40,000 BCE: Earliest human societies first thought to have existed
in parts of the Indonesian archipelago, highlands of the Malay Peninsula, and
3000 BCE: The present day peoples of Indonesia are Austronesian, thought to
have originated from an aboriginal Chinese society living in Taiwan (or South
China). They were Neolithic peoples who learned open-water maritime skills
about 3000 BCE. These light,brown-skinned people reached the Indonesian
archipelago during the period 2500 BCE to 1500 BCE and virtually eliminated
the existing, dark,brown-skinned inhabitants.
200 BCE: Dvipantara or Jawa Dwipa Hindu kingdom is thought to have
existed in Java and Sumatra.
350-400 - Kutai - the Martadipura phase -
earliest known stone inscriptions in Indonesia 
860: Balaputra the Maharaja of Suvarnadvipa and
the ruler of Srivijaya, construct the buddhist temple and monastery in NalandaIndia, on the land
given by King Dewapaladewa of Pala in Benggala, according to Nalanda
1115: King Kamesvara of Kadiri ascend to throne, at this time Janggala
caesed to exist and united under Kadiri domination, highly possible under
royal marriage. During his reign Mpu Dharmaja wrote Kakawin Smaradahana, an eulogy for
the king and become the inspiration of Panji cycle, the tales
that later spread across Southeast Asia.
1509: The Portuguese king sends Diogo Lopes de
Sequeira to find Malacca, the eastern terminus
of Asian trade. After initially receiving Sequeira, Sultan
Mahmud Syah captures and/or kills several of his men and attempts an
assault on the four Portuguese ships, which escape.
The Javanese fleet
is also destroyed in Malacca.
1512: The first Portuguese exploratory expedition was sent eastward
from Malacca to search for the 'Spice Islands' (Maluku) led by Francisco
Serrão. Serrao is shipwrecked but struggles on to Hitu
(northern Ambon) and wins the
favour of the local rulers.
1535: The Portuguese in Ternate depose Sultan Tabariji (or
Tabarija) and send him to Portuguese Goa where he converts to Christianity and
bequeaths his Portuguese godfather Jordao
de Freitas the island of Ambon.
1546 - 1547: Francis Xavier works
among the peoples of Ambon, Ternate and Morotai (Moro) laying the
foundations for a permanent mission.
1559: Sultan Khairun of Ternate protesting the Portuguese's Christianisation
activities in his lands. Hostilities between Ternate and the
1562: Portuguese Dominican priests
build a palm-trunk fortress which JavaneseMuslims burned
down the following year. The fort was rebuilt from more durable materials and
the Dominicans commenced the Christianisation of the
1569: Peace treaty was signed by Sultan Khairun of Ternate and
Governor Lopez De Mesquita of Portuguese.
1570: Sultan Hairun of Ternate is killed by the Portuguese.
The reign of Sultan Baabullah.
1575: Following a five-year war, the Ternateans under Sultan
Baabullah defeated the Portuguese.
1578: The Portuguese establish a fort on Tidore but the main centre for
Portuguese activities in Maluku becomes Ambon.
1579: The British navigator Sir Francis Drake
passes through Maluku and transit in Ternate on his
circumnavigation of the world. The Portuguese establish a fort on Tidore but the
main centre for Portuguese activities in Maluku becomes Ambon.
1595: First Dutch expedition to Indonesia sets sail for the East
Indies with two hundred and forty-nine men and sixty-four cannons led by Cornelis de
1596, June: de Houtman’s expedition reaches Banten the main pepper port of
West Java where they clash with both the Portuguese and Indonesians. It then
sails east along the north coast of Java losing twelve crew to a
Javanese attack at Sidayu
and killing a local ruler in Madura.
1597: de Houtman’s expedition returns to the Netherlands with
enough spices to make a considerable profit.
1598-1599: The Portuguese require an armada of 90 ships to put down
a Solorese uprising.
1598: More Dutch fleets leave for Indonesia and most are
1599, March: Leaving Europe the previous year, a fleet
of eight ships under Jacob van Neck was the
first Dutch fleet to reach the ‘Spice Islands’ of Maluku.
1599 - 1600: The van Neck expedition returns to Europe. The
expedition makes a 400 per cent profit.
1600: The Portuguese win a major naval battle in the bay of
Later in the year, the Dutch join forces with the local Hituese in an
anti-Portuguese alliance, in return for which the Dutch would have the sole
right to purchase spices from Hitu.
The Dutch and
English enclaves at Amboyna (top) and Banda (bottom). 1655
1602, June: British East India Company's first voyage, commanded by
Lancaster, arrives in Aceh and sails on to Bantam where he is
allowed to build trading post which becomes the centre of British trade in
Indonesia until 1682.
1604: A second English East India Company voyage commanded by Sir
Henry Middleton reaches Ternate, Tidore, Ambon and Banda. Fierce VOC
hostility is encountered in Banda thus beginning Anglo-Dutch competition for
access to spices
1605, February: The VOC in alliance with Hitu prepare to attack a
Portuguese fort in Ambon but the Portuguese surrender.
1611: The Dutch establish a post at Jayakarta
(later 'Batavia' and then 'Jakarta').
1613: The Dutch expel the Portuguese from their Solor fort.
1619: Jan Pieterszoon
Coen appointed Governor-General of the VOC who would show he had no
scruples about using brute force to establish the VOC on a firm
Dutch Batavia in the 17th Century, built in what is now North
1619, 30 May: Coen, backed by a force of nineteen ships, storms the
Jayakarta driving out the Banten forces, and from the ashes of Jayakarta,
establishes Batavia as the VOC
1620s: Almost the entire native population of Banda
Islands was deported, driven away, starved to death or killed in an
attempt to replace them with Dutch colonial slave labour.
1620: Diplomatic agreements in Europe commence a three-year period
of cooperation between the Dutch and the English over the spice trade.
1623: In a notorious but disputed incident, known as the 'Amboyna massacre',
ten English and ten Japanese traders are arrested, tried and beheaded for
conspiracy against the Dutch Government.
The English quietly withdraw from most of their Indonesian activities (except
trading in Bantam) and focus on other Asian interests.
1636: The Portuguese are expelled again from their Solor fort by
the Dutch following a reoccupation.
1735: Governor-General Dirk van Cloon dies, one of many victims of
disease in Batavia.
1740, 9 October: A massacre of Batavia's ethnic Chinese begins
after they are suspected by the VOC of planning a rebellion. Approximately
10,000 are killed and the Chinese quarter is burned.
1755, 13 February: The Treaty of Giyanti is signed, effectively
partitioning the Mataram Sultanate.
The VOC recognizes Mangkubumi as Sultan Hamengkubuwana I, who rules half of
Central Java. Hamengkubuwana I then moves to Yogya and renames the city Yogyakarta
1769-72: French expeditions capture clove plants in Ambon, ending the VOC
monopoly of the plant.
1770: Captain James Cook stops at Onrust
Island in the Bay of Batavia for repairs to his ship Endeavour on his
round the world voyage.
1945, August to September: Euphoria of revolution spreads across
the country, while local Japanese commanders and their troops often abandoned
urban areas to avoid confrontation. Many discreetly allowed Indonesian youths
to acquire arms. Republican youths take over infrastructure facilities in
large Javan cities and mass pro-Republic rallies are held.
1946: Social revolutions, including the Three Regions (Tiga
1951, 26 April: The composition of the new cabinet is announced.
The new Prime Minister is Dr. Sukiman Wirjosanjojo.
1952, 25 February: Amid bitter disputes over the signing of a
Mutual Security Agreement with the US, the Sukiman cabinet resigns.
1952, 3 April: The new cabinet, led by Prime Minister Wilopo is
1952, 17 October: Army-organized demonstrations take place in
Jakarta to demand the dissolution of the legislature. Tank guns and machine
guns are trained on the presidential palace.This
leads to the suspension of General Nasution as
army chief of staff following army indiscipline over command and support that
threatens the government.
1955, 24 July: After a dispute with the Army over appointments, the
1955, 12 August: Led by Prime Minister Burhanuddin Harahap, the new
cabinet is sworn in.
1955, 29 September: Indonesia holds general parliamentary
the last free national elections until 1999; support for the parties is widely
distributed with four parties each gaining 16-22 per cent and the remaining
votes split between 24 parties.
1959, 5 July: With armed forces support, Sukarno issues a
decree dissolving the Constituent
Assembly and reintroducing the Constitution of
1945 with strong presidential powers, and assumes the additional role of
Prime Minister, which completes the structure of 'Guided Democracy'.
1959, 10 July: President Sukarno appoints a "Working Cabinet" with
himself as prime minister.
1950/60s: Military articulation of doctrines dwifungsi and hankamrata:
a military role in sociopolitical development as well as security; a
requirement that the resources of the people be at the call of the armed
1964, 17 August: During his Independence Day speech, Sukarno for
the first time publicly denounces the United States, and over the following
months an anti-American campaign attacked American interests.
1964, 27 August: President Sukarno appoints the Dwikora
1965, 7 January: Indonesia withdraws from membership of the UN.
1965, 11–16 April: The Third Session of the Provisional People's
Consultative Assembly is held in Bandung.
1965, 26 May: Foreign Minister Subandrio reports to
President Sukarno the existence of the Gilchrist Document,
a letter purporting to be from the British ambassador which discusses western
military involvement in Indonesia.
1965, 14 October: President Sukarno appoints Major General Suharto
Minister/Commander of the Army.
1965, 16 October: The Jakarta Military Command temporarily suspends
the activities of the PKI and its organizations in the Jakarta region.
1965, 13 December: The rupiah is devalued
by a factor of 1,000 in an effort to control inflation.
1966, 10 January: Anti-communist organizations grouped under the
Pancasila Front issue the "Three Demands of the People" (Tritura), namely the
dissolution of the PKI, the cleansing of the cabinet of elements involved in
the 30 September Movement, and lower prices and economic improvements.
1966, 14 February: The Extraordinary Military Court trials of
people allegedly involved in the 30 September Movement begin.
1966, 24 February: President Sukarno reshuffles his cabinet,
creating what becomes known as the "cabinet of 100 ministers".
1966, 18 March: A total of 14 cabinet ministers are taken into
1966, 2 May: Following large-scale demonstrations, the leadership
of the Mutual-Assistance House of Representatives (DPR-GR) is replaced.
1966, 20 June-5 July: The Fourth Session of the Provisional
People's Consultative Assembly is held in Jakarta. It raises the status
of the Supersemar into a decree, meaning Sukarno cannot revoke it, bans the
PKI and its teachings and rejects Presidents Sukarno's accountability
1966, 11 August: Indonesia and Malaysia agree to normalize
1991: Indonesia wins presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement.
1991, 12 November: ABRI troops fire on demonstrative funeral
procession in Dili,
East Timor. TV images of the killings put East Timor high on the international
human rights agenda.
1992: Suharto successfully defies Dutch efforts to link human
rights to aid administerd since 1967 by the International Governmental Group
on Indonesia (IGGI).
1992-1993: East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmão is
captured by Prabowo and is tried and sentenced.
1993: Suharto seeks a sixth term and is easily re-elected.
1994, June: Suharto shuts down Tempo and two other
publications for critical reporting of Habibie’s purchase of the former East
1996: The Free Papua Movement
(OPM) kidnaps fourteen scientists and foresters in Iran Jaya garnering
international attention. After four months, the abductees are rescued in a
bloody operation lead by Prabowo.
1996, April: Ibu Tien Suharto, the president’s wife of 48 years,
dies of a heart attack.
1996, July: Military-backed thugs burst into headquarters of PDI,
Megawati's party, and evict her supporters in a violent climax to government
efforts to vitiate her party’s popularity.
1997, February: Alarmed at a dukun's prediction that 'the
nail of Java has come loose', Suharto commands a massive Ruat Dunia
ceremony ('Cleansing of the world') near Borobudur.
1997, June:Pacific Ocean trade
winds shift heralding the onset of the El Niño; severe drought
across much of Indonesia follows in the ensuing months accompanied by highly
destructive forest fires.
1997 - 1998: Severe social unrest breaks out across Indonesian
cities against Chinese Indonesians, Christians, symbols of wealth, the police
1998, 11 March: Suharto unanimously elected by the MPR to his
seventh presidential term.
1998, late March: Largely peaceful student demonstrations against
the regime rise to national prominence.
1998, 12 May: Four student demonstrators at Trisakti
University are shot dead by bullets unproven but thought likely to have
been from army sources.
1998, 13 May: Memorial services for killed students leads to
vandalism, arson, looting and rape by roving mobs which continue unchecked by
security forces for two days leaving 1,200 dead.
1998, 20 May: For National Awakening Day, Amien Rais pledges to bring
a million protestors into the streets to demonstrate against at the National Monument in Jakarta.
Faced with barbed wire and massed troops he calls off the rally fearing
1998, 21 May, 9 a.m.: After being deserted by his cabinet, Suharto
resigns the presidency. Habibie assumes
1998, August: General Wiranto announces the
discharge of Lieutenant General Prabowo from active duty, with full pension
benefits—and without court-martial for allegations of abduction and torture of
student activist (some of whom remain missing as of 2003).
1998, 10 November: Megawati, Rais, and the sultan of Yogya, meet at
Wahid's home in Ciganjur,
and issue a series of statements including a demand for the military to end
their role in politics within six years.
1998, 13 November: On the last day of the MPR sessions, soldiers
open fire on demonstrating students killing at least fifteen and injuring
1999, 19 January: An petty argument between in the city of Ambon triggers
Christian-Muslim clashes that last for three years across Maluku. As many as
10,000 are killed and 700,000 or one third of the region are displaced.
1999, 7 June: Indonesia's first free and fair national elections
since 1955 take place with almost no disruption and wide participation. Votes
however are distributed across forty-eight parties with no party achieving a
1999, September: East Timor votes to secede
from Indonesia in a referendum conducted under UN auspices. Four-fifths of
voters choose independence for East Timor over integration with Indonesia.
Pro-integration militias trained and paid by ABRI immediately resort to a
scorched earth policy that leaves 1,000 dead and most of the territory's
1999, 13 September: President Habibie relents to international
pressure and allows a UN peacekeeping force known as 'INTERFET' to
enter East Timor and restore order.
1999, October: The Indonesian parliament rejects President
Habibie's accountability speech. Wahid whose party received one eighth of the
popular vote is elected president by the MPR. Megawati whose party received
one third of the vote (the highest) is elected vice president.
2000, Christmas Eve: In a coordinated attack involving more than
three dozen sites across the country, churches are bombed and eighteen people
killed. It is later proven to have been planned by Jemaah Islamiyah in
retaliation for Christian killings of Muslims in the Maluku conflict.
2001 - Ethnic violence in Kalimantan as indigenous Dayaks force out
Madurese transmigrants. Mass political demonstrations by Wahid's supporters
and opponents. IMF stops further loans citing lack of progress in tackling
2000 - 2001: President Wahid's administration is marred by failures
to stabilise the economy, patterns of political favouritism, economic
corruption (although Wahid himself is not accused of corruption), inability to
reform the military, personal eccentricity and pettiness, ineffectiveness in
dealing with major religious violence in Maluku and Sulawesi, major ethnic
vs. Madurese) in Kalimantan, and separatisms
in Aceh and Irian Jaya.
2001, September: President Megawati visits President George Bush a week
after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and welcomes American investment. On her
return to Indonesia, the Islamic right criticises her cooperation with
America's war in Afghanistan, and the
nationalist left criticises here for being too suppliant to foreign
2002: Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the largest Muslim
organisations in Indonesia, issue joint statements critical of militant Islamists.
2002, July:Tommy Suharto is
sentenced to fifteen years jail for illegal possession of arms, contempt of
law, and masterminding the assassination of a Supreme Court judge who had
convicted him for graft.
2002, September: House Speaker Akbar Tandjung is sentenced to three
years jail for corruption.
2002, October 12: Bombs in the Kuta nightclub district in Bali kill 202 people
the world's deadliest terrorist attack since 11 September 2001. Indonesian
police, aided by ten nations, track down Jemaah Islamiyah operatives.
2002, November:Eurico Guterres is
sentenced to ten years prison for crimes committed following the 1999 ballot
in East Timor.
2002, December: The Indonesian government and GAM sign a peace
accord aimed at ending decades of violence in Aceh. The deal breaks down the
2003, August: Jemaah Islamiyah bomb Jakarta's
Marriott hotel killing twelve. All but one of those killed are
2004, April: Parliamentary and local elections: Golkar party of
former President Suharto wins greatest share of vote, with Megawati
Sukarnoputri's PDI-P coming second.
2004, October: Indonesia's first direct
presidential election elects Bambang Yudhoyono following popular
disillusionment with incumbent Megawati.
2004, 9 September: A bomb blast outside the Australian
embassy in Jakarta kills 11 and injures up to 100 people.
2005: Government and Free Aceh Movement
separatists sign a peace deal providing for rebel disarmament and the
withdrawal of government soldiers from the province. Rebels begin handing in
weapons in September; government completes troop pull-out in December.
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