Sukarno returned again to the role of President and over time came to assert greater power in that role.

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This Neolithic group of people, skilled in open-ocean maritime travel and agriculture are believed to have quickly supplanted the existing, less-developed population.

From this point onward, dozens of kingdoms and civilizations flourished and faded in different parts of the archipelago.

Some notable kingdoms include Srivijaya (7th-14th century) on Sumatra and Majapahit (1293-c.1500), based in eastern Java but the first to unite the main islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo (now Kalimantan) as well as parts of Peninsular Malaysia.

The first Europeans to arrive (after Marco Polo who passed through in the late 1200s) were the Portuguese, who were given permission to erect a godown near present-day Jakarta in 1522.

With 18,110 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world.

About 240 million people live in this fourth most populous country in the world — after China, India and the USA — and by far the largest country in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world.

Indonesia's population is on course to overtake the US and become the third largest before 2044.

In the decade that ended in 2010, population growth remained high at 1.49% each year but there is substantial Muslim opposition to boosting family planning.

Indonesia markets itself as Wonderful Indonesia, and the slogan is quite true, although not necessarily always in good ways.

Various nationalist groups developed in the early 20th century, and there were several disturbances, quickly put down by the Dutch. Then during World War II, the Japanese conquered most of the islands.