Indonesia; key historical events
Page last modified 13/1/2021
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.
23/7/2001, President Wahid was removed, amidst allegations of corruption and incompetence; Megawati Sukarnoputri became the 5th President of Indonesia.
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.
25/10/1966, A military court in Jakarta sentenced Indonesia's ex-foreign minister Subandrio to death, on charges of being involved in the 30 September Movement. The sentence was reduced to life imprisonment on the intervention of the British government.
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.
1942, Japanese forces occupied Indonesia, until 1945. For more events of World War Two in the Pacific see Japan.
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.