Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,000 to 18,000 islands (8,844 named and 922 permanently inhabited) stretching along the equator in South East Asia. The country’s strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. The archipelago’s landforms and climate significantly influenced agriculture and trade, and the formation of states. The boundaries of the state of Indonesia represent the 20th century borders of the Dutch East Indies.
Fossilised remains of Homo erectus and his tools, popularly known as the “Java Man”, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by at least 1.5 million years ago. Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, are thought to have originally been from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. From the 7th century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished bringing Hindu and Buddhist influences with it. The agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties subsequently thrived and declined in inland Java. The last significant non-Muslim kingdom, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom, flourished from the late 13th century, and its influence stretched over much of Indonesia. The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam which became 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.
Europeans such as the Portuguese arrived in Indonesia from the 16th century seeking to monopolise the sources of valuable nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power by 1610. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies under government control. By the early 20th century, Dutch dominance extended to the current boundaries.
The history of the Philippines is believed to have begun with the arrival of the first humans using rafts or boats at least 67,000 years ago as the 2007 discovery of Callao Man suggested. Negrito groups first inhabited the isles. Groups of Austronesians later migrated to the islands.
Scholars generally believe that these social groups eventually developed into various settlements or polities with varying degrees of economic specialization, social stratification, and political organization. Some of these settlements (mostly those located on major river deltas) achieved such a scale of social complexity that some scholars believe they should be considered early states. This includes the predecessors of modern-day population centers as Maynila, Tondo, Pangasinan, Cebu, Panay, Bohol, Butuan, Cotabato, Lanao, and Sulu as well as some polities, such as Ma-i, whose possibly location are still the subject of debate among scholars. These polities were either influenced by the hindubuddhist Indian religion, language, culture, literature and philosophy from India through many campaigns from India including the South-East Asia campaign of Rajendra Chola I, Islam from Arabia or were signified tributary states allied to China. These small maritime states flourished from the 1st millennium. These kingdoms traded with what are now called China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The remainder of the settlements were independent barangays allied with one of the larger states.
The first recorded visit by Europeans is the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan. He sighted Samar Island on March 16, 1521 and landed the next day on Homonhon Island, now part of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Spanish colonization began with the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s expedition on February 13, 1565 from Mexico. He established the first permanent settlement in Cebu. Much of the archipelago came under Spanish rule, creating the first unified political structure known as the Philippines. Spanish colonial rule saw the introduction of Christianity, the code of law and the oldest modern university in Asia. The Philippines was ruled under the Mexico-based Viceroyalty of New Spain. After which, the colony was directly governed by Spain. Spanish rule ended in 1898 with Spain’s defeat in the Spanish–American War. The Philippines then became a territory of the United States.
Thailand, country located in the centre of mainland Southeast Asia. Located wholly within the tropics, Thailand encompasses diverse ecosystems, including the hilly forested areas of the northern frontier, the fertile rice fields of the central plains, the broad plateau of the northeast, and the rugged coasts along the narrow southern peninsula. The history of the Thai people, who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The country’s designation as Siam by Westerners likely came from the Portuguese. Portuguese chronicles noted that the Borommatrailokkanat, king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, sent an expedition to the Malacca Sultanate at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in 1455. Following their conquest of Malacca in 1511, the Portuguese sent a diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya. A century later, on 15 August 1612, The Globe, an East India Company merchantman bearing a letter from King James I, arrived in “the Road of Syam”.”By the end of the 19th century, Siam had become so enshrined in geographical nomenclature that it was believed that by this name and no other would it continue to be known and styled.”
Indianised kingdoms such as the Mon, the Khmer Empire and Malay states of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra had ruled the region. The Thaiestablished their own states: Ngoenyang, the Sukhothai Kingdom, the Kingdom of Chiang Mai, Lan Na and the Ayutthaya Kingdom. These states fought each other and were under constant threat from the Khmers, Burma and Vietnam. Much later, the European colonial powers threatened in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but Thailand survived as the only Southeast Asian state to avoid European colonial rule because the French and the British decided it would be a neutral territory to avoid conflicts between their colonies. After the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand endured sixty years of almost permanent military rule before the establishment of a democratically elected-government system.