The Republic of Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia. It lies between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Indonesia is the world's largest island country, consisting of more than 17,500 islands, of which more than 150 are active volcanoes. Indonesia is home to over 261 million people. The capital and largest city is Jakarta. Indonesian is the most popular first language, but there are more than 700 other dialects in active use throughout the archipelago.
The Republic of Indonesia is centralized and features a strong President who is both Head of State and Head of Government. The first direct presidential election took place only in 2004. The first regular contact between Europeans and the peoples of the archipelago began in 1512. The Portuguese took control of parts of Indonesia in the sixteenth century but did not have enough power to hang on to their colonies, when the much wealthier Dutch decided to become involved with the spice trade beginning in 1602.
In March of 1942, the Japanese occupied Indonesia, expelling the Dutch. When Japan's defeat in 1945, tried the Dutch to return to Indonesia. The residents of Indonesia launched a four-year independence war, gaining full freedom in 1949 with U.N. help. Now is Indonesia a republic with a presidential system.
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