Indonesia

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Posted by bender 03/12/2009 @ 16:16

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News headlines
Indonesia Economy Grew 4.4% in First Quarter, Fastest in Region - Bloomberg
By Aloysius Unditu and Berni Moestafa May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia's economy grew at the fastest pace in Southeast Asia last quarter as buoyant local spending helped the nation fend off the global recession. Gross domestic product expanded 4.4...
Strange Birds Lay (Eggs That Is) on Private Beach - innovations report
“Protecting this beach is just the first step in what will soon be a comprehensive conservation project for the benefit of the maleo,” said Noviar Andayani, Country Director of WCS's Indonesia Program. “Fewer than 100 nesting sites still exist...
Coral Triangle countries to enhance cooperation in rescuing coral ... - Xinhua
MANADO, Indonesia, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Leaders from Coral Triangle countries on Friday signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in rescuing the regional coral reefs in Manado of Indonesia's North Sulawesi province. They were President Susilo Bambang...
Indonesia: Expect Chubu, Kogas LNG Deals To Be Lucrative - Wall Street Journal
JAKARTA (Dow Jones)--Indonesia hopes to sign by June an agreement to sell liquefied natural gas from its Tangguh gas block to Korea Gas Corp. (036460.SE), and may ink a further deal to sell LNG from Tangguh to Japan's Chubu Electric Power Co. (9502....
Indonesia c.bank governor submits resignation-sources - Forbes
JAKARTA, May 15 (Reuters) - Indonesia's central bank governor Boediono has submitted a resignation letter in order to run as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's candidate for vice president, two senior central bank sources told Reuters on Friday....
Sri Lankans bound for Australia held in Indonesia - Reuters
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - Fifty-five Sri Lankans fleeing their homeland in the hope of finding work in Australia have been detained in Indonesia after their boat was stranded off Aceh province, a police official said Thursday....
RI to lead negotiations at int'l climate talks - Jakarta Post
Indonesia will represent all World Ocean Conference member countries at global climate talks, following the adoption by leaders of ocean states of the much-awaited Manado Ocean Declaration (MOD) on Thursday. Indonesian delegation head Arief Havas...
Indonesia c.bank sees Q1 GDP growth at 4.6 pct y/y - Forbes
JAKARTA, May 15 (Reuters) - Indonesia's economy is estimated to have grown 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009 on the back of increasing private consumption, deputy central bank governor Hartadi Sarwono said on Friday. 'The economy could grow 4.6...
Indonesia, Philippines Expect Room for More Interest-Rate Cuts - Bloomberg
By Aloysius Unditu and Karl Lester M. Yap May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesia and the Philippines still have room to cut their benchmark interest rates to shore up their economies as inflation eases amid the global recession, the countries' central banks...
Indonesia's economic growth slows in 1st quarter - Forbes
AP , 05.15.09, 04:40 AM EDT Indonesia's economy clocked its weakest performance in five years in the first quarter of 2009, slowing to annual growth of 4.4 percent as the global financial crisis hit exports, the statistics bureau said Friday....

Indonesia

The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia's Banda Islands. Once one of the world's most valuable commodities, it drew the first European colonial powers to Indonesia.

The Republic of Indonesia (pronounced /ˌɪndoʊˈniːziə/ or /ˌɪndəˈniːʒə/) (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), is a transcontinental country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state. With an estimated population of around 237 million people, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation; however, no reference is made to Islam in the Indonesian constitution. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when the Srivijaya Kingdom traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually adopted Indian cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.

Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest and most politically dominant ethnic group. As a unitary state and a nation, Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka tunggal ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. However, sectarian tensions and separatism have led to violent confrontations that have undermined political and economic stability. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty is a defining feature of contemporary Indonesia.

The name Indonesia derives from the Latin Indus, meaning "India", and the Greek nesos, meaning "island". The name dates to the 18th century, far predating the formation of independent Indonesia. In 1850, George Earl, an English ethnologist, proposed the terms Indunesians — and, his preference, Malayunesians — for the inhabitants of the "Indian Archipelago or Malayan Archipelago". In the same publication, a student of Earl's, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago. However, Dutch academics writing in East Indies publications were reluctant to use Indonesia. Instead, they used the terms Malay Archipelago (Maleische Archipel); the Netherlands East Indies (Nederlandsch Oost Indië), popularly Indië; the East (de Oost); and even Insulinde.

From 1900, the name Indonesia became more common in academic circles outside the Netherlands, and Indonesian nationalist groups adopted it for political expression. Adolf Bastian, of the University of Berlin, popularized the name through his book Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayischen Archipels, 1884–1894. The first Indonesian scholar to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau in the Netherlands with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in 1913.

Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the "Java Man", suggest that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago. Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, migrated to South East Asia from Taiwan. They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and confined the native Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions as they expanded. Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the eighth century BCE, allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first century CE. Indonesia's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade. For example, trade links with both Indian kingdoms and China were established several centuries BCE. Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.

From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it. Between the eighth and 10th centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as Sailendra's Borobudur and Mataram's Prambanan. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century, and under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia; this period is often referred to as a "Golden Age" in Indonesian history.

Although Muslim traders first traveled through South East Asia early in the Islamic era, the earliest evidence of Islamized populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra. Other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam, and it was the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java. The first Europeans arrived in Indonesia in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalized colony.

For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over these territories was tenuous; only in the early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia's current boundaries. The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during World War II ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed president. The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence (with the exception of The Dutch territory of West New Guinea, which was incorporated following the 1962 New York Agreement, and UN-mandated Act of Free Choice).

Sukarno moved from democracy towards authoritarianism, and maintained his power base by balancing the opposing forces of the Military, and the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by the army, who led a violent anti-communist purge, during which the PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively destroyed. Between 500,000 and one million people were killed. The head of the military, General Suharto, out-maneuvered the politically weakened Sukarno, and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration was supported by the US government, and encouraged foreign direct investment in Indonesia, which was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth. However, the authoritarian "New Order" was widely accused of corruption and suppression of political opposition.

In 1997 and 1998, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the Asian Financial Crisis. This increased popular discontent with the New Order and led to popular protests. Suharto resigned on 21 May 1998. In 1999, East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, after a twenty-five-year military occupation that was marked by international condemnation of often brutal repression of the East Timorese. Since Suharto's resignation, a strengthening of democratic processes has included a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, and terrorism have slowed progress. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent and violence remain problems in some areas. A political settlement to an armed separatist conflict in Aceh was achieved in 2005.

Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the national government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The president of Indonesia is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the president and vice president. The president may serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.

The highest representative body at national level is the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president. The MPR comprises two houses; the People's Representative Council (DPR), with 550 members, and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), with 128 members. The DPR passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for five-year terms by proportional representation. Reforms since 1998 have markedly increased the DPR's role in national governance. The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management.

Most civil disputes appear before a State Court; appeals are heard before the High Court. The Supreme Court is the country's highest court, and hears final cassation appeals and conducts case reviews. Other courts include the Commercial Court, which handles bankruptcy and insolvency; a State Administrative Court to hear administrative law cases against the government; a Constitutional Court to hear disputes concerning legality of law, general elections, dissolution of political parties, and the scope of authority of state institutions; and a Religious Court to deal with specific religious cases.

In contrast to Sukarno's anti-imperialistic antipathy to western powers and tensions with Malaysia, Indonesia's foreign relations since the Suharto "New Order" have been based on economic and political cooperation with Western nations. Indonesia maintains close relationships with its neighbors in Asia, and is a founding member of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit. The nation restored relations with the People's Republic of China in 1990 following a freeze in place since anti-communist purges early in the Suharto era. Indonesia has been a member of the United Nations since 1950, and was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Indonesia is signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, the Cairns Group, and the WTO, and has historically been a member of OPEC, although it is withdrawing as of 2008 as it is no longer a net exporter of oil. Indonesia has received humanitarian and development aid since 1966, in particular from the United States, western Europe, Australia, and Japan.

The Indonesian Government has worked with other countries to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of major bombings linked to militant Islamism and Al-Qaeda. The deadliest killed 202 people (including 164 international tourists) in the Bali resort town of Kuta in 2002. The attacks, and subsequent travel warnings issued by other countries, severely damaged Indonesia's tourism industry and foreign investment prospects.

Indonesia's 300,000-member armed forces (TNI) include the Army (TNI-AD), Navy (TNI-AL, which includes marines), and Air Force (TNI-AU). The army has about 233,000 active-duty personnel. Defense spending in the national budget was 4% of GDP in 2006, and is controversially supplemented by revenue from military commercial interests and foundations. In the post-Suharto period since 1998, formal TNI representation in parliament has been removed; though curtailed; its political influence remains extensive. Separatist movements in the provinces of Aceh and Papua have led to armed conflict, and subsequent allegations of human rights abuses and brutality from all sides. Following a sporadic thirty year guerrilla war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military, a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2005. In Papua, there has been a significant, albeit imperfect, implementation of regional autonomy laws, and a reported decline in the levels of violence and human rights abuses, since the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Administratively, Indonesia consists of 33 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own political legislature and governor. The provinces are subdivided into regencies (kabupaten) and cities (kota), which are further subdivided into subdistricts (kecamatan), and again into village groupings (either desa or kelurahan). Following the implementation of regional autonomy measures in 2001, the regencies and cities have become the key administrative units, responsible for providing most government services. The village administration level is the most influential on a citizen's daily life, and handles matters of a village or neighborhood through an elected lurah or kepala desa (village chief).

The provinces of Aceh, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Papua, and West Papua have greater legislative privileges and a higher degree of autonomy from the central government than the other provinces. The Acehnese government, for example, has the right to create an independent legal system; in 2003, it instituted a form of Sharia (Islamic law). Yogyakarta was granted the status of Special Region in recognition of its pivotal role in supporting Indonesian Republicans during the Indonesian Revolution. Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, was granted special autonomy status in 2001. Jakarta is the country's special capital region.

Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited. These are scattered over both sides of the equator. The five largest islands are Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea), and Sulawesi. Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on the islands of Borneo and Sebatik, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea, and East Timor on the island of Timor. Indonesia also shares borders with Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines to the north and Australia to the south across narrow straits of water. The capital, Jakarta, is on Java and is the nation's largest city, followed by Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, and Semarang.

At 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,050 sq mi), Indonesia is the world's 16th-largest country in terms of land area. Its average population density is 134 people per square kilometer (347 per sq mi), 79th in the world, although Java, the world's most populous island, has a population density of 940 people per square kilometer (2,435 per sq mi). At 4,884 meters (16,024 ft), Puncak Jaya in Papua is Indonesia's highest peak, and Lake Toba in Sumatra its largest lake, with an area of 1,145 square kilometers (442 sq mi). The country's largest rivers are in Kalimantan, and include the Mahakam and Barito; such rivers are communication and transport links between the island's river settlements.

Indonesia's location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes, including Krakatoa and Tambora, both famous for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century. The eruption of the Toba supervolcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 167,736 in northern Sumatra, and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java and Bali.

Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands varies from 1,780–3,175 millimeters (70–125 in), and up to 6,100 millimeters (240 in) in mountainous regions. Mountainous areas—particularly in the west coast of Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua—receive the highest rainfall. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80%. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C (79–86 °F).

Indonesia's size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world's second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil), and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species. Once linked to the Asian mainland, the islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution have dwindled drastically. Forests cover approximately 60% of the country. In Sumatra and Kalimantan, these are predominantly of Asian species. However, the forests of the smaller, and more densely populated Java, have largely been removed for human habitation and agriculture. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku—having been long separated from the continental landmasses—have developed their own unique flora and fauna. Papua was part of the Australian landmass, and is home to a unique fauna and flora closely related to that of Australia, including over 600 bird species.

Indonesia is second only to Australia in its degree of endemism, with 26% of its 1,531 species of bird and 39% of its 515 species of mammal being endemic. Indonesia's 80,000 kilometers (50,000 mi) of coastline are surrounded by tropical seas that contribute to the country's high level of biodiversity. Indonesia has a range of sea and coastal ecosystems, including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems. The British naturalist, Alfred Wallace, described a dividing line between the distribution and peace of Indonesia's Asian and Australasian species. Known as the Wallace Line, it runs roughly north-south along the edge of the Sunda Shelf, between Kalimantan and Sulawesi, and along the deep Lombok Strait, between Lombok and Bali. West of the line the flora and fauna are more Asian; moving east from Lombok, they are increasingly Australian. In his 1869 book, The Malay Archipelago, Wallace described numerous species unique to the area. The region of islands between his line and New Guinea is now termed Wallacea.

Indonesia's high population and rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance. Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services. Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including the Sumatran Orangutan.

Indonesia's estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2007 is US$408 billion (US$1,038 bn PPP). In 2007, estimated nominal per capita GDP is US$1,812, and per capita GDP PPP was US$4,616 (International Dollars). The services sector is the economy's largest and accounts for 45.3% of GDP (2005). This is followed by industry (40.7%) and agriculture (14.0%). However, agriculture employs more people than other sectors, accounting for 44.3% of the 95 million-strong workforce. This is followed by the services sector (36.9%) and industry (18.8%). Major industries include petroleum and natural gas, textiles, apparel, and mining. Major agricultural products include palm oil, rice, tea, coffee, spices, and rubber.

Indonesia's main export markets (2005) are Japan (22.3%), the United States (13.9%), China (9.1%), and Singapore (8.9%). The major suppliers of imports to Indonesia are Japan (18.0%), China (16.1%), and Singapore (12.8%). In 2005, Indonesia ran a trade surplus with export revenues of US$83.64 billion and import expenditure of US$62.02 billion. The country has extensive natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia's major imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs.

In the 1960s, the economy deteriorated drastically as a result of political instability, a young and inexperienced government, and ill-disciplined economic nationalism, which resulted in severe poverty and hunger. Following President Sukarno's downfall in the mid-1960s, the New Order administration brought a degree of discipline to economic policy that quickly brought inflation down, stabilized the currency, rescheduled foreign debt, and attracted foreign aid and investment. Indonesia is Southeast Asia's only member of OPEC, and the 1970s oil price raises provided an export revenue windfall that contributed to sustained high economic growth rates. Following further reforms in the late 1980s, foreign investment flowed into Indonesia, particularly into the rapidly developing export-oriented manufacturing sector, and from 1989 to 1997, the Indonesian economy grew by an average of over 7%.

Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. Against the US dollar, the currency dropped from about Rp. 2,000 to Rp. 18,000, and the economy shrunk by 13.7%. The rupiah has since stabilized at around Rp. 10,000, and there has been a slow but significant economic recovery. Political instability since 1998, slow economic reform, and corruption at all levels of government and business, have contributed to the patchy nature of the recovery. (Transparency International, for example, ranked Indonesia 143rd out of 180 countries in its 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index). GDP growth, however, exceeded 5% in both 2004 and 2005, and is forecast to increase further. This growth rate, however, is not enough to make a significant impact on unemployment, and stagnant wages growth, and increases in fuel and rice prices have worsened poverty levels. As of 2006, an estimated 17.8% of the population live below the poverty line, 49.0% of the population live on less than US$2 per day, and unemployment rate at 9.75%.

The national population from the 2000 national census is 206 million, and the Indonesian Central Statistics Bureau and Statistics Indonesia estimate a population of 222 million for 2006. 130 million people live on the island of Java, the world's most populous island. Despite a fairly effective family planning program that has been in place since the 1960s, the population is expected to grow to around 315 million by 2035, based on the current estimated annual growth rate of 1.25%.

Most Indonesians are descendant from Austronesian-speaking peoples who originated from Taiwan. The other major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia. There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. The largest is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant. The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are the largest non-Javanese groups. A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside strongly maintained regional identities. Society is largely harmonious, although social, religious and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence. Chinese Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising less than 5% of the population. Much of the country's privately-owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-controlled, which has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence.

The official national language, Indonesian, is universally taught in schools, and is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. It was originally a lingua franca for most of the region, including present-day Malaysia, and is thus closely related to Malay. Indonesian was first promoted by nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language on independence in 1945. Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages (bahasa daerah), often as their first language. Of these, Javanese is the most widely-spoken as the language of the largest ethnic group. On the other hand, Papua has 500 or more indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages, in a region of just 2.7 million people. Much of the older population can still speak a level of Dutch.

Although religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam; Protestantism; Roman Catholicism; Hinduism; Buddhism; and Confucianism. Although it is not an Islamic state, Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with almost 86.1% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 census. 8.7% of the population is Christian, 3% are Hindu, and 1.8% Buddhist or other. Most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese, and most Buddhists in modern-day Indonesia are ethnic Chinese. Though now minority religions, Hinduism and Buddhism remain defining influences in Indonesian culture. Islam was first adopted by Indonesians in northern Sumatra in the 13th century, through the influence of traders, and became the country's dominant religion by the 16th century. Roman Catholicism was brought to Indonesia by early Portuguese colonialists and missionaries, and the Protestant denominations are largely a result of Dutch Calvinist and Lutheran missionary efforts during the country's colonial period. A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.

Indonesia has around 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural differences developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Malay, and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances. Textiles such as batik, ikat and songket are created across Indonesia in styles that vary by region. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have been significant. The most popular sports in Indonesia are badminton and football; Liga Indonesia is the country's premier football club league. Traditional sports include sepak takraw, and bull racing in Madura. In areas with a history of tribal warfare, mock fighting contests are held, such as, caci in Flores, and pasola in Sumba. Pencak Silat is an Indonesian martial art. Sports in Indonesia are generally male-orientated and spectator sports are often associated with illegal gambling.

Indonesian cuisine varies by region and is based on Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, and Indian precedents. Rice is the main staple food and is served with side dishes of meat and vegetables. Spices (notably chili), coconut milk, fish and chicken are fundamental ingredients. Indonesian traditional music includes gamelan and keroncong. Dangdut is a popular contemporary genre of pop music that draws influence from Arabic, Indian, and Malay folk music. The Indonesian film industry's popularity peaked in the 1980s and dominated cinemas in Indonesia, although it declined significantly in the early 1990s. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Indonesian films released each year has steadily increased.

The oldest evidence of writing in Indonesia is a series of Sanskrit inscriptions dated to the 5th century CE. Important figures in modern Indonesian literature include: Dutch author Multatuli, who criticized treatment of the Indonesians under Dutch colonial rule; Sumatrans Muhammad Yamin and Hamka, who were influential pre-independence nationalist writers and politicians; and proletarian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia's most famous novelist. Many of Indonesia's peoples have strongly-rooted oral traditions, which help to define and preserve their cultural identities. Media freedom in Indonesia increased considerably after the end of President Suharto's rule, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media, and restricted foreign media. The TV market includes ten national commercial networks, and provincial networks that compete with public TVRI. Private radio stations carry their own news bulletins and foreign broadcasters supply programs. At a reported 25 million users in 2008, Internet usage is limited to a minority of the population, approximately 10.5%.

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Communist Party of Indonesia

Garuda Pancasila, Coat Arms of Indonesia.svg

The Communist Party of Indonesia (in Indonesian: Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI) was the largest non-ruling communist party in the world prior to being crushed in 1965 and banned the following year.

An important early organization was founded by Dutch socialist Henk Sneevliet in 1914, under the name Indies Social Democratic Association (in Dutch: Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging, ISDV). ISDV was constituted essentially by the 85 members of the two Dutch socialist parties, SDAP and SDP, residing in the Dutch East Indies.. The Dutch members of the ISDV introduced Marxist ideas to educated Indonesians looking for ways to oppose colonial rule.

In October 1915 ISDV started a publication in Dutch, Het Vrije Woord (The Free Word). The editor was Adolf Baars. The ISDV did not demand independence at the time of its formation. At this point ISDV had around 100 members, out of whom only three were Indonesian. However, it rapidly moved into a radical and anticapitalist direction. ISDV under Sneevliet became uncomfortable for the SDAP leadership in the Netherlands, who distanced themselves from the ISDV. In 1917 the reformist section of ISDV broke away, and formed their own Indies Social Democratic Party. In 1917 ISDV launched its first publication in Indonesian, Soeara Merdeka (The Voice of Freedom).

Sneevliet's ISDV saw the legacy of the October Revolution as the path to follow in Indonesia. The group made inroads amongst Dutch sailors and soldiers stationed in the colony. 'Red Guards' were formed, and within three months they numbered 3 000. In late 1917 soldier and sailors revolted in the major naval base of the archipelago, Surabaya, and formed soviets. The colonial authorities suppressed the Surabaya soviets and the ISDV. Dutch leaders of ISDV were sent back to the Netherlands, including Sneevliet. The leaders of the soldiers uprising were given sentences of 40 years imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the ISDV established a bloc within the anti-colonialist Sarekat Islam (Islamic Union) organization. Two SI members from Semarang, Semaun and Darsono were attracted by Sneevliet's ideas. As a result of Sneevliet's "bloc within" strategy, many SI members were persuaded to establish the more revolutionary Marxist-dominated Sarekat Rakjat (People's Union).

ISDV continued working in a clandestine manner. It launched another publication, Soeara Rakyat (The People's Voice). After the involuntary departure of several Dutch cadres, in combination with the work inside the Sarekat Islam, the membership had moved from Dutch majority to Indonesian majority. By 1919 it only had 25 Dutch members, out of a total of less than 400.

At the congress of ISDV on 23 May 1920 in Semarang, it took the name Perserikatan Komunis di Hindia (PKH; Communist Association of the Indies). Semaun was the party chairman and Darsosno vice-chairman. The secretary, treasurer and three of the five committee members were Dutch. PKH was the first Asian communist party to become a section of the Communist International. Henk Sneevliet represented the party at the second congress of the Communist International 1921.

In the period leading up to the Sarekat Islam's sixth congress in 1921, members became aware of Sneevliet's strategy and took moves to stop it. Agus Salim, the organization's secretary, introduced a motion banning SI members from holding dual membership of other parties. Despite opposition from Tan Malaka and Semaun, the motion passed, forcing the communists to change tactics. At the same time, the Dutch colonial authorities introduced more restrictions on political activity, and Sarekat Islam decided to focus more on religious matters, leaving the communists as the only active nationalist organization.

With Semaun away in Moscow attending a Far Eastern Labor Conference in early 1922, Tan Malaka tried to turn a strike of government pawnshop workers into a national strike to include all Indonesian labor unions. This failed, Tan Malaka was arrested and given a choice between internal or external exile. He chose the latter and left for Russia.

In May 1922, Semaun returned after seven months in Russia and began to organize all labor unions into one organization. On 22 September, the Union of Indonesian Labor Organizations (Persatuan Vakbonded Hindia) was formed.

At the fifth Comintern congress in 1924, it was emphasized that "the top priority of communist parties is to gain control of trades unions" as there could be no successful revolution without this. The PKH began concentrate on unions, decided discipline needed improving, and demanded the establishment of a Soviet Republic of Indonesia.

In 1924 the party name was changed once again, to Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI, Communist Party of Indonesia).

In May 1925, the Exec Committee of Comintern in a plenary session ordered communists in Indonesia to form a united anti-imperialist front with non-communist nationalist organizations, but extremist elements dominated by Alimin & Musso called for a revolution to overthrow the Dutch colonial government. At a conference in Prambanan, Central Java, communist-controlled trades unions decided the revolution would start with a strike by railroad workers that would signal a general strike and then a revolution would start. This would lead to the PKI replacing the colonial government .

The plan was for the revolution to begin in Padang, Sumatra, but a government security clampdown at the beginning of 1926 that saw the end of the right to assembly and the arrests of PKI members forced the party to go deeper underground. Splits among PKI leaders as to the timing and course of the revolution resulted in poor planning. Tan Malaka, at the time Comintern's agent for Southeast Asia and Australia did not agree with the plot, partly because he believed the PKI had insufficient mass support. As a result of these divisions, in June 1926, the revolution was postponed.

However, there was a limited revolt in Batavia (as Jakarta was then known), which broke out on 12 November. Similar actions took place in Padang, Bantam and Surabaya. In Batavia, the revolt was crushed within a day or two, and after a few weeks it had been comprehensively defeated throughout the country.

As a result of the failed revolution, 13,000 people were arrested, 4,500 imprisoned, 1,308 interned, and 823 exiled to Digul, West New Guinea. Several died while in captivity. Many non-communist political activists were also targeted by the colonial authorities, under the pretext of suppressing the communist rebellion. The party was outlawed by the Dutch East Indies government in 1927. The PKI went underground and Dutch, and later Japanese, surveillance ensured that it was never a disciplined or coherent organisation for the remainder of the pre-war period.

During the initial period of illegality PKI kept a somewhat lower profile, with much of its leadership imprisoned. In 1935 the PKI leader Musso returned from his exile in Moscow to reorganize the underground, or "illegal" PKI. His stay in Indonesia was however rather brief. The party now worked within various fronts, such as Gerindo and trade unions. In Holland PKI started working amongst Indonesian students within the nationalist organization Perhimpunan Indonesia, an organization which was soon to be under the control of the PKI.

The PKI re-emerged on the political scene after the Japanese surrender in 1945, and it actively took part in the struggle for independence from the Netherlands. Many armed units were under PKI control or influence. Although PKI militias played an important role in fighting against Dutch, President Sukarno was concerned the growing influence of PKI would eventually threaten his position. Moreover, the growth of PKI troubled the more right-wing sectors of the Indonesian polity as well as some foreign powers, especially the vigorously anti-communist United States. Thus the relationship between the PKI and other forces also fighting for independence was generally a difficult one.

In February 1948 PKI and leftist sectors of the Socialist Party of Indonesia (Partai Sosialis Indonesia) formed a joint front, People's Democratic Front. The front did not last, but the leftist section of PSI later merged with PKI. By this time the Pesindo militias were under the control of PKI.

On August 11, 1948 Musso returned to Jakarta after twelve years in the Soviet Union. The PKI politburo was reconstructed, including Dipa Nusantara Aidit, M.H. Lukman and Njoto.

After signing the Renville Agreement in 1948, many of the Republican armed units returned from zones of conflict. This gave the Indonesian right-wing some confidence that they would be able to counter PKI militarily. Guerrilla units and militias under the influence of PKI were ordered to disband. In Madiun a group PKI militaries refused to go along with the disarmament were killed in September the same year. The killings sparked a violent uprising. This provided a pretext to clamp down on the PKI. It was claimed by army sources that PKI had announced the proclamation of the 'Soviet Republic of Indonesia' on September 18 with Musso as its president and Amir Sjarifuddin as its prime minister. At the same time PKI had denounced the uprising and appealed for calm. The uprising was suppressed by republican troops and PKI passed through yet another period of repression. On September 30 Madiun was taken over by republican troops of the Siliwangi division. Thousands of party cadres were killed and 36 000 were imprisoned. Amongst the executed were several leaders including Musso who was killed on October 31, allegedly while trying to escape from prison. Aidit and Lukman went into exile in the People's Republic of China. However, PKI was not banned and continued to function. The reconstruction of the party began in 1949.

In 1950 the party started publishing again, with the main organs being Harian Rakyat and Bintang Merah. In the 1950s the PKI committed itself to a nationalist position under the leadership of Dipa Nusantara Aidit, supporting the anti-colonialist and anti-western policy of the Indonesian president Sukarno. Aidit and the section around him, including young leaders such as Sudisman, Lukman, Njoto and Sakirman, who took charge of the party in 1951. None were more than 30 years old at the time. Under Aidit PKI grew rapidly, from around 3-5 000 in 1950, to 165 000 members in 1954 to 1.5 million in 1959.

In August 1951 PKI led series of militant strikes, which were followed by clamp-downs in Medan and Jakarta. The PKI leadership went underground for a brief period.

Before the election of 1955, PKI favoured Sukarno's plans for 'guided democracy' and was an active supporter of Sukarno. In the 1955 elections PKI came fourth with 16% of the votes. It won 39 seats (out of 257) and 80 out of 514 in the Constituent Assembly.

Opposition to the continued Dutch control over Irian Jaya was an issue often raised by PKI during the 1950s.

In July 1957 there was a grenade attack on the PKI office in Jakarta. In the same month PKI made advances in municipal elections. In September the same year the Islamist Masyumi publicly demanded that PKI should be banned.

On December 3 trade unions, largely under control of PKI, started seizing control of Dutch-owned companies. These seizures paved the way for the nationalization of foreign-owned enterprises. The struggles against foreign capitalists gave the PKI the opportunity to profile itself as a national party.

In February 1958 a coup attempt was made by pro-U.S. forces amongst the military and the political right-wing. The rebels, based in Sumatra and Sulawesi, proclaimed a Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia (Pemerintah Revolusioner Republik Indonesia) on February 15. This so-called Revolutionary Government immediately began arresting thousands of PKI members in the areas under their control. PKI supported the efforts by Sukarno to quell the rebellion, including introduction of martial law. The rebellion was eventually defeated.

In August 1959 there was an attempt on behalf of the military to prevent the holding of the PKI congress. However the congress was held as scheduled, and was addressed by Sukarno himself. In 1960 Sukarno launched the slogan Nasakom, an abbreviation of Nasionalisme (Nationalism), Agama (Religion), Komunisme (Communism). Thus the role of PKI as a junior partner in the Sukarno polity was institutionalized. The PKI welcomed the launching of the Nasakom concept, seeing it in terms of a multiclass united front.

Although PKI supported Sukarno, it did not lose its political autonomy. In March 1960 the PKI denounced the undemocratic handling of the budget by Sukarno. On July 8 Harian Rakyat carried an article critical of the government. The PKI leadership was arrested by the army, but later released on orders of Sukarno.

When idea of Malaysia was conceived, it was rejected by the PKI as well as the Communist Party of Malaya.

With growing popular support and a membership of about 3 million by 1965, the PKI was the strongest communist party outside the Soviet Union and China. The party had a firm base in various mass organizations, such as the All-Indonesian Central Labour Organisation (Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia), People's Youth (Pemuda Rakyat), Indonesian Women's Movement (Gerakan Wanita Indonesia), Peasants Front of Indonesia (Barisan Tani Indonesia), the League of People's Culture (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat) and the Association of Scholars of Indonesia (Himpunan Sarjana Indonesia). Estimates claim that the total membership of the party and its frontal organizations might have at its peak organized a fifth of the Indonesian population.

In March 1962 PKI joined the government. PKI leaders Aidit and Njoto were named advisory ministers. In April PKI held its party congress. In 1963 the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines engaged in discussions on territorial disputes and the possibility of a Maphilindo Confederation, an idea launched by the Philippine president Macapagal. The PKI rejected the ideas of Maphilindo and Malaysian federation. PKI militants crossed over into Malaysia and engaged in combat against British and Australian forces there. Some groups reached Malaya, to join the struggle there. However, most of them were captured on arrival. Most of the PKI combat units were active in border regions of Borneo.

In January 1964 PKI started confiscating British properties owned by British companies in Indonesia.

In the mid 1960s the U.S. State Department estimated the party membership to be approximately 2 million (3.8% of the working age population of the country).

Sukarno's balancing act between the PKI, the military, nationalist factions, and Islamic groups was threatened by the PKI's rise. The growing influence of the PKI concerned the United States and other anti-communist western powers. The political and economic situation had become more volatile; annual inflation reached over 600 per cent and living conditions for Indonesians worsened.

In December 1964 Chaerul Saleh of the Murba Party (formed by former PKI leader Tan Malaka) claimed that PKI was preparing a coup d'état. The PKI demanded a ban on the Murba Party, which was enforced by Sukarno in early 1965. In the context of Konfrontasi with Malaysia, the PKI called for 'arming the people'. Large sectors of the army were opposed to this. Sukarno remained officially non-committal. In July around 2000 PKI members started military training near Halim Air Force Base. Notably the concept of 'arming the people' had won support amongst the Air Force and the Navy. On September 8 PKI demonstrators initiated a two-day siege of the US Consulate in Surabaya. On September 14 Aidit addressed a PKI rally, urging members to be vigilant to things to come. On September 30 Pemuda Rakyat and Gerwani, both PKI-associated organizations, held a mass rally in Jakarta against the inflation crisis.

On the night of 30 September and 1 October, six of Indonesia's top generals were killed and their bodies thrown down a well. The generals' killers announced the following morning that the new Revolutionary Council had seized power, calling themselves the "30 September Movement" ("G30S"). With much of the army's top leadership either dead or missing, General Suharto took control of the army and put down the abortive coup by 2 October. The army quickly blamed the coup attempt on the PKI and instigated an Indonesia-wide anti-Communist propaganda campaign. Evidence linking the PKI to the generals' assassinations is inconclusive, leading to speculation that their involvement was very limited, or that Suharto organised the events, in whole or part, and scapegoated the communists. In the ensuing violent anti-communist purge, an estimated 500,000 communists (real and suspected) were killed, and the PKI effectively eliminated (see Indonesian killings of 1965–66). General Suharto out-maneuvered Sukarno politically and was appointed president in 1968, consolidating his influence over the military and government.

On October 2 the Halim base was "captured" by the army. The Harian Rakyat issue carried an article in support of the G30S coup, but speculation later arose concerning whether it actually represented the opinions of PKI. Otherwise the official line of PKI at the time was that the G30S was an internal affair within the armed forces. On October 6 the Sukarno's cabinet held its first meeting since September 30. PKI ministers attend. A resolution denouncing G30S was passed. Njoto was arrested directly after the meeting.

A massive manifestation was held in Jakarta two days later, demanding a ban on the PKI. The main office of PKI was burned down. On October 13 the Islamic organization Ansor held anti-PKI rallies across Java. On October 18 around a hundred PKI were killed by Ansor. The systematic extermination of the party had begun.

Between 300,000 and one million Indonesians were killed in the mass killings that followed. The victims included non-Communists who were slain because of mistaken identity or "guilt by association." However, the lack of information makes it impossible to pinpoint an exact figure of casualties. Many scholars today suggest that the figure is between 200,000 and 500,000. Lists of suspected communists were supplied to the Indonesian military by the CIA. A CIA study of the events in Indonesia assessed that "In terms of the numbers killed the anti-PKI massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century..." .

Communists, red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of communists, killing entire families and burying their bodies in shallow graves. The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travelers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies.

Although the motives for the killings seemed political, some scholars argue that the events were caused by a state of panic and political uncertainty. Part of the anti-Communist force that was responsible for the massacres were made up of members of the criminal underworld, given permission to engage in senseless acts of violence. Other motives have been explored, such as running amok or an allusion to Javanense puppet-play (wayang).

Amongst the worst affected areas was the island of Bali, where PKI had grown rapidly prior to the crackdown. On November 11 clashes erupted between the PKI and PNI, ending in massacres of PKI accused members and sympathizers. Whereas much of the anti-PKI pogroms in the rest of the country were carried out by Islamic political organizations in the name of jihad, the killings in Bali were done in the name of Hinduism. Bali stood out as the only place in the country where local soldiers in some way intervened to lessen the slaughter.

On November 22, Aidit was captured and killed.

In December the military proclaimed that Aceh had been cleared of communists. Simultaneously, Special Military Courts were set up to try jailed PKI members. On March 12, the party was formally banned by Suharto, and the pro-PKI trade union SOBSI was banned in April.

Some of these tumultuous events were fictionalized in the popular novel and film The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).

In spite of initial sporadic resistance, PKI stood paralysed after the 1965-1966 killings. In September 1966 the remnants of the party politburo issued a statement of self-criticism, criticizing the previous cooperation with the Sukarno regime.

After the killings of Aidit and Njoto, Sudisman took over party leadership. In 1967 he was sentenced to death.

Some cadres of PKI had taken refuge in Blitar, Eastern Java, following the crackdown on the party. Amongst the leaders present were the youth leader Sukatno, the deputy chairman of SOBSI, Ruslan Widjayasastra and Professor Iskandar Subekti, assistant to Aidit. Blitar was an underdeveloped area were PKI had strong support amongst the peasantry. The military was unaware that PKI had been able to consolidate itself there. But in March 1968 violence erupted in Blitar, as local peasants attacked leaders and cadres of Nahdatul Ulama, as a revenge for the role it had played in anticommunist persecutions. Around 60 NU cadres were killed. It is however unlikely that the killings of NU cadres in Blitar had been conducted on the orders of PKI. The military became aware of the PKI enclave and crushed it. Sukatno, Ruslan and Iskandar Subekti were captured and sentenced to death.

Some party cadres were temporarily outside Indonesia at the time of the September 30 events. Notably a sizeable delegation had travelled to the People's Republic of China to participate in the anniversary celebrations of the Chinese Revolution. Others had left Indonesia to pursue studies in Eastern Europe. In exile a party apparatus continued to function. It was, however, largely isolated from political developments inside Indonesia. In Java, some villages that were known to be refuges for members or suspected sympathisers were identified by authorities and were kept under careful watch for a considerable time.

As of 2004, former PKI members remain blacklisted from many occupations including government jobs. During his presidency Abdurrahman Wahid invited former PKI exiles to return to Indonesia in 1999, and proposed removing restrictions on open discussion of the communist ideology. In arguing for the removal of the ban, Wahid cited Indonesia's original 1945 constitution, which did not prohibit or even specifically mention communism. Wahid's proposal was vigorously opposed by some sectors of Indonesian society, especially conservative Islamic groups. In an April 2000 protest, a group called the Indonesian Islamic Front rallied ten thousand people in Jakarta against Wahid's proposal. The Army did not immediately reject the proposal, but promised a "comprehensive and meticulous study" of the idea.

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History of Indonesia

The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia's Banda Islands. Once one of the world's most valuable commodities, it drew the first European colonial powers to Indonesia.

Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,508 islands (6,000 inhabited) stretching along the equator in South East Asia. The country's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. The area is populated by peoples of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages. The archipelago's landforms and climate significantly influenced agriculture and trade, and the formation of states.

Fossilised remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the "Java Man", suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago. Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, were originally from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished bringing Hindu and Buddhist influences with it. The agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties subsequently thrived and declined in inland Java. The last significant non-Muslim kingdom, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom, flourished from the late 13th century, and its influence stretched over much of Indonesia. The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam which became the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences.

Europeans arrived in Indonesia from the 16th century seeking to monopolise the sources of valuable nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalised colony. By the early 20th century Dutch dominance extended to what was to become Indonesia's current boundaries. The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during WWII ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, nationalist leader, Sukarno, declared independence and was appointed president. The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, but a bitter armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognised Indonesian independence.

An attempted coup in 1965 led to a violent army-led anti-communist purge in which over half a million people were killed. General Suharto politically out-manoeuvred President Sukarno, and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration garnered the favour of the West whose investment in Indonesia was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth. In the late 1990s, however, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian Financial Crisis which led to popular protests and Suharto's resignation on 21 May 1998. The Reformasi era following Suharto's resignation, has led to a strengthening of democratic processes, including a regional autonomy program, the secession of East Timor, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, natural disasters, and terrorism have slowed progress. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent and violence remain problems in some areas.

Geologically the area of modern Indonesia appeared sometime around the Pleistocene period, when it was still linked with the Asian mainland. The archipelago formed during the thaw after the latest ice age. Fossilised remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the "Java Man", suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago. Recent discoveries on the island of Flores were dubbed "Flores Man" (Homo floresiensis), a miniature hominoid that grew only three feet tall, although whether this constitutes a separate species is still in dispute. Flores Man seems to have shared some islands with Java Man until only 10,000 years ago, when they became extinct.

Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, migrated to South East Asia from Taiwan. They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and confined the native Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions as they expanded. Dong Son culture spread to Indonesia bringing with it techniques of wet-field rice cultivation, ritual buffalo sacrifice, bronze casting, megalithic practises, and ikat weaving methods. Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the eighth century BCE, allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first century CE.

References to the Dvipantara or Jawa Dwipa Hindu kingdom in Java and Sumatra appear in Sanskrit writings from 200 BC.

The earliest archeological relic discovered in Indonesia is from the Ujung Kulon National Park, West Java, where an early Hindu statue of Ganesha from the 1st century AD was found on the summit of Mount Raksa in Panaitan Island.

There is also archeological evidence of a kingdom in Tatar Sunda / Sunda Territory in West Java dating from the 2nd century, and according to Dr Tony Djubiantono, the head of Bandung Archeology Agency, Jiwa Temple in Batujaya, Karawang, West Java was also built around this time.

Three rough plinths dating from the beginning of the fourth century are found in Kutai, East Kalimantan, near Mahakam River. The plinths bear an inscription in the Pallava script of India reading "A gift to the Brahmin priests". In addition, the "Batu Tulis" monument ,a huge black boulder near Bogor, West Java, dates from around 450. On this monument, King Purnavarna inscribed his name and made an imprint of his footprints, as well as his elephant's footprints. The accompanying inscription reads, "Here are the footprints of King Purnavarna, the heroic conqueror of the world". This inscription is in Sanskrit and is still clear after 1500 years.

A number of Hindu and Buddhist states flourished and then declined across Indonesia. By the time of the European Renaissance, Java and Sumatra had already seen over a millennium of civilization and two major empires. One such early kingdom was Tarumanagara, which flourished between 358 and 669 AD. Located in Sunda in West Java close to modern-day Jakarta, its fifth-century king, Purnawarman, produced the earliest known inscriptions in Java. Purnawarman apparently built a canal that changed the course of the Cakung River, and drained a coastal area for agriculture and settlement. In his stone inscriptions, Purnawarman associated himself with Vishnu, and Brahmins ritually secured the hydraulic project.

The political history of Indonesia during the fourteenth and fifteen centuries is not well known due to scarcity of evidence. Two major states dominated this period; Majapahit in East Java, the greatest of the pre-Islamic Indonesian states, and Malacca on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, arguably the greatest of the Muslim trading empires.

Mataram was an Indianized kingdom based in Central Java around modern-day Yogyakarta between the 8th and 10th centuries. The centre of the kingdom was moved from Central Java to East Java by Mpu Sindok. The move may have been caused by an eruption of the volcano Mount Merapi, or a power struggle.

The first king of Mataram was Sri Sanjaya, who drove the Sailendras from Java and left inscriptions in stone. The monumental Hindu temple of Prambanan in the vicinity of Yogyakarta was built by Daksa. Dharmawangsa ordered the translation of the Mahabharata into Old Javanese in 996.

The kingdom collapsed into chaos at the end of Dharmawangsa's reign under military pressure from Srivijaya. Airlangga, a son of Udayana of Bali and a relative of Dharmawangsa re-established the kingdom including Bali under the name of Kahuripan.

Srivijaya (-sri meaning glitters or radiant, -jaya meaning success or excellence) was an ancient Malay kingdom on the island of Sumatra which influenced much of the Maritime Southeast Asia. From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it.

Srivijaya was centred in the coastal trading center of present day Palembang. The empire was a thalassocracy and did not extend its influence far beyond the coastal areas of the islands of Southeast Asia. Srivijaya was organised in three main zones — the estuarine capital region centred on Palembang, the Musi River basin which served as hinterland, and rival estuarine zones capable of forming rival power centres. The capital zone was administered directly by the ruler. The hinterland zone remained under its own local datus or chiefs who were organized into a network of allegiance to the maharaja. Force was the dominant element in the empire's relations with rival river systems such as the Batang Hari river basin centred on Jambi. The ruling lineage intermarried with and allied with the Sailendras of Central Java.

Although historical records and archaeological evidence are scarce, it appears that by the seventh century, Srivijaya established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java, and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, Srivijaya controlled both the Spice Route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships, and remained a formidable sea power until the thirteenth century. This spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo.

A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. These included the Chinese monk Yijing, who made several lengthy visits to Sumatra on his way to study at Nalanda in India in 671 and 695, and the eleventh-century Buddhist scholar Atisha, who played a major role in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. Travellers to these islands mentioned that gold coinage was in use on the coasts, but not inland.

In 1068, Rajendra Chola, the Chola king of Tamil Nadu, conquered Kedah from Srivijaya. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesia and Malaysia for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms based, like Kediri, on intensive agriculture rather than coastal and long distance trade.

Srivijaya influence waned by the 11th century. The island was in frequent conflict with the Javanese kingdoms, first Singhasari and then Majapahit. Islam eventually made its way to the Aceh region of Sumatra, spreading its influence through contacts with Arabs and Indian traders. By the late 13th century, the kingdom of Pasai in northern Sumatra converted to Islam. At that time Srivijaya was briefly a tributary of the Khmer empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom. The last inscription dates to 1374, where a crown prince, Ananggavarman, is mentioned.

Srivijaya ceased to exist by 1414, when Parameswara, the kingdom's last prince, converted to Islam and founded the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay peninsula.

A lack of historical evidence has meant the political history of Indonesia in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries is unclear. It is known, however, that Majapahit was the dominant kingdom of the Indonesian archipelago during this period, and the most dominant of all Indonesia's pre-Islamic states. Evidence of smaller states, such as Pasai, is even more scarce such that almost no historical study is possible.

The Singhasari and Majapahit kingdoms both rose in eastern Java and assumed the territory of Srivijaya. Singhasari was a kingdom located in east Java between 1222 and 1292.

The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century, and under Gajah Mada it experienced what is often referred to as a "Golden Age" in Indonesian history, when its influence extended to much of southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali from about 1293 to around 1500.

The founder of the Majapahit Empire, Kertarajasa, was the son-in-law of the ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, also based in Java. After Singhasari drove Srivijaya out of Java altogether in 1290, the rising power of Singhasari came to the attention of Kublai Khan in China and he sent emissaries demanding tribute. Kertanagara, ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, refused to pay tribute and the Khan sent a punitive expedition which arrived off the coast of Java in 1293. By that time, a rebel from Kediri, Jayakatwang, had killed Kertanagara. The Majapahit founder allied himself with the Mongols against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, turned and forced his Mongol allies to withdraw in confusion.

Gajah Mada, an ambitious Majapahit prime minister and regent from 1331 to 1364, extended the empire's rule to the surrounding islands. A few years after Gajah Madah's death, the Majapahit navy captured Palembang, putting an end to the Srivijayan kingdom. Although the Majapahit rulers extended their power over other islands and destroyed neighbouring kingdoms, their focus seems to have been on controlling and gaining a larger share of the commercial trade that passed through the archipelago. About the time Majapahit was founded, Muslim traders and proselytisers began entering the area.

After its peak in the 1300s, Majapahit power began to decline with a war over succession that started in 1401 and went on for four years. Majapahit found itself unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. Dates for the end of the Majapahit Empire range from 1478 to 1520. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and members of the royal family moved east to the island of Bali at the end of Majapah power.

Although Muslim traders first traveled through South East Asia early in the Islamic era, the earliest evidence of Islamized populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra. Although it is known that the spread of Islam began in the west of the archipelago, the fragmentary evidence does not suggest a rolling wave of conversion through adjacent areas; rather, it suggests the process was complicated and slow. The spread of Islam was driven by increasing trade links outside of the archipelago; in general, traders and the royalty of major kingdoms were the first to adopt the new religion.

Other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam, making it the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java. Only Bali retained a Hindu majority. In the eastern archipelago, both Christian and Islamic missionaries were active in the 16th and 17th centuries, and, currently, there are large communities of both religions on these islands.

The Sultanate of Mataram was the third Sultanate in Java, after the Sultanate of Demak Bintoro and the Sultanate of Pajang.

According to Javanese records, Kyai Gedhe Pamanahan became the ruler of the Mataram area in the 1570s with the support of the kingdom of Pajang to the east, near the current site of Surakarta (Solo). Pamanahan was often referred to as Kyai Gedhe Mataram after his ascension.

Pamanahan's son, Panembahan Senapati Ingalaga, replaced his father on the throne around 1584. Under Senapati the kingdom grew substantially through regular military campaigns against Mataram's neighbors. Shortly after his accession, for example, he conquered his father's patrons in Pajang.

The reign of Panembahan Seda ing Krapyak (c. 1601-1613), the son of Senapati, was dominated by further warfare, especially against powerful Surabaya, already a major center in East Java. The first contact between Mataram and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) occurred under Krapyak. Dutch activities at the time were limited to trading from limited coastal settlements, so their interactions with the inland Mataram kingdom were limited, although they did form an alliance against Surabaya in 1613. Krapyak died that year.

Krapyak was succeeded by his son, who is known simply as Sultan Agung ("Great Sultan") in Javanese records. Agung was responsible for the great expansion and lasting historical legacy of Mataram due to the extensive military conquests of his long reign from 1613 to 1646.

After years of war Agung finally conquered Surabaya. The city surrounded by land and sea and starved it into submission. With Surabaya brought into the empire, the Mataram kingdom encompassed all of central and eastern Java, and Madura; only in the west did Banten and the Dutch settlement in Batavia remain outside Agung's control. He tried repeatedly in the 1620s and 1630s to drive the Dutch from Batavia, but his armies had met their match, and he was forced to share control over Java.

In 1645 he began building Imogiri, his burial place, about fifteen kilometers south of Yogyakarta. Imogiri remains the resting place of most of the royalty of Yogyakarta and Surakarta to this day. Agung died in the spring of 1646, with his image of royal invincibility shattered by his losses to the Dutch, but he did leave behind an empire that covered most of Java and its neighboring islands.

Upon taking the throne, Agung's son Susuhunan Amangkurat I tried to bring long-term stability to Mataram's realm, murdering local leaders that were insufficiently deferential to him, and closing ports so he alone had control over trade with the Dutch.

By the mid-1670s dissatisfaction with the king fanned into open revolt. Raden Trunajaya, a prince from Madura, lead a revolt fortified by itinerant mercenaries from Makassar that captured the king's court at Mataram in mid-1677. The king escaped to the north coast with his eldest son, the future king Amangkurat II, leaving his younger son Pangeran Puger in Mataram. Apparently more interested in profit and revenge than in running a struggling empire, the rebel Trunajaya looted the court and withdrew to his stronghold in East Java leaving Puger in control of a weak court.

Amangkurat I died just after his expulsion, making Amangkurat II king in 1677. He too was nearly helpless, though, having fled without an army or treasury to build one. In an attempt to regain his kingdom, he made substantial concessions to the Dutch, who then went to war to reinstate him. For the Dutch, a stable Mataram empire that was deeply indebted to them would help ensure continued trade on favorable terms. They were willing to lend their military might to keep the kingdom together. Dutch forces first captured Trunajaya, then forced Puger to recognize the sovereignty of his elder brother Amangkurat II.

In 1524-25, Sunan Gunung Jati from Cirebon, together with the armies of Demak Sultanate, seized the port of Banten from the Sunda kingdom, and established The Sultanate of Banten. This was accompanied by Muslim preachers and the adoption of Islam amongst the local population. At its peak in the first half of the seventeenth century, the Sultanate lasted from 1526 to 1813 AD. The Sultanate left many archaeological remains and historical records.

Beginning in the sixteenth century, successive waves of Europeans—the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British—sought to dominate the spice trade at its sources in India and the 'Spice Islands' (Maluku) of Indonesia. This meant finding a way to Asia to cut out Muslim merchants who, with their Venetian outlet in the Mediterranean, monopolised spice imports to Europe. Astronomically priced at the time, spices were highly coveted not only to preserve and make poorly preserved meat palatable, but also as medicines and magic potions.

The arrival of Europeans in South East Asia is often regarded as the watershed moment in its history. Other scholars consider this view untenable, arguing that European influence during the times of the early arrivals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was limited in both area and depth. This is in part due to Europe not being the most advanced or dynamic area of the world in the early fifteenth century. Rather, the major expansionist force of this time was Islam; in 1453, for example, the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople, while Islam continued to spread through Indonesia and the Philippines. European influence, particularly that of the Dutch, would not have its greatest impact on Indonesia until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Europeans were, however, making technological advances. New found Portuguese expertise in navigation, ship building and weaponry allowed them to make daring expeditions of exploration and expansion. Starting with the first exploratory expeditions sent from newly-conquered Malacca in 1512, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Indonesia, and sought to dominate the sources of valuable spices and to extend the Catholic church's missionary efforts. Initial Portuguese attempts to establish a coalition and peace treaty in 1512 with the Sunda Kingdom at Kalapa failed due to hostilities amongst other indigenous Javan kingdoms. The Portuguese turned east to Maluku, which comprised a varied collection of principalities and kingdoms that were occasionally at war with each other but maintained significant inter-island and international trade. Through both military conquest and alliance with local rulers, they established trading posts, forts, and missions in eastern Indonesia including the islands of Ternate, Ambon, and Solor. The height of Portuguese missionary activities, however, came at the latter half of the sixteenth century, after the pace of their military conquest in the archipelago had stopped and their commercial interest in Indonesia was shifting to Japan, Macau and China as well as sugar in Brazil and the Atlantic slave trade.

The Portuguese presence in Indonesia was reduced to Solor, Flores and Timor in modern day Nusa Tenggara, following defeat in 1575 at Ternate at the hands of indigenous Ternateans, Dutch conquests in Ambon, north Maluku and Banda, and a general failure to maintain control of trade in the region. In comparison with the original Portuguese ambition to dominate Asian trade, their influences on Indonesian culture are small: the romantic keroncong guitar ballads; a number of Indonesian words which reflect Portuguese’s role as the 'lingua franca' of the archipelago alongside Malay; and many family names in eastern Indonesia such as da Costa, Dias, de Fretes, Gonsalves, etc. The most significant impacts of the Portuguese arrival were the disruption and disorganisation of the trade network mostly as a result of their conquest of Malacca, and the first significant plantings of Christianity in Indonesia. There have continued to be Christian communities in eastern Indonesia through to the present, which has contributed to a sense of shared interest with Europeans, particularly among the Ambonese.

In 1602, the Dutch parliament awarded the VOC a monopoly on trade and colonial activities in the region at a time before the company controlled any territory in Java. In 1619, the VOC conquered the West Javan city of Jayakarta, where they founded the city of Batavia (present-day Jakarta). The VOC became deeply involved in the internal politics of Java in this period, and fought in a number of wars involving the leaders of Mataram and Banten (Bantam).

The Dutch followed the Portuguese aspirations, courage, brutality and strategies but brought better organisation, weapons, ships, and superior financial backing. Although they failed to gain complete control of the Indonesian spice trade, they had much more success than the previous Portuguese efforts. They exploited the factionalisation of the small kingdoms in Java that had replaced Majapahit, establishing a permanent foothold in Java, from which grew a land-based colonial empire which became one of the world's richest colonial possessions.

After the VOC was dissolved in 1800 following bankruptcy, and after a short British rule under Thomas Stamford Raffles, the Dutch state took over the VOC possessions in 1816. A Javanese uprising was crushed in the Java War of 1825-1830. After 1830 a system of forced cultivations and indentured labour was introduced on Java, the Cultivation System (in Dutch: cultuurstelsel). This system brought the Dutch and their Indonesian collaborators enormous wealth. The cultivation system tied peasants to their land, forcing them to work in government-owned plantations for 60 days of the year. The system was abolished in a more liberal period after 1870. In 1901 the Dutch adopted what they called the Ethical Policy, which included somewhat increased investment in indigenous education, and modest political reforms.

For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over its territories in the Indonesian archipelago was tenuous. It was only in the early 20th century, three centuries after the first Dutch trading post, that the full extent of the colonial territory was established and direct colonial rule exerted across what would become the boundaries of the modern Indonesian state. Portuguese Timor, now East Timor, remained under Portuguese rule until 1975 when it was invaded by Indonesia. The Indonesian government declared the territory an Indonesian province but relinquished it in 1999.

In 1908 the first nationalist movement was formed, Budi Utomo, followed in 1912 by the first nationalist mass movement, Sarekat Islam. The Dutch responded after the First World War with repressive measures. The nationalist leaders came from a small group of young professionals and students, some of whom had been educated in the Netherlands. Many, including Indonesia's first president, Sukarno (1901-70), were imprisoned for political activities.

In 1914 exiled Dutch socialist Henk Sneevliet founded the Indies Social Democratic Association. Initially a small forum of Dutch socialists, it would later evolve into the Communist Party of Indonesia.

The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during WWII ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. In May 1940, early in World War II, the Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany. The Dutch East Indies declared a state of siege and in July redirected exports for Japan to the US and Britain. Negotiations with the Japanese aimed at securing supplies of aviation fuel collapsed in June 1941, and the Japanese started their conquest of Southeast Asia in December of that year. That same month, factions from Sumatra sought Japanese assistance for a revolt against the Dutch wartime government. The last Dutch forces were defeated by Japan in March 1942.

In July 1942, Sukarno accepted Japan's offer to rally the public in support of the Japanese war effort. Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta were decorated by the Emperor of Japan in 1943. However, experience of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia varied considerably, depending upon where one lived and one's social position. Many who lived in areas considered important to the war effort experienced torture, sex slavery, arbitrary arrest and execution, and other war crimes. Thousands taken away from Indonesia as war labourers (romusha) suffered or died as a result of ill-treatment and starvation. People of Dutch and mixed Dutch-Indonesian descent were particular targets of the Japanese occupation.

In March 1945 Japan organized an Indonesian committee (BPUPKI) on independence. At its first meeting in May, Supomo spoke of national integration and against personal individualism; while Muhammad Yamin suggested that the new nation should claim Sarawak, Sabah, Malaya, Portuguese Timor, and all the pre-war territories of the Dutch East Indies. The committee drafted the 1945 Constitution, which remains in force, though now much amended. On 9 August 1945 Sukarno, Hatta, and Radjiman Wediodiningrat were flown to meet Marshal Hisaichi Terauchi in Vietnam. They were told that Japan intended to announce Indonesian independence on 24 August. After the Japanese surrender however, Sukarno unilaterally proclaimed Indonesian independence on 17 August.

Under pressure from radical and politicised pemuda ('youth') groups, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence, on 17 August 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender in the Pacific. The following day, the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) declared Sukarno President, and Hatta Vice President. Word of the proclamation spread by shortwave and fliers while the Indonesian war-time military (PETA), youths, and others rallied in support of the new republic, often moving to take over government offices from the Japanese.

The Netherlands, initially backed by the British tried to re-establish their rule, and a bitter armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognised Indonesian independence. Dutch efforts to re-establish complete control met resistance. At the end of World War II, a power vacuum arose, and the nationalists often succeeded in seizing the arms of the demoralised Japanese. A period of unrest with city guerrilla warfare called the Bersiap period ensued. Groups of Indonesian nationalists armed with improvised weapons (like bamboo spears) but also firearms attacked returning Allied troops. 3500 Europeans were killed and 20000 were missing, meaning more European deaths in Indonesia after the war than during the war. After returning to Java, Dutch forces quickly re-occupied the colonial capital of Batavia (now Jakarta), so the city of Yogyakarta in central Java became the capital of the nationalist forces. Negotiations with the nationalists led to two major truce agreements, but disputes about their implementation, and much mutual provocation, led each time to renewed conflict. Within four years the Dutch had recaptured almost the whole of Indonesia, but guerrilla resistance, led on Java by commander Nasution persisted. On 27 December 1949, after four years of sporadic warfare and fierce criticism of the Dutch by the United Nations, the Netherlands officially recognised Indonesian sovereignty under the federal structure of the United States of Indonesia (RUSI). On 17 August 1950, exactly five years after the proclamation of independence, the last of the federal states were dissolved and Sukarno proclaimed a single unitary Republic of Indonesia.

With the unifying struggle to secure Indonesia's independence over, divisions in Indonesian society began to appear. These included regional differences in customs, religion, the impact of Christianity and Marxism, and fears of Javanese political domination. Following colonial rule, Japanese occupation, and war against the Dutch, the new country suffered from severe poverty, a ruinous economy, low educational and skills levels, and authoritarian traditions. Challenges to the authority of the Republic included the militant Darul Islam who waged a guerrilla struggle against the Republic from 1948 to 1962; the declaration of an independent Republic of South Maluku by Ambonese formerly of the Royal Dutch Indies Army; and rebellions in Sumatra and Sulawesi between 1955 and 1961.

In contrast to the 1945 Constitution, the 1950 constitution mandated a parliamentary system of government, an executive responsible to the parliament, and stipulated at length constitutional guarantees for human rights, drawing heavily on the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A proliferation of political parties dealing for shares of cabinet seats resulted in a rapid turnover of coalition governments including 17 cabinets between 1945 and 1958. The long-postponed parliamentary elections were held in 1955; the Indonesian National Party (PNI)—considered Sukarno's party—topped the poll, and the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) received strong support, but no party garnered more than a quarter of the votes, which resulted in short-lived coalitions.

By 1956, Sukarno was openly criticising parliamentary democracy, stating that it was "based upon inherent conflict" which ran counter to Indonesian notions of harmony as being the natural state human relationships. Instead, he sought a system based on the traditional village system of discussion and consensus, under the guidance of village elders. He proposed a threefold blend of nasionalisme ('nationalism'), agama ('religion'), and komunisme ('communism') into a co-operative 'Nas-A-Kom' government. This was intended to appease the three main factions in Indonesian politics - the army, Islamic groups, and the communists. With the support of the military, he proclaimed in February 1957, 'Guided Democracy', and proposed a cabinet of representing all the political parties of importance (including the PKI).

Sukarno abrogated the 1950 Constitution on 9 July 1959 by a decree dissolving the Constitutional Assembly and restoring the 1945 Constitution. The elected parliament was replaced by one appointed by, and subject to the will of, the President. Another non-elected body, the Supreme Advisory Council, was the main policy development body, while the National Front was set up in September 1960 and presided over by the president to "mobilise the revolutionary forces of the people". Western-style parliamentary democracy was thus finished in Indonesia until the 1999 elections of the Reformasi era.

Charismatic Sukarno spoke as a romantic revolutionary, and under his increasingly authoritarian rule, Indonesia moved on a course of stormy nationalism. Sukarno was popularly referred to as bung ("older brother"), and he painted himself as a man of the people carrying the aspirations of Indonesia and one who dared take on the West. He instigated a number of large, ideologically-driven infrastructure projects and monuments celebrating Indonesia's identity, which were criticised as substitutes for real development in a deteriorating economy.

Western New Guinea had been part of the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian nationalists had thus claimed it on this basis. Indonesia was able to instigate a diplomatic and military confrontation with the Dutch over the territory following an Indonesian-Soviet arms agreement in 1960. It was, however, United States pressure on the Netherlands that led to an Indonesian takeover in 1963. Also in 1963, Indonesia commenced Konfrontasi with the new state of Malaysia. The northern states of Borneo, formerly British Sarawak and Sabah, had wavered in joining Malaysia, whilst Indonesia saw itself as the rightful rulers of the Malay race and supported an unsuccessful revolution attempt in Brunei. Reviving the glories of the Indonesian National Revolution, Sukarno rallied against notions of British imperialism mounting military offensives along the Indonesia-Malaysia border in Borneo. As the PKI rallied in Jakarta streets in support, the West became increasingly alarmed at Indonesian foreign policy and the United States withdrew its aid to Indonesia.

Indonesia's economic position continued to deteriorate; by the mid-1960s, the cash-strapped government had to scrap critical public sector subsidies, inflation was at 1,000%, export revenues were shrinking, infrastructure crumbling, and factories were operating at minimal capacity with negligible investment. Severe poverty and hunger were widespread.

Described as the great dalang ("puppet master"), Sukarno's position depended on balancing the opposing and increasingly hostile forces of the army and PKI. Sukarno's anti-imperial ideology saw Indonesia increasingly dependent on Soviet and then communist China. By 1965, the PKI was the largest communist party in the world outside the Soviet Union or China. Penetrating all levels of government, the party increasingly gained influence at the expense of the army.

On September 30, 1965, six of the most senior generals within the military and other officers were executed in an attempted coup. The insurgents, known later as the 30 September Movement, backed a rival faction of the army and took up positions in the capital, later seizing control of the national radio station. They claimed they were acting against a plot organised by the generals to overthrow Sukarno. Within a few hours, Major General Suharto, commander of the Army Strategic Reserve (Kostrad), mobilised counteraction, and by the evening of 1 October, it was clear the coup, which had little coordination and was largely limited to Jakarta, had failed. Complicated and partisan theories continue to this day over the identity of the attempted coup's organisers and their aims. According to the Indonesian army, the PKI were behind the coup and used disgruntled army officers to carry it out, and this became the official account of Suharto's subsequent New Order administration. Most historians agree that the coup and the surrounding events were not led by a single mastermind controlling all events, and that the full truth will never likely be known.

While the PKI's role in the events of the night of 30 September-1 October remains debated, the effects on it were devastating. The PKI was blamed for the coup, and anti-communists, initially following the army's lead, and encouraged by Western embassies, went on a violent anti-communist purge across much of the country. The PKI was effectively destroyed, and the most widely accepted estimates are that between 500,000 and one million people were killed. The violence was especially brutal in Java and Bali. The PKI was outlawed and possibly more than 1 million of its leaders and affiliates were imprisoned.

Throughout the 1965-66 period, President Sukarno attempted to restore his political position and shift the country back to its pre-October 1965 position but his Guided Democracy balancing act was destroyed with the PKI’s destruction. Although he remained president, the weakened Sukarno was forced to transfer key political and military powers to General Suharto, who by that time had become head of the armed forces. In March 1967, the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPRS) named General Suharto acting president. Suharto was formally appointed president in March 1968. Sukarno lived under virtual house arrest until his death in 1970.

At the time of independence, the Dutch retained control over the western half of New Guinea, and permitted steps toward self-government and a declaration of independence on December 1, 1961. After negotiations with the Dutch on the incorporation of the territory into Indonesia failed, an Indonesian paratroop invasion December 18 preceded armed clashes between Indonesian and Dutch troops in 1961 and 1962. In 1962 the United States pressured the Netherlands into secret talks with Indonesia which in August 1962 produced the New York Agreement, and Indonesia assumed administrative responsibility for West Irian on May 1, 1963.

Rejecting United Nations supervision, the Indonesian government under Suharto decided to settle the question of West Irian, the former Dutch New Guinea, in their favor. Rather than a referendum of all residents of West Irian as had been agreed under Sukarno, an "Act of Free Choice" was conducted 1969 in which 1,025 Papuan representatives of local councils were selected by the Indonesians. After training in Indonesian language they were warned to vote in favor of Indonesian integration with the group unanimously voting for integration with Indonesia. A subsequent UN General Assembly resolution confirmed the transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia.

West Irian was renamed Irian Jaya ('glorious Irian') in 1973. Opposition to Indonesian administration of Irian Jaya (later known as Papua) gave rise to small-scale guerrilla activity in the years following Jakarta's assumption of control.

In 1975, the Carnation Revolution in Portugal caused authorities there to announce plans for decolonisation of Portuguese Timor, the eastern half of the island of Timor whose western half was a part of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. In the elections held in 1975, Fretilin, a left-leaning party and UDT, aligned with the local elite, emerged as the largest parties, having previously formed an alliance to campaign for independence from Portugal. Apodeti, a party advocating integration with Indonesia, enjoyed little popular support.

Indonesia alleged that Fretilin was communist, and feared that an independent East Timor would influence separatism in the archipelago. Indonesian military intelligence influenced the break-up of the alliance between Fretilin and UDT, which led to a coup by the UDT on August 11, 1975, and a month-long civil war. During this time, the Portuguese government effectively abandoned the territory, and did not resume the decolonisation process. On November 28, Fretilin unilaterally declared independence, and proclaimed the 'Democratic Republic of East Timor'. Nine days later, on December 7, Indonesia invaded East Timor, eventually annexing the tiny country of (then) 680,000 people. Indonesia was supported materially and diplomatically by the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom who regarded Indonesia as an anti-communist ally.

Following the 1998 resignation of Suharto, on August 30, 1999, the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence in a UN-sponsored referendum. About 99% of the eligible population participated; more than three quarters chose independence despite months of attacks by the Indonesian military and its militia. After the result was announced, elements of the Indonesian military and its militia retaliated by killing approximately 2,000 East Timorese, displacing two-thirds of the population, raping hundreds of women and girls, and destroying much of the country's infrastructure. In October 1999, the Indonesian parliament (MPR) revoked the decree that annexed East Timor, and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) assumed responsibility for governing East Timor until it officially became an independent state in May 2002.

The Transmigration program (Transmigrasi) was a National Government initiative to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia (such as Java and Bali) to less populous areas of the country including Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. The stated purpose of this program was to reduce the considerable poverty and overpopulation on Java, to provide opportunities for hard-working poor people, and to provide a workforce to better utilise the resources of the outer islands. The program, however, has been controversial with critics accusing the Indonesian Government of trying to use these migrants to reduce the proportion of native populations in receiving areas, in order to weaken separatist movements. The program has often been cited as a major and ongoing factor in controversies and even conflict and violence between settlers and indigenous populations.

In 1996 Suharto undertook efforts to pre-empt a challenge to the New Order government. The Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), a legal party that had traditionally propped up the regime had changed direction, and began to assert its independence. Suharto fostered a split over the leadership of PDI, backing a co-opted faction loyal to deputy speaker of the People's Representative Council Suryadi against a faction loyal to Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno and the PDI's chairperson.

After the Suryadi faction announced a party congress to sack Megawati would be held in Medan on June 20 - 22, Megawati proclaimed that her supporters would hold demonstrations in protest. The Suryadi faction went through with its sacking of Megawati, and the demonstrations manifested themselves throughout Indonesia. This lead to several confrontations on the streets between protesters and security forces, and recriminations over the violence. The protests culminated in the military allowing Megawati's supporters to take over PDI headquarters in Jakarta, with a pledge of no further demonstrations.

Suharto allowed the occupation of PDI headquarters to go on for almost a month, as attentions were also on Jakarta due to a set of high-profile ASEAN meetings scheduled to take place there. Capitalizing on this, Megawati supporters organized "democracy forums" with several speakers at the site. On July 26, officers of the military, Suryadi, and Suharto openly aired their disgust with the forums.

On July 27, police, soldiers, and persons claiming to be Suryadi supporters stormed the headquarters. Several Megawati supporters were killed, and over two-hundred arrested and tried under the Anti-Subversion and Hate-Spreading laws. The day would become known as "Black Saturday" and mark the beginning of a renewed crackdown by the New Order government against supporters of democracy, now called the "Reformasi" or Reformation.

In 1997 and 1998, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian Financial Crisis, which had dire consequences for the Indonesian economy and society, and Suharto's presidency. At the same time, the country suffered a severe drought and some of the largest forest fires in history burned in Kalimantan and Sumatra. The rupiah, the Indonesian currency, took a sharp dive in value. Suharto came under scrutiny from international lending institutions, chiefly the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States, over longtime embezzlement of funds and some protectionist policies. In December, Suharto's government signed a letter of intent to the IMF, pledging to enact austerity measures, including cuts to public services and removal of subsidies, in return for receiving the aid of the IMF and other donors. Prices for goods such as kerosene and rice, and fees for public services including education rose dramatically. The effects were exacerbated by widespread corruption. The austerity measures approved by Suharto had started to erode domestic confidence with the New Order and led to popular protests.

Suharto stood for re-election by parliament for the seventh time in March 1998, justifying it on the grounds of the necessity of his leadership during the crisis. The parliament approved a new term. This sparked protests and riots throughout the country, now termed the Indonesian 1998 Revolution. Dissent within the ranks of his own Golkar party and the military finally weakened Suharto, and on May 21 he stood down from power. He was replaced by his deputy Jusuf Habibie.

President Habibie quickly assembled a cabinet. One of its main tasks was to re-establish International Monetary Fund and donor community support for an economic stabilization program. He moved quickly to release political prisoners and lift some controls on freedom of speech and association. Elections for the national, provincial, and sub-provincial parliaments were held on June 7, 1999. For the national parliament, Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P, led by Sukarno's daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri) won 34% of the vote; Golkar (Suharto's party; formerly the only legal party of government) 22%; United Development Party (PPP, led by Hamzah Haz) 12%; and National Awakening Party (PKB, led by Abdurrahman Wahid) 10%.

In October 1999, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which consists of the 500-member Parliament plus 200 appointed members, elected Abdurrahman Wahid, commonly referred to as "Gus Dur" as President, and Megawati Sukarnoputri as Vice President, for 5-year terms. Wahid named his first Cabinet in early November 1999 and a reshuffled, second Cabinet in August 2000. President Wahid's government continued to pursue democratization and to encourage renewed economic growth under challenging conditions. In addition to continuing economic malaise, his government faced regional, interethnic, and interreligious conflict, particularly in Aceh, the Maluku Islands, and Irian Jaya. In West Timor, the problems of displaced East Timorese and violence by pro-Indonesian East Timorese militias caused considerable humanitarian and social problems. An increasingly assertive Parliament frequently challenged President Wahid's policies and prerogatives, contributing to a lively and sometimes rancorous national political debate.

During the People's Consultative Assembly's first annual session in August 2000, President Wahid gave an account of his government's performance. On January 29, 2001 thousands of student protesters stormed parliament grounds and demanded that President Abdurrahman Wahid resign due to alleged involvement in corruption scandals. Under pressure from the Assembly to improve management and coordination within the government, he issued a presidential decree giving Vice President Megawati control over the day-to-day administration of government. Soon after, Megawati Sukarnoputri assumed the presidency on July 23. In 2004, the largest one-day election in the world and Indonesia's first direct Presidential election was held and was won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, commonly referred by his initials SBY. See: Politics of Indonesia.

On 26 December 2004, a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of northern Sumatra, particularly Aceh. Partly as a result of the need for cooperation and peace during the recovery from the tsunami in Aceh, peace talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) were restarted. Accords signed in Helsinki created a framework for military de-escalation in which the government has reduced its military presence, as members of GAM's armed wing decommission their weapons and apply for amnesty. The agreement also allows for Acehnese nationalist forces to form their own party, and other autonomy measures.

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