Europeans first started visiting the archipelago in the Sixteenth Century. For example the famous British circumnavigator, Sir Francis Drake arrived in Ternate in the Moluccas Islands in November 1579. Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and British continued to arrive over the next century. Later, these countries demanded more than spices and began colonising the archipelago. The Dutch ruled the area for more than 300 years and, in 1942, the Japanese arrived in Indonesia and ruled for three years. Indonesia declared its independence on 17 August 1945. It is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, with more than 250 million citizens.
Ganting Grand Mosque (Indonesian: Masjid Raya Ganting) is a mosque located in Ganting, Padang, Indonesia. Construction began in 1805, making the mosque the oldest in Padang and one of the oldest in Indonesia. It is a Cultural Property of Indonesia and involved persons from various cultural backgrounds in its construction. During the 19th century the mosque was the centre of an Islamic reform in the area. Future president Sukarno spent a time of exhile at the mosque in 1942. The mosque survived the tsunami which struck Padang following the 1833 Sumatra earthquake, but was severely damaged after earthquakes in 2005 and 2009. The one-floor mosque continues to be used as a center for prayer, as well as religious education; it also functions as a pesantren for the community. The mosque is also a tourist attraction. (Read more...)