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.
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. Politically, General Suharto, 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 is a separate species is in dispute. Nevertheless, 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.
The earliest archeological record from the present era is from the Ujung Kulon National Park, West Java, where an early Hindu archeological relic of a Ganesha statue 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 (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 declined across Indonesia. By the time of the European Renaissance, the two largest islands in what is now Indonesia, 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 (modern-day West Java) and near what is now 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 (the area surrounding 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 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 the same time Srivijaya was briefly a tributary of the Khmer empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom. The last inscription dates to 1374, in a crown prince, Ananggavarman, is mentioned.
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 peaking 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 royalty moved east to the island of Bali at the end of Majapah existence.
Other Indonesia 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.
According to Javanese records, Kyai Gedhe Pamanahan became the ruler of the Mataram area some time within the 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 was taken not through outright military invasion, but instead because Agung surrounded it on land and sea, starving 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 stretched to 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, beginning at the margins and creeping inward. Raden Trunajaya, a prince from Madura, lead a revolt fortified by itinerant fighters from faraway 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.
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 their Roman Catholic missionary efforts. Initial Portuguese attempts to establish a coalition and peace treaty in 1512 with Sunda Kingdom at Kalapa, failed due 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 east Asian interest was shifting to Japan, Macau and China; and sugar in Brazil and the Atlantic slave trade in turn further distracted their Indonesian efforts.
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 for sustained 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 large 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 contemporary times, which has contributed to a sense of shared interest with Europeans, particularly among the Ambonese.
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. Beginning in 1602 with the founding of the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch took three centuries to establish themselves as rulers of what is now Indonesia, exploiting the fractionalisation of the small kingdoms that had replaced Majapahit. Unlike the Portuguese, the Dutch established a permanent foothold in Java, from which the Dutch ultimately established a land-based colonial empire known as the Dutch East Indies into one of the world's richest colonial possessions. Although the full extent of the colonial territory was not established until the early Twentieth century, it was these boundaries that formed the modern nation of Indonesia that was declared in 1945. Portuguese Timor, however, remained under Portuguese rule until 1975 when it was invaded and occupied, and declared the Indonesia province of East Timor until 1999.
In the 17th and 18th centuries the Dutch East Indies were not controlled directly by the Dutch government, but by a joint-stock trading company, the Dutch East India Company (in Dutch: Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC). The VOC had been awarded a monopoly on trade and colonial activities in the region by the Dutch parliament in 1602, but had no territory of its own in Java. In 1619, the Company conquered the Javanese city of Jayakarta, burned it to the ground and then founded the city of Batavia (present-day Jakarta), modelling it on Amsterdam.
A primary aim of the VOC was the maintenance of its monopoly of the spice trade in the archipelago. It did this through the use and threatened use of violence against the peoples of the spice-producing islands, and against non-Dutch outsiders who attempted to trade with them. For example, when the people of the Banda Islands continued to sell nutmeg to English merchants, the Dutch killed or deported virtually the entire population and repopulated the islands with VOC indentured servants and slaves who worked in the nutmeg groves.
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. 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. A Javanese uprising was crushed in the Java War of 1825-1830. After 1830 a system of forced cultivations was introduced on Java, the Cultivation System (in Dutch: cultuurstelsel). This system brought the Dutch and their Indonesian collaborators enormous wealth. The cultivation system was a government monopoly and was abolished in a more liberal period after 1870.
During Dutch rule, several important treaties that delineate modern Indonesian borders were signed. One of them was the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. This particular treaty effectively delineated the border of future British Malaya and Dutch East Indies.
In 1901 the Dutch adopted what they called the Ethical Policy, which included somewhat increased investment in indigenous education, and modest political reforms. Under governor-general J.B. van Heutsz the government extended more direct colonial rule throughout the Dutch East Indies, thereby laying the foundations of today's Indonesian state.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Western New Guinea had been part of the Dutch East Indies, and Indonesian nationalists had thus claimed it on this basis. Indonesian 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 was widespread.
On September 30, 1965 six of the most senior generals within the military and other officers were executed in an attempted coup. Led by Colonel Untung of the palace guards and backed by elements of the armed forces, the insurgents took up positions and later seized 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 coup attempt organisers and their aims. According to the Indonesian army, the PKI were behind the coup and used disgruntled army officers to carry it out. This would become the official account of Suharto's subsequent New Order's administration. Other theories suggest it was largely an internal army affair led by younger officers against the older leadership. Other theories suggest that Sukarno himself was behind the coup, and others that suggest that Suharto was involved. Most historians agree that the coup was not lead 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. Anti-communists, initially following the army's lead, and encouraged by Western embassies, went on a violent anti-communist purge through villages, during which the PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively destroyed. The most widely accepted estimates are between 500,000 and one million people killed. The violence was especially brutal in Java and Bali. The party 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. Although he remained president, the weakened Sukarno was out-manoeuvred and 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 ceased to be a political force and lived under virtual house arrest until his death in 1970.
In the aftermath of Suharto's rise, hundreds of thousands of people were killed or imprisoned by the military and religious groups in a backlash against alleged communist supporters. Suharto's administration is commonly called the New Order era. Suharto invited major foreign investment, which produced substantial, if uneven, economic growth. However, Suharto enriched himself and his family through widespread corruption and was forced to step down amid massive popular demonstrations and a faltering economy by the Indonesian Revolution of 1998. On May 21, 1998, President Suharto announced his resignation and ask Indonesian Vice President DR BJ Habibie to become the new Indonesian President. From 1998 to 2005, the country had four presidents: Bacharuddin Jusuf (BJ) Habibie (1998 to 1999), Abdurrahman Wahid (1999 to 2001), Megawati Sukarnoputri (2001 to 2004) and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004 to Current).
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 (see below), 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.
After the Suryadi faction announced a party congress to sack Megawati would be held in Medan 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. (Aspinall 1996)
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. (Amnesty International 1996)
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 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%.
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.