Travel through our timeline of major events in Indonesia's history.
WORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE/ALAMY
2 million to 500,000 Years Ago
Human ancestors known as Homo erectus, or Java Man, live in the area.
Trade routes are established with China and India.
Javanese Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourish.
By the end of the century, Islam is the area's main religion.
The Dutch East India Company is formed to trade goods. The Dutch begin building an empire, often using violence.
The Dutch East India Company goes bankrupt. The islands are known as the Dutch East Indies until Indonesia's independence 149 years later.
Japan occupies the islands during World War II.
Indonesia gains independence from the Dutch after four years of fighting.
Suharto assumes title of President, and rules with an iron hand.
The first fully free parliamentary elections since 1955 take place.
Indonesia holds its first direct presidential elections. In December, an undersea earthquake generates huge tidal waves. The waves hit Indonesia and surrounding countries. More than 200,000 people are killed.