1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Malay Archipelago

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26776161911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17 — Malay Archipelago

MALAY ARCHIPELAGO[1] (variously called Malaysia, the Indian Archipelago, the East Indies, Indonesia, Insulinde), the largest group of islands in the world, lying south-east of Asia and north and north-west of Australia. It includes the Sunda Islands, the Moluccas, New Guinea, and the Philippine Islands, but excludes the Andaman-Nicobar group. The equator passes through the middle of the archipelago; it successively cuts Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes and Halmahera, four of the most important islands. A. R. Wallace (who includes the Solomon Islands as well as New Guinea in the group) points out that the archipelago “includes two islands larger than Great Britain; and in one of them, Borneo, the whole of the British Isles might be set down, and would be surrounded by a sea of forests. Sumatra is about equal in extent to Great Britain; Java, Luzon, and Celebes are each about the size of Ireland. Eighteen more islands are on the average as large as Jamaica; and more than a hundred are as large as the Isle of Wight.”

Area.  Estimated Population. 

 Sunda Islands  459,578  32,632,400 
 Moluccas, with Celebes  115,334 3,000,000
 New Guinea 312,329   800,000
 Philippine Islands 115,026 7,635,400

The islands of the archipelago nearly all present bold and picturesque profiles against the horizon, and at the same time the character of the scenery varies from island to island and even from district to district. The mountains are arranged for the most part in lines running either from north-west to south-east or from west to east. In Sumatra and in the islands between Sumatra and Borneo the former direction is distinctly marked, and the latter is equally noticeable in Java and the other southern islands. The mountains of Borneo, however, rise rather in short ridges and clusters. Nothing in the general physiognomy of the islands is more remarkable than the number and distribution of the volcanoes, active or extinct. Running south-east through Sumatra, east through Java and the southern islands to Timor, curving north through the Moluccas, and again north, from the end of Celebes through the whole line of the Philippines, they follow a line roughly resembling a horseshoe narrowed towards the point. The loftiest mountain in the archipelago would appear to be Kinabalu in Borneo (13,698 ft.). An important fact in the physical geography of the archipelago is that Java, Bali, Sumatra and Borneo, and the lesser islands between them and the Asiatic mainland, all rest on a great submerged bank, nowhere more than 100 fathoms below sea-level, which may be considered a continuation of the continent; while to the east the depth of the sea has been found at various places to be from 1000 to 2500 fathoms. As the value of this fact was particularly emphasized by Wallace, the limit of the shallow water, which is found in the narrow but deep channel between Bali and Lombok, and strikes north to the east of Borneo, has received the name of “Wallace’s Line.” The Philippines on the other hand, “are almost surrounded by deep sea, but are connected with Borneo by means of two narrow submarine banks” (A. R. Wallace, Island Life). The archipelago, in effect, is divided between two great regions, the Asiatic and the Australian, and the fact is evident in various branches of its geography—zoological, botanical, and even human. It is believed that there was a land-connexion between Asia and Australia in the later part of the Secondary epoch, and that the Australian continent, when separated, became divided into islands before the south-eastern part of the Asiatic did so.

The most notable fact in the geological history of the archipelago is the discovery in Java of the fossil remains of Pithecanthropus erectus, a form intermediate between the higher apes and man. In its structure and cranial capacity it is entitled to a higher place in the zoological scale than any anthropoid, for it almost certainly walked erect; and, on the other hand, in its intellectual powers it must have been much below the lowest of the human race at present known. The strata in which it was found belong to the Miocene or Upper Pliocene. Among the rocks of economic importance may be mentioned granite of numerous kinds, syenite, serpentine, porphyry, marble, sandstones and marls. Coal is worked in Sumatra, Borneo and Labuan. Diamonds are obtained in Borneo, garnets in Sumatra, Bachian and Timor, and topazes in Bachian, antimony in Borneo and the Philippines; lead in Sumatra, Borneo and the Philippines; copper and malachite in the Philippines, Timor, Borneo and Sumatra; and, most important of all, tin in Banka, Billiton and Singkep. Iron is pretty frequent in various forms. Gold is not uncommon in the older ranges of Sumatra, Banka, Celebes, Bachian, Timor and Borneo. Manganese could be readily worked in Timor, where it lies in the Carboniferous Limestone. Platinum is found in Landak and other parts of Borneo. Petroleum is a valuable product of Sumatra and Java, and is also found in Borneo.

Climate, Flora, Fauna.—The most striking general fact as regards climate in the archipelago is that wherever that part of the south-east monsoon which has passed over Australia strikes, the climate is comparatively dry, and the vegetation is less luxuriant. The east end of Java, e.g. has a less rainfall than the west; the distribution of the rain on the north coast is quite different from that on the south, and a similar difference is observed between the east and the west of Celebes. The north-west monsoon, beginning in October and lasting till March, brings the principal rainy season in the archipelago.

Most of the islands of the archipelago belong to the great equatorial forest-belt. In its economical aspect the vegetation, whether natural or cultivated, is of prime interest. The list of fruits is very extensive, though few of them are widely known. These, however, include the orange, mango, mangosteen, shaddock, guava and the durian. The variety of food-plants is equally notable. Not only are rice and maize, sugar and coffee, among the widely cultivated crops, but the coco-nut, the bread-fruit, the banana and plantain, the sugar-palm, the tea-plant, the sago-palm, the coco-tree, the ground-nut, the yam, the cassava, and others besides, are of practical importance. The cultivation of sugar and coffee owes its development mainly to the Dutch; and to them also is due the introduction of tea. They have greatly encouraged the cultivation of the coco-nut among the natives, and it flourishes, especially in the coast districts, in almost every island in their territory. The oil is largely employed in native cookery. Pepper, nutmegs and cloves were long the objects of the most important branch of Dutch commerce; and gutta-percha, camphor, dammar, benzoin and other forest products have a place among the exports.

To the naturalist the Malay Archipelago is a region of the highest interest; and from an early period it has attracted the attention of explorers of the first rank. The physical division between the Asiatic and Australian regions is clearly reflected in the botany and zoology. The flora of the Asiatic islands (thus distinguished) “is a special development of that prevailing from the Himalayas to the Malay Peninsula and south China. Farther east this flora intermingles with that of Australia” (F. H. H. Guillemard, Australasia). Similarly, in the Asiatic islands are found the great mammals of the continent—the elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, anthropoid ape, &c., which are wanting in the Australian region, with which the eastern part of the archipelago is associated. (For details concerning flora and fauna, see separate articles, especially Java.)

Inhabitants.—The majority of the native inhabitants of the Malay Archipelago belong to two races, the Malays and the Melanesians (Papuans). As regards the present racial distribution, the view accepted by many anthropologists, following A. H. Keane, is that the Negritos, still found in the Philippines, are the true aborigines of Indo-China and western Malaysia, while the Melanesians, probably their kinsmen, were the earliest occupants of eastern Malaysia and western Polynesia. At some date long anterior to history it is supposed that Indo-China was occupied first by a fair Caucasian people and later by a yellow Mongolian race. From these two have come all the peoples—other than Negrito or Papuan—found to-day from the Malay Peninsula to the farthest islands of Polynesia. The Malay Archipelago was thus first invaded by the Caucasians, who eventually passed eastward and are to-day represented in the Malay Archipelago only by the Mentawi islanders. They were followed by an immigration of Mongol-Caucasic peoples with a preponderance of Caucasic blood—the Indonesians of some, the pre-Malays of other writers—who are to-day represented in the archipelago by such peoples as the Dyaks of Borneo and the Battas of Sumatra. At a far later date, probably almost within historic times, the true Malay race, a combination of Mongol and Caucasic elements, came into existence and overran the archipelago, in time becoming the dominant race. A Hindu strain is evident in Java and others of the western islands; Moors and Arabs (that is, as the names are used in the archipelago, Mahommedans from various countries between Arabia and India) are found more or less amalgamated with many of the Malay peoples; and the Chinese form, from an economical point of view, one of the most important sections of the community in many of the more civilized districts. Chinese have been established in the archipelago from a very early date: the first Dutch invaders found them settled at Jacatra; and many of them, as, for instance, the colony of Ternate, have taken so kindly to their new home that they have acquired Malay to the disuse of their native tongue. Chinese tombs are among the objects that strike the traveller’s attention at Amboyna and other ancient settlements.

There is a vast field for philological explorations in the archipelago. Of the great number of distinct languages known to exist, few have been studied scientifically. The most widely distributed is the Malay, which has not only been diffused by the Malays themselves throughout the coast regions of the various islands, but, owing partly to the readiness with which it can be learned, has become the common medium between the Europeans and the natives. The most cultivated of the native tongues is the Javanese, and it is spoken by a greater number of people than any of the others. To it Sundanese stands in the relation that Low German holds to High German, and the Madurese in the relation of a strongly individualized dialect. Among the other languages which have been reduced to writing and grammatically analysed are the Balinese, closely connected with the Javanese, the Batta (with its dialect the Toba), the Dyak and the Macassarese. Alfurese, a vague term meaning in the mouths of the natives little else than non-Mahommedan, has been more particularly applied by Dutch philologists to the native speech of certain tribes in Celebes. The commercial activity of the Buginese causes their language to be fairly widely spoken—little, however, by Europeans.

Political Division.—Politically the whole of the archipelago, except British North Borneo, &c. (see Borneo), part of Timor (Portuguese), New Guinea east of the 141st meridian (British and German), and the Philippine Islands, belongs to the Netherlands. The Philippine Islands which had been for several centuries a Spanish possession, passed in 1898 by conquest to the United States of America. For these several political units see the separate articles; a general view, however, is here given of the government, economic conditions, &c., of the Dutch possessions, which the Dutch call Nederlandsch-Indië.

Netherlands India

Administration.—The Dutch possessions in Asia lie between 6° N. and 11° S. and 95° E. and 141° E. Politically they are divided into lands under the direct government of the Netherlands vassal lands and confederated lands. Administratively they are further divided into residencies, divisions, regencies, districts, and dessas or villages. In the principal towns and villages there are parish councils, and in some provinces county councils have been established. Natives, Chinese and Arabs, are given seats, and in certain instances some of the members are elected, but more generally they are appointed by government. The islands are often described as of two groups, Java and Madura forming one, and the other consisting of Sumatra, Borneo, Riouw-Lingga Archipelago, Banka, Billiton, Celebes, Molucca Archipelago, the small Sunda Islands, and a part of New Guinea—the Outposts as they are collectively named. The Outposts are divided into 20 provinces. A governor-general holds the superior administrative and executive authority, and is assisted by a council of five members, partly of a legislative and partly of an advisory character, but with no share in the executive work of the government. In 1907 a Bill was introduced to add four extraordinary members to the council, but no immediate action was taken. The governor-general not only has supreme executive authority, but can of his own accord pass laws and regulations, except in so far as these, from their nature, belong of right to the home government, and as he is bound by the constitutional principles on which, according to the Regulations for the Government of Netherlands India, passed by the king and States-General in 1854, the Dutch East Indies must be governed. There are nine departments, each under a director: namely, justice; interior; instruction, public worship and industry; agriculture (created in 1905); civil public works; government works (created in 1908); finance; war; marine. The administration of the larger territorial divisions (gouvernement, residentie) is in the hands of Dutch governors, residents, assistant residents and contrôleurs. In local government a wide use is made of natives, in the appointment of whom a primary consideration is that if possible the people should be under their own chieftains. In Surakarta and Jokjakarta in Java, and in many parts of the Outposts, native princes preserve their positions as vassals; they have limited power, and act generally under the supervision of a Dutch official. In concluding treaties with the vassal princes since 1905, the Dutch have kept in view the necessity of compelling them properly to administer the revenues of their states, which some of them formerly squandered in their personal uses. Provincial banks have been established which defray the cost of public works.

Population.—The following table gives the area and population of Java (including Madura) and of the Outposts:—

sq. m.
1900. 1905.
Java and Madura 50,970 28,746,688 30,098,008
Sumatra Sumatra, West Coast 31,649 1,527,297 4,029,505
Sumatra, East Coast 35,312 421,090
Benkulen 9,399 162,396
Lampong Districts 11,284 142,426
Palembang 53,497 804,299
Achin 20,471 110,804
Riouw-Lingga Archipelago 16,301 86,186 112,216
Banka 4,446 106,305 115,189
Billiton 1,863 43,386 36,858
Borneo, West Coast 55,825 413,067 1,233,655
Borneo, South and East Districts 156,912 716,822
Celebes Celebes 49,390 454,368 415,499
Menado 22,080 429,773 436,406
Molucca Islands 43,864 410,190 407,419
Timor Archipelago 17,698 119,239 308,600
Bali and Lombok 4,065 1,041,696 523,535
New Guinea to 141° E. 151,789 200,000 ....
Total 736,815 36,000,000 37,717,377*
 * Including 487 in Merauke, the capital of Dutch New Guinea.

In no case are the above figures for population more than fairly accurate, and in some instances they are purely conjectural. The population is legally divided into Europeans and persons assimilated to them, and natives and persons assimilated to them. The first class includes half-castes (who are numerous, for the Dutch are in closer relationship with the natives than is the case with most colonizing peoples), and also Armenians, Japanese, &c. The total number of this class in 1900 was 75,833; 72,019 of these were called Dutch, but 61,022 of them were born in Netherlands India; there were also 1382 Germans, 441 British and 350 Belgians. Among the natives and persons assimilated to them were about 537,000 Chinese and 27,000 Arabs. In the decade 1890–1900 the increase of the European population was 30.9%, of the Arabs 26.6%, and of the Chinese 16.5%. A large proportion of the Europeans are government officials, or retired officials, for many of the Dutch, once established in the colonies, settle there for life. The remaining Europeans are mostly planters and heads of industrial establishments; the Arabs are nearly all traders, as are some of the Chinese, but a large number of the latter are labourers in the Sumatra tobacco plantations and the tin mines of Banka, Billiton, &c. The bulk of the natives are agriculturists.

Religion and Instruction.—Entire liberty is granted to the members of all religious confessions. The Reformed Church has about 40 ministers and 30 assistants, the Roman Catholic 35 curates and 20 priests, not salaried out of the public funds. There are about 170 Christian missionaries, and the progress of their work may be illustrated by showing that the number of Christians among the natives and foreign Orientals was:—

  In 1873. In 1896. In 1903.
In Java and Madura 5,673 19,193 About  34,000
In the Outposts 148,672 290,065 About 390,000

About 10,000 natives go annually to Mecca on pilgrimage.

Both the government and private enterprise maintain vernacular schools. Large sums have been voted in Holland for the establishment of primary and secondary schools, and the government has undertaken to assist in the establishment of parochial schools, the object being that every village, at least in Java, should possess one. There are schools for higher education at Batavia, Surabaya and Semarang; at the first two of these towns are government schools for mechanical engineering, and at Batavia a crafts school and a medical school for natives. There are five colleges for native schoolmasters and four for sons of native officials. Government schools for the European education of Chinese children are established in the principal towns. Private mechanical and crafts schools are established at Jokjakarta, Surabaya and Semarang, and there is an agricultural school at Buitenzorg.

Justice.—As regards the administration of justice, the distinction is maintained between (1) Europeans and persons assimilated with them (who include Christians and Japanese), and (2) natives, together with Chinese, Arabs, &c. The former are subject to laws closely resembling those of the mother country, while the customs and institutions of natives are respected in connexion with the administration of justice to the latter. In 1906 a bill was passed somewhat modifying the existing status of the classes above mentioned, and especially directing new ordinances with regard to the judicial treatment of Christian natives. A general judicial revision being also in contemplation, this bill did not immediately come into force. Justice for Europeans is administered by European judges, but, as with administration at large so in judicial matters, native chiefs have extensive powers in native affairs. For European justice the High Court of Justice is established at Batavia; there are councils of justice at Batavia, Semarang and Surabaya, with authority not only over Java but over parts of the Outposts; there is a resident court of justice in each residency. For native justice there are courts in the districts and regencies; residents act as police judges; provincial councils have judicial powers, and there are councils of priests with powers in matrimonial disputes, questions of succession, &c.

As regards pauperism, the government subsidizes Protestant and Catholic orphan houses.

Finance.—The revenue of Netherlands India has been derived mainly from customs, excise, ground-tax, licences, poll-tax, &c., from monopolies—opium, salt and pawn-shops (the management of which began to be taken over by the government in 1903, in place of the previous system of farming-out), coffee, &c., railways, tin mines and forests, and from agricultural and other concessions. But attempts have been made, and have been largely successful, to make the revenue dependent to a less extent on monopolies and the products (especially agricultural) of the land; and to abolish licences and substitute direct taxes. There is a progressive income-tax for Europeans, and the system has also been applied in the case of natives.

The following table affords comparisons in the revenue and expenditure:—

Year. Revenue. Expenditure.
1880 £12,236,500 £12,244,666
1890 11,482,457 10,644,728
1900 11,832,417 12,313,854
1905 12,951,497 13,844,173

The monetary system is similar to that of Holland (the unit being the guilder), but there are also certain silver and copper coins of small value bearing Malay or Javanese inscriptions. The Java Bank, established in 1828, with headquarters at Batavia, is the only bank issuing notes, two-fifths of the amount of which must be covered by specie or bullion. The government has a control over the administration of this bank.

Defence.—The army is purely colonial, i.e. distinct from that of the Netherlands. Its strength is a little under 40,000, about one-third being Europeans of various nationalities and two-thirds natives of various races. No portion of the regular army of the Netherlands is allowed to be sent on colonial service, but individual soldiers are at liberty to enlist, by permission of their commanding officers, in the army of Netherlands India, and they form its nucleus. Native and European soldiers are generally mixed together in the same battalions, though in separate companies. The officers were all Dutch till 1908, when a trial was made of native officers from noble Javanese families. The artillery is composed of European gunners, with native riders, while the cavalry are Europeans and natives. A military academy is established at Meester Cornelis, near Batavia. Schools for soldiers are attached to every battalion. There are certain local forces outside the regular army—militia in some of the large towns, native infantry in Madura, and guards of some of the vassal princes. Unlike the army, which is purely colonial, the navy in Netherlands India is partly colonial, partly belonging to the royal navy of the Netherlands, and its expenses are therefore borne partly by the mother country and partly by the colony. About six ironclads and twenty smaller vessels of the royal navy are stationed in colonial waters; the vessels of the colonial marine number about twenty-four, and undertake police supervision, prevention of slave trading, &c.

Trade and Industries.—The principal articles of export are sugar, tobacco, copra, forest products (various gums, &c.), coffee, petroleum, tea, cinchona, tin, rice, pepper, spices and gambier. The average annual value of exports during 1900–1905 was £22,496,468, and of imports £17,050,338. A great proportion of the exports goes to the mother country, though a considerable quantity of rice is exported to China. An indication of the mineral products has already been given; as regards the export trade, tin is the most important of these, but the Ombilin coalfields of Sumatra, connected by a railway with the coast, call for mention here also. Agricultural labour is very carefully regulated by law, in the enforcement of which the residents and lower officials have wide powers. One day’s gratuitous labour out of seven or more can be demanded of labourers either on private or on government estates; but in 1882 this form of labour was for the most part abolished as far as government estates were concerned, each labourer so exempted paying one guilder per year. The principal private agricultural estates are in the west of Java, in which island the greater part of the soil is government property. Such estates have increased greatly in number and extent, not only in Java but elsewhere, since the agrarian law of 1870, under which it became possible for settlers to obtain waste lands on hereditary lease for 75 years. In 1899 the total acreage of land ceded was 1,002,766 acres; in 1903 it was 1,077,295. The government ceased to cultivate sugar in 1891, but coffee, and to some extent cinchona, are cultivated on government plantations, though not in equal quantity to that grown on land held on emphyteusis. The average annual yield of sugar in 1900–1905 was 852,400 tons, but it increased steadily during that period. The average annual yield of coffee during the same period was 101,971,132 ℔; it fluctuates greatly. The average annual production of tobacco is about fifty million pounds from each of the islands of Java and Sumatra. The total annual yield of the tin mines is about 15,000 tons, and of the coal mines 240,000 tons. The average output of petroleum annually in 1900–1905 was 120,000,000 gallons; this, again, has fluctuated greatly. There are upwards of 3000 miles of railways and steam tramways in Netherlands India, but these are almost entirely in Java; elsewhere only Sumatra has a few short lines. The principal steamship company in the archipelago is the Royal Packet (Koninklyke Paketvaart) Company.

Bibliography.—See Aardrijkskundig en statistisch Woordenboek van Nederl. Indië (Amsterdam, 1869), to which P. J. Veth and other specialists were contributors. A general survey of the people, administration and resources of the Dutch colony is provided in Twentieth Century Impressions of Netherlands India, ed. by Arnold Wright (London, 1910). See also A. R. Wallace, Malay Archipelago (London, 1869, and later editions, notably for zoological distribution) and Island Life (London, 1880, notably for ornithology). H. O. Forbes, A Naturalist’s Wanderings in the Eastern Archipelago (London, 1885); P. van der Lith, Nederlandsch Oostindië (2nd ed., Leiden, 1893–1895); F. H. H. Guillemard, Australasia, vol. ii., in Stamford’s Compendium (London, 1894); Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch-Indië (the Hague, 1895–1904); Guide à travers la section des Indes néerlandaises, Paris Exhibition (the Hague, 1900); A. R. Colquhoun, The Mastery of the Pacific (London, 1902); M. Weber, Der indo-australische Archipel und die Geschichte seiner Tierwelt (Jena, 1902); G. Karsten and H. Schenck, Vegetationsbilder, vol. ii. (Jena, 1903); J. van Bemmelen and G. B. Hooyer, Guide through Netherlands India (London, 1903); D. Bezemer, Nederlandsch Oost-Indië (the Hague, 1904); H. Blink, Nederlandsch Oost- en West-Indië, geographisch, ethnologisch, en economisch beschreven (Leiden, 1904, sqq.). Among Dutch official publications may be mentioned Jaarcijfers door het Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek; Jaarboek van het Mijnwezen in Nederlandsch Oost-Indië (Amsterdam); Koloniale-Economische Bijdragen (the Hague); Koloniaal Verslag (the Hague); Regeerings-Almanak voor Nederlandsch-Indië (Batavia). A number of important periodicals (Tijdschrift) of various institutions are issued at Batavia, &c. Languages: P. J. Veth in De Gids (1864); R. N. Cust, Sketch of the Modern Languages of the East Indies (London, 1878); and for bibliography, Boele van Neusbroek, De Beoefening der oostersche talen ... (Leiden, 1875).


Portuguese and Spanish Ascendancy, 1511–1595.—Ptolemy and other ancient geographers describe the Malay Archipelago, or part of it, in vague and inaccurate terms, and the traditions they preserved were supplemented in the middle ages by the narratives of a few famous travellers, such as Ibn Batuta, Marco Polo, Odoric of Pordenone and Niccolò Conti. Malay and Chinese records also furnish material for the early history of individual islands, but the known history of the archipelago as a whole begins in the 16th century. At this period a civilization, largely of Hindu origin, had flourished and decayed in Java, where, as in all the more important islands, Mahommedanism had afterwards become the dominant creed. But the smaller islands and the remoter districts, even of Java and Sumatra, remained in a condition of complete savagery.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to colonize any part of the archipelago. A Portuguese squadron under Diogo Lopes de Sequeira arrived off Sumatra in 1509, explored the north coast for some distance, and noted that the inhabitants of the interior were cannibals, while those of the littoral were civilized and possessed a gold coinage. The main object of the Portuguese was to obtain a share in the lucrative spice trade carried on by the Malays, Chinese and Japanese; the trade-routes of the archipelago converged upon Malacca, which was the point of departure for spice merchants trading with every country on the shores of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. In 1511 the Portuguese under Alphonso d’Albuquerque occupied Malacca, and in November of that year an expedition under Antonio de Abreu was despatched to find a route to the Moluccas and Banda Islands, then famous for their cloves and nutmegs. The explorers reached Amboyna and Ternate, after gaining some knowledge of Java, Madura, Sumbawa and other islands, possibly including New Guinea. During the return voyage the second-in-command, Francisco Serrão, was shipwrecked, but succeeded in making his way in a native boat to Mindanao. Thus the Philippines were discovered: In 1514 a second Portuguese fleet arrived at Ternate, which during the next five years became the centre of Portuguese enterprise in the archipelago; regular traffic with Malacca and Cochin was established, and the native raja became a vassal of Portugal.

Meanwhile the Spanish government was considering whether the Moluccas did not fall within the Spanish sphere of influence as defined by the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494; and in August 1519 an expedition commanded by Ferdinand Magellan (q.v.) sailed from Seville to seek a westward passage to the archipelago. After losing the commander in the Philippines and discovering Borneo, the two surviving ships reached the Moluccas late in 1520. One vessel returned to Seville by the Cape route, thus completing the first voyage round the world; the other attempted to return by the Pacific, but was driven back to Tidore and there welcomed by the natives as a useful ally against the Portuguese. Reinforcements from Spain arrived in 1525 and 1528; but in 1529 a treaty was concluded between the emperor Charles V. and John III. of Portugal, by which, in return for 350,000 gold ducats, the Spanish claim to the Moluccas was withdrawn. The boundary between the Spanish and Portuguese spheres was fixed at 17° E. of the Moluccas, but by a geographical fiction the Philippines were included within the Spanish sphere. Further disputes occurred from time to time, and in 1542 a Spanish fleet came into conflict with the Portuguese off Amboyna; but after 1529 the supremacy of each power in its own sphere was never seriously endangered.

Though the Portuguese traders frequented the coast of Java, they annexed no territory either there or in Sumatra; but farther east they founded numerous forts and factories, notably in Amboyna, the Banda Island, Celebes and Halmahera. Ternate remained the seat of the governor of the Moluccas, who was the highest official in the archipelago, though subordinate to the viceroy or governor of Portuguese India. The first attempt to enter into relations with the states of Borneo was made by D. Jorge de Menezes, who visited Brunci in 1526, and in 1528 sent an envoy to its raja. The embassy failed in a curious manner. Among the gifts sent by Menezes was a piece of tapestry representing the marriage of Catherine of Aragon to Arthur, prince of Wales. The raja was persuaded that these mysterious figures were demons under a spell, which might come to life and kill him as he slept. The envoy was therefore dismissed.

In 1536, after a period of war and anarchy caused by the tyrannical rule of Menezes, Antonio Galvão, the historian, was appointed governor of the Moluccas. He crushed the rebellion and won the affection of the natives by his just and enlightened administration, which had no parallel in the annals of Portuguese rule in the archipelago. He returned to Europe in 1540 (see Portugal: Literature), after inaugurating an active missionary movement, which was revived in 1546–1547 by Francis Xavier (q.v.). At this period the Portuguese power in the East was already beginning to wane; in the archipelago it was weakened by administrative corruption and by incessant war with native states, notably Bintang and Achin; bitter hostility was aroused by the attempts which the Portuguese made to establish a commercial monopoly and to force Christianity upon their native subjects and allies (see Portugal: History). From 1580 to 1640 Portugal was itself united to Spain—a union which differed from annexation in little but name.

The English and Dutch, 1595–1674.—Pirates from Dieppe visited the archipelago between 1527 and 1539. It is possible that they reached Australia[2]—more than sixty years before the first voyage thither of which there is any clear record; but their cruise had no political significance, and the Spaniards and Portuguese remained without European competitors until the appearance of Sir Francis Drake in 1579. An English squadron under Sir James Lancaster came into conflict with the Portuguese in 1591, and an expedition under Sir Henry Middleton traded in the archipelago in 1604. But the English were simple traders or explorers; far more formidable were the Dutch, who came to the East partly to avenge the injuries inflicted on their country by the Spaniards, partly to break the commercial monopoly of the peninsular states. As middlemen they already possessed a large interest in the spice trade, for the Portuguese, having no direct access to the principal European markets, had made a practice of sending cargo to the Netherlands for distribution by way of the Scheldt and Rhine. The Dutch now sought to monopolize not only the distribution but the production of spices—an enterprise facilitated by the co-operation of many exiled Portuguese Jews who had settled in Holland.

The first Dutch fleet sailed from Texel, under the command of Cornelis Houtman, on the 2nd of April 1595 and reached Sumatra on the 1st of January 1596. It visited Madura, and came into conflict with the Portuguese at Bantam in Java, returning to Holland in 1597. Though not a commercial success, the expedition had demonstrated the weakness of the Portuguese. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company (q.v.) was incorporated, and for nearly two centuries this organization played the chief part in the history of the archipelago. By 1604 the Dutch could already claim to be the stronger power at sea. They had attacked the Portuguese in Ceylon (1601), established friendly relations with Achin (1602), and defeated a powerful fleet off Banda (1602). In 1606 they concluded a treaty of alliance with the sultan of Johor, and in 1608 they forced the Portuguese to assent to an armistice for twelve years. On the 29th of November 1609 Pieter Both was chosen by the states-general, on the nomination of the Dutch East India Company, as first governor-general of Netherlands India. In 1611 the headquarters of the Dutch was changed from Bantam to Jakarta, which in 1619 was renamed Batavia, and was thenceforward the Dutch capital. Meanwhile the English East India Company, chartered in 1600, had also extended its operations to the archipelago. After 1611 the commercial rivalry between the Dutch and British became acute, and in 1613, 1615 and 1618 commissioners met in London to discuss the matters in dispute. The result of their deliberations was the Treaty of Defence, signed on the 2nd of June 1619 and modified on the 24th of January 1620, which arranged for co-operation between the Dutch and British companies, and especially for the maintenance of a joint fleet. But neither company could restrain its agents in the East from aggressive action, and many fresh causes of dispute arose, the chief being the failure of the British to provide the naval forces required for service against the Portuguese, and the so-called “massacre of Amboyna” (q.v.) in 1623. The Treaty of Defence lapsed in 1637, but as early as 1634 the British made peace with Portugal. Even without allies, however, the Dutch continued to extend their trade and to annex fresh territory, for the British were weakened by civil war at home, while, after 1640, the Portuguese were struggling to maintain their independence against Spain. The Dutch company opened up a profitable trade with Japan and China, and prosecuted the war against Portugal with great vigour, invading Portuguese India and capturing Point de Galle in 1640, Malacca in 1641, Cochin and Cannanore in 1663. The war with England in 1652–54 and the renewal of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance by the marriage of Charles II. to Catherine of Braganza in 1661 were unable to check the growth of Dutch power; more serious was the resistance offered by some of the native states. Rebellions in Java (1629) and the Moluccas (1650) were suppressed with great severity, but in 1662 the company suffered a heavy reverse in Formosa, all its colonists being expelled from the island. A new war between Great Britain and Holland broke out in 1672 and was terminated by the Treaty of Westminster (February 17, 1674), by which the points at issue between the two companies were referred first to commissioners and finally to an arbitrator. The full details of the settlement are unknown, but thenceforward the British company devoted its energies chiefly to the development of its Indian possessions, while the Dutch were left supreme in the archipelago. In 1684 the British even evacuated Bantam, their chief settlement, and retired to Benkulen in Sumatra, which remained for more than a century their sole territorial possession in the archipelago.

Dutch Ascendancy, 1674–1749.—The weakness of Spain and Portugal and the withdrawal of the British left the Dutch company free to develop its vast colonial and commercial interests. In 1627 the so-called Dutch “colonial system” had been inaugurated by the fourth governor-general, Jan Pieterszoon Coen (q.v.). Under this system, which was intended to provide Netherlands India with a fixed population of European descent, Dutch girls were sent to the archipelago to be married to white settlers, and subsequently marriages between Dutchmen and captive native women were encouraged. As early as 1624 vast fortunes had been acquired by trade: two members of the company who died in that year were stated to possess seven and eight tons of gold respectively, an amount approximately equivalent, in the aggregate, to £2,000,000. The use of slave labour, and the application of the corvée system to natives who were nominally free, enabled the company to lower the cost of production, while the absence of competition enabled it to raise prices. The hardship inflicted on the native races provoked an insurrection throughout Java, in which the Chinese settlers participated; but the Dutch maintained naval and military forces strong enough to crush all resistance, and a treaty between the company and the Susuhunan in November 1749 made them practically supreme throughout the island.

Decline of Dutch Power, 1749–1811.—In the second half of the 17th century the monopoly system and the employment of slaves and forced labour gave rise to many abuses, and there was a rapid decline in the revenue from sugar, coffee and opium, while the competition of the British East India Company, which now exported spices, indigo, &c. from India to Europe, was severely felt. The administration was corrupt, largely because of the vast powers given to officials, who were invariably underpaid; and the financial methods of the company precipitated its ruin, large dividends being paid out of borrowed money. The burden of defence could no longer be sustained; piracy and smuggling became so common that the company was compelled to appeal to the states-general for aid. In 1798 it was abolished and its authority vested in a “Council of the Asiatic Possessions.” In 1803 a commission met to consider the state of the Dutch colonies, and advocated drastic administrative and commercial reforms, notably freedom of trade in all commodities except firearms, opium, rice and wood—with coffee, pepper and spices, which were state monopolies. Some of these reforms were carried out by H. W. Daendels (1808–1811), who was sent out as governor-general by Louis Bonaparte, after the French conquest of Holland. Daendels, however, maintained the existing restrictions upon trade and even made rice a state monopoly. His harsh rule aroused great antagonism; in 1811 he was recalled and J. W. Janssens became governor-general.

British Occupation, 1811–1816.—Netherlands India was at this time regarded as a part of the Napoleonic Empire, with which Great Britain was at war. A British naval squadron arrived in the Moluccas in February 1810 and captured Amboyna, Banda, Ternate and other islands. In 1811 a strong fleet was equipped by Lord Minto, then governor-general of India, for the conquest of Java; a British force was landed on the 4th of August; Batavia was captured on the 26th, and on the 18th of September Janssens and the remnant of his army surrendered. Lord Minto had issued a proclamation establishing British rule on the 11th of September, and Thomas (afterwards Sir Thomas) Stamford Raffles was appointed lieutenant-governor. Raffles (q.v.) held office until March 1816, and introduced many important changes in the departments of revenue, commerce and judicature. He was succeeded by John Fendall, who in 1816 carried out the retrocession of Netherlands India to the Dutch, in accordance with the Treaty of Vienna (1814).

Restoration and Reform of Dutch Power, 1816–1910.—Various disputes between Great Britain and the Netherlands, arising chiefly out of the transfer of power in Java and the British occupation of Singapore (1819), were settled by treaty between the two powers in 1824. By this treaty the Dutch were given almost entire freedom of action in Sumatra, while the Malay Peninsula was recognized as within the British sphere of influence. In 1825–30 a serious rebellion in Java involved the despatch of a large military force from the Netherlands, and was with difficulty suppressed. An outbreak of Mahommedan fanaticism in Sumatra also gave much trouble.

The reform movement inaugurated by the commission of 1803 was resumed in 1830, when Governor-General Johannes van den Bosch endeavoured to improve the conditions of land-tenure and agriculture by introducing the so-called “culture system.” The native cultivators were to be exempted from the ground-tax, but were to cultivate one-fifth of their land as the government might direct, the government taking the produce. This culture-system worked fairly during Van den Bosch’s tenure of office, but gave rise to many abuses between 1833 and 1844, involving, as it did, a combination of the métayer and corvée systems.

In 1848 the Grondwet, or fundamental law of the Netherlands, recognized for the first time the responsibility of the Dutch nation for its colonial dependencies. The Grondwet involved certain important changes, which were embodied in an act passed in 1854 and commonly known as the Regulations for the Government of Netherlands India. The Regulations substituted statute law for administrative and military despotism, and made the governor-general in council responsible to the minister of the colonies at the Hague. They reformed the judicature, introduced elementary education for the natives, and abolished slavery in Java as from the 1st of January 1860. They also prepared the way for further legislation tending towards the gradual emancipation of the natives from the culture system, and from semi-feudal servitude to their native rulers. That servitude existed in many forms all over the archipelago, but among the most curious must be reckoned the pandelingschap or “pledgedom,” which originated in Borneo, and according to which a man had the power to make his debtors his serfs until their debts were paid.

The reform movement was aided by the publication in 1860 of Max Havelaar, a romance by E. Douwes Dekker (q.v.), which contained a scathing indictment of the colonial system. Many important financial and agrarian measures were carried between 1860 and 1890. In 1863 Fransen van de Putte, minister for the colonies, introduced the first of the annual colonial budgets for which the Regulations had provided, thus enabling the states-general to control the revenue and expenditure of Netherlands India; in 1865 he reduced and in 1872 abolished the differentiation of customs dues in favour of goods imported from Holland, substituting a uniform import duty of 6% and establishing a number of free ports throughout the archipelago. The import duty was considered so moderate that an increase required for revenue purposes was readily conceded in 1886. In 1876 the practice of paying a yearly surplus (batig slot) from the revenues of Netherlands India to the treasury at the Hague was discontinued. The chief reforms in the land system were those introduced by De Waal, then minister for the colonies, in 1870. The cultivation of pepper, cochineal, cinnamon and indigo for the government had already ceased; De Waal restricted the area of the sugar plantations (carried on by forced native labour) as from 1878, and provided for their abolition after 1890. He also enabled natives to secure proprietary rights over the land they cultivated, and legalized the leasing of Crown forest-lands to Europeans.

The extension of Dutch political power—notably in Java, Sumatra, Celebes, the Moluccas, Borneo, the Sunda Islands and New Guinea—proceeded simultaneously with the reform movement, and from time to time involved war with various native states. A large expedition was sent to Lombok in 1894, and almost the whole of that island was incorporated in the Dutch dominions. The long and costly war with Achin (q.v.) began in 1873 and reached its climax in the military occupation of the country after 1905, when the native sultan surrendered and was deported. A guerrilla war was still carried on by his subjects, but their principal leader, the chief Panglima Polim, was captured in 1907; in 1908–1910 the condition of Achin under the military rule of General Swart was one of almost unbroken peace, and taxes were regularly paid. While the Dutch were thus consolidating their authority, other countries were acquiring new commercial or colonial interests in the archipelago. Immigration from China and Japan steadily increased, especially towards the end of the period 1816–1910. The enterprise of Sir James Brooke (q.v.) led, after 1838, to the establishment of British sovereignty in North Borneo; in 1895 New Guinea was divided between Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands; and the Spanish-American War of 1898 resulted in the cession of the Philippines, Sulu Island and the largest of the Mariana Islands to the United States, and the sale of the Caroline group to Germany. Australian and Japanese trade in the archipelago was stimulated by the establishment of the Australian Commonwealth (1901) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5). In 1910 the nations most directly interested in the future of the archipelago were the Netherlands, Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Japan, China and Portugal.

Bibliography.—For the period 1511–1595, the chief Portuguese authorities are the chronicles of Barros, Corrêa, Castanheda and Couto (see Portugal: History), with the letters of Xavier (q.v.), and the Tratado of A. Galvão (Lisbon, 1563 and 1731), of which a translation entitled Discoveries of the World was made for Richard Hakluyt and reprinted by the Hakluyt Society (London, 1862). See also M. F. de Navarette, Coleccion de los viages (vols. 4 and 5, Madrid, 1837). For later history see John Crawfurd, History of the Indian Archipelago (Edinburgh, 1820), which quotes from native as well as European records, and Twentieth-Century Impressions of Netherlands India (ed. A. Wright, London, 1910), which gives references to the principal English and Dutch authorities. Further bibliography will be found in J. A. van der Chijs, Proeve eener nederlandsch-indische Bibliografie, 1659–1870 (Batavia, 1875).  (K. G. J.) 

Emery Walker sc. 

  1. For more detailed information respecting the several islands and groups of the archipelago, see the separate articles Borneo; Java; Philippine Islands; Sumatra, &c.
  2. See The Geographical Journal, ix. 80 seq. (London, 1897).