Coconuts Jakarta History

Indonesia has an incredible history that stretches all the way back to the very dawn of humankind, with some of the oldest humanoid fossils having being found in Java and Flores. Jumping ahead several thousand years, Indonesia’s early history has been heavily influenced by its location and its rich natural resources, which brought traders from across the region that in turn brought their cultures to be incorporated into Indonesia’s melting pot. Powerful dynasties, such as the Srivijaya Empire and later the Majapahit empire, dominated much of what we now call Indonesia from the 7th century BC until the late 13th century, when Islam was first introduced to the land and slowly become the dominant religious and cultural force. Europeans arrived in Indonesia from the 16th century, and in 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company which would eventually lead the Dutch Government to take control over what they called the Dutch East Indies and hold it as a colony until the Japanese invasion and occupation from 1942-45. This ended after the defeat of Japan and the declaration of Indonesian independence by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno. In 1965, an attempted coup by the Indonesian Communist Party led to the rise of General Suharto as Indonesia’s dictator and a violent anti-communist purge that historians believe led to the mass killings of around one million people, paving the way for Suharto’s new order which would last until he was forced to step down in 1998. Suharto’s downfall led to an era of democracy in Indonesia, one that has been characterized by increasing freedoms and prosperity but also old powerful elites clinging to the past in order to maintain their power. Nowhere is this more evident in the struggle to find truth over the 1965 mass killings, a historical issue that remains incredibly controversial today as activists fight to reveal what really happened so that Indonesia can move forward from its dark past.

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