 14th. On 27 December, the Kingdom of the Netherlands formally transfers the sovereignty of the former Dutch East Indies to the Republic of the United States of Indonesia, with the exception of Western New Guinea .

Under international pressure, the Dutch finally agreed in 1949 to organize the Round Table Conference in The Hague . A Republic of the United States of Indonesia ( Republik Indonesia Serikat or RIS) was created on December 14, 1949. On December 27 , the Kingdom of the Netherlands formally transferred sovereignty over the territory of the former Dutch Indies to the RIS. The ” Revolusi ” is over.

First rebellions

From 1948 to 1965, Indonesia is the scene of several insurrectional movements.

In 1948, military supporters of Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party) occupy the city of Madiun in East Java . The insurrection will be repressed in two weeks.

In 1949 a leader of Hizbullah , a Muslim youth militia created during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia , proclaims in West Java a Negara Islam Indonesia (“Islamic State of Indonesia”). This is the beginning of the Darul Islamrebellion , which will end only in 1962 with the capture and execution of its last leader.

In 1950 Dr Soumokil, a minister of the State of Eastern Indonesia, one of the 7 Member States of the RIS, proclaimed the ” Republic of the South Maluku Islands “. The rebellion is muted in 4 months. On August 17, 1950, the government of Jakarta proclaimed the creation of the ” Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia” ( Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia ), which replaces RIS.

In 1952 in Jakarta, tanks surround the presidential palace. The Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army , General AH Nasution asks President Soekarno for the dissolution of Parliament, denouncing the party system. Soekarno rejects the request and takes over the situation. The case of October 17 has been cut short.


In 1955 a conference is held in the city of Bandung , in West Java . It brings together for the first time in history thirty countries of what is then called the Third World . Among the personalities present are the Chinese Zhou Enlai , the Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser , the Indian Nehru and the Indonesian Soekarno. This conference marks the entry on the international scene of the countries of the Third World. It is considered to be the birth certificate of the non-aligned movement .

Directed democracy

Rebellion of the Permesta

In 1957, the Permesta rebellion ( Piagam Perjuangan Semesta or “Charter for a Universal Struggle”) broke out in North Sulawesi , in protest at Soekarno’s plan to establish a “controlled democracy” that ended parliamentary democracy. In 1958 in Padang , West Sumatra , opponents of Soekarno proclaimed a Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia (“Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia”) or PRRI . PRRI and Permesta are allied. The rebellion ends in 1961.

Confrontation with Malaysia

In 1957, the states of the Malay Peninsula gained the independence of the United Kingdom under the name of the Federation of Malaysia . From 1959 to 1962, the British, Malaysia, Singapore , Sabah and Sarawak negotiated to create an enlarged federation. This project is denounced by Indonesian President Soekarno , who declares that Malaysia is a puppet creation of the British who will increase their control over the region, threatening the independence of Indonesia. Meanwhile, the Philippines claim to Sabah, under the pretext that the territory belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu in the xviii th century. Both countries rely on a widespread anti-federation opinion in Sarawak and Brunei .

In Brunei, a revolt broke out on December 8, 1962, supported by Indonesia. British troops and gurkha stationed in Singapore are sent. The rebel commander is captured on April 17, 1963 and the rebellion ends. Immediately, Indonesian “volunteers” enter Sarawak and Sabah , engaging in attacks and sabotage and propaganda. On July 27 , Soekarno declares that he will “crush Malaysia” ( Ganyang Malaysia ). Mid- 1965 , the Indonesian armed forces cross the border towards the eastern part of Sebatik Island near Tawau in Sabah State.. The escalation into wider open conflict was probably avoided only because of growing internal political tensions in Indonesia.

Soekarno was thinking from the beginning of the sixties to form a national unity government (NASAKOM) bringing together all the political tendencies of the country; in 1964 three ministers of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were appointed.

At that time, the United States began its military engagement in Vietnam by bombing the north. The alignment of Indonesia with the socialist bloc, especially with China (Soekarno speaks of a “Jakarta-Phnom Penh-Hanoi-Beijing-Pyongyang axis”), makes Americans fear the creation of a “second front” in Southeast Asia.

Question of the western part of Papua

Main articles: Dutch New Guinea and West Papua Conflict .

At the time of independence from Indonesia, the Dutch retained control of the western part of New Guinea , known as Dutch New Guinea to prepare the independence, proclaimed on st December 1961 .

After the failure of negotiations with the Dutch on the incorporation of territory into Indonesia on 18 December, an invasion of Indonesian paratroopers provoked armed clashes between the Dutch and Indonesian troops in 1961 and 1962, including the Battle of the Sea. Arafura . In 1962 , the United States put pressure on the Netherlands in secret talks with Indonesia which, on 15 August 1962 , resulted in the signing of the New York Agreement , granting, as of st May 1963administrative responsibility of the region to Indonesia 12 .

Dictatorship of Soeharto

The st October 1965 in the morning, an officer of the presidential guard radio announcement to be the head of a “revolutionary council” that has foiled a plot against President Sukarno and arrested six generals. Another general, Soeharto , takes the head of the repression. In forty-eight hours, the rebels are arrested. Soeharto decrees the dissolution of the PKI, accused of having fomented what one will call the ” movement of September 30 ” or Gerakan September Tigapuluh , whose acronym, “Gestapu”, is very evocative. The result is a communist hunt that will last for months and will make between 500,000 13 , 14 and one million deaths according to estimates. TheOn March 11, 1966 , Soeharto forced Soekarno to sign the ” Supersemar ” (acronym for Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret , “Ordinance of March 11”), by which the latter formally transfers power to Soeharto, who is then elected President of the Republic by MPRS ( Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara , “deliberative assembly of the temporary people”).

The new regime returns to the Western camp. Indonesia rejoined the UN , the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund , which Soekarno had removed. A law on foreign investment was promulgated in 1967. Western oil companies signed exploration contracts, attracted by the country’s potential. Important discoveries are made.

In January 1974, riots erupted in Jakarta, following demonstrations by students who took advantage of Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka’s visit to protest against the stranglehold of foreign capital, especially Japanese, on the Indonesian economy. This will be the last protest against the scheme for 24 years.

In December 1975, the Indonesian army invaded East Timor , where the independence party Fretilin has just declared independence. The pretext for this intervention is a call for help from two other pro-Indonesian Timorese parties, the Apodeti (Democratic People’s Association of Timor) and the UDT (Democratic Union of Timor). The 24 years of Indonesian occupation that will follow 200,000 deaths out of a population of less than 1 million inhabitants 15 .

Under Soeharto nevertheless, Indonesia will experience an impressive development. Petroleum revenues, which will account for 80 percent of the country’s exports in 1980, support the development of infrastructure, basic health, primary education, and state-owned industries. At the same time, the regime favors the growth of large national private enterprises owned by Chinese businessmen .

The drop in the price of crude in 1986 allowed the World Bank and the IMF to force Indonesia to start deregulating and liberalizing its economy and privatizing its state-owned enterprises. This privatization is in fact translated by a transfer of assets to businessmen close to Soeharto and soon to his children who have reached adulthood.

During the 33 years of his reign, Soeharto and his family have been greatly enriched by the country’s strong growth. In 1998 , following the Asian economic crisis (the Indonesian currency lost 80% of its value), after many demonstrations throughout the country, including the May 1998 riots in Jakarta , and the pressure of the IMF, Soeharto ended to leave his post on May 21, 1998. His Vice President, Baharuddin Jusuf (BJ) Habibie , becomes President. In August 1999, Habibie held a referendum on independence in East Timor , annexed by Indonesia in 1975. The victory of independence supporters was followed by a wave of violence.

Democratic transition

In September 1999 the first democratic elections were held since 1955. The new MPR elected President Abdurrahman Wahid , nicknamed “Gus Dur”. He was dismissed in 2001 by the MPR. His vice-president, Megawati Soekarnoputri , daughter of Soekarno, succeeds him. In 2004, an amendment to the constitution allows the first presidential elections by direct suffrage in two rounds. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono beats Megawati in the second round.

The country at present suffers from its internal politics and religious conflicts. Added to this are the secessionist movements in North Sumatra ( Aceh ), Western New Guinea (formerly Irian Jaya ) and the Maluku archipelago, where very violent unrest (largely organized and exploited by factions in power in Indonesia) between Christians on the one hand and Muslims (mostly from Java ) on the other.


Notes and references

  1. ↑ ( in ) Pleistocene cave art from Sulawesi, Indonesia  [ archive ] , doi: 10.1038 / nature13422
  2. ↑ Cristian Capelli, James F. Wilson, Martin Richards, Michael PH Stumpf, Fiona Gratrix, Stephen Oppenheimer, Peter Underhill, L. Vincenzo Pascali, Tsang Ming-Ko and David B. Goldstein, “A Predominantly Indigenous Paternal Heritage for the Austronesian- Speaking Peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania, ” The American Journal of Human Genetics , Volume 68, Issue 2, pp. 432-443, stFebruary 2001
  3. ↑ Wolters Oliver W., “Indonesia – The archipelago and Its Early historical records” in Encyclopaedia Britannica
  4. ↑ Carlos José Caldeira Apontamentos uma viagem to Lisboa a China e da China has Lisboa , Typographia GM Martins ( read online  [ archive ] )
  5. ↑ Merle Calvin Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200 , Stanford University Press, ( ISBN  9780804744805 , read online  [ archive ] )
  6. ↑ Keat Gin Ooi Southeast Asia: a historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor , flight.  1, ABC-CLIO, ( ISBN  9781576077702 , read online  [archive ] )
  7. ↑ Ferdinand Denis, The Universe: Portugal , vol.  34, F. Didot brothers, ( read online  [ archive ] )
  8. ↑ Merle Calvin Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200 , Stanford University Press, ( read online  [ archive ] )
  9. ↑ Antonio Pigafetta, Theodore J. Cachey, The first trip around the world, 1519-1522: an account of Magellan’s Expedition , University of Toronto Press, (ISBN  9780802093707 , read online  [ archive ] )
  10. ↑ Benjamim Videira Pires Taprobana e além but … , vol.  Instituto Cultural de Macau, ( read online  [ archive ] )
  11. ↑ Commonwealth War Graves Commission, John W. Dower , War without mercy , 1986
  12. ↑ [PDF] en ) Agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea (West Irian). Signed at the headquarters of the United Nations, New York, on 15 August 1961  [archive ] [ref. incomplete]
  13. ↑ Adam Schwarz, A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia’s Search for Stability, Talisman, Singapore, 2008 ( st ed. 1999)
  14. ↑ Benedict Anderson , ” Exit Suharto: Obituary for a mediocre tyrant  [ archive ] ,” New Left Review , London , Vol. 50, March-April 2008.
  15. ↑ Noam Chomsky , “The hypocrisy of the West. East Timor, horror and amnesia “ [ archive ] , Le Monde diplomatique , October 1999.
  • In ) This article is partially or entirely from the Wikipedia article in English entitled ” History of Indonesia ” ( see the list of authors ) .