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People's Republic of Indonesia

Republik Rakyat Indonesia
Flag of Indonesia
Emblem of Indonesia
Motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
Unity in Diversity
Anthem: Hari Merdeka
Independence Day
Location of Indonesia
Location of Indonesia
Capital Singapore
Largest city Jakarta
Official language
and national language
Regional languages Over 700 languages
Ethnic groups
Over 1,300 ethnic groups
Demonym(s) Indonesian
Government Unitary directorial socialist republic
• Supreme Revolutionary Council
Legislature People's Representative Council of Mutual Assistance
from Japan
• Proclaimed
17 August 1956
• Recognition
27 August 1957
• Land
1,534,146 km2 (592,337 sq mi)
• 2021 estimate
GDP (PPP) 2022 estimate
• Total
$4.350 trillion
• Per capita
GDP (nominal) 2022 estimate
• Total
$1.317 trillion
• Per capita
Gini (2019) 24.6
HDI (2019) 0.700
Currency Indonesian rupiah (Rp) (IDR)
Time zone UTC+7 to +9 (various)
Date format DD/MM/YYYY
Driving side left
Calling code +62
Internet TLD .id

The People's Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Rakyat Indonesia) is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia sharing land borders with Siam and German Papua and maritime borders with Tondo and Australia. Consisting of over 17,000 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi alongside parts of New Guinea and the Malayan peninsula Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world being 1,534,146 km2. Home to over 700 languages it is also one of the most populous countries in the world with 293,859,150 people. Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country although is officially a secular country. The capital is Singapore whilst the largest city is Jakarta with Surabaya, Kuala Lumper, Bandung, Seberang Perai and Medan remaining important cities.

The Indonesian archipelago has been inhabited by humans since 43,000 BCE. Austronesian people largely displaced the pre-existing Melanesian people around 2,000 BCE. The region became a centre of trade first under the Malay Buddhist thalassocratic Srivijaya empire from the 7th to the 12th century AD uniting the Malay peninsula . The Hindu Majapahit empire based in Java would be the last major Hindu imperial state stretching across modern-day Indonesia and often being considered to represent the height of the Indonesian Golden Age throughout its zenith from the 14th through to the 16th century AD. Islamisation began in the 13th century and largely integrated into existing native traditions, with the region being mostly Muslim by the end of the 16th century.

The region would be coveted by European colonial powers such as Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain. The majority of the region would fall under the control of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) which enabled the Netherlands to dominate the spice trade as the VOC became the largest company on the plant. However the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War led to the VOC to become bankrupt leading to the Netherlands to nationalise their assets, including their land in Indonesia. During the Napoleonic Wars Indonesia fell under the control of first France and then Britain, who would annex the region themselves after 1816. The British East Indies akin to India was governed through a system of indirect rule with the British appointed Governor-General working with local rulers. Under European rule Christian missionaries introduced the religion to the region.

The concept of "Indonesia" as a nation-state emerged in the early 20th century but nationalist activity tended to be poorly-organised. Following the Great War I the region was transferred from British to Japanese control who formed the Indonesian Union. The Union was little more then a puppet state of Japan leading to pro-independence movements to shift to the left. The Great War II saw the Indonesian Revolution occur with the left-wing Communist Party of Indonesia taking a leading role against Japanese rule. At the conclusion of the war the People's Republic of Indonesia was recognised as independent with support from the United Commonwealth and People's Republic of China. Indonesia would side with China during the Sino–Continental split adopting "Nasakom" (nationalism, religion and communism) as a governing ideology. Indonesia survived the Revolutions of 2000 through the adoption of the Reformasi agenda. Since then Indonesia has largely adopted economic and social reforms whilst retaining a communist government.

Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups. The official language is Indonesian, a standardised variant of the Malay language. Since independence Indonesia has suffered numerous rebellions ranging from Papuan, Acehnese and peninsula Malayas alongside religious conflicts. Since economic reform Indonesia has developed from one of the poorest countries in the world to an industrialising one. Corruption, human right abuses and uneven development remain problems. Indonesia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.



Early history

Colonial era

In 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars the region would come under the de facto control of France. In 1810 Britain invaded and annexed the Moluccas followed by Java. Under the rule of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles the Dutch East Indies were absorbed into the East India Company as the entire region was centralised under British rule. The region was organised into the Straits Settlements, the directly-ruled Federated States and the indirectly-ruled Unfederated States all under the purview of the Governor-General. Due to the weak financial status of the East Indies the British government began to more directly organise the colony and in 1858 took it over entirely. Under British rule the immigration of Chinese and Indians to serve as labourers was encouraged particularly in Malaya and the seat of administration moved from Batavia to Singapore. Initially, the British followed a policy of non-intervention in relations between the princely states with the colony regarded as a relative backwater. However increased investments in resource extraction and railroad construction soon led to the East Indies to become extremely profitable. In particular Malaya became the site of intensive resource extraction alongside Sumatra with rubber, coffee, tea, quinine, palm oil, oil, coal, tin and copper being important exports. British consolidation of the region was slow, with Aceh being annexed into the colony only in 1899 and northern part of Malaya being transferred from Siam in 1909.

The development of nationalism across the region emerged in the early 1900s. The idea of the Malay race propagated by British colonial officials helped unify the identity of the people across the East Indies (albeit excluding the rapidly-growing Chinese population) alongside the shared experience under colonial rule. Improving educational opportunities also played a role. The first major nationalist organisation founded was Sarekat Islam in 1912 inspired primarily by Islamic and Javanese mysticism using the banner of Islam in opposition to colonial rule. European-inspired independence organisations emerged much slower - in 1922 the Communist Party of Indonesia was founded which would later absorb other left-wing forces such as the Partai Tionghoa Indonesia, South Seas Communist Party and Kesatuan Melayu Muda. The British responded to this agitation by entrenching the rule of the sultans and rajas as well as deepening segregationist measures to encourage divide and rule.

During the Great War I the East Indies would be placed on the frontline as Japanese forces sought to invade the region. The vast resources of the East Indies made it attractive to Japan who used pan-Asianism to appeal to the native population to resist British rule. Britain was totally unprepared for the conflict in the region with Java and then Malaya being overrun by Japan in April 1932. Japan tapped into the pre-existing nationalist movement to consolidate their power initially sponsoring the Indonesian Nationalist Party of Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta in Java whilst supporting the Sultans in Sumatra and Malaya. The Japanese regarded the Chinese in the colony as potential enemies and so launched a campaign of genocide against them known as Sook Ching. The Treaty of Calcutta saw Britain cede the region to Japan who created the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (BPUPK) to guide the region to independence.

The Japanese had during their occupation subjected the population to torture, sex slavery, arbitrary arrest and execution, and other war crimes particularly to Chinese and Indo-Anglo settlers. The forced labour system of rōmusha was also very unpopular and Japanese occupation had caused a collapse of the economy whose exports had declined due to the Japanese economy being smaller then its British counterpart. The Indonesian Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army (IPAJA) composed mainly of ethnic Chinese guerrilla fighters continued to put up resistance to the Japanese. Japan also sought to continue to dominate the Indonesian economy which was at odds with Sukarno and Hatta who championed the idea of "Berdikari" to achieve economic self-sufficiency. As a result Japan dissolved the BPUPK and arrested Hatta and Sukarno in 1940. In 1942 Japan oversaw the creation of the Indonesian Union, a federation that gave great power to the regional sultans whilst Singapore and Jakarta were directly annexed into Japan. The Union was on paper independent but in reality was dominated by the Japanese Residency-General in Singapore who continued the rōmusha system. Opposition to Japan was divided between left-wing groups such as the IPAJA, Gerindo, Gerwani, the PKI and increasingly the PNI and Islamic groups such as Darul Islam and Banser. Following the creation of the People's Republic of China Indonesian leftism became heavily inspired by Maoism. In 1951 in exile the PKI central committee absorbed over revolutionary organisations under its banner, most notably the PNI with Sukarno becoming the de facto anti-Japanese leader albeit in exile in Beijing.

The start of the Great War II saw many Indonesians conscripted into the Pembela Tanah Air (PETA) to fight in Southeast Asia and Australia with Indonesia being used as a staging ground to invade the latter. The war became unpopular due to rationing, forced labour and continual military defeats to Allied forces. The IPAJA insurgency which had been a low-intensity conflict became more organised during the war, eventually launching a series of rebellions in Java and Malaya that crippled the Japanese. As the Japanese begun to enter peace talks the pro-Japanese union government fled the country as order broke down being replaced by a national unity government led by the Sultan of Yogyakarta Hamengkubuwono IX who signed a peace with the allies in April 1957 separate from Japan. The Union was reconfigured as the Republic of Indonesia led by Hamengkubuwono XI and other nationalists like Hatta.


In the aftermath of the Great War II the Indonesian Republic continued to face a civil war with left-wing forces. The republican government reached out to the leftist forces united under the leadership of the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) chaired by Sukarno for a unity government. The talks never succeeded and after receiving massive aid from the United Commonwealth and China the KNIP-led forces would eventually overrun much of the country and on the 27 December 1960 the Union government surrendered leading to Sukarno to declare the foundation of the People's Republic of Indonesia.

The new government was a broad tent of left-wing forces with there being a divide between the formerly-foreign based leadership and the radical permuda groups in Indonesia itself. The regime led by Sukarno, D. N. Aidit, Subandrio and Omar Dhani soon presided over the bersiap and aksi sepihak campaigns that purged political opponents and landlords respectively. A series of reforms were made to improve education, literacy and gender rights. However the creation of a single-party state through the consolidation of leftist groups into the PKI, legal campaigns of repression and centralisation exacerbated tensions. Insurgencies by Islamist rebels particularly in Aceh and Malaya further put pressure on the new government.

Although initially spurring industrialisation policies in 1966 a failed land reform led to a famine to break out. Lasting until 1969 the famine stunted Indonesia's economic and social development leading to the Maoist wing of the PKI to be purged. As a result the leadership adopted Sukarno's theory of Resopim - revolusi (revolution), sosialisme (socialism) and pimpinan nasional (national leadership) at the 4th Party Congress in 1971. The adoption of Resopim indicated the end of radical Maoism as a governing ideology. However anti-Chinese agitation in Malay and Java and renewed Islamist insurgencies led to the government to consolidate the single party state under the PKI.

In the mid-1990's the reformasi faction came to power in the PKI where they spearheaded the introduction of the socialist-oriented market economy introducing a degree of economic liberalisation encouraging economic deregulation and foreign investment while maintaining control over strategic industries particularly in resource extraction. These economic reforms combined with political decentralisation have resulted in economic growth to massively increase particularly in primary and secondary industries with Indonesia avoiding the Revolutions of 2000. Nevertheless continued insurgencies in Papua, Malaya and Aceh have complicated this economic and social progress particularly as inequality has increased.

Government and politics


Indonesia is a unitary socialist state that officially ascribes to Marxism-Landonism-Maoism-Resopim. The only legal political institution is the Consultative Body of Political Parties (BPP) led by the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and affiliated smaller parties, although other social and economic bodies such as the Central All-Indonesian Workers Organisation, People's Youth, Gerwani, the Peasants Front of Indonesia and Lekra also hold political influence. Due to the monopoly of political power by the BPP and PKI Indonesia is typically considered to be an authoritarian state although the government has since the 1990s pursued a policy of regional devolution.

The highest body of the Indonesian central government is the Supreme Revolutionary Council, a collective head of state consisting of seven members who are concurrently members of the politburo within the PKI. The de facto leader is the Chairman of the PKI although within the SRC they are equal to their peers. The legislature is the People's Representative Council of Mutual Assistance which is elected through direct elections and the executive is the National Council. Indonesia is divided into provinces led by centrally-appointed governors.

Under the concept of Resopim the PKI has emphasised the role of consultations (Musyawarah) and consensus (Mufakat). Drawing on tradition of the role of village elders the Indonesian government have called their model of socialist democracy as being modelled to Indonesian reality with consultation and consensus between social groups being mediated and arbitrated by the PKI and the national government. The PKI have claimed that Indonesia is currently in the process of advancing productive forces in the interest of class struggle whilst adapting to the material reality of Indonesia's weak productive base, ethnic and regional diversity and advanced ideological and cultural superstructure.


Armed forces and intelligence

Human rights

Foreign relations




Environmental issues and pollution


With a GDP of $4.350 trillion Indonesia is considered to be one of the largest economies in Southeast Asia and is typically seen as semi-industrialised. Singapore, Malaya and west Java are typically seen as being the main economic centres of the country particularly compared to the underdeveloped Papua. Although growth has been consistent in recent years serious deficiencies in economic management. uneven reform efforts and unbalanced macroeconomics have constrained further development. The government maintains an export-oriented industrialisation strategy taking advantage of its Strait of Malacca.

Although traditionally an agrarian economy Indonesia has since independence aimed to increase its industrial capacity. The main Indonesian exports are petroleum, timber, paper products, cotton cloth, natural gas, bauxite, and coal with agricultural exports including rice, coconuts, soybeans, bananas, coffee, tea, palm, rubber, and sugar cane.

Indonesia since independence has maintained a centrally planned command economy although since the mid-2000s has introduced significant liberalisation through the introduction of the socialist-oriented market economy. Five-year plans remain the basis of economic management through the Government Development Plans (Rencana Pembangunan Pemerintah; RPP) which detail planning targets, investment priorities and economic and social goals. The RPP system is determined through the Council for Economic Development and Industrial Planning (Dewan Pengembangan Ekonomi dan Perencanaan Industri; DPEPI) and Central All-Indonesian Workers Organisation (Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia; SOBSI). Since the 11th Party Congress in 2006 the government has committed to greater liberalisation combining previous rural privatisation and deregulation measures with price liberalisation and a greater focus on free-trade. Although tentative steps to liberalisation have been undertaken in recent years Indonesia remains a largely state-dominated economy with a non-convertible currency (the rupiah) and high military spending constraining investment in social and economic development.

Economic history




Science and technology




Ethnic groups








Film and television






Theatre and dance

See also

Wikipedia logo This page uses material from the Wikipedia page Indonesia, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors).