An archipelagic country of 17,508 islands out of which 6,000 are inhabited, Indonesia stretches along the equator in South-East Asia. People of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages are populated here. The history of Indonesia tells about the diversity of the people and how they were influenced to varying degrees by trade and contact with the civilizations of the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia; and later influenced by Europe through Portuguese and the Dutch colonialists.
Pre and Early History---
The Indonesian history recounts the formation of the archipelago after the latest ice age. Evidence from the fossils discovered suggests that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by 'Homo erectus', popularly known as the "Java Man" some 500,000 to 2 million years ago. A miniature hominoid that grew only three feet tall on the island of Flores were dubbed "Flores Man" or 'Homo floresiensis', although whether this is a separate species is in dispute. Archeological evidence of the present era from the Ujung Kulon National Park, West Java shows an early Hindu relic of a Lord Ganesha of the 1st century AD. Few kingdoms from the 2nd century were also found.
A number of Hindu and Buddhist states flourished during this period of the history of Indonesia. The two largest islands in what is now Java and Sumatra has by the time of the European Renaissance seen over hundreds of civilization and two major empires. In the 7th century the kingdom of the Sriwijaya, an ancient Malay kingdom on the island of Sumatra flourished. Though it ceased to exist around the year 1400, a monopoly of Vajrayana Buddhism, Sriwijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from all parts of Asia.
Kedah was conquered from Sriwijaya in 1068 by Rajendra Chola, the Chola king of Tamil Nadu. The Cholas stayed on for the next 20 years in what is now Indonesia and Malaysia. The Muslim traders are said to have brought Islam to Indonesia and by the 13th century there were Muslim populations in northern Sumatra. The last prince of Sriwijaya, Parameswara converted to Islam by 1414 and founded the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula. In the Eastern Java came up the Singhasari and the Majapahit Empire ruled much of the southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali from about 1293 to around 1500. This period is often referred to as a "Golden Age" of the history of Indonesia.
In the early 16th century came the European traders seeking to monopolize the sources of some spices in The Moluccas. They sought to dominate the spice trade at its sources in India and the 'Spice Islands' of Indonesia. The Portuguese came to Indonesia also to extend their Roman Catholic missionary efforts. The Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1602 becoming a dominant trader. In its three centuries, several important treaties like the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 were signed. However, the VOC was officially dissolved following its bankruptcy and the Dutch East Indies established by the Netherlands government. The arrival of Europeans in South East Asia is referred to as the landmark in Indonesia's history.
The first nationalist movement was formed in 1908 followed by the first nationalist mass movement in 1912. Dutch responded with repressive measures after the World War I, but during the Japanese occupation in World War II Sukarno, a popular leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party, with the Japanese cooperation strengthened the independence movement. Basically the people of Dutch and mixed Dutch-Indonesian descent were targets of the Japanese occupation. The Japan organized an Indonesian committee on independence (BPUPKI) in March 1945. On 9th August 1945 Sukarno, Radjiman Wediodiningrat and Hatta were flown to Vietnam and told about Japan's decision to announce Indonesian independence on 24 August. However, Japan surrendered and on 17th August Sukarno unilaterally announced Indonesian independence. The first President was Sukarno with Muhammad Hatta as the Vice-president.