Main Points:
  • Portuguese and Dutch Colonialism
  • British Rule/Resources
  • Japanese Rule

Indonesia has been run by several different countries before becoming its own independent nation after World War II. The indigenous people that began there originally had their own customs and cultures but were not strong in terms of their militaristic abilities. They were said to have migrated from China to Nusantara about 1,000 years ago, building villages and homes along the coast, close to the equator. In 1511, the Portuguese landed in the Mayan peninsula, initially looking to trade. However, after recognizing the lack of power on the indigenous people's part, they dominated and conquered this piece of land. The year after, the Dutch landed on a separate region called the Banten shore. Similar to the Portuguese, they were in search of trade. They found what they were looking for, but soon realized the ease in which they could take advantage of the people.

Dutch Invasion

As much as the colonialism of the East Indies was forceful and unjust, the indigenous people learned a lot from their temporary superiors. They learned skills that were uknown and foreign to them. New products came flowing through from the European side. For example, after the Dutch arrived, resources such as coffee, tea, sugar, idigo, and spices became prominent and important to the economy. That being said, when the British came in 1811, more of this idea was shared within the culture group.

Moreover, The British rule began in 1811 under a man named Stamford Raffles. He introduced and "Open Door" policy and made reform to the economic liberalism that already existed in Indonesia. Raffles once said:

"By the establishment of a free and unrestricted commercial intercourse to draw forth their resources while we improve our own."

Stamford Raffles

This movement only grew during the short-lived British rule over the Minangkabau. Their rule ended in 1814, and the Dutch regained control. However, things changed after the Second World War. The Japanese stole control from the Dutch in 1942 and had power until 1945. Once the Allies defeated the Japs, President Sukarno and VP Mohammad Hatta created their own Proclamation of Independence and it became official in 1945.

hatta n sukarno.jpg
Hatta (Left) and Sukarno (Right)


Author Unknown.
2001. "Indonesian History: Indonesia, a Nation in Transition." The Jakarta Post (Online).

Deirdre, Griswold.
1998. "Indonesia: Second Greatest Crime of the Century." Copyright 1998

Salim, Emil.
2006. "Asian Heroes: Mohammad Hatta." Time Magazine (Onine).