Indonesia is a nation of 17,508 islands in the South East Asian archipelago, making it the world's largest archipelagic state. With a population of over 200 million, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation. Indonesia is the world's third largest democracy after India and the USA. Its capital is Jakarta and it shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia.
The Indonesian Archipelago, home of the Spice Islands, has been an important trade destination since Chinese sailors first profited from the spice trade in ancient times. Indonesia's history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to the archipelago by its wealth of natural resources; Indian-influenced Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished, Muslim traders who spread Islam in medieval times, and Europeans during the Age of Exploration, who fought for monopolization of the spice trade. Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch for over three centuries; however, the nation declared its independence in 1945, which was internationally recognized four years later. Indonesia's post-independence history has been turbulent, with political instability and corruption, periods of rapid economic growth and decline, environmental catastrophe, and a recent democratization process.
Indonesia is a unitary state consisting of numerous distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups spread across its numerous islands. A shared history of colonialism, rebellion against it, a national language, and a Muslim majority population help to define Indonesia as a state. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka tunggal ika" ("Unity in diversity", derived from Old Javanese), reflects the amalgamation of a myriad cultures, languages, and ethnic groups that shape every aspect of the country. Sectarian tensions, however, have threatened political stability in some regions, leading to violent confrontations.