- a country in Southeast Asia that consists of many islands in the Malay Archipelago; population 240,271,500 (est. 2009); capital, Jakarta (on Java); languages, Indonesian (official), Dutch, English, Malay, Balinese, Chinese, Javanese, and others. Former name (until 1949) Dutch East Indies.
Indonesia consists of the territories of the former Dutch East Indies, of which the largest are Java, Sumatra, southern Borneo, western New Guinea, the Moluccas, and Sulawesi. The Dutch established control over the area in the 17th century. Independence was won in 1949, although Irian Jaya (now the province of Papua) was not handed over until 1963. An attempted communist coup was crushed by the army in 1965 and East Timor was annexed in 1976. The end of the 20th century saw the introduction of democratic elections and the gaining of full independence by East Timor. In 2004 more than 200,000 people were killed when an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra led to a tsunami that caused devastation in many countries around the Indian Ocean
from Indo- + Greek nēsos 'island'