The oldest evidence of human life in Indonesia are the skeletal finds of Trinil, Sangiran and Mojokerto on Java, which are assigned to the species Homo erectus and the E. Dubois 1890/91 (after the finds by Trinil) referred to as “Pithecanthropus”. This early man is associated with the Paleolithic culture named after finds at Pactan. In 1931–33, eleven skulls of the Neanderthal-type Solos were excavated near Ngandong on Central Java. Paleolithic cultural remnants on Sumatra, Borneo and Celebes reveal connections to the history of settlement with mainland Southeast Asia, with which Indonesia was connected by a land bridge during the Würm Ice Age. The human skeletal remains of the Australian type, discovered in 1889 near Wajak on Central Java, date from the Upper Paleolithic. This layer was followed by groups of people similar to the Melanesians of today, who left behind medieval cultural remnants near Sampang.
In the Neolithic Age, groups of the Indian Wedda immigrated to Indonesia. The stone tools (rectangular and shoulder axes) have their pre-form on the Southeast Asian mainland. The occurrence of stone mallets (for the manufacture of clothing from tree bark) is remarkable. Dog and pig were the only Neolithic pets.
The ancient Asian peoples who lived between 3000 and 2000 BC BC settled in Indonesia, gradually prevailed over the Melanesian and Indian pre-population. Individual cultural features of the Dongson culture, which probably also arrived in the Malay archipelago in the late Neolithic, and which dates back to the 1st millennium BC, have also been preserved to this day. In Southeast Asia into the Iron Age.
On the way to independence
According to aceinland, an Indonesian national movement developed in the first half of the 20th century under the influence of European ideas, the rise of Japan to become a major Asian power and the October Revolution in Russia. In 1911, Muslim merchants founded the Islamic Merchants’ Association (Sarekat Dagang Islam), from which (after its ban) the Islamic Association of Indonesia (Sarekat Islam Indonesia) emerged in 1912, which developed into the country’s first anti-colonial mass movement. In 1920 the Partai Kominis Indonesia (PKI abbreviation, German Communist Party of Indonesia) was founded. After the fall of the Islamic Association and the failure of a communist uprising (1926/27), nationalist-laicist forces organized themselves (A. Sukarno , M. Hatta ) in the Partai Nasionalis Indonesia (abbreviation PNI, German National Party of Indonesia; founded in 1927 by Sukarno). The Dutch government had tried to counteract the independence movement by making concessions (in 1918 the establishment of a “People’s Council” with growing administrative powers) and by means of pressure (especially arrests).
After the Netherlands became involved in the Pacific War (since December 1941), Japanese troops occupied the Dutch East Indies (January – March 1942). While the communists went underground, the forces around Sukarno and Hatta worked together with Japan and, with its support, formed a “central council.” After the military collapse of Japan, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed the independent republic of “Indonesia” on August 17, 1945, and Sukarno became president on the basis of a provisional constitution.
In its claim to sovereignty, the new republic met the Netherlands, who wanted to reestablish their colonial rule over the Indonesian islands. After the landing of Dutch troops and the outbreak of guerrilla fights, the Netherlands recognized the government of the Republic of Indonesia “as a power that exercises de facto power over Java, Madura and Sumatra” (Linggajati Agreement, November 15, 1946). At the same time, both contracting parties agreed on the formation of the “United States of Indonesia” in the entire area of the former Dutch East Indies and the establishment of a Dutch-Indonesian Union. In addition to the de facto independent Republic of Indonesia, autonomous states (Negara) emerged under Dutch protection. B. Kalimantan (in Borneo) and East Indonesia (the islands east of Borneo and Java). With two military actions (July 1947 and December 1948) the Dutch government largely implemented its federalization plans at the expense of the Republic of Indonesia; In 1948 the republican army put down a communist uprising on East Java (Madiun). Although militarily successful, the Netherlands had to gain sovereignty over all islands of the Dutch East Indies (with the exception of West New Guinea) to the “Republic of the United States of Indonesia”.
The Sukarno era
With the recognition of Indonesia as an independent state by the Netherlands, Sukarno officially took over the leadership of the Indonesian state in December 1949 as President. In view of strong separation efforts on various islands (especially on Sumatra and the Moluccas), the country received a provisional constitution of Unitarian character in August 1950. In 1954, Indonesia dissolved its personal union with the Netherlands, and the government nationalized all Dutch-owned plantations. From the elections to a constituent assembly in 1955, the nationalists under Sukarno (PNI), the communists under Dipa Nusantra Aidit (* 1923, † 1965; PKI) and the Muslim parties, v. a. the Nahdatul Ulama (abbreviation NU, German party of religious teachers) emerged as the strongest group. Strong regionalism and economic development problems, which intensified after the expropriation of Dutch companies (December 1957), called the unity of the country into question in rapidly changing governments. a. on Sumatra, Celebes and the Moluccas, in 1958 the rebels on Sumatra (Padang) proclaimed a “revolutionary government of the Republic of Indonesia”. However, under the leadership of Colonel Ahmed Yani (* 1922, † 1965) , the army put down the uprising in 1958.
In 1959 Sukarno restored the constitution of 1945 and tried to implement the idea of ”guided democracy” (already promulgated in 1957) within its framework. Based on a First Minister (1959–63 Djuanda [* 1911, † 1963] , 1963–66 Subandrio), he assumed sole government responsibility. In a “political manifesto” he announced the realization of an “Indonesian socialism” as a domestic political goal, the main idea of which he summarized under the catchphrase “Nasakom” (short for nationalism, religion and communism). In 1960 Sukarno dissolved the parliament and created a new assembly in which only the political forces supporting it (PNI, NU and PKI) and the military were represented. He tried to compensate for the growing influence of the army since 1958 by turning more and more towards the communists, but at the same time aroused the distrust of the army and the religious forces.
In terms of foreign policy, Indonesia, a member of the UN since 1950, developed into a leading state in the Third World on the basis of non-alignment (Bandung Conference 1955). Since 1959/60 Indonesia leaned more and more towards China. Under pressure from the UN and the USA, after a short period of time under UN administration (October 1962 to May 1963), the Netherlands transferred their sovereignty over West New Guinea (now Papua) to Indonesia. After the establishment of the Malaysia Federation (1963), President Sukarno attempted military action and diplomatic pressure (leaving the UN in 1965) to destroy this new state and to incorporate parts of its territory in Indonesia.
The Suharto era
The attempted coup on September 30, 1965 by a group of officers who were in contact with leaders of the PKI was suppressed by troops under Major General Suharto by October 1, 1965 ; More than 500,000 people lost their lives in the bloody persecution of the Communists (banning the PKI in 1966) and the Chinese minority, with the participation of fanatical Muslims. Thousands of people were imprisoned without a court judgment (until the end of the 1970s). After Sukarno’s gradual disempowerment, who had taken an unclear position during the coup, the re-convened People’s Congress in 1968 elected Suharto to the president. With the help of the military, which had developed into a decisive power factor in the state, the latter set up a system of rule that was strongly tailored to his person. In the parliamentary elections since 1971 (most recently in 1997), the Golkar, which supports Suharto , won by far the largest number of seats (reinforced by appointed MPs, especially from the military). With foreign financial aid, the Indonesian government sought to develop the economy within the framework of five-year plans (Repelita, since 1969). Although Suharto’s “development dictatorship” produced economic success, it was marked to a considerable extent by nepotism and corruption.
The activities of the opposition severely restricted Suharto ; in addition to the ruling Golkar party, only the Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP) and the Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (PDI; German Democratic Party of Indonesia) were able to operate legally. After government circles prompted the dismissal of the chairman of the PDI, the reformist politician Megawati Sukarnoputri (Sukarno’s daughter ), in June 1996, serious unrest broke out in the wake of the police storming the PDI headquarters occupied by her supporters at the end of July 1996 the capital Jakarta (arrest of numerous opposition members).
In the “July 1st Declaration” (1996), the military, politicians and intellectuals of all religions criticized Suharto’s administration , who was nevertheless re-elected in 1998. Against the background of the economic recession in Asia, the internal conflicts became evident; In demonstrations, some of which have been violent, since 1996, many Indonesians have protested against increasing poverty, social disadvantage and political disenfranchisement. The protests that intensified in 1998, mainly with the participation of students, and were accompanied by serious riots, forced President Suharto to resign on May 21, 1998 after more than thirty years of rule. He was succeeded by his confidante and previous Vice President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (* 1936, † 2019)who initiated a cautious reform policy despite ongoing unrest. From the parliamentary elections of June 7, 1999, the first free election in Indonesia since 1955, the opposition Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDI-P) under Megawati Sukarnoputri emerged as the strongest force; the previously ruling Golkar became the second largest party.