Eurasian People in Indonesia, the History of Dutch-Indo People

Portrait of Indo-Dutch family | Image via Pinterest

According to the 2020 national census, the population of Indonesia reached 270 million people. From its large population, Indonesia possesses over 1,300 ethnic groups with Javanese (40%) as the largest ethnic group. Other well-known ethnicities besides the Javanese include Sundanese, Malay, Batak, Minangkabau, Chinese, Betawi, Bugis, Balinese, Acehnese, Dayak, and more. However, 1 ethnicity that sometimes unrecognized or not even mentioned in the school’s history book. They are known as the Eurasian people and mostly known as the Indo people.

Who is the Indo People?

The Indo people are considered to be Eurasian people living or connected with Indonesia. The term widely used to acknowledge the group of people that have mixed of both Dutch and Indonesian descent. During the colonial era, this term used in the Dutch East Indies and it is applicable to those Europeans with partial Asian ancestry. Most of these Indo people predominantly possess a Dutch origin. However, some also possess Portuguese, British, French, and even German ancestry.

The term Indo originally recorded in 1898. In addition, other terms used to call these Eurasian people includes ‘Dutch-Indonesians’, Indo-Europeans, ‘Indo-Dutch’, and ‘Dutch-Indos’.

History of the Indo People

During the VOC era

View of the Island and the City of Batavia Belonging to the Dutch || Image Via Library of Congress

During their time in Indonesia, VOC sent 1 million employees and most of these people consisted of a single man. Most of these employees were sent to Batavia, which is considered to be the VOC’s headquarters. In order to establish a presence in the East Indies, VOC encouraged racial mixing between the European employees and the indigenous people. A large proportion of these employees decided to build their own families in the new land, which created their own local Indo-Eurasian families.

Additionally, the VOC needed European representation to fill the higher positions to run the local business. With the presence of the Indo population of Dutch descent, they were chosen to fill these vacant positions. These Indo populations had an advantage especially in conversing both Dutch and the local language. Over centuries of Dutch and Portuguese trade in the archipelago, a large Indo-Eurasian population developed. With the formal colonization of the Dutch East Indies in the coming century, the majority of the Europeans registered were actually the Indo-Eurasian people.

During the Colonial Era

With the bankruptcy of VOC in the early 19th century, the formal colonization of the East Indies began. In 1860, there were only 1,000 European females against 22,000 European males. These males consisted of government officials, businessmen, planters, and military men without wives. Due to this situation, these European males started their relationship with the native women and their offspring considered to be the European legal class in the colony.

Only by the end of the 19th century, more Dutch women started to arrive in the Dutch East Indies colony. The increasing population of the mainland Dutch, accelerate the assimilation between the Indo-Eurasian culture and the mainland Dutch culture. At the end of the colonial era, Dutch East Indies’ population consisted of 300,000 Indo-Europeans and they were recognized as Dutch citizens.

Also during this time, An Indo movement led by a political organization called Indo Europeesch Verbond (Indo-European Alliance) started to appear. Their main goal was to create independent status within a Dutch commonwealth. They also had the vision to put the Indo-European segment in an essential position within society.

Post-Independence Era

In 1946, the British troops entered Indonesia with the objective to protect the Dutch and Dutch-Indo populations that were previously captured by the Japanese. With the rise of nationalism throughout the archipelago, the natives did not accept the Dutch troops to re-enter their former colony in peace. In March 1946, the peace turned into tensions and conflicts. However, the Dutch and Indonesian nationalists made an agreement. In the agreement, the Dutch admit the declaration of the new republic of Indonesia under circumstances below:

  • Indonesia should be a federal state
  • Indonesia included as a part of the Dutch-Indonesian Union.
  • The Head of this union would be the Dutch royal dynasty.

However, this agreement did not last since the Dutch parties changed some parts of the agreement. One of the changes here includes leaving the island of Papua under the Dutch government. With all these agreements, militias in the archipelago became more active and it threatened the life of the Dutch-Indo. Also, during this year the Dutch brought more troops from the Netherlands to quell the tension. This conflict later known as the Indonesian national revolution ended on December 27, 1949.

Aftermath to the Dutch-Indo

Sandy Walsh, Indonesian-Dutch footballer currently playing in Belgian club KV-Mechelen || Image via

After the handover of the sovereignty, only a few percent stayed and took Indonesian citizenship. Around 300,000 Dutch-Indo chose to be repatriated to the Netherlands. This repatriation took a few years and lasted until 1967.

In the Netherlands, an estimation made by NIDI (Nederlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Instituut) claimed that there are 1.5 million people with Dutch-Indo ancestry. The Indo community in the Netherlands, considered by many as the best-integrated ethnic in the Netherlands. In addition, a study from 1999 by CBS mentioned that the Indos possess an average income similar to the citizens born in the Netherlands. Indo’s job participation in the government, healthcare, and education also considered to be high.

On the other hand, the estimation of people with Indo ancestry in Indonesia reached around 900,000 individuals. However, the exact or official number remains unknown. These groups of people made their communities that spread in cities such as Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Magelang, and Sukabumi. During the Soeharto era, Dutch-Indo were treated the same as the Chinese minority, and they had to change their family names into more Indonesian names. However, the current trend shows that the Dutch-Indo started to revert to their old family names back.

Notable Indo People with Dutch descendant

List of the Dutch-Indo

The list of famous Indo people with Dutch citizenship:

  • Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Dutch Footballer)
  • John Heitinga (Dutch Footballer)
  • Nigel De Jong (Dutch Footballer)
  • Mees Hilgers (Dutch Footballer)
  • Gerardus Johannes Berenschot (Former KNIL general commander)
  • Sylvia Meis (Dutch celebrity and model)
  • Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Dutch swimmer)

List of the Indonesian-Indo

The list of famous Indo people with Indonesian citizenship:

  • Ernest Douwess Dekker (Former politician and Indonesian nationalist)
  • Sandy Walsh (Indonesian footballer, Dutch-Javanese descent)
  • Shayne Pattynama (Indonesian footballer, Dutch-Javanese descent)
  • Justin Hubner (Indonesian footballer)
  • Ivar Jenner (Indonesian footballer)
  • Rafael Struick (Indonesian footballer)
  • Ragnar Oeratmangon (Indonesian footballer)
  • Thom Haye (Indonesian footballer)
  • Calvin Verdonk (Indonesian footballer)
  • Jay Idzes (Indonesian footballer)
  • Nathan Tjoe-A-On (Indonesian footballer)
  • Irfan Bachdim (Indonesian footballer, Dutch-Arab descent)
  • Diego Michiels (Indonesian footballer, Dutch-Moluccan descent)
  • Frans Mohede (Indonesian singer and actor, Dutch-Moluccan descent)
  • Arumi Bachsin (Indonesian actress)
  • Donna Agnesia (Indonesian celebrity)
  • Paula Verhoeven (Indonesian celebrity)
  • Indra Bruggman (Indonesian actor)
  • Ivar Jenner (Indonesian Footballer)
  • Rafael Struick (Indonesian Footballer)

Further Read

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