By Colin Brown
This succinct paintings of background charts the expansion of Indonesia, a notable country of greater than 6,000 inhabited islands. With lucid originality, the textual content comprises greater than 2 million years of historical past with intensity and brevity-particularly targeting Indonesia's improvement right into a microcosm of a multi-ethnic sleek global. Many present matters are perceptively addressed, resembling the legacy of European-Asian alternate, Dutch colonialism, and the emergence of what has turn into the biggest Muslim inhabitants on the earth.
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Extra info for A Short History of Indonesia: The Unlikely Nation?
Since with no people the bupati would earn no income—and with no taxes being paid to the ruler would soon be without a job and perhaps without a life as well—there was a strong incentive for bupati to treat their local populations, if not generously, at least with a degree of selfinterested compassion. The wealth brought by the trade boom also contributed to the development of major urban centres in the archipelago. The first Europeans to travel in Indonesia during the age of commerce reported 38 T h e a g e o f c o m m e r c e 1 4 0 0 –1 7 0 0 finding cities that were substantial by European standards.
The ideas they promoted, including the veneration of saints and pilgrimages to sacred places, fitted in quite easily with many pre-existing religious beliefs and practices in Java. The rulers of Mataram were the central element in both the political and the religious structures of the state. And here we can see that, although now Muslim in form and symbolism, in many respects Mataram continued to follow the practices of its Hindu and Buddhist predecessors. Indeed, like the earlier rulers of Demak the rulers of Mataram did much to stress that they were the legitimate successors to the rulers of Majapahit, even though there had been a considerable hiatus between the fall of Majapahit and the rise of Mataram.
And it was at least in part this combination which gave it its strength. Its ports gave it considerable income from regional and international trade, far beyond what it could have earned simply from its own produce. Its agricultural production gave it a measure of economic security which states relying solely on trade did not have, its surpluses of rice in particular giving it the resources it needed to finance its trade with Maluku, China, India and Europe. Control over trade seems to have been the more important element in the maintenance of its power, however.