Indonesia is a large archipelago of more than 10,000 islands, extending from east to west as far as the distance from Moscow to the west coast of Ireland and covering three time zones. Hundreds of languages and cultures are united in the present-day Republic of Indonesia, proclaimed in 1945 after a centuries-long history of trade relations (with Arab, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and English merchants), domination and colonisation (since the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company, later by the Dutch government). This history yielded a lingua franca, spoken in the market stations along the coasts, at first called Malayan (after Malacca, a Portuguese/Dutch/British harbour,...
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