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Early kingdoms

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The Hindu-Buddhist kingdom of Sriwijaya rose in Sumatra during the 7th century AD. It was the first major Indonesian commercial sea power able to control much of the trade in Southeast Asia by virtue of being located on the Strait of Melaka. Merchants from Arabia, Persia, and India brought goods to Sriwijayas coastal cities in exchange for goods from China and local products.

The Buddhist Sailendra dynasty and the Hindu Mataram dynasty flourished in CentralJava between the 8th and 10th centuries. While Sriwijaya's wealth came from trade, Javanese kingdoms like Mataram (in the region of what is now Solo) had far more human labor at their disposal and developed as agrarian societies. These kingdoms absorbed Indian influences and left magnificent structures such as the Buddhist monument at Borobudur and the Hindu temples of Prambanan.At the end of the 10th century, the Mataram kingdom mysteriously declined. The center of power shifted from Central to East Java and it was a period when Hinduism and Buddhism were syncretised and when Javanese culture began to come into its own. A series of kingdoms held sway until the 1294 rise of the Majapahit kingdom, which grew to prom­inence during the reign of Hayam Wuruk from 1350 to 1389. Its territorial expansion can be credited to brilliant military commander Gajah Mada, who helped the kingdom claim control over much of the archipelago, exerting suzerainty over smaller kingdoms and extracting trading rights from them. After Hayam Wuruk's death in 1389, the kingdom began a steady decline.

Islam The first Islamic inscriptions found in Indonesia date from the 11th century, and there may have been Muslims in the Majapahit court. Islam really first took hold in northern Sumatra, where Arab traders had settled by the 13th century. From the 15th and 16th centuries, Indonesian rulers made Islam the state religion. It was, however, superimposed on the prevailing mix of Hinduism and animism to produce the hybrid religion that is followed in much of Indonesia today.

By the 15th century,

The trading kingdom of Melaka (on the Malay Peninsula) was reaching the height of its power and had embraced Islam. Its influence strengthened the spread of Islam through the archipelago.By the time of the collapse of the Majapahit kingdom in the early 1500s, many of its satellite kingdoms had already declared themselves independent Islamic states. Much of their wealth came from being transshipment points for the spice trade, and Islam followed the trade routes across the archipelago.By the end of the 16th century, a new sea power had emerged on Sulawesi: the twin principalities of Makassar and Gowa, which had been settled by Malay traders and whose commercial realm spread well beyond the region. In 1607, the explorer Torres met Makassar Muslims on New Guinea.

Indonesia's first direct presidential

Elections were held in October 2004. Candidates continued to promise political reform and a crackdown on corruption, as well as making new promises to stamp out terrorism. The election became a battle between Megawati and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the latter winning the final vote and becoming the sixth president of Indonesia. Although fronting the newly formed Democratic Party, SBY was already well known to voters. As a long-serving general, he had been regarded as a military reformist but was also directly involved in the East Timor occupation. He was also Minis­ter for Security and Political Affairs in both the Wahid and Megawati governments.

Under SBY, corruption remains endemic, terrorism remains a threat and the military, although no longer having automatic representation in government, still holds great sway over society. Despite some reforms and freedoms, political activism and dissent remain a risky pursuit as was shown when Munir, a human rights activist, was poisoned on a Garuda flight in 2005.

After the 2003 tsunami, SBY won favor by making sure foreign aid could get to the affected areas (including Aceh, which was still under martial law). He also took the initiative to restart talks with Acehnese rebels, which resulted in a peace deal in 2005. Whether these efforts have a lasting effect is uncertain.

But even almost 10 years after his downfall, it's still apparent that Soeharto's network of corruption, collusion and nepotism still lingers. Attempts to bring corrupt officials to justice have rarely eventuated in convictions, often because the implications of a serious crackdown would reach far into the current power structure. A 35-year, multi-billion dollar web of state-supported corruption is a hard thing to untangle.

 

INDONESIA VISA REGULATIONS

The government of Indonesia has changed its visa policy for foreign tourists effective February 1st., 2004.

Visiting Indonesia Without Any Visa

Entering Indonesia without any visa is possible now only for nationals of the following 11 countries and territories:

1.   Brunei Darussalam 2.  Chile 3. Hong Kong
4.   Macau 5.  Malaysia, 6. Morocco
7.   Peru 8.  Philippines 9. Singapore
10. Thailand 11.Vietnam  

Citizens of the above countries will be issued on arrival a stay permit for 30 days free of charge upon presentation of a passport which is valid at least for another 6 months. This stay permit cannot be extended or converted into another type of visa.

VISA on ARRIVAL (VoA)

This facility is now available for nationals of the following countries:

Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Libya, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, People's Republic of China, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Citizens of these countries will be able to apply for a VoA valid for 30 days upon arrival by air in Bali, Jakarta and a few other international airports or by ship at a limited number of Indonesian sea ports. A 30-day visa costs US$25 and is extendable for another 30 days. Be aware that Immigration officials calculate the 30-day period as follows: your arrival day is counted as your first day, and you must leave the country on the 30th. or 60th. day!

How to Obtain the "VISA on ARRIVAL" (VoA)

Travelers from the above countries must be in possession of a passport which is valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival and the completed embarkation/disembarkation card they received from their airline. They must also be able to prove they have sufficient funds for their stay in Indonesia.Arriving travelers with Visa-On-Arrival status have to go first to one of the "VoA Counters" to pay the appropriate fee and have their passports stamped with the VoA before proceeding to the Immigration Clearance Desk. An official bank is part of the VoA service counters. Payment of visa fees can be made in US Dollar or Indonesia Rupiah.

Requirement and Types of Visa Before Arrival

Citizens of countries neither on the VoA nor Visa-Free lists are required to apply for a visa overseas before traveling to Indonesia. Nationals of ALL countries planning to stay for more than 30 days in Indonesia also have to apply for the appropriate visa (tourist, business, social-cultural, etc.) at an overseas Indonesian Consulate or Foreign Mission before departing for Indonesia. For details of various types of Visa, please visit the page Visa of the Republic of Indonesia.


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CUSTOMS REGULATIONS

Prohibited Items

Weapons, narcotics, and pornography are prohibited to bring into Bali. Pets are strictly banned to prevent the spread of rabies.

Alcohol & Tobacco

You are only allowed to bring a maximum of one liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 100grams of tobacco and a reasonable amount of perfume into Indonesia. Photographic equipment, typewriters, laptop computers, and radios are admitted, provided that they are taken out on departure. All these should be declared via a customs declaration form that must be completed before arrival.

Currencies, Etc

Another subject is the import and export of currencies; one is not allowed to import or export Indonesian currency exceeding Rp. 5 million. I n addition, the export of national treasures is frowned upon - genuine antiques, tortoise shell, crocodile skins, and ivory are not to be taken out of Ind



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