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Insight Indonesia

Insight Indonesia is Indonesian prehistory and early history, Pre-Colonial civilization, Kingdom of Mataram, Srivijaya empire and Sultanate of Mataram.

A country of incredible and diverse beauty stretches 5,151 km between Asian and Australia continents and divides the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the equator, Indonesia is the largest archipelago and the fifth most populous country in the world with about 200 million inhabitants. Of the country’s 17,508 islands, only 6,000 are inhabited and 992 permanently settled including the five main islands: Sumatra (473,606 sq. km), Kalimantan or Borneo (539,460 sq. km), Sulawesi (189,216 sq. km), Irian Jaya (421,981 sq. km) and the most populated Java Island (132,187 sq. km). Indonesia encompasses mind-stupefying extremes: the 4,884 meter high snow capped Carstensz Pyramid peak of Irian Jaya, the lush lowland and mountainous tropical rain forest with it’s endemic wildlife such as the mystical Orangutans, Sumatran Tigers, the World’s smallest monkeys Tarsius Spectrums, Javan Rhinos, Tree Kangaroos, the world’s largest lizard the fearsome Komodo Dragons, birds etc. which more than the entire continents of Africa, restless volcanoes, primitive forest tribes, exotic art & cultures, traditional music, historical sites, lakes, nature reserves, world class sea gardens and reefs and the smiling people make Indonesia the most complex single nation in the world and one of finest travel destinations on Earth. Discover Indonesia, the world’s richest natural & cultural environment!

Insight Indonesia and The Prehistory
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. The area’s first known humanlike inhabitant some 500,000 years ago was “Java Man” (first classified as Pithecanthropus erectus, then subsequently named a part of the species Home erectus). Recent discoveries on the island of Flores were dubbed “Flores Man” (Homo Floresuensis), 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.
Indonesia Prehistory and Early History

Insight Indonesia and Early History
Indian scholars wrote about the Dvipantara or Jawa Dwipa Hindu kingdom in Java and Sumatra around 200 BC.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, 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 Purnawarna 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 Purnawarna, the heroic conqueror of the world”. This inscription is in Sanskrit and is still clear after 1500 years.

Pre-Colonial Civilization
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. 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.

Kingdom of Mataram
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 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 Empire
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 Malay Archipelago. Records of its beginning are scarce, and estimates are from the 200s to the 500s. It ceased to exist around the year 1400. Around 500 the roots of Srivijaya developed around present-day Palembang, and around the year 600 Chinese records mention two kingdoms on Sumatra based at Jambi and Palembang, as well as three kingdoms on Java.

Srivijaya was centered 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 organized 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 centers.

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. Travelers 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. By 1414 Parameswara, the last prince of Srivijaya converted to Islam, and founded the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula.Singhasari and the Majapahit Empire, Two empires would originate in Eastern Java, and would drive Srivijaya and assume its territory: the Singhasari and the Majapahit. Singhasari was a kingdom located in east Java between 1222 and 1292. The Majapahit Empire would emerge later, and ruled much of the 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 neighboring 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 proselytizers 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 Majapahit’s existence.

insight indonesia

Insight Indonesia and The History

The Spread of Islam
Islam was first established in Indonesia sometime during the 12th century and, through assimilation, supplanted Hinduism by the end of the 16th century in Java and Sumatra. 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 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. Dominant kingdoms included Mataram in Central Java , and the sultanates of Ternate and Tidore in the Maluku Islands to the east. 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.

Sultanate of Mataram
Sultanate of Mataram was the third Sultanate in Java. The first was Demak Bintoro and the second was Pajang. 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 Batavi , 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.

Colonial Era
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 , monopolized 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 which of the Dutch, would not have its greatest impact on Indonesia until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The Portuguese
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 came to Indonesia seeking to dominate the sources of valuable spices and to extend their Roman Catholic missionary efforts. Maluku 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 disorganization 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.

Dutch East-India Company
The Dutch followed the Portuguese aspirations, courage, brutality and strategies but brought better organization, 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 fractionalization 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. The logo of the Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch East-India Company (VOC). 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), modeling 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. 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 (Batam).

Dutch State Rule
After the VOC went bankrupt at the end of the 18th century 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 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.

Early Nationalist Group
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.

World War II
Soekarno, leader of the Indonesian Nationalists and first president of Indonesia. 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.
Japanese Occupation

During World War II, with the Netherlands under German occupation, Japan began a five-prong campaign in December 1941 towards Java and the vital fuel supplies of the Dutch East Indies. 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 laborers (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

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