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.
Indonesia occupied East Timor from December 1975 to October 1999. Originally a colony of Portugal, a 1974 coup led to decolonization. After a small-scale civil war, Indonesian military forces invaded in December 1975; by 1979 they had eliminated armed resistance to the occupation. Indonesia later included the territory as a province (flag pictured). For twenty-five years the people of East Timor were subjected to extrajudicial executions, torture, and starvation; a massacre in 1991 caused outrage around the world, and in 1996 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta for their ongoing efforts to peacefully end the occupation. A 1999 vote to determine East Timor's future resulted in an overwhelming majority in favor of independence, and in 2002 East Timor became an independent nation. The occupation claimed between 102,800 and 183,000 East Timorese lives, out of a population of less than 700,000. (Read more...)
Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist known for independently proposing a theory of evolution due to natural selection. Wallace did extensive fieldwork in the Malay Archipelago 1854 to 1862. In the area he identified the Wallace Line that divides the Indonesia into two distinct parts, one in which animals closely related to those of Australia are common, and one in which the species are largely of Asian origin. He was considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography". Wallace was also a prolific author who wrote on both scientific and social issues; his account of his adventures and observations during his explorations in Indonesia and Malaysia, The Malay Archipelago, was one of the most popular and influential journals of scientific exploration published during the 19th century. (Read more...)