South East Asia & Pacific, Indian Oceans; key historical events
Page last modified 22/2/2021
See separate page for Cambodia
See separate page for Fiji
See separate page for Indonesia / East Timor
See separate page for Philippines
See separate page for Thailand
See separate page for Vietnam
For events of World War Two in Pacific, S E Asia, see China-Japan-Korea
For Hawaii, see USA
Brunei � see Appendix 1a
Cook Islands � see Appendix 1c
Kiribati � see Appendix 2
Laos � see Appendix 3
Malaysia � see Appendix 3a
Marshall Islands � see Appendix 3b
Mauritius� - see Appendix 3c
Micronesia � see Appendix 3d
Nauru � see Appendix 3e
Niue� -see Appendix 3f
Palau � see Appendix 4
Papua New Guinea and Bougainville - see Appemdix 4a
Samoa and Tokelau � see Appendix 5
Singapore � see Appendix 6
Solomon Islands � see Appendix 6a
Tonga � see Appendix 8
Tuvalu � see Appendix 9
Vanuatu � see Appendix 10
28/6/1976. Seychelles became independent.� They had been ceded to Britain as a colony in 1814.
4/4/1976, Prince Norodom Sihanouk resigned as leader of Cambodia and was placed under house arrest.
30/6/1974, France formally left SEATO.� At a meeting of ministers in New York at the end of� September 1975 it was decided to �phase out� SEATO because of changed conditions in the region.
1967, ASEAN (Association of South Eastern Asian Nations) was formed. Comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, it was joined in 1984 by Brunei.
8/9/1954. South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty was signed.� See 7/11/1973 and 30/6/1974.
13/2/1951, The British Commonwealth Consultative Committee met in Colombo to discuss development plans for south-east Asia.
For events of World War Two in the Pacific see China-Japan-Korea
11/11/1917, Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii, died. See also USA.
16/1/1911, Major oil find in Borneo.
15/1/1896. Britain and France signed an agreement on their spheres of influence in S.E. Asia. Both countries guaranteed the independence of Siam (Thailand) and Britain recognised the French protectorate of Laos.
9/6/1885, The Treaty of Tientsin was signed, under which China recognised the French Protectorate of Indo China in return for France agreeing to respect China�s southern border. See 26/10/1884.
26/10/1884, China declared war on France after France bombarded Taiwan as reprisal for China�s refusal to acknowledge the French Protectorate of Indo-China, see 9/6/1885.
25/8/1883, A Treaty was signed at Hue recognising Tonkin, Cochin China and Annam as French Protectorates. However China rejected the Treaty and resisted French interference in the region.
29/6/1880. France annexed Tahiti.
1876, Rubber seeds, which originated in the Amazon Basin in South America, were sent from the Royal Botaincal Gardens in Britain to Ceylon, and then on to plantations in Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. This was the origin of the S E Asian rubber industry.
20/11/1873, Marie Garnier, French explorer of south east Asia, died (born 25/7/1839).
24/9/1841, Sir James Brooke was appointed Rajah of Sarawak.
25/7/1839, Marie Garnier, French explorer of south east Asia, was born (died 20/11/1873).
See also USA for events in Hawaii connected to United States of America
8/5/1819, Death of King Kamehameha, who united Hawaii.
14/2/1779. Explorer Captain James Cook, born 27/10/1728, stabbed to death at Keelakekeua Bay by natives of Owyhee, the modern Hawaii. See 28/4/1770, 18/1/1778.
18/1/1778. Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii, then known as the Sandwich Islands. Having sailed from the Cape of Good Hope in 1776, Cook�s plan was to sail through the Bering Straits and attempt to find a north-east route between Europe and the Pacific from the eastern side. See 14/2/1779.
5/4/1722, Dutch admiral Jakob Roggeveen discovered Easter Island.
20/3/1602. See 31/12/1600 and 2/4/1595. The Dutch East India Company was formed to trade with the East Indies; it had permission to arrange treaties, wage defensive war, and build fortresses.� Its headquarters was at Batavia, Java. The Company was to help in the long war of independence by the Dutch against Spain.� The British Treasury had been drained by rebellion in Ireland and support for the Protestant revolt in The Netherlands against Spain. See 29/11/1596.� This company was wound up in 1798.
21/7/1595, Alvaro Mendana discovered the Marquesas Islands.
4/8/1511, Portuguese explorer, Alfonso de Aberquerque, captured Malacca, now in Malaysia. This gave Portugal control over the strategic Strait of Malacca, through which all trade between China and India passed.
11/9/1509, Portuguese Fidalgo Diogo Lopes de Sequeira became the first European to reach Malacca, having crossed the Gulf of Bengal.
Appendix 1a � Brunei
2004, Brunei�s Parliament re-opened, 20 years after it closed.
1991, Brunei banned imports of alcohol.
31/12/1983, Brunei became independent from the UK. It joined ASEAN, becoming the 6th member, in 7/1/1984. The new State derived considerable wealth from its offshore oil reserves.
8/12/1962, Revolt in Brunei suppressed with British help.
1959, Islam was enshrined as the State religion in a new Constitution.
1929, Oil extraction began.
2/1/1906. The Sultan of Brunei agreed to hand over administration of Brunei to the British.
1846, Britain annexed the small island of Labuan, which commanded the entrance to Brunei Bay, as a defensive base against pirates.
1400s, Brunei was a much larger entitiy, controlling Sarawak, Sabah, the Celebes, and parts of Borneo and the Philippines.
1300, Brunei now part of the Javanese Majapahit Emnpire.
1200s, Islam arrived in Brunei.
Appendix 1c Cook Islands
1965, The Cook Islands became a self-governing territory in association with New Zealand.
1901, The Cook Islands were annexed to New Zealand.
1888, The Cook Islands became a British protectorate.
Appendix 2 � Kiribati
1991, Tabai was re-elected but constitutionally disallowed from serving as President. Vice President Teateo Teannaki took office.
1982, Tabai was re-elected; re-elected again in 1983 and 1987.
12/7/1979. Kiribati became independent. It was formerly known as the Gilbert Islands. Ieremiah Tabai became President.
1977, The Gilbert Islands achieved internal self-government.
1975, The Ellice Islands were separated from Kiribati, and became Tuvalu.
1957, British nuclear test near Christmas Island (now, Kiritimati). The USA then tested nuclear weapons there in 1962
1937, The Phoenix Islands were annexed to Kiribati.
1892, Britain established a protectorate over the Gilbert and Ellice islands, to exploit their phosphate deposits.
1605, Spanish explorer Quiros visited what is now Kiribati.
Appendix 3 � Laos
1999, Demonstrations in Laos demanding greater political freedom.
1997, Laos joined ASEAN.
1990, The Laos Government mounted counter-offensives against Right-wing Hmong guerrillas in outlying provinces. Agricultural collectives were disbanded.
1989, Laos held national elections, butball candidates had to be approved by the LPRP (Lao People�s Revolutionary Party).
1986, Fourth Party Congress; market-oreinted reforms were introduced.
1978, Popular protests against collectivisation.
1977, Laos signed a mutual assistance treaty with Vietnam.
2/12/1975, Following the fall of Saigon, Vietnam, to the Communists the Pathet Lao in Laos took over the entire government, effectively abrogating a coalition agreement with the Lao government made in 21/2/1973.� The King of Laos abdicated and Laos was proclaimed a People�s Democratic Republic.
6/8/1973, The US accidentally bombed friendly Laotian villages, causing hundreds of casualties.
13/2/1971, South Vietnamese troops, with US aircraft and artillery backing, entered Laos, to eradicate North Vietnamese supply depots. However they were repelled with heavy casualties.
1/3/1969, In Laos, the Pathet Lao opposition rejected the government�s offer of talks to end the civil war.
11/5/1962. President Kennedy ordered US naval, air, and land forces into the Indo-China area, to prevent Laos from falling under Communist control.
7/5/1962, Negotiations began in Laos between the three warring parties.
16/5/1961, A 14-nation conference on Laos opened in Geneva. It soon ran into deadlock.
2/5/1961, Warring factions in Laos agreed to a ceasefire.
8/8/1960, Coup in Laos; General Souvanna Phoumi became leader.
29/10/1959, King Sisavang Vong of Laos died, aged 74, after a reign over 50 years. He was succeeded by his son, King Savang.
22/10/1953, Laos became independent from France; it was admitted to the United Nations in December 1955.
9/4/1953, Communist Vietminh forces under General Giap invaded Laos from Vietnam, forcing the French (who had mauled the Vietminh the previous year in Vietnam) back to the Plain of Jars. The French lost over 2,000 men. Only the arrival of the monsoon rains prevented a Vietminh capture of the Laotian royal capital, Luang Prabang. However the Vietminh did manage to encircle it; however Giap withdrew from the siege, to recruit Laotian guides and stockpile food for future offensives.
1950, The Lao Popular Front (LPF) was formed to resist French rule.
19/7/1949, Laos became self-governing within the French Union.
1941, Japanese forces took control of Laos from Vichy France,
1893, A Treaty between France and Siam established French control over all territory east of the Mekong River.
Appendix 3a � Malaysia
2005, Malaysia deported hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in a crackdown on illegal immigration.
2001, Racial violence between ethnic Malays and Chinese.
1987, Malaysia detained without trial any politicians suspected of pro-Chinese sympathies, and censored the media.
1981, Mahathir Mohammad became Prime Minister of Malaysia.
1978, Malaysia offered unrestricted entry to Vietnamese asylum seekers. Howwver in 1989 �screening� of these refugees began.
1976-1978, Guerilla activity by the banned Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM), from their base in southern Thailand.
15/5/1969, Violence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between Malays and Chinese.
18/9/1968, Indonesia claimed sovereignty over most of Sabah. On 19/9/1968 Malaysia withdrew its diplomats from Manila.
11/8/1966. Malaysia and Indonesia ended a 3 year war.
29/1/1965, An attempt by the Pan Malayan Islamic Party to overthrow the Malaysian Government was thwarted.
8/1/1965, Further Indonesian attacks on Malaysian territory.
3/9/1964, Britain agreed to support Malaysia against threats from Indonesia.
2/9/1964, Indonesian army units landed on Malaysian territory at Labis.
16/9/1963. Malaysia became independent from Britain; a mob of over 100,000 burned down the British Embassy.� The name Malaysia was adopted, from the previous name, Federation of Malaya, when joined by Singapore and Sarawak.
12/4/1963, Indonesian forces attacked Malaysia.
31/8/1957. Malaysia (Malaya) became independent, ending 170 years of British rule. This was Britain�s last major Asian colony. Malay and British forces had defeated Communist rebels, and the new Prime Minister was Tenkgu Abdul Rahman. Rahman (1903-1990) was the son of the Sultan of Kedah, he negotiated the Federation of Malaysia with Sabah and Singapore, 1961-2, remaining Prime Minister if the enlarged Malaysia. However he resigned from politics after the violemnt Chinese-Malay riots of May 1969 in Kuala Lumpur.
8/2/1956, Malaya was promised independence by Britain by August 1957.
6/10/1951, The British High Commissioner in Malaya, Sir Henry Gurney, was killed in an ambush by Communist guerrillas in the Pahang Hills. Chinese-backed Communists were fighting to destroy the rubber plantation economy.
16/6/1948, Britain was reluctant to grant full independence to Malaysia, due to the ongoing Cold War between Communism and the West, with China so close by. The UK did, this day, grant �autonomy� of Malay rule; this reaffirmation of Anglo-Malay relations angered China, who sponsored the formation of the Malayan Races Liberation Army (MNLA), led by Chin Peng. The MNLA began an ared insurrection against the British. There were some 500,000 MNLA sympathisers within Malaysia, and this conflict delayed further the departure of the UK, who feared a Communist Chinese takeover of the region if they did leave.
8/2/1903, Tunku Abdul Rahman, first Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaysia, was born (died 1990)
12/5/1888. Britain established a protectorate over North Borneo.
17/3/1888. Britain established a protectorate over Sarawak in the Malaysian archipelago.
11/6/1868, Sir James Brooke, British colonial administrator of Borneo, died (born 29/4/1803).
1826, Britain joined together the colonies of Malacca, Penang and Singapore, to create the �Straits Settlements�.
29/4/1803, Sir James Brooke, British colonial administrator of Borneo, was born (died 11/6/1868).
1796, Penang, Malaysia, was made a British penal colony.
17/7/1786, Penang, Malaysia, was founded by the British East India Company as� atrading port for pepper expotrts. The area had been ceded by the Sultan of Kedah in 1785.
Appendix 3b � Marshall Islands
2001, The USA paid compensation to the Marshall Islands for damage caused by nuclear testing.
1986, The Marshall Islands became indeoendent.
1947, The United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific was established.
1946, The US began nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll.
1914, Japan occupied the Marshall Islands, and was given a League of Nations Mandate to govern them in 1920.
1886, Marshall Islands became a German colony
1788, British explorer John Marshall visited the islands, giving them their name,
Appendix 3c � Mauritius Appendix 3c � Mauritius
12/3/1992. Mauritius broke its links with the British Crown and became fully independent.
12/3/1968, Mauritius, a volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, became independent from the UK, and joined the Commonwealth. It had been a British colony since 1810.
3/12/1810. The British seized the islands of Reunion and Maurice (Mauritius) after the Battle of Grand Port.
Appendix 3d � Micronesia
1986, Micronesia became independent.
10/5/1979, The Federated States of Micronesia became self-governing.
1947, The United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, including the Caroline Islands (now Micronesia) was established, governed by the USA.
1945, US troops occupied the Caroline Islands at the close of World War Two.
1920, The League of Nations granted a mandate over the Caroline Islands to Japan.
1914, Japan occupied the Caroline Islands as World Wart One started.
1899, Spain sold the Caroline Islands to Germany.
1886, Spain took full control of the Caroline Islands,
1500s, Spain began to colonise the Caroline Islands.
Appendix 3e � Nauru
2001, Nauru agreed to hold asylum seekers rejected by Australia, in return for aid.
2000, Nauru�s phosphate deposits were exhausted. The nation became reliant on Australian aid.
1993, Australia and the UK agreed on compensation over damage caused by phosphate extraction on Nauru.
1970, Nauru gained control over the phosphate industry.
31/1/1968. Nauru became independent from Britain.
1947, Australia, New Zealand and the UK began a joint administration of Nauru under UN Trusteeship.
1945, Japan surrendered in World War Two; Allied troops occupied Nauru.
1942, Japan occupied Nauru during World War Two. Over 1,000 Nauruans were depoeted to Truk. Micronesia, where many died from bombing and starvation.
1920, The League of Nations placed Nauru under joint administration of Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
1914, Australia occupied Nauru at the outbreak of World War One.
1900, Phosphate deposits were discovered on Nauru. Joint exploitation of these by Germany and the UK began in 1906.
1888, Germany annexed Nauru.
1798, British explorer Captain Cook discovered Nauru.
Appendix 3f � Niue
1974, Niue became self-governing
1900, Niue was annexed by Britain and transferred to New Zealand in 1901.
Appendix 4 � Palau
2006, Palau nominated Melekeok as its new capital.
1994, Palau became independent.
1989, Palau voted not to join the new Federated States of Micronesia, and gained autonomy in 1981.
1/1/1981. Palau became self-governing.
1947, The United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific was created, which included Palau.
1944, US troops took Palau from the Japanese.
1921, The United Nations granted Japan a mandate over Palau.
1914, As World War One started, Japan took control of Palau from Germany.
1899, Spain sold Palau to Germany.
1886, Spain established full control over Palau,
1500s, Spain began colonising Palau.
Appendix 4a � Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
7/12/2019, Polls closed in a non-binding independence referendum on Bougainville Island on whether the island should be independent from Papua New Guinea. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of independence, with 97% in favour, or 176,928 votes, against just 3,043 for remaining. Bougainville has huge copper reserves, and accounts for more than 40% of Papua new Guinea�s GDP; it was this mineral wealth that funded Papua New Guinea�s independence form Australia in 1975.
2001, Peace agreement (Loloata Agreement) over the Bougainville dispute. Bougainville became an autonomous region.
1998, Ceasefire in Bougainville dispute.
1994, Temporary ceasefire in Bougainville, but fighting resumed in 1995.
25/12/1994, Protests by indigenous villagers of Papua against mine pollution (see 1936) were met with military attacks, killing three protestors.
1989, State of Emergency proclaimed in Bougainville. The large Panguna copper mine on Bougainville closed. However it is still thought to contain large reserves of copper, also gold.
1988, The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) began a guerrilla campaign for independence for Bougainville.
16/9/1975. Papua New Guinea became� independent from Australia, under Michael Somare.
1/12/1973. Papua New Guinea became internally self-governing, see 16/9/1975.������������
1968, The huge Panguna copper mine opened on Bougainville.
1942, Occupied by Japan, until 1945.
1936, Dutch prospectors discovered large gold and copper deposits in western Papua New Guinea. Mining began by Freeport in 1972. By the late 1970s, the indigenous population was protesting about pollution from the mine and slag heaps. In 1977 the Free Papua Movement blew up part of the mine buildings; a military crackdown followed, in which 900 villagers were killed. See 25/12/1994.
1920, Former German New Guinea was mandated by the Leauge of Nations to Australia; this arrangement was renewed by the United Nations after World War Two.
1914, German New Guinea was occupied by Australia.
1902, Australia took over the British sector, which was renamed Papua in 1906.
8/4/1901, James Chalmers, Scottish missionary to New Guinea, died (born 1841).
1884, Papua island was now divided three ways. 1) The western part was claimed by the Dutch in 1828 as part of the Dutch East Indies; it now forms part of Indonesia. 2) The south-eastern part was claimed as a British colony, along with the islands to the south east. 3) The north eastern part was claimed as a German colony, along with nearby islands.
1793, Britain began colonisation of Papua.
1545, Spain claimed the whole of New Guinea as a colony.
1526, Portuguese explorer Jorge de Meneses landed on the northwest coast of the island of New Guinea.
28,500 BCE, First humans reached Papua New Guinea.
Appendix 5 -� Samoa and Tokelau
1991, Universal suffrage was introduced in Samoa.
1/1/1962. Western Samoa became independent. The King, HH Malietoa Tanumafilli II, held office for life; his successor was to be elected.
1926, Sovereignty of Tokelau was transferred from Britain to Samoa.
1914, New Zealand troops occupied Western Samoa, formerly a German colony.
16/7/1904, Islands of Manu'a group (Samoa) were ceded to the US by their chiefs.
1900, Germany colonised Western Samoa.
1899, The Samoan Islands were divided between German (Western) Samoa and US (Eastern) Samoa.
Appendix 6 -� Singapore
23/3/2015, Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore who played a major role in the development of that country, died aged 91. He became first Prime Minister of newly-independent Singapore in 1959, remaining in government until 2011. He took Singapore into a federation with Malaysia in 1963, and took it out in 1965. He ran Singapore with a strong hand, but achieved economic growth that averaged 7% a year for four decades.
2006, Construction of a bridge linking Malaysia and Singapore was cancelled after a disagreement between the two counties.
2004, Lee Hsien Loong, eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became Prime Minister.
1993, Ong Teng Cheong became Singapore�s first directly-elected President.
26/11/1990, President Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore resigned after 26 years in office. Goh Chok Tong succeeded him as President.
1963, Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia.
3/6/1959. Singapore achieved self-government. Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister.
12/5/1955, Riots by the Chinese in Singapore who were dissatisfied with British plans for self-government of the island and wanted complete independence. Four people were killed.
1954, Lee Kuan Yew (born 1932) formed the People�s Action Party. It was moderate and anti-Communist.
14/2/1938, The British Naval base at Singapore opened.
5/8/1923, C V Devan Nair, President of Singapore, was born.
12/8/1910, Yusof bin Ishak, first President of Singapore 1965�70, was born in Perak State (died 1970).
Appendix 6a � Solomon Islands
2003, Australian-led peacekeeping forces arrived to quell ethnic violence.
2000, Malaita Isanders staged an unsuccesfuol coup, holding the Solomon Islands Prime Minister hostage for two days.
1998, Ethnic violence flared as 20,000 Malaita Islolanders were forced from their homes on Guadalcanal by local unofficial militias.
7/7/1978. The Solomon Islands became an independent republic within the Commonwealth.� They had been a British protectorate since 1899.
2/1/1976, Britain granted the Solomon Islands internal self-government.
1893, Britain made the Solomon Islands a protectorate.
1568, Spanish explorers led by Alvaro Mendana de Neyra reached the Solomon Isands.
Appendix 8 � Tonga
2006, King Taufa�ahau Tupou IV died, and was succeeded by Prince Tupouto. There was rioting over lack of democracy.
4/6/1970. Tonga (The Friendly Islands) became an independent member of the Commonwealth.� It had been a British Protectorate since 1900.
1965, King Taufa�ahau Tupou IV acceded to the throne, on the death of his mother, Queen Salote Tupou III.
1958, Tonga gained greater autonomy from Britain.
19/5/1900. Britain annexed Tonga, the Friendly Islands, an archipelago of 169 islands. There had been concern that Germany would take over the islands.
1875, Tonga agreed its first Constitution.
1820, King Taufa�ahau Tupou became ruler of Hapai Island; by 1843 he had united the other islands under his rule.� By 1862 he had freed the Tonga Islanders from the rule of local petty chiefs.
1773, Captain Cook visited Tonga.
1643, Abel Tasman visited Tonga.
300 BCE, Tonga first settled by Polynesians.
Appendix 9 � Tuvalu
2001, New Zealand agreed to take the inhabitants of the Tuvalu Islands, none of which were more than 4.5 metres above sea level, if they were flooded diue to global warming.
1998, Tuvalu signed a lucrative deal for the sale of the territory�s valuable .tv Internet suffix.
30/9/1978, The Ellice Islands became the independent nation of Tuvalu.
10/11/1915, Britain annexed the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. See Kiribati.
Appendix 10 � Vanuatu
2003, Economic reforms removed Vanuatu as a tax haven.
1906, France and the UK agreed on joint rule of the New Hebrides.
1605, Spanish explorer Quiros visited the islands,