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History of Indonesia

Your tour of Indonesia brings ancient history to life! Discover the lush green landscape of the strategically located archipelago, which has drawn in travelers for centuries.

Nearly 40,000 years ago, the first settlers crossed over land that bridged the islands to Asia at that time. Over time, with rising sea levels, this link was permanently severed, but by that time the first hunter-gatherers were already well settled into a life of farming.

Religion in Indonesia

For the next several hundred years, trade between Indonesia and other Asian countries flourished, while Hinduism and Buddhism took root among the people. From the 7th century onwards, several powerful kingdoms rose and fell, not least among them being the Srivijayas, the Sailendras and the Mataram dynasties. In the meantime, more and more merchants began to arrive, thrilled at the prospect of Indonesia’s abundant natural resources, and bringing Islamic influences with them. Throughout the years, one dominant and powerful kingdom stood out – the Hindu Majapahit Empire who held sway between the 13th and 15th centuries. Till date, the dynasty is remembered for their love of art and literature, and during your Indonesia tour, you will see several existing monuments from the era.

Colonial era in Indonesia

In the 16th century, unable to resist the allure of Indonesian spices such as pepper, mace, nutmeg and cloves, the Portuguese arrived to take charge of trade and commerce. This was a dark time in the history of the native Indonesian people, as years of colonial dominance brought exploitation. Also looking to colonize, Dutch explorers managed to wrangle power from their Portuguese counterparts. In the 17th century, the British joined in the ruling game, and tried to establish trade, but were thwarted by Dutch forces. In the early 18th century, the Dutch government officially took over the administration of Indonesia, despite some local rebellions. The Dutch introduced several social and economic measures during the 20th century. However, amid nationwide uproar against the Dutch colonialists, educated Indonesians began to demand independence.

During World War II, Indonesia was occupied by Japanese forces, who eventually ruled in favor of an independent nation. The Dutch, however, were reluctant to give up control. Eventually, after many years of resistance, guerrilla warfare, and international condemnation, Indonesia became independent in 1949. The country’s challenges did not magically disappear – the next 50 years brought separatist politics, rapid inflation, a communist coup and a dictatorship.

It was only at the beginning of the 21st century that the country finally began to recover under the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Today, the archipelago is a flourishing nation of diverse people. Experience a private Indonesia tour for yourself and be introduced to this incredible country, which has retained its resilient spirit and optimism for centuries.