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Fossilised remains of Homo erectus and his tools, popularly known as the "Java Man", suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by at least 1.5 million years ago.Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, are thought to have originally been from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE.Homo sapiens reached the region by around 45,000 years ago.In 2011 evidence was uncovered in neighbouring East Timor, showing that 42,000 years ago these early settlers had high-level maritime skills, and by implication the technology needed to make ocean crossings to reach Australia and other islands, as they were catching and consuming large numbers of big deep sea fish such as tuna.The country's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.The area of Indonesia is populated by peoples of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages.
Early humans travelled by sea and spread from mainland Asia eastward to New Guinea and Australia.The last significant non-Muslim kingdom, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom, flourished from the late 13th century, and its influence stretched over much of Indonesia.The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam which became the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century.The archipelago's landforms and climate significantly influenced agriculture and trade, and the formation of states.The boundaries of the state of Indonesia represent the 20th century borders of the Dutch East Indies.
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The history of Indonesia has been shaped by its geographic position, its natural resources, a series of human migrations and contacts, wars and conquests, as well as by trade, economics and politics.