|Dutch East Indies, Former names (1798--1945): Netherlands East Indies a republic in SE Asia, in the Malay Archipelago, consisting of the main islands of Sumatra, Java and Madura, Bali, Sulawesi (Celebes), Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, the Moluccas, part of Timor, part of Borneo (Kalimantan), Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), and over 3000 small islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans: became the Dutch East Indies in 1798; declared independence in 1945; became a republic in 1950; East Timor (illegally annexed in 1975) became independent in 2002. Parts of Sumatra suffered badly in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Official language: Bahasa Indonesia. Religion: Muslim majority. Currency: rupiah. Capital: Jakarta. Pop: 222 611 000 (2004 est). Area: 1 919 317 sq km (741 052 sq miles)|
Republic and archipelago in Southeast Asia comprising over thirteen thousand islands and extending three thousand miles from Malaysia toward Australia, between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean. It includes several of the world's largest islands (see Borneo, Java, New Guinea, and Sumatra). Its capital is Djakarta.
Note: Indonesia was under Dutch control from the beginning of the seventeenth century to World War II, when Japan occupied it. It proclaimed independence in 1945. The islands were called the Dutch East Indies from 1799 until their independence.
Note: The volcanic (see volcano) island of Krakatoa, between Sumatra and Java, erupted in 1883, creating a tsunami that caused great destruction to its neighboring islands. It sent volcanic debris as far as Madagascar.
Note: Rich in nutmeg and cloves, the Moluccas, in the eastern part of the archipelago, are known as the Spice Islands.
Note: Indonesia is the principal oil producer in the Far East and Pacific.
Note: Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world.
Note: In 1975, Indonesia invaded the former Dutch colony of East Timor and, despite international condemnation, annexed it in 1976. In 1999, East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence in a U.N.–sponsored referendum. Pro-Indonesia militias then rampaged through East Timor until the arrival of international peacekeepers. Independence was declared in May 2001.
Note: A severe economic downturn in 1998 triggered public protests against corruption and cronyism in the government and led to the resignation of the country's longtime president, General Suharto.