The islands of Indonesia were settled from earliest times by people of Hindu and Buddhist faiths, whose power lasted until the 14th century when Gujarati and Persian peoples brought Islam to the islands for the next two centuries. Early in the sixteenth century, Portuguese settlers established trading posts for spices, but the history of the Indonesian Archipelago took on an important dimension after the arrival of the Dutch East India Company in the early 1600s. The Dutch gained influence on Java over the ruling peoples, but soon came into conflict with the British who fought over the land in 1811, though it returned to Dutch control five years later. The various changes caused unrest that culminated in a war of rebellion from 1825 to 1830, which the Dutch eventually won.
Indonesia remained under Dutch rule until 1941 when the Japanese invaded it. When the war ended, the independent state of Indonesia was declared but not accepted by Britain and Holland until the United States of Indonesia, a conglomeration of over 1000 islands emerged in 1949. Following the Japanese occupation, it became clear that Dutch sovereignty was out of the question in the post-war climate, and although independence was established, the national identity of so many affiliated Muslim island cultures was a long time in the melting pot. Indeed, ramifications of these rivalries between Muslims and ethnic Chinese continue to occur to this day.
The five main islands are Sumatera, Jawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Irian Jaya (the western half of New Guinea Island).