Indonesia; key historical events
Page last modified 6/3/2020
For events of World War Two in Pacific, S E Asia, see China-Japan-Korea
See also South-East Asia
2006, Timor L’Este reached an agreement with Australia over explpoitation of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.
2005, A peace agreement was made between the Indonesian government and the Aceh secessionists (GAM). GAM disarmed and the Indoensian Army withdrew from Aceh.
1/10/2005, The resort of Bali was bombed by terrorists. 26 were killed and 100 injured.
2004, Former General, Susilo Bambang, won the first ever Indonesian elections to choose a president directly.
26/12/2004, A very large earthquake struck the floor of the Indian Ocean just off Aceh Province, Indonesia. It was estimated as magnitude 9.3 on the Richter Scale, and shifted parts of the sea bed vertically by ten metres. It caused a very large tsunami to sweep across the Indian Ocean, causing at least 165,000 casualties. In January 2005 the Indonesian government raised its death toll to 166,320, bringing the total estimated number of casualties to 232,010. The confirmed death toll on 18/1/05 stood at 162,705, including 115,229 from Indonesia, 30,920 from Sri Lanka, 10,714 from India, 5,291 from Thailand, 298 from Somalia, 82 from the Maldives, 68 from Malaysia, 10 from Tanzania, 2 from Bangladesh, and 1 from Kenya. The secretive military regime in Burma reported just 90 deaths, a suspiciously low figure. Many tourists from Europe, who had been on winter holidays, died, including at least 400 Britons (possibly 2,000 Britons).
2003, Peace talks between Indonesia and the Aceh secessionists broke down, and the Indonesian army began an offensive.
12/10/2002. A large bomb hit the Sari nightclub in Bali, a popular holiday destination for Australians and other Westerners, and the only Hindu island in the otherwise Muslim republic of Indonesia. 202 died and over 300 were injured, mostly Australian tourists. Al Qaeda, the organisation which hit the USA on '9-11', 2002, was blamed. Australia had been instrumental in helping East Timor to achieve independence from Indonesia, and the decadence of Bali did not fit with Islamic ideals.
20/5/2002, East Timor became independent from Indonesia, under President Gusmao. It had been a Portuguese colony, whereas the west of Timor, along with the rest of Indonesia, had been a Dutch colony until gaining independence in 1949. The Portuguese retained East Timor until 1975, when, with majority support, the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente, or Fretelin, a Leftist organisation, took control. Indonesia then invaded the former colony, and east Timor was declared the 27th province of Indonesia in July 1976. However the UN refused to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, instead continuing to regard it as a Portuguese colony. In 1991 pro-independence demonstrators were massacred by the Indonesian Army in Dili, attracting international condemnation. Guerrilla warfare between Indonesia and Timor independence fighters continued until 1999, when Indonesia agreed to a plebiscite offering East Timor a choice between a special autonomous regime within Indonesia or independence. There was a large majority for independence, and President Xanana Gusmao, leader of Fretilin, became President of the newly independent state.
2001, President Wahid was removed, amidst allegations of corruption and incompetence; Megawati became President.
1999, Free elections in Indonesia were won by the opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri. Adburrahman Wahid elected President, and Megawati became Vice-President. Wahid offered Aceh greater autonomy.
20/9/1999, Timor L’Este appealed for help from the international community.
21/5/1998, President Suharto of Indonesia resigned as the country’s economy worsened and civil unrest grew. He was replaced by BJ Habibie.
1997, Economic recession hit Indonesia, and the Rupiah plummeted. Indonesia was also hit by smog from large forest fires.
1996, Timor’s exiled resistance leader, Jose Ramos Horta, and the Bishop of Dili, Carlos Belo, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, thereby raising global awareness of the Timor secessionist movement.
1993, Timor secessionist leader Gusmao was imprisoned for life by an Indonesian Court. In 1994 the Indonesian military held talks with him in prison on the possibility of a Unuted Nations referendum on independence.
1992, Fretilin independence leader Jose Xanana Gusmao was captured near Dili.
1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a crowd of funeral mourners in Dili, killing at least 50.
1991, Indonesia agreed to allow a delegation from Portugal to visit East Timor, however the vist was cancelled at the last minute when Indonesia objected to a member of the delegation.
1986, Fretilin and UDT agreed to co-ordinate their resistance efforts against Indonesia.
1984, Muslim protests in Jakarta.
1979, Indonesia began implementing the Transmigrasi Project. Over 2 million people were moved from overcrowded Java to less densely populated islands.
7/12/1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor. See 28/11/1975. The United Nations Security Council called on Indonesia to withdraw from East Timor. On 17/7/1976 East Timor was declared the 27th province of Indonesia. Portugal broke off diplomatic relations with Indonesia.
28/11/1975, Portuguese Timor declared independence from Portugal, as East Timor. See 7/12/1975.
16/10/1975, Indonesian forces on a raid into Portuguese Timor killed 5 Australian-based journalists.
11/8/1975, Mario Lemos Pires, Governor of Portuguese Timor, was forced to abandon the capital, Dili, due to civil war between UDT and Fretilin.
15/1/1974, Riots in Jakarta, Indonesia, in protest at a visit by the Japanese Prime Minister.
1971, Student protests against government corruption.
3/7/1971, The first elections in Indonesia for 16 years. The incumbent government won a clear victory.
21/6/1970, Achmed Sukarno, President of Indonesia, died aged 69.
18/9/1968, Indonesia claimed sovereignty over most of Sabah. On 19/9/1968 Malaysia withdrew its diplomats from Manila.
1967, Indonesia played a leading role in the formation of Asean, the Association of South East Asian Nations.
22/2/1967, Suharto replaced Sukarno as President of Indonesia. Indonesia rejoined the United Nations.
11/8/1966. Malaysia and Indonesia ended a 3 year war.
16/3/1966, Anti-communist demonstrations in Indonesia.
12/3/1966, General Suharto assumed power in an army coup in Indonesia. He forced Sukarno, held under armed guard in the Presidential Palace, to sign an order giving him executive authority Suharto swiftly moved to annihilate the Communist Party, resulting in a massacre of between 250,000 and 500,000 people.
1/10/1965, General Suharto quickly took control of the insurrection and now proclaimed the Communist Party (which Sukarno had relied on as a counterweight to the Army) as guilty for the rebellion. Within a few weeks the extermination of the PKI (Communists) had begun. The PKI had been the largest Communist Party in the world outside Russia and China, with 3 million members.
30/9/1965, A group of middle-ranking Army officers in Indonesia seized power, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Untung of Sukarno’s Presidential Guard. They killed several top Generals and took President Sukarno to an airbase near Jakarta where they proclaimed a Revolutionary Council.
1963, President Sukarno made himself ‘President for life’.
7/1/1965. Indonesia left the United Nations, under President Sukarno.
1965, The alliance between the PKI (Communist Party of Indonesia) and the military ended.
1963, Indonesia took control of Irian Jaya, and announced a policy of ‘konfrontasi’ with Malaysia.
31/10/1963, Britain suspended aid to Indonesia.
1962, The Netherlands agreed to hand over Irian Jaya (West Papua) to Indonesia after a transition period asministered by the United Nations.
1960, Indonesia’s Land Reform Bill limited land holdings to a maximum of 7.5 hectares, breaking up the old large estates. Tenant farmers bought the smallholdings they had previously rented.
1960, President Sukarno suspended parliament, making himself dictator.
9/2/1959. The UK supplied arms to Indonesia. There were fears of Communist takeover, from Vietnam.
31/12/1958, President Sukharno proclaimed a state of Emergency in Sumatra. Western Sumatra had attempted to secede
5/12/1957. All Dutch nationals were expelled from Indonesia.
3/12/1958. Indonesia nationalised Dutch businesses.
4/8/1956, Indonesia repudiated its debts to The Netherlands.
3/3/1956, Harahap took control of the Indonesian government.
11/8/1955. Muslim right wing government took over in Indonesia.
1950, Chancellor Suomokil declared the Moluccas Islands independent. The Indonesian Army quickly suppressed the secessionist movement.
28/12/1949, Ahmed Sukarno, aged 48, leader of the Indonesian Nationalist Party, arrived in Batavia (Djakarta) to take up residence on the former Dutch Governor’s Palace. Since the end of the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in 1945, Sukarno had fought hard for independence from the Netherlands.
27/12/1949. The Netherlands recognised the independence of Indonesia.
15/12/1948. In Indonesia, Dutch troops seized Jakarta.
10/1948, The Madiun Rebellion in the Philippines was fiercely suppressed by Dutch forces. The rebellion was started by the PKI (Partai Komunis Indonesia), the Communist Party of Indonesia. The PKI disagreed with other Indonesian forces as to the final path towards independence. The defeat of the PKI paved the way for greater US support for independence, which persuaded the Dutch to withdraw in 1949.
1/8/1947. The UN Security Council asked for a ceasefire in Indonesia.
20/7/1947. Dutch troops attacked Indonesian forces in Java.
17/8/1945, Indonesia was proclaimed an independent republic, under Dr Sukarno, after its liberation from Japanese forces. The PNI (Indonesian Nationalist Party) proclaimed a Republic in the city they called Jakarta, and the Dutch called Batavia. The Dutch and the PNI began fighting.
1942, Japanese forces occupied Indonesia, until 1945. For more events of World War Two in the Pacific see Japan.
4/6/1927. In Indonesia, Ahmed Sukarno founded the Indonesian Nationalist Party.
3/12/1918, Abdul Haris Nasution, Indonesian general, was born (died 2000).
1910, Dutch colonial control now extended fully to the more remote islands of the Indonesian archipelago.
6/6/1901, Sukarno, President of Indonesia, was born.
1882, The Dutch occupied northern Bali, overthrowing the Madjapahit rulers.
1830, Dutch colonisers implemented the ‘Culture System’, forcing the cultivation of commercial crops for export in Indonesia.
28/3/1830, A rebellion in Indonesia against Dutch rule ended with victory to the Dutch. This day the Indonesian rebel leader, Diponegoro ceremonially surrendered his kris (dagger) to the Dutch Governor, Hendrik Merkus de Kock.
1825, The Java Wars began; an unsuccessful indigenous attempt to end Dutch colonial rule. Conflict was over by 1830.
1799, The VOC Charter expired; the Dutch Government took control of the colony of Indonesia.
1660, Celebes became a Dutch colony.
1646, Death of Sultan Agung, ruler of the Mataram Kingdom from 1613. The Mataram Kingdom became priominent in the early 17th C as it waged military camapaigns to expand its territory. However it then came up against the Dutch colonisers. Under Agung’s incompetent son, Amangkurat I, Mataram came close to toal collapse as internal rivalries tore its government apart. Finally, Mataram was divided under the Giyanti Settlement of 1755.
1609, The VOC (Dutch East India Company) founded Batavia (now Jakarta).
1602, The VOC established a monopoly over the regional spice trade.
1520, Dutch colonisers established a post on Timor.
1502, Dutch colonisers arrived at Ternate, and gained control of the clove trade.
1300s, Islamic principalities began to emerge along the sea lanes and coastal areas of Indonesia.
1293, The Sri-Vijaya Empire Empire was replaced by the Hindu-Buddhist Java-based Majapahit Empire.
1100s, Islam began penetrating the Indonesian Archipelago.
700, The Buddhist Sumatra-based Sri Vijaya Empire was becoming prominent; the earliest-known Indonesia kingdom.
100, Earliest known contacts between India and the peoples of Indonesia.