27 votes

Why is the island of Java so populated?

The most fundamental reason with respect to other parts of tropical Asia is the earlier adoption of wet rice cultivation in Java. Grigg points out that the only places in Asia that had greater ...
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  • 17.5k
26 votes
Accepted

Why is Indonesia a Muslim country?

The Muslim religion started making its way into modern Indonesia in the 13th century. That's when various rulers in North Sumatra, then Java, started converting to that religion, as a result of ...
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  • 103k
13 votes
Accepted

Was the 1977 sale of a submarine to Indonesia controversial in Germany at the time?

Yes. There was some controversy about that. But it was low-key and even time-delayed for a fait-accompli. The government would have been restricted to make such a deal, and violated it in secret. The ...
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  • 77.2k
12 votes

Why did the island of Bali remain Hindu when most of the rest of Indonesia converted to Islam?

It's an interesting question (although it has been 2 years without satisfying answer; maybe you've found the answer), because it is located between Jawa Timur (East Java) and Nusa Tenggara Barat (West ...
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  • 291
11 votes

What universities existed in Dutch East Indies, and how available were they to the native population?

SHORT ANSWER In 1901, there were two higher education institutes but neither was, at the time, truly comparable to Dutch universities. The first genuine university-level education was not available ...
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10 votes

The Sumatrans told Marco Polo that there was an island to the Southeast. Were they referring to Australia?

As you mentioned, Java is the next island to the Southeast of Sumatra. It is not larger than Sumatra in square miles, but even in Polo's day had the heaviest concentration of population in all of what ...
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  • 110k
10 votes
Accepted

Were the ancestors of Malays originally from Yunnan, China?

I will take this question: "Are the ancestors of Malays (of Malaysia) from Yunnan, China?" as: "Was the Neolithic (Early Holocene) expansion of (Pre-) Austronesian-speaking ...
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  • 6,235
9 votes
Accepted

Did the Dutch carry out trials for collaboration with the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies?

Yes, but this was a lot more complicated than in the Netherlands. During the war, the Dutch colonial government-in-exile in Australia founded the Temporal court-martials, who were tasked with ...
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  • 206
7 votes

Why wasn't awareness of Australia more widespread in pre-colonial Asia?

WRT the Chinese in particular, perhaps they just didn't care. They could buy their trepang from the people who harvested it, just as the could sell silk to merchants, without caring where the trepang ...
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  • 2,865
7 votes

Why didn't Indonesians/Indian Ocean traders bring marsupials to Asia and placental mammals to Australia/New Guinea?

There are actually a number of placental mammals which can be found across the Wallace Line in Australia and New Guinea. The one which probably is most relevant to the question about deliberate human ...
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  • 1,780
6 votes

What is this sword?

Definitely looks like a stabbing weapon. I think Europeans would call/would have called this a long dagger, but in Indonesia I think these were often called swords (short ones, but still). It bears a ...
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  • 131
6 votes
Accepted

What happened to the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia in c. 1975 and c.1990?

Here is a better version of the graph (click to enlarge). As you can see, the first dip follows, and can be nicely explained by the 1973-4 oil shock as @sempaiscuba commented. The second period you ...
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  • 96.2k
6 votes

Why did the island of Bali remain Hindu when most of the rest of Indonesia converted to Islam?

There were several reasons, many of which you listed. First, Bali was a relatively isolated part of the country, after Sumatra, Java, and Borneo, far from the main trade routes (near today's Malaysia)...
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  • 103k
5 votes

Why didn't Indonesians/Indian Ocean traders bring marsupials to Asia and placental mammals to Australia/New Guinea?

Because it wouldn't have done either of them much good. Australia didn't house a settled agricultural society, with major population centers to trade with. Where it was closest to Indonesia, it was ...
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  • 110k
5 votes

Is the killing between communists and Muslims in Indonesia during 1965 mutual?

While @nic provides the crux of the answer, I thought I would elaborate a bit. The immediate event that triggered the mass killing was the kidnapping and murder of 6 generals in an apparent coup d'...
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  • 17.5k
4 votes

What explains this dip in Indonesian GDP growth rate in 1982?

Indeed the reasons are Oil In Liquid (oil) form: but the Iranian incident wasn't a reason for skyrocketing oil prices. For long anyway. But that is just the kicker, as Indonesia was an oil exporting ...
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  • 77.2k
4 votes

Does east-west/north-south orientation also impact large islands development?

In the GGS book, the NS orientation is appointed as only one of the reasons that Eurasia was more developed than America and Sub-Saharan Africa. It also considers narrow points and bottlenecks (e.g., ...
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  • 3,842
4 votes

Does east-west/north-south orientation also impact large islands development?

The problem with the Thesis in Gun, Germs, and Steel is that we have one example of an E-W megacontinent (Eurasia) and one example of a N-S one (the Americas). Africa is a bit small, and vague on E-W ...
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  • 11.8k
3 votes

Why is the island of Java so populated?

In Clifford Geertz' classic volume Agricultural Involution: the Processes of Ecological Change in Indonesia (1963), the author argues that the Javanese form of wet rice cultivation has a very high ...
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  • 131
3 votes

Why did Indonesia use a separate currency for West Irian before 1973?

The Indonesians did this in several parts of the country where people were used to "stronger" foreign currencies. For instance, in parts of Borneo that had formerly used British-Malayan currency, the ...
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  • 103k
3 votes

Why wasn't awareness of Australia more widespread in pre-colonial Asia?

I think the answer can best be understood by taking from the point of view of the people on the ground at the time: All they knew is that there were a few products of minor value to be gotten from a ...
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  • 5,881
3 votes

How many Dutch lived in Indonesia during the colonial era vs native population?

In my experience of Indonesian historical education, which could often be described as 'propaganda', there is an emphasis on describing the Dutch as controlling Indonesia for 350 years. This is of ...
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  • 131
2 votes

Is/was it an Indonesian tradition or custom to drink your victims' blood?

This LA Times article by Richard C. Paddock (currently at the New York Times) attests that the practice was revived around the turn of the Millenium. Dayak tribespeople, upset with their treatment by ...
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2 votes

Why wasn't awareness of Australia more widespread in pre-colonial Asia?

Geographic discovery like that of Australia is also political and was done by states. We have to think in terms of political authority. Who would have been interested in Australia and what Australia ...
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  • 1,587
2 votes
Accepted

Was the strait of Malacca a potential "chokepoint" during the age of discovery?

Not the Strait of Malacca per se; but the adjoining Singapore Strait, which any vessel must also traverse whether on an East-West or North-South passage: absolutely. Here's a comparison to Gibraltar ...
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1 vote

The Sumatrans told Marco Polo that there was an island to the Southeast. Were they referring to Australia?

Marco Polo was travelling with a large and well armed Mongol diplomatic mission, with a Mongol Princess travelling to marry the Ilkhan in Iran. No doubt the leaders of the diplomatic mission would ...
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  • 17.4k
1 vote

Why is Indonesia a Muslim country?

In high school in the US, we generally learned that until Europeans started sailing the world, with Vasco Da Gama and Christopher Columbus, there was no long distance sailing. The impression I got was ...
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  • 7,212

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