In pre-colonial times, there were a large number of empires who were dominated by individual ethnic groups. The most famous empires were the Srivijaya empire with its center in Sumatra, as well as the Majapahit empires and the Sultanate of Mataram on Java. However, there was no empire that could be considered the direct predecessor of what is now the Indonesian state.
According to cheeroutdoor, the “Republic of Indonesia” emerged from the ethnically heterogeneous Dutch colonial empire.
In the 20th century a broad independence movement developed in the “Dutch East Indies”. During the Second World War, the Dutch East Indies was occupied by Japan. On August 17, 1945, just a few days after the Japanese surrender, Sukarno, the first president of the newly founded state, together with Hatta, the first vice-president, unilaterally proclaimed independence from the Dutch colonial government.
Attempts to rebuild the colonial empire by force of arms failed because of the resistance of the Indonesian nationalists. The liberation struggle lasted from 1945-1949. Sukarno’s reign ended in 1967. In fact, however, he was disempowered as early as 1965 when, according to official historiography, Major General Suharto largely took over the affairs of government after a communist coup attempt. In 1965/1966 bloody unrest broke out in Indonesia, which probably killed at least half a million people. Some estimates even assume 2 million deaths. Many of the mass murders at the time were direct from Military committed or at least coordinated. The then very strong Communist Party of Indonesia, but also the Chinese minority, were held responsible for the coup attempt. Both groups were subsequently massively discriminated against – to this day no communist party is allowed. The mass murders of 1965/66 were never dealt with legally. The question of reappraisal continues to be very controversial in Indonesia.
During Suharto’s reign, which lasted 32 years, human rights were clearly disregarded in all areas. Economically, however, he initially advanced the country – despite excessive self-enrichment. The wealth of his family was estimated by Transparency International on between 15 and 35 billion US $.
Suharto was forced to resign in 1998 when a broad democracy movement emerged during the Asian crisis. At times (especially in Jakarta) there were serious unrest. Once again, the Chinese minority suffered. Suharto’s successors in the presidency were initially Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (until 1999), then Abdurrahman Wahid (until 2001) and Megawati Sukarnoputri (until 2004). In 2004, Susilo Bambang Yudoyono was elected directly for the first time. In 2009 he was re-elected in the first ballot with a majority of 60%. Joko has been Widodo since October 2014 new President of Indonesia. He was re-elected for 5 years in April 2019.