Etymology of Indonesia Name

The name Indonesia derives from the Latin Indus, meaning “India”, and the Greek nesos, meaning “island”. The name dates to the 18th century, far predating the formation of independent Indonesia. In 1850, George Earl, an English ethnologist, proposed the terms Indunesians — and, his preference, Malayunesians — for the inhabitants of the “Indian Archipelago or Malayan Archipelago” In the same publication, a student of Earl’s, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago.[ However, Dutch academics writing in East Indies publications were reluctant to use Indonesia. Instead, they used the terms Malay Archipelago (Maleische Archipel); the Netherlands East Indies (Nederlandsch Oost Indië), popularly Indië; the East (de Oost); and even Insulinde.
From 1900, the name Indonesia became more common in academic circles outside the Netherlands, and Indonesian nationalist groups adopted it for political expression. Adolf Bastian, of the University of Berlin, popularized the name through his book Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayischen Archipels, 1884–1894. The first Indonesian scholar to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau in the Netherlands with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in 1913.

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