Netherlands India - Encyclopedia

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


NETHERLANDS INDIA 17.466; 15.284; 26.70; 4.256; 5.5 9 6). - Netherlands India is divided into territories under direct (Dutch) rule and under native self-government subject to Dutch regulation. As regards the self-governed territories, the elaborate individual agreements originally made between the Dutch and native princes have in recent years been replaced in large measure by a form of political contract known as the " short declaration," which has helped to simplify relations between the parties. In the Outer Possessions or Outposts (i.e. the islands other than Java and Madura) there were in 1919 about 280 territories self-governed under the short declaration and only 19 under more detailed contracts; in Java (Surakarta and Jokyakarta) four native principalities remain, with little power. To the Dutch colonial system of government there has been recently added a people's council (Volksraad) of at least 39 members, including a chairman appointed by the Crown, five native and 14 European and foreign oriental members appointed by the governor-general, and 10 native and five other members elected by local councils. This body opened its first session on May 181918. The governor must consult it on the budget and certain other financial questions, on any question of general military serv ice, and on any other matters indicated by general Crown ordinance; and he may invite its opinion on other topics. The Dutch home Legislature, however, remains supreme in regard to financial, as to other colonial questions. The governor has now, in connexion with his executive functions, an advisory council consisting of the nine heads of administrative departments.

Netherlands India was in 1921 divided, for purposes of administration, into 35 provinces comprising three governments, 33 residencies, and one independent sub-residency. These are: In Java and Madura: Bantam, Batavia, the Preanger regencies, Cheribon, Pekalongan, Semarang, Rembang, Surabaya, Pasuruan, Besuki, Banyumas, Kudu, Jokya, Solo, Madiun, Kediri, Madura.

In Sumatra: Sumatra. West Coast, Tapanuli, Benkulen, Lampong, Palembang, Jambi, Sumatra East Coast, Acheh (Achin) and dependencies.

Others: Riouw and deps., Banka and deps., Billiton, Borneo West Coast, Borneo South and East Coasts, Menado (in Celebes), Celebes and deps., Amboina and deps., Ternate and deps., Timor and deps., Bali and Lombok.

The native powers of administration, so far as capable of development, are carefully fostered by the Dutch. In 1918 an ordinance permitted various duties, in provinces determined by the governorgeneral, to be delegated by the provincial governors to native officials: this practice, started in part of the Preanger regencies, is in process of extension elsewhere in Java, but not, as yet, outside it. The Government maintains certain Chinese and Arab officials to advise it on administrative matters connected with the foreign oriental element in the population. In 1914 a civil service college was established at Batavia for the training of natives as well as foreigners in administration, and in 1918 a course of training for natives as civil servants was established in the S. of Sumatra.






Java & Madura.


393,7 2 3



Sumatra. .

Riouw & depen-




5,02 7 ,053

dencies. .





Banka & dep. .


7 1 ,7 1 4



Billiton. .





Borneo. .


8 3, 6 3

244 8


Celebes & dep.

(inclu. Men-

ado). .

Amboina &





dep. (1912) .





Ternate & dep. .





Timor & dep. .





Bali & Lombok .











Java & Madura

Outer Posses-





sions. .





Population.-The pop. of the principal islands or divisions of Netherlands India was given for the year 1917 (Dec.) unless otherwise stated: Amboina in the above table includes southern and western New Guinea, and Ternate includes northern New Guinea. The total pop. for the Outer Possessions was given as 12 ,579, 8 97 natives, 43 8 ,944 foreign orientals, and 27,451 Europeans, and the percentage rate of increase since the census of 1905 is as follows: It is clear, however, that the apparently large rate of increase in the native pop. of the Outer Possessions is to be attributed in part to more effective measures of enumeration at the later census.

Recent census figures for certain large towns are :-Batavia(1917), 231,464; Surabaya (1918), 160,801; Surakarta (1918), 139,882; Semarang (1918), 106,852; Jokyakarta (1918), 97,058; Bandung (1918), 58,649.

It is no longer correct to regard Netherlands India as a " colony of officials," as it has sometimes been termed; there were in 1917 less than 9,000 Europeans in official positions, and the majority of the total European pop. were traders, tenants of plantations, officers of mining companies, and the like. Probably over ninetenths were Dutch, though Germans appeared to have increased in numbers during the World War, finding the colony a convenient refuge and, it is said, a centre for intrigue against India and elsewhere. A few hundred British and Belgians were the other most important elements in the European population. Among foreign orientals Chinese were far the most numerous, numbering about 295,000 in Java, and 385,000 in the Outer Possessions; Arabs numbered about 19,000 and io,000 respectively, and Hindus 24,000, mainly in the Outer Possessions.

Religion and Instruction.-Some 35,000,000 of the population were professedly Mohammedans, though not necessarily strict followers of Islam. The pilgrimage to Mecca was made in 1913 by 17,655 persons from Java, 5,318 from Sumatra, 1,485 from Borneo, and 629 from Celebes. In 1914 Christianity was represented among the natives by about 660,000 Protestants and 52,000 Roman Catholics; the Dutch Protestant Church had 41 pastors, with assistants. Protestant missionary bodies were united in representation by a. consul at Batavia, who acts on their behalf in relations with the Government. They had 349 missionaries in 1915. The Protestant missions were mainly Dutch and German. Both they and the Roman Catholic missions succeed chiefly in the Outer Possessions where Islam is less powerful than in Java; notably in Celebes, Amboina and the Moluccas generally, Timor and New Guinea.

Education was systematically, if slowly, extended among the natives. Broadly speaking Government schools and native schools under Government supervision greatly outnumbered private schools in Java, whereas the contrary was the case in the Outer Possessions, where the missions (whose schools are reckoned as private) do most of their work There were 15 secondary schools in Java, including the Hoogere Burgerscholen at Batavia, Surabaya, and Semarang.

A school for the training of native orators was opened in 1913, and a second school of agriculture in 1917. Other establishments included a school for native female teachers in Java (1918), and a new class of elementary trade schools (the former craft schools having left the native handicrafts almost unaffected), opened at several points in Java in 1915 and subsequently. The foundation of a technical university, primarily for civil engineers, was in hand.

The total State expenditure on education was estimated in 1920 at 20 million guilders (72 millions on European and 122 millions on native education). The following figures are for the year 1917:- European primary schools, 198; pupils 26,817 (including 5,852 natives and foreign orientals); Dutch-Chinese schools, 31; pupils 6,717; advanced primary schools, 14; pupils 1,615; private primary schools, 50 (34 State-subsidized); pupils 8,141. Dutch native schools, 115; pupils 21,690; native schools (2nd class), 989 in Java, 49 0 in Outer Possessions; 142,415 and 72,815 pupils respectively; native (" peoples' ") schools, 4,185 in Java, 1,372 in Outer Possessions; 299,516 and 83,127 pupils respectively; 14 special schools for natives, 3,132 pupils; 2,506 private schools for natives (145,505 pupils); 220 for Chinese (12,636 pupils), 32 for Arabs (1,928 pupils). Native law school, 65 pupils; native civil service training schools, 922 pupils; training schools for native teachers, 735 p upils; native trade schools, 316 pupils.

Justice.-While the distribution is maintained, as concerns the administration of justice, between (1) Europeans and persons " assimilated " with them, and (2) natives, Chinese, Arabs, etc., there is a general tendency to unify the civil code as the criminal code was already unified, and thus to bring such sections of the pop. as the Chinese under the same code as Europeans; as concerns natives, and foreign orientals in regard to their family law, the adat (native law) is respected so far as compatible with European standards. A general civil code was in preparation in 1921, with the object of admitting differences in legal practice only so far as the customs of various creeds and different native social views render them imperative. For Europeans there were in 1921 three courts of justice in Java, two in Sumatra, and one in Celebes. The landgerecht is the court for minor criminal offences among all sections of the pop. in Java and Madura, and these courts were in 1921 to be extended to the Outer Possessions (e.g. Macassar and Eastern Sumatra), where the residency courts act in the case of Europeans, and magistrates' courts in that of natives. A similar system of unification was in preparation as regards minor civil cases.



















Finance.-Revenue and expenditure is shown thus for recent years (in thousands of guilders): The deficits were covered by loans raised in each year 1915-9 in the name of, and chargeable upon, the colony (previous loans having been contracted by the mother-country), amounting to 372,500,000 guilders. The deficits were due not merely to indirect results of the World War, but to the extension of Dutch rule in the Outer Possessions, improvements in the administration of law, education, and public health, promotion of industries, and extension of public works, and a total sum of 287,000,000 guilders was reckoned as extraordinary expenditure in 1913-8. Increased expenditure was for the most part met by increase of ordinary taxes rather than imposition of new taxes, but a war profit tax, retrospective to Aug. I 1914, was established in 1917. A complete reissue of the Tariff Act was made in 1910; several revisions were afterwards made, and the Dutch extended their customs territories, partly by buying out the right of native rulers, until they covered almost the whole colony. In the budget for 1920 provision was made for an export duty on staple+products, taxes on the profits from their production, an increase in excises, a special tax upon the working of petroleum, and a tax on transport.

Agriculture.-Sugar remained the chief agricultural product for export. War conditions affected the direction of commerce in this commodity: from the beginning of the century down to 1914 China and Japan and Australia were the chief customers for Javanese sugar; in 1915-8 England and India; later China and Japan reentered the market. The production in Java in 1918 was 1,778,- 207 tons., The sugar manufacturers united into a general syndicate with headquarters at Surabaya. The Government cultivation of coffee was abandoned in 1918-9, but the State began to exploit several rubber estates in Java and one in Sumatra, while the State Rubber Development Service was separated from the Forestry Service in 1919.








Java Madura .






Outer Possessions






The following shows the number of estates, cultivating the leading products named, in 1918: *Sumatra West Coast.

Among cultivations developed or considerably extended were those of kapok and sisal hemp, mainly in Java, manilla hemp in the Lampong districts of Sumatra, and the oil palm, principally in the Outer Possessions. It was estimated in 1917 that Java and Madura contained 63 million coconut palms, the Outer Possessions 44 million, of which 60 million were yielding nuts. The estimated annual production of copra was 368,000 tons in Java and Madura, and 213,000 tons in the Outer Possessions; in Java about 200,000 tons were used in the local oil factories. The large estates are not extensively planted with coconut palms: the production is almost wholly from native sources; but the Government started cultivation in 1913. The rice harvest in Java and Madura in 1919 was estimated to yield 32 million tons of hulled rice: information for the Outer Possessions is lacking. But the export of rice, maize, and other foodstuffs was prohibited, for the demand was in excess of the supply.

In 1919 there were 24 important irrigation works under construction in Java; no irrigation works on a similar scale existed elsewhere in the islands, excepting Bali, although, following upon an enquiry by the Government in 1910 in Sumatra and Celebes, some lesser works had been carried out.

Live stock.-Estimated numbers in 1918 were :-40,000,000 cattle, 2,500,000 buffaloes, 300,000 horses, 3,000,000 goats, 2,500,000 sheep, 1,000,000 pigs.

Teak Forests.-The area of these in Java and Madura was estimated in 1918 at 730,000 hectares, of which 36% was organized in forestry districts under the State Forestry Service. The export of teak, 38,277 cubic metres in 1912, fell to 50 C.M. in 1917 and 1,185 c.m. in 1918, though the amount felled was not greatly lessened. The teak forests are of such outstanding economic importance that all other forests are classed in contradistinction as " wild," but the Forestry Service extended its supervision over them, and an experimental forestry station was established in 1913.

Mining.-The Ombilin collieries near Sawa Lunto and those of Bukit Asem near Tanjong in Sumatra, those in the island Pulo Laut off the S. E. coast of Borneo, the Banka tin-mines, and gold and silver workings in the Benkulen district, Sumatra, were worked by the Government, which in addition received five-eighths of the profits of the Billiton tin-mines. Private concessions for working coal and oil and associated products ceased to be obtainable in 1919, except under special contract with the Government. The production of the coal-mines in 1918 was as follows:- Ombilin, 504,201 tons; Pulo Laut, 121,421 tons; Bukit Asem, 50,300 tons, but the last was more fully developed after the Government took over the concession in 1919, in which year production reached ioo,000 tons. Over half the total output from Ombilin and Pulo Laut was used in Government services; the rest was sold for bunkering at the ports of the respective fields, Emmahaven and Stagen, or exported thence as freight coal for bunkering at other ports in the archipelago.

Petroleum concessions had been granted to the number of 61 down to 1918, and 26 were sanctioned. The principal oilfields were in Surabaya and Rembang (Java), Muara Enim and other points in Palembang and Langkat and Perlak (Achin) in Sumatra, Taraken I. and the Mahakkan delta in S. and E. Borneo, and Ceram. The Royal Dutch, Shell and subsidiary companies controlled the trade and working. In 1918 crude oil was produced to the amount of 1,764,203 tons, and among exports were benzine and gasoline, 317,073,000 litres; kerosene, 379,044,000 litres; residues, 291,057,000 litres; turpine (a substitute for turpentine), 2,556,000 litres; paraffin wax, 21,045 tons; candles, 4,080 tons; lubricating oil, 24,529 tons; asphalt, 1,719 tons; greases, 232 tons.

The production of gold, principally from Benkulen, Padang (central Sumatra) and the northern peninsula of Celebes amounted to 3,893 kgm. in 1917, and that of silver to 34,014 kilograms. The value of diamonds produced (in Borneo) in 1917 was 55,300 guilders, and in 1918, 116,360 guilders.

Metric tons are quoted throughout this article.

Manufacture.-The disturbance of international commerce during the World War resulted in some extension of home manufacture in Netherlands India, and the same effect was produced by the increasing difference between the high wages in European and other manufacturing countries and the low wages paid to native workers in Netherlands India, though this was partly counterbalanced by the low scale of production in the latter. Among manufactures noted for special development were ironfounding (but mechanical works suffer from the lack of skilled labour), and those of edible and essential oils, bricks and tiles, cardboard, rubber wares, cigars and cigarettes, chocolate, etc. A special division of industry was established in 1918 in the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, and the first official annual fair for Netherlands India was organized in 1920 in a building erected at Bandung.



Sugar .

1,471,423 tons

1,574,201 tons

Tea. .

26,548 "

30,452 "

Rubber .

7,134 "

44,096 "

Coffee. .

28,939 "

7,357 "

Tobacco. .

87,832 "

8,050 "

Copra .

229,339 "

68,578 "

Coconut Oil

1,682 "

33,237 "

Pepper.. .

18,965 "

25,899 "

Tapioca Cas-

sava products .

105,532 "

28,129 "

Kapok. .


9, 2 53 "

Ground-nuts .

20,141 t,

8,080 "

Tin .

27,645 "

11584 "


466,529,000 litres

379,044,000 litres

Commerce.-Exports and imports (exclusive of bullion, etc.) were valued as follows: in 1913, exports, 627,000,000 guilders; imports, 462,000,000 guilders; in 1918, exports, 676,000,000 guilders; imports, 537, 000, 000 guilders. The number of foreign firms maintaining representatives in Netherlands India has increased considerably, and the Government has extended its measures for fostering commerce, as for example, by maintaining sample departments or exhibitions in European countries, the, U.S.A., Australia, S. Africa, and Japan. The following figures of quantity of some of the chief exports show how the effects of the war operated favourably or adversely: Examples of the manner in which the destination of exports altered have been mentioned above: many exports were diverted during the war from the mother-country as entrepot, and went direct to their destinations. The chief imports are soft goods, machinery, iron and steel, hardware, food-stuffs, and artificial manures.

Communications.-Java has long possessed an excellent roadsystem, and it is a settled policy to use the road as a first means of opening up new districts in the Outer Possessions. In 1918 1,738,587 guilders were spent in Java and Madura, and 3,889,580 guilders in the Outer Possessions, on the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. The Government maintains a number of motor services, as in Palembang, Benkulen, and Sumatra West Coast, as well as in Java (Cheribon-Kuningan). The length of State railways in 1920 was: in Java 1,568 m. of standard gauge (1.067 metre) and 65 m. of narrow gauge (o-6 metre); in Sumatra West Coast 153 m. standard gauge; in S. Sumatra 151 m. standard gauge; hi Achin and dependencies 320 m., gauge 0.75 metre. Private lines amount to 156 m. in Java, 260 in Eastern Sumatra (Deli Co.); and in Java there are about 1,375 m. of steam tramways under private management. Water power plants were established in the Chatur valley for the service of the State railway workshops at Madiun (Java) in 1917, and another power station has been set up at Lake Tais to supply the gold-mines in Benkulen (Sumatra). Extensive works were in construction or planned. The chief ports in 1920, according to tonnage of vessels using them, were Tanjong Priok (the port for Batavia), Surabaya, Semarang, Cheribon, and Tegal in Java; Padang, Belawan Deli, and Sabang in Sumatra; Balikpapan in Borneo, and Macassar in Celebes.

Recent History.-Slow methodic progress in development, very thoroughly carried out, continued as the characteristic of Dutch administration in Netherlands India. It is probably correct to indicate, as the most difficult internal problems, the reconciliation of European with native interests with justice to both, and the relations between Mohammedanism and the State. As for external relations, concern is sometimes expressed as to the relatively defenceless position of the colony against aggression: a commission reported on this matter in 1913. It was partly this consideration which dictated the strict neutrality of the Netherlands during the World War (for obviously the Dutch possessions were at the mercy of the British fleet): but so far as apprehension found expression as regards any particular Power, that Power was Japan, a fact doubtless associated with the marked development of the economic position of the Japanese in the archipelago. The internal condition of the Outer Posses sions was for the most part peaceable: the long-standing strife in Achin was almost stilled by 1912, though sporadic outbreaks have occurred since; the warfare in Gowa (Celebes) since 1905 was brought to an end in 1911 and the country annexed. In 1914 there was a revolt of Young Chinese in Mampawa (Borneo), and slight native disturbances in Sumatra and Lombok, the latter apparently arising out of rumours of a Dutch defeat at the hands of Japan. Military garrisons had to be maintained in parts of Bali till 1914.

Disputes arose with Portugal when it was endeavoured to delimit the frontier between Dutch and Portuguese territory in Timor according to the treaty of 1904. The Dutch claims were allowed by M. Lardy, a Swiss member of the Hague Court of Arbitration, acting as arbitrator in 1914. (O. J. R. H.)

Encyclopedia Alphabetically

A * B * C * D * E * F * G * H * I * J * K * L * M * N * O * P * Q * R * S * T * U * V * W * X * Y * Z

Advertise Here


- Please bookmark this page (add it to your favorites)
- If you wish to link to this page, you can do so by referring to the URL address below.

This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
Copyright © 2021 ITA all rights reserved.