Indonesia History  

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INDONESIA

The region once known as the East Indies was home to several Hindu and Islamic kingdoms long before Europeans arrived in the 16th century. A century later, the Dutch East India Company was largely in control, although in 1799, its bankruptcy forced the Dutch government to establish direct rule, The Dutch managed to maintain their hold on the East Indies, even in the face of growing nationalism and anticolonial uprisings. Though the Japanese captured the islands during World War II -- and some viewed them as liberators -- the nationalists prevailed and in 1945, declared Indonesia's independence under Sukarno. Indonesia took its place as a leader of the nonaligned nations of the Third World. Under Sukarno, Indonesia moved left (looking towards China) but when the army crushed an attempted coup in 1965, the ensuing turmoil resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, killed as suspected communists. Sukarno was pushed out and General Suharto took power. Suharto moved Indonesia's foreign policy posture back towards the West. Indonesia's annexation of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1976 has led to international disapproval and the deaths of perhaps 100,000 or more East Timorese. Suharto remained in power until 1998 when charges of corruption were leveled against the leader and his family. Coupled with the ongoing crisis in East Timor, the Indonesians had had enough. Their rioting, strikes, and protests led to Suharto's ouster. In 1999, East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia which led to renewed militia attacks. The UN sent peacekeeping troops in to quell the violence.

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