History & Culture in Indonesia

Indonesia fell under the influence of the Kingdom of Srivijaya in the seventh century and brought Hinduism and Buddhism to the islands for the first time. Islam came in the 13th century and Java and Sumatra became powerful sultanates, while other islands continued to follow the traditions of Hindu, Buddhist and animism. 

The 16th century marked the arrival in Indonesia of the Portuguese people, the first Europeans. Although the Portuguese had broken the Islamic hold on Indonesia, the Netherlands, who named the region the Netherlands East Indies, eventually, displaced them. After four years of combat, Indonesia finally defeated the Netherlands forces and became independent in 1949. Several important events took place after 1997. East Timor became independent in 2002 after three decades of struggle. In 2004, the tsunami of Boxing Day crippled the country and killed many thousands of citizens.

The varied past of Indonesia has produced a remarkable range of vibrant cultures, making it one of the most diverse and fascinating tourist destinations in the world. Today, Indonesia is the fifth most populous nation on earth, with more than 180 million people representing more than 300 ethnic groups. The majority of Indonesians are of Malay or Polynesian descent, although the history of the country has led to minority populations from India, China, Arabia and Persia, as well as European colonial powers such as Portugal, Holland, Spain and England. Although Indonesia is mainly a Muslim nation, it is characterized by broad religious tolerance. Hinduism thrives in Bali and there is a significant presence of Christianity in Flores, Timor and several other islands. Indonesians speak many languages and dialects, but Bahasa Indonesia is the common language, along with Dutch and English too.

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