Indonesia’s location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes. The eruption of the Toba super volcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the world’s largest eruptions and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility, which sustains the high populations of Java and Bali.


The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; Japan occupied the islands from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence shortly before Japan’s surrender, but it required four years of sometimes brutal fighting, intermittent negotiations, and UN mediation before the Netherlands agreed to transfer sovereignty in 1949. A period of sometimes unruly parliamentary democracy ended in 1957 when President SOEKARNO declared martial law and instituted “Guided Democracy.” After an abortive coup in 1965 by alleged Communist sympathizers, SOEKARNO was removed from power. From 1966 until 1988, President SUHARTO ruled Indonesia with his “New Order” Government. After rioting toppled Suharto in 1998, free and fair legislative elections took place in 1999. Indonesia is now the world’s third most populous democracy, the world’s largest archipelagic state, and world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. Current issues include: alleviating poverty, improving education, preventing terrorism, consolidating democracy after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing economic and financial reforms, stemming corruption, reforming the criminal justice system, holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations, addressing climate change, and controlling infectious diseases, particularly those of global and regional importance. In 2005, Indonesia reached a historic peace agreement with armed separatists in Aceh, which led to democratic elections in Aceh in December 2006. Indonesia continues to face low intensity armed resistance in Papua by the separatist Free Papua Movement.

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Area Specialists UH Mānoa Indonesian & Malay Language & Literatures Indonesian at Kapi’olani Community College Wayang Listrik: Music & Dance of Bali


Most Recent Indonesia Posts:

Our bookshelf spotlights new releases from NUS Press including titles on Indonesian Art, the Philippines, and Laos.

As we close out the Spring 2017 term at UH Mānoa, we take a look back at some of the topics we’ve highlighted in on our bookshelf this spring.

Check out the recently released Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (Gadjah Mada University) May 2017 newsletter!


In this menu, you will find a wide range of online resources and educational modules for educators and community people interested in Southeast Asia. Resource descriptions and links may be viewed by clicking on the Online Resources header.

Please contact us with suggestions on educational links which would be useful to you!

ammatoaThis documentary by University of Hawaiʻi Asian Studies Master's student Sapril Akhmady, available for download or streaming, begins at a time when the Ammatoa people of Sulawesi in Indonesia are feeling deeply disturbed about ongoing changes in their community. They feel as if they are facing currents of transformation that will fundamentally affect their culture and their traditional way of life. The system of agriculture has been changed; machines for activities like paddy pounding have been introduced, modern roads have been built around villages, and customary land has been taken away. Underlying all of these changes is the fact that traditional knowledge has been lost and that the younger generation is less concerned about retaining this knowledge.

Sapril Akhmady also wrote an article on the Ammatoa available for download.

cakaleleCakalele is a journal devoted exclusively to publishing the results of research in and about Maluku, as well as the Maluku communities scattered through Indonesia and the Netherlands. The past years have witnessed the rapid growth of Maluku as an area of study in many diverse scholarly fields, in both the humanities and the sciences. Despite this increase in research and analysis there is no forum for exchange of information and theory. The absence of an area-focused academic journal in this critical period of growth and exchange inhibits the development of muliti-disciplinary scholarship. Cakalele is based on the notion that by restricting the scope of coverage to one geographical area, scholarly perspective can expand to encompass the results, notions, and methodologies of other fields of study. There are points of intersections which become all the more important in the confines of an area-focused medium of exchange.

Individual articles for Cakalele are now available for download, for free, on ScholarSpace, the University of Hawaii's Institutional Repository for academic papers, research, journals, podcasts and more.

Please contact the new publishers of Cakalele, Museum Maluku in Utrecht, The Netherlands, for information on the future of the journal!

Kampung Halaman is a a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 that is based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It works with various colleagues in Seluruh Indonesia to strengthen the role of adolescents and young people in their communities through community-based media participation. Television and film is a medium that is highly effective but often has a negative impact because it was produced in the 'other' and by the 'other' with a certain agenda (often an economic agenda). The shows often obscure the problems of everyday life in the communities where they interact, affect the sensitivity of the surrounding area, so that they lose the bond with 'hometown' where they live, which in turn makes them look like they are powerless.

Initiated by two anthropologist, Dian Herdiany and M. Zamzam Fauzannafi, the Foundation has developed Kampung page and regeneration, with the common goal of providing adolescents and young people aged 13-25, with the skills, creativity and mastery of media (video, music, text, photo) to bring their voice to issues that they deem important and their communities. An important process for opening dialogue with the broader public and encourage the creation of a better change. "We do not work with video, we worked with the man. Video helps us to facilitate the delivery of the message and the search for solutions that may be made by the makers of the video itself and the broader community," said M. Zamzam Fauzannafi, one of the founders.

The Lontar Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Lontar's primary aim is to promote Indonesian literature and culture through the translation of Indonesian literary works. Its goal is to: a) Stimulate the further development of Indonesian literature; b) Make Indonesian literature accessible to an international audience; and c) Preserve Indonesia's literary record for future generations.

Before Lontar was established, in 1987, there was virtually no place in the world where one could regularly obtain translations of Indonesian literature. Today, more than two decades later, Lontar remains the only organization in the world whose primary focus is the promotion of Indonesia through literary translations. Since its establishment Lontar has become both an integral part of Indonesia's cultural scene and an active participant in a wide range of cultural related activities in Indonesia and abroad.

Numerous works can also be accessed online via the Lontar Digital Library

Free E-Books From Cornell's Modern Indonesia Collection

When the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project (CMIP) published its first title in 1956, the nation of Indonesia was new, for the country had only recently emerged from the Japanese Occupation and finally won independence from the Dutch. Contemporary Indonesian society and politics were in flux, and scholars trying to keep pace with the rapid changes found themselves hampered by a lack of research materials. CMIP.s early "Interim Reports" were intended to address this dilemma. From these early Interim Reports, an impressive series of studies on modern Indonesia developed. CMIP titles fall into four categories: Interim Reports, Translations, Monographs, and Bibliographies.



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