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Stamps issued: 1948-PRESENT

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20s Orangutan single

A republic occupying most of the Malay Archipelago in southeastern Asia; formerly the Netherlands East Indies. Portugal dominated this region during the 16th century but was supplanted by the Dutch after 1595. Except for a period of British occupation during the Napoleonic wars (1811-16), the area remained under Dutch control until its occupation by Japan in 1942. After the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Indonesian nationalists under Achmed Sukarno proclaimed the independent Republic of Indonesia in central Java and throughout most of Sumatra. The ensuing civil war was finally ended by the withdrawal of the Dutch in December 1949. In 1950, Indonesia was unified as a republic. In 1963, Western New Guinea (West Irian), which had remained under Dutch control, was seized by Indonesia. During the early 1960s, Indonesia was aligned with the Soviet Union, but an abortive communist uprising in 1965 brought massive retaliation by the military. President Sukarno, who had ruled as a dictator since 1960, was deposed, and some 300,000 communists were executed. The new regime, under Gen. Suharto, restored peaceful relations with Indonesia's neighbors, restored popular elections and has actively promoted economic development. Oil exports drove the country's economic growth during the 1970s and '80s, and Indonesia became one of the most dynamic Pacific Rim economies. The corruption centering around President Suharto's family and friends, and the regime's authoritarian rule, brought increasing opposition. Matters came to a head with the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Violent domestic unrest forced Suharto's resignation in 1998, after the collapse of the rupiah in January. The Indonesian economy, always vulnerable because of a weak banking system and widespread corruption, remains battered, while ethnic and religious unrest further divides the country. In 1975, Indonesia invaded the Portuguese colony of Timor and in 1976 annexed the territory. Since that time, Timorese nationalist resistance has been brutally suppressed. The current economic and political turmoil in Indonesia has brought the issue of Timorese independence back into the headlines.

Narrative by Linn's Stamp News

Precedent Countries:

Stamps issued: 1885-1976

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20a Craftsman single

An island in the Malay Archipelago. Divided between the Dutch and Portuguese since the 17th century, Timor was formally partitioned in 1919. After the liberal Portuguese revolution in 1974, the Portuguese portion of Timor declared itself independent of Portugal, but was soon disputed by internal factions. Indonesia intervened to restore order and occupied the territory, organizing it as the province of Timor Timur. The Indonesian occupation was not recognized by the United Nations, and local resistance continued, provoking increasingly brutal repression by the Indonesian authorities.

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4.50e Homem-Reineis' 1519 Map of Brazil single

Responding to international pressure, Indonesia agreed in 1998 to grant East Timor a large measure of autonomy, but in an August, 1999, referendum, the great majority of Timorese voted for independence. This provoked another round of bloody fighting, as local Muslim militias, supported by the Indonesian army, attacked independence supporters. Finally, United Nations military intervention reestablished order, and in an August, 2001, referendum, the Timorese again overwhelmingly voted for complete separation from Indonesia. East Timor became independent on May 20, 2002, as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

Narrative by Linn's Stamp News

Stamps issued: 1950-1962

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10c Bird of Paradise surcharged 10c for Red Cross single

The western half of the island of New Guinea, retained by the Dutch after Indonesian independence. After the Indonesian invasion in 1962, the United Nations assumed temporary executive authority in the area, which was transferred to Indonesia in 1963. The UNTEA (United Nations Temporary Executive Authority) overprinted the existing Dutch definitive issue in 1962, and Indonesia maintained separate issues for the territory, as West Irian, from 1963 to 1970.

Narrative by Linn's Stamp News


Stamps issued: 1864-1948

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5c Watchtower single

A former Dutch colony occupying the greater portion of the East Indies. The area was originally dominated by Hindus, who were supplanted by Moslems after the 14th-15th centuries. From the early 16th century, Portugal dominated the region but was gradually supplanted by the Dutch and British. After the 17th century, the Dutch ruled most of the area. The Netherlands Indies were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945, during which time a great variety of occupation issues were used. Two days after Japan's surrender, Indonesian nationalists declared independence, starting the revolution that ended with Dutch withdrawal in 1949.

Narrative by Linn's Stamp News

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