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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Differences between Malay and Indonesian

Differences between Malay and Indonesian

The differences between Malay (Bahasa Melayu) and Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) are slightly greater than those between British English and American English. They are mutually intelligible, but with differences in spelling, pronunciation and vocabulary.


Before the 20th century, Malay was usually written in a modified form of the Arabic alphabet known as Jawi. Since then, Malay written with Roman letters, known as Rumi, has almost completely replaced Jawi in everyday life. The romanisations originally used in Malaya (now part of Malaysia) and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) reflected their positions as British and Dutch possessions respectively.

In Indonesia, the vowel in the English word 'moon' was formerly represented in Indonesian as oe, as in Dutch, and the official spelling of this sound was changed to u in 1947. However, oe was retained in some proper names long after this. Similarly, until 1972, the initial consonant of the English 'chin' was represented in Bahasa Malaysia as ch, whereas in Indonesian, it continued to follow Dutch and used tj. Hence the word for 'grandchild' used to be written as chuchu in Malay and tjoetjoe in Indonesian, until a unified spelling system was introduced in 1972 (known in Indonesia as Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan or the 'Perfected Spelling') which removed most differences between the two varieties: Malay ch and Indonesian tj became c: hence cucu. Indonesian abandoned the spelling dj (for the consonant at the beginning of the word 'Jakarta') to conform to the j already in use in Malay, while the old Indonesian j for the semivowel at the beginning of the English 'young', was replaced with y as in Malay. Likewise, the velar fricative which occurs in many Arabic loanwords, which used to be written 'ch' in Indonesian, became kh in both languages.

Nevertheless, the old spelling is still encountered in some Indonesian names, such as the name of the first President, Sukarno (written as Soekarno), although the post-1972 spelling is now favoured. Other examples include Achmad and Djojo (pronounced as Akhmad and Joyo respectively).

Although the representations of speech sounds are now largely identical in the Indonesian and Malay varieties, a number of minor spelling differences remain, usually for historical reasons. For instance, the word for 'money' is written as wang in Malay, but uang in Indonesian, while the word for 'cake' is written as kuih in Malay, but kue in Indonesian.


Pronunciation also tends to be very different, with East Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia speaking a dialect called Bahasa Baku,[citation needed] where the words are pronounced as spelt and enunciation tends to be clipped, staccato and faster than the Malay spoken in the Malay Peninsula, which is spoken at a more languorous pace. Many vowels are pronounced (and were formerly spelt) differently in Peninsular Malaysia: tujuh is pronounced (and was spelt) tujoh, pilih as pileh, etc., and many final a's tend to be pronounced as schwas.


Vocabulary differences

Indonesian differs from Malay in having words of Javanese and Dutch origin. For example, the word for 'post office' in Malay is "pejabat pos" (in Indonesian this means 'post officer'), whereas in Indonesian it is "kantor pos", from the Dutch word for office, kantoor. There are also some Portuguese influences: in Indonesian, Christmas is known as "Natal", whereas Malay uses "Krismas", derived from English. There are also instances where the Malay version derives from English pronunciation while the Indonesian version takes its cue from Latin: compare Malay "universiti" with Indonesian "universitas."

account (bank,bills)akaunrekening (from Dutch)
afterselepassetelah(also used in Malay to indicate consecutive actions)
afternoontengah harisore (can also refer to the evening); petang (less frequent)
agentejen, agen (in science term)agen
airportlapangan terbang
(lit. field/expanse + to fly)
bandara (from bandar udara, lit. airport), lapangan terbang (less frequent)
apartmentpangsapuri, rumah pangsa, rumah kondo (only for 'condominium')apartemen
AugustOgosAgustus - from Dutch augustus
auntiemakciktante (from Dutch), bibi
balconyserambi, beranda,from Bengali, Portuguese or English verandah; (also used in Indonesia but less common)balkon, from Portuguese balcão or Dutch balkon
basinbesenwastafel - from Dutch, baskom - from Dutch waskom
becausekerana, sebabkarena, sebab
billionbilionmiliar, milyar
bishopbiskop, bisyopuskup
breastbuah dada, payudara, tetek (slang)payudara, buah dada (slang), susu (slang), tete (slang)
BritainBritainInggris, Britania
busbasbus or bis - Dutch pronunciation of "bus"
bus stationstesen basstasiun bus, terminal bus
bus stopperhentian bashalte bus/bis - derived from Dutch
campaignkempenkampanye - (similar to the pronunciation of the Dutch word campagne
can (to be able)boleh (used in Indonesia in the sense of "to allow")bisa
cancerkanser, barahkanker
carkereta (in Indonesian means train)mobil
cardkadkartu (from Dutch kaart)
cashwang tunaikas
cashierjuruwangkasir, - (from the Dutch word caissière pemegang kas
censusbanci (means "transsexual" or "effeminate" in Indonesian)sensus
centipedelipan (also infrequently used in Indonesian)kelabang
chillicili, lada, cabai (used in northern states of Malaysia)cabe, cabai
ChinaChina (More widely used now), Negara CinaChina (More widely used now), Republik Rakyat Cina/China, Tionghoa (race) or Tiongkok - rarely used/old spelling (country)
*note: 'Cina' is sometimes considered as pejorative*
cinemapanggung wayang gambar (or more popularly when contracted, pawagam)bioskop (from Dutch bioscoop), sinema (more popular now)
coatkotjas - from Dutch jas
cockroachlipas (also infrequently used in Indonesian)kecoa - from Chinese Hokkien Dialect ka chua
collegekolej, maktabkampus, kolese, perkuliahan (kuliah = lecture)
Commonwealth of NationsNegara-Negara KomanwelNegara-Negara Persemakmuran
counterkaunterloket - from Dutch, konter
curtainlangsir, tiraihordeng, gordin or gorden (from Dutch gordijn), tirai
customs (department)kastamduane from Dutch duane
degree (temperature)darjahderajat
discountdiskaun or potongankorting (from Dutch), diskon (less frequently used)
driverdrebar, pemandusupir (from: chauffeur), sopir (slang), pengemudi (formal)
driving licencelesen memanduribewis from Dutch rijbewijs (slang), surat izin mengemudi (SIM) now more widely used
DecemberDisemberDesember (pronounced: Désember)
effectivenesskeberkesananefektivitas, kemanjuran
eightlapan (also the Indonesian slang word)delapan (also found in archaic Malaysian texts)
electricitytenaga elektrik (literally "electric energy")listrik
emergencykecemasandarurat (from Arabic; also used in Malaysia to mean a state of emergency)
engineenjinmesin (from Dutch and English "machine", also used to refer to what translates into machine in English)
extinctpupuslangka, punah
- Indonesian word for mill or factory for processing or refining natural products, i.e. kilang minyak ('oil refinery')
- from Dutch fabriek
FebruaryFebruariFebruari, Pebruari (slang)
fermented ricetapaitape, tapai (Sumatera variation)
floor (as in "the 2nd floor")tingkat (also used in Indonesian)lantai
FrancePerancisPrancis or Perancis
free of chargepercuma (in Indonesia means "worthless")gratis (from Dutch), cuma-cuma
governmentkerajaan (derives from raja or "king") - Indonesian word for "kingdom"pemerintah used in Singapore to refer to government. In Malaysia and Brunei understood but less frequently used
head officeibu pejabat (in Indonesia means "female officer" or "mother of an officer")kantor pusat (from Dutch)
headscarftudungkerudung, jilbab - usually a more complete set of clothing
herbherbajamu (in Malay (and another definition in Indonesian), means "to treat, to entertain guests")
hospitalhospitalrumah sakit (literally means "sick house") from Dutch structure "ziekenhuis" ( 'rumah sakit' is still used in Brunei to refer to hospital but in Malaysia, the term 'Hospital' is more prevalent since the mid-sixties)
Isaya, akusaya, aku, gue (slang, informal)
ice creamais krimes krim
illegal drugsdadah (means goodbye in Indonesia)narkoba -an acronym for NARkotika dan Obat-obatan berBAhaya (narcotics and dangerous drugs)
impotencemati pucukimpotensi, lemah syahwat
installment (payment)ansuranangsuran, cicilan
internet cafekafe internet, kafe cyberwarnet (short for "warung internet", warung is from Dutch "waroeng")
licencelesenizin, lisensi - from Dutch licentie
JuneJunJuni - from Dutch juni
JulyJulaiJuli - from Dutch juli
lane (roads/highway)loronglajur -modified version of jalur (track), (lajur is understood but not frequently used in Malaysia while jalur is used in Malaysia to mean stripe or band. e.g. broadband = jalur-lebar)
lawyerpeguampengacara ( in Malaysia, it is used to mean master of ceremony
lemonlemonjeruk limun
lime (fruit)limaujeruk limau
malelelaki (also used in Indonesian but less frequent), laki-laki, jantan (animals)pria, laki-laki, cowok (colloquial)
malfunctionrosakrusak, mati, tak berfungsi (literally "not functional")
MarchMacMaret - from Dutch maart
mattresstilamkasur, matras
mean verbberertiberarti
Middle EastTimur Tengah, Asia BaratTimur Tengah
minibusbas minimikrolet, angkot (angkutan kota), minibus (Dutch pronunciation)
Mrs (married woman)puanibu, nyonya (from Dutch)
moneywang, duituang, dana, duit (from Dutch "duit")(slang)
mortgagegadai janjihipotek (from Dutch "hypotheek")
MoscowMoskow (also used in Indonesian)Moskwa
motorcyclemotosikalmotor, sepeda motor literally "motor bicycle"
nakedbogeltelanjang, bugil (slang)
nationalkebangsaan (used in Indonesian to mean "nationality"), nasionalnasional
newspapersurat khabarkoran, harian, surat kabar (more formal)
New ZealandNew ZealandSelandia Baru
noisybisingberisik, bising (also means "buzzing"), ribut
nottidak, tak (informal)tidak, tak (rarely used - usually for the same usage as non-), enggak (slang), gak (slang - chat word)
numbernombornomor or nomer - from Dutch nummer
officepejabatkantor - from Dutch kantoor
orange (fruit)orenjeruk
orange (colour)jingga orenjingga tua
party (political)partipartai - from Dutch partij
peniszakar, kemaluan lelakizakar, kemaluan, kontol (slang, vulgar), titit (slang)
pharmacyfarmasiapotek - from Dutch apotheek, farmasi -usually for medicine manufacturers
photographgambar, fotofoto, potret (from Dutch, means "portrait" in English)
pickpocketseluk, penyeluk (saku)copet, pencopet
pirate (maritime)lanunbajak laut
platform (train)pletfomperon (from Dutch perron)
policepolispolisi (from Dutch politie)
post codeposkodkode pos
prayer (Islam)solat, sembahyangshalat, sholat ('sh' is pronounced as 's')
prayer room (Islam)suraumushollah ('sh' is pronounced as 's')
pregnantmengandung, hamil (formal)mengandung, hamil (less formal), bunting (informal)
presssurat khabarpers from Dutch
Private Limited CompanySendirian Berhad
abbreviated as Sdn Bhd (suffix)
Perseroan Terbatas
abbreviated as PT(prefix)
prostitutepelacurpelacur, WTS (pronounced 'way-tay-es'; wanita tuna susila "moral-less women", Sanskrit), PSK (formal, pronounced 'pay-es-ka', pekerja seks komersial (commercial sex workers))
push, to (door)tolak (used less primarily in Indonesian to mean 'subtract', it also means 'to refuse/reject', also common meaning in Malay when used in arithmetics)dorong (common usage in Malay is to push, to propel)
raspberryrasberiframbus or frambosen - from Portuguese frambuesa or Dutch framboos
refrigeratorpeti sejuklemari es, kulkas - from Dutch koelkast
restaurantkedai makan, restoranrestoran, rumah makan literally eating house or eatery
robrompak (also refers to piracy (Indonesian for "to commit piracy"))rampok
- also used in Indonesia, but rarely (usually for "compartment")
from Dutch "kamer" (chamber)
roundabout (traffic)bulatan
e.g. Bulatan DBP in Kuala Lumpur

pusing keliling (in Brunei)
i.e Bundaran HI in Jakarta
saucesossaos, saus
school (Islamic)pondokpesantren
sciencesains - also used in Indonesianilmu (Malay for knowledge), iptek (an acronym for "Ilmu Pengetahuan dan Teknologi", which literally means "science and technology")
sewersaluran najis, saluran kumbahangot, selokan, parit (means ditch in Malay), saluran air/pembuangan
shoekasutsepatu ( understood but less frequently used in Malaysia )
shopkedai - (also used in Indonesia but less common)toko
soya beanskacang soyakacang kedelai
speak/talkbercakap (means 'chat' in Indonesian)berbicara - (means 'discuss' in Malay), ngomong (slang)
sportsukanolahraga (also used less frequently in Malay)
stationstesenstasiun (formerly spelled "setasiun")
stinkbusukbau (means smell in Malay), bau busuk
stop (verb)berhentistop, berhenti
strawberrystrawberistroberi or arbei - from Dutch aardbei
stupidbodohbodoh, dungu, tolol, goblok (slang), geblek (slang), bego (slang), blo'on (slang, Sundanese)
- rarely used in Indonesia
- from Portuguese Domingo (Lord's Day)
(Malay for Weekends)
tap waterair paipair keran, air ledeng ("ledeng" also means "plumbing") from dutch leiding
teachercikgu (from Encik guru), guruguru - (loanword from Sanskrit)
teacher (religious, Islam)ustazustad
telephonetelefontelepon, telpon, telfon
testiclesbuah zakar, testisbuah zakar, kanjut (slang, vulgar)
traffic jamkesesakan lalulintas, jam (slang)macet
turnpusing (means 'dizzy' in Indonesian), belokbelok
tapiocaubi kayusingkong, ubi kayu, ketela pohon, tapioka
televisiontelevisyen, TVtelevisi - from Dutch televisie, (also TV, pronounced 'tee-vee' or 'te-fe')
toiletbilik air, tandaskamar kecil, toilet, kamar mandi (bathroom), WC (pronounced 'we-se') for watercloset.
ThailandNegara Thai, Siam, ThailandThailand, Siam, Muangthai used in old scripts
tickettiket (also used in Indonesia)karcis (from Dutch kaartje)
tiretayarban (from Dutch "[auto]band")
trainkeretapi, trenkereta (api/listrik) "steam/electrical"
transsexualpondanbencong, banci, waria (polite), transseksual
treepokok, pohonpohon
uglyhodoh, jelekjelek
unclepakcikoom or om (derived from Dutch, pronounced and sometimes spelt as "oom"), paman
untilsehinggasampai (also used in Malay)
urinatekencing (informal), buang air kecil (formal)buang air kecil, kencing (impolite)
USAAmerika SyarikatAmerika Serikat (AS)
verysangat, amatsangat (prefix), amat (prefix), sekali (suffix), banget (suffix) (slang)
vice presidentnaib presidenwakil presiden ('wapres')
virgindaraperawan (formal), gadis, (anak) dara
websitelaman websitus web
weekendhujung mingguakhir pekan, akhir minggu
windowtingkap (also used in Indonesian but less common), jendelajendela - from Portuguese janela
youanda (very formal), awak, kamu, kauAnda (formal - capitalised), kamu, kau, lu/loe (slang)
zoozookebun binatang derived from Dutch dierentuin (animal garden). Beside "taman haiwan", kebun binatang was also frequently used in Malaysia before the mid-sixties

False friends

Besides vocabulary differences, there are also a number of false friends in both languages. As these words are in quite common use in either or both of the languages, misunderstandings can arise.

WordMalay meaningIndonesian meaning
ahlia member (of a group)
(when the word is used by itself),

expert in a field
expert in a field
aktaact (= law)act (= written legal document)
Malaysian: besi waja
bancicensuseffeminate, transvestite homosexual
berbualto chatto tell a lie
bercintalovemake love, have sexual intercourse
bijipill, tabletseed, testicles ("balls", offensive)
bisapoison, toxiccan/able, venom
bogelnakedvery short person, dwarf, midget
bontot/buntutbuttocktail ('ekor' as commonly used in Malay)
butoh/butuhmale genitals, an offensive referenceneed
comelcute, pretty(to call) someone who can not keep a secret (example: mulutnya comel= her mouth can't keep a secret)
emailelectronic mail (recently changed to "emel")enamel
from 'anak gampang' lit. easy child
easy (non negative meaning)
jahatbad, naughtyevil, criminal
jemputinvitepick up
jerukpickles/preserved fruits or vegetablesoranges
jimatpennywiseamulet (the Malaysian equivalent is azimat)
kacakhandsomeber-kacak pinggang (stands with hands on your hips)
The Malaysian equivalent is bercekak-pinggang, a phrase to mean that a person is being bossy
kakitanganemployeemember of mafia/criminal organisation
kapanor kafan: Muslim burial shroud (kain kafan/kapan)when (kapan mau pulang?= when are you returning?)
karyawork of art (karyawan=artists)work (karyawan= workers)
(historical association, most Malay states were governed by monarchs, from Raja = King, now refers to any kind of government)
khidmatservicefully concentrate
pajakto mortgagetax
(associated with architectural work, site map etc only)
(those who hold office, Malay (pegawai)
pengajianeducationmass recitation of Quran
percumafree of chargeuseless, not needed
(software bugs i.e Year 2000 bug and also commonly referring to the bed bugs)
Javanese pijet
polispolice(insurance) policy
pusingto go around a place, circular in motion, to spin/rotatedizzy, confused
pupukto nurturefertilizer (also means 'to nurture' in the metaphorical sense of the word)
tambangfaremine, rope
tandastoiletto explain, to finish
sulitconfidential, difficultdifficult


Indonesian text sample
[1] Ensiklopedia, atau kadangkala dieja sebagai ensiklopedi, adalah sejumlah buku yang berisi penjelasan mengenai setiap cabang ilmu pengetahuan yang tersusun menurut abjad atau menurut kategori secara singkat dan padat.
Kata 'ensiklopedia' diambil dari bahasa Yunani; enkyklios paideia (ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία) yang berarti sebuah lingkaran atau pengajaran yang lengkap. Maksudnya ensiklopedia itu sebuah pendidikan paripurna yang mencakup semua lingkaran ilmu pengetahuan. Seringkali ensiklopedia dicampurbaurkan dengan kamus dan ensiklopedia-ensiklopedia awal memang berkembang dari kamus.
Malay text sample
[2] Ensiklopedia, (encyclopaedia) atau kadangkala dieja sebagai ensaiklopedia, merupakan koleksi maklumat atau himpunan fakta mengenai setiap cabang ilmu pengetahuan yang tersusun menurut abjad atau menurut kategori secara singkat dan padat.
Kata ensiklopedia diambil dari bahasa Yunani εγκύκλιος παιδεία, egkyklios paideia (a circle of instruction) yang bererti sebuah lingkaran atau pengajaran yang lengkap. Ini bermaksud ensiklopedia itu merupakan sebuah pendidikan sempurna yang merangkumi semua aspek ilmu pengetahuan. Seringkali ensiklopedia disalah ertikan sebagai kamus. Mungkin ini kerana ensiklopedia-ensiklopedia awal memang berkembang dari kamus.
Encyclopaedia, or occasionally spelt as ensiklopedi, was several books that contained the explanation about each branch of science that was compiled according to the alphabet or according to the category briefly and densely.
The phrase 'Encyclopaedia' is taken from Greek; enkyklios paideia (ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία) that means a circle of instruction or a complete teaching.
This means that the encyclopaedia is a complete education that included all the science circles. Often the encyclopaedia was mixed with the dictionary and early encyclopaedias actually started from dictionaries.


During the May 1998 Revolution, when calls for political reform or reformasi in Indonesia led to the resignation of President Suharto, Malaysian satirists Instant Cafe lampooned a government broadcast in which 'Malaysians are reminded that reformasi is an Indonesian word, which has no equivalent in Bahasa Melayu.'


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), is a nation in Southeast Asia. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state. With a population of over 234 million people, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation, although officially it is not an Islamic state. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected parliament and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when the Srivijaya Kingdom formed trade links with China. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Under Indian influence, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished from the early centuries CE. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Exploration. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.

Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the politically dominant and largest ethnic group. As a unitary state and a nation, Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka tunggal ika" ("Unity in Diversity" lit. "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. However, sectarian tensions and separatism have led to violent confrontations that have undermined political and economic stability. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty is a defining feature of contemporary Indonesia.


The name Indonesia derives from the Latin Indus, meaning "India", and the Greek nesos, meaning "island".[4] The name dates to the 18th century, far predating the formation of independent Indonesia.[5] In 1850, George Earl, an English ethnologist, proposed the terms Indunesians—and, his preference, Malayunesians—for the inhabitants of the "Indian Archipelago or Malayan Archipelago".[6] In the same publication, a student of Earl's, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago.[7] However, Dutch academics writing in East Indies publications were reluctant to use Indonesia. Instead, they used the terms Malay Archipelago (Maleische Archipel); the Netherlands East Indies (Nederlandsch Oost Indië), popularly Indië; the East (de Oost); and even Insulinde.[8]

From 1900, the name Indonesia became more common in academic circles outside the Netherlands, and Indonesian nationalist groups adopted it for political expression.[9] Adolf Bastian, of the University of Berlin, popularized the name through his book Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayichen Archipels, 1884–1894. The first Indonesian scholar to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau in the Netherlands with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in 1913.[5]


Main article: History of Indonesia
As early as the first century CE Indonesian vessels made trade voyages as far as Africa. Picture: a ship carved on Borobudur, circa 800 CE.
As early as the first century CE Indonesian vessels made trade voyages as far as Africa. Picture: a ship carved on Borobudur, circa 800 CE.

Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the "Java Man", suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago.[10] Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, migrated to South East Asia from Taiwan. They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and confined the native Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions as they expanded.[11] Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the eighth century BCE,[12] allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first century CE. Indonesia's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade. For example, trade links with both Indian kingdoms and China were established several centuries BCE.[13] Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.[14]

The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia's Banda Islands. Once one of the world's most valuable commodities, it drew the first European colonial powers to Indonesia.
The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia's Banda Islands. Once one of the world's most valuable commodities, it drew the first European colonial powers to Indonesia.

From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it.[15] Between the eighth and 10th centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as Sailendra's Borobudur and Mataram's Prambanan. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century, and under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia; this period is often referred to as a "Golden Age" in Indonesian history.[16]

Although Muslim traders first traveled through South East Asia early in the Islamic era, the earliest evidence of Islamized populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra.[17] Other Indonesia areas gradually adopted Islam, making it the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java.[18] The first Europeans arrived in Indonesia in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku.[19] Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalized colony.[19]

For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over these territories was tenuous; only in the early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia's current boundaries.[20] The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during WWII ended Dutch rule,[21] and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed president.[22] The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and a bitter armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence.[23]

Sukarno moved from democracy towards authoritarianism, and maintained his power base by balancing the opposing forces of the Military, Islam, and the Communist Party of Indonesia.[24] An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by the army, who led a violent anti-communist purge, during which the PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively destroyed.[25] Between 500,000 and one million people were killed.[26] The head of the military, General Suharto, out-manoeuvred the politically weakened Suharto, and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration[27] was supported by the US government,[28] and encouraged foreign investment in Indonesia, which was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth.

In 1997 and 1998, however, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian Financial Crisis.[29] This increased popular discontent with the New Order[30] and led to popular protests. Suharto resigned on 21 May 1998.[31] In 1999, East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, after a twenty-five-year occupation, which was marked by international condemnation of repression and human rights abuses.[32] The Reformasi era following Suharto's resignation, has led to a strengthening of democratic processes, including a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, and terrorism have slowed progress. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent and violence remain problems in some areas.[33] A political settlement to an armed separatist conflict in Aceh was achieved in 2005.[34]

Government and politics

Main article: Politics of Indonesia

Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the national government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia[35] have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.[36] The president of Indonesia is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the president and vice president.[37] The president serves a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.[38]

The highest representative body at national level is the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president.[39] The MPR comprises two houses; the People's Representative Council (DPR), with 550 members, and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), with 168 members. The DPR passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for five-year terms by proportional representation.[36] Reforms since 1998 have markedly increased the DPR's role in national governance.[40] The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management.[41]

Most civil disputes appear before a State Court; appeals are heard before the High Court. The Supreme Court is the country's highest court, and hears final cassation appeals and conducts case reviews. Other courts include the Commercial Court, which handles bankruptcy and insolvency; a State Administrative Court to hear administrative law cases against the government; a Constitutional Court to hear disputes concerning legality of law, general elections, dissolution of political parties, and the scope of authority of state institutions; and a Religious Court to deal with specific religious cases.[42]

Foreign relations and military

In contrast to Sukarno's antipathy to western powers and hostility to Malaysia, Indonesia's foreign relations approach since the Suharto "New Order" has been one of international cooperation and accommodation, to gain external support for Indonesia's political stability and economic development.[43] Indonesia maintains close relationships with its neighbors in Asia, and is a founding member of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit.[44] The nation restored relations with the People's Republic of China in 1990 following a freeze in place since anti-communist purges early in the Suharto era.[42] Indonesia has been a member of the United Nations since 1950,[45] and was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).[44] Indonesia is signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, and a member of OPEC, the Cairns Group and the WTO. Indonesia has received humanitarian and development aid since 1966, in particular from the United States, western Europe, Australia, and Japan.[44]

The Indonesian Government has worked with other countries to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of major bombings linked to militant Islamism and Al-Qaeda.[46] The most deadly attack killed 202 people (including 164 international tourists) in the Bali resort town of Kuta in 2002.[47] The attacks, and subsequent travel warnings issued by other countries, have severely damaged Indonesia's tourism industry and foreign investment prospects.[48]

Indonesia's 300,000-member armed forces (TNI) include the Army (TNI-AD), Navy (TNI-AL, which includes marines), and Air Force (TNI-AU).[49] The army has about 233,000 active-duty personnel. Defense spending in the national budget was 4% of GDP in 2006, and is controversially supplemented by revenue from military commercial interests and foundations.[50] In the post-Suharto period since 1998, formal TNI representation in parliament has been removed; though curtailed, its political influence remains extensive.[51] Separatist movements in the provinces of Aceh and Papua have led to armed conflict, and subsequent allegations of human rights abuses and brutality from all sides.[52] Following a sporadic thirty year guerrilla war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military, a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2005.[53] In Papua, there has been a significant, albeit imperfect, implementation of regional autonomy laws, and a reported decline in the levels of violence and human rights abuses, since the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.[54]

Administrative divisions

Provinces of Indonesia
Provinces of Indonesia

Administratively, Indonesia consists of 33 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own political legislature and governor. The provinces are subdivided into regencies (kabupaten) and (kota), which are further subdivided into subdistricts (kecamatan), and again into village groupings (either desa or kelurahan). Following the implementation of regional autonomy measures in 2001, the regencies and cities have become the key administrative units, responsible for providing most government services. The village administration level is the most influential on a citizen's daily life, and handles matters of a village or neighborhood through an elected lurah or kepala desa (village chief).

Aceh, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Papua, and West Papua provinces have greater legislative privileges and a higher degree of autonomy from the central government than the other provinces. The Acehnese government, for example, has the right to create an independent legal system; in 2003, it instituted a form of Sharia (Islamic law).[55] Yogyakarta was granted the status of Special Region in recognition of its pivotal role in supporting Indonesian Republicans during the Indonesian Revolution.[56] Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, was granted special autonomy status in 2001.[57] Jakarta is the country's special capital region.

Indonesian provinces and their capitals

(Indonesian name in brackets where different from English)
† indicates provinces with Special Status