This video is part of a series of 14 animated maps.

View series: Decolonization after 1945

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Independence for the Indonesian Archipelago

This map is part of a series of 14 animated maps showing the history of Decolonization after 1945.

The Japanese occupation of the Dutch Indies prompted the emergence of Indonesian nationalism. At the end of the Second World War, two political leaders, Soekarno and Hatta, proclaimed independence for the Republic of Indonesia.

The Dutch, however, were not ready to lose the revenues generated by their colony and so they rejected this decision and returned to Batavia in October 1945 with support from the British.

In November 1946, under pressure from the United States, the Netherlands agreed to the creation of a Dutch-Indonesian Federation.

This compromise, however, satisfied no one. It was immediately challenged by the Netherlands, which launched two military operations, called ‘police actions’, in July 1947 and December 1948 against the Indonesian Republic. But the development of guerrilla warfare and international criticism finally forced The Hague to recognize full independence for the Republic of the United States of Indonesia in December 1949.

In 1962, the Netherlands gave up their authority over the western part of New Guinea. This region was transferred to Indonesia, despite stiff opposition from the local population.

Meanwhile, the eastern part of New Guinea remained under Australian administration until it gained its independence as Papua New Guinea in September 1975.

In the same year, Indonesia invaded and occupied the Portuguese colony of East Timor. However, the local population refused to accept Indonesia’s presence. A referendum held in 1999 led to recognition of the Democratic Republic of Timor as an independent state in 2002.