Kingdom of Kaupelan


Prehistoric Period

Humans are present in the archipelago since Pleistocene as attested by vestiges found in the archaeological site of Gajawatu in the north of Purikali, after excavations made by the Dutch archaeologist Pieter van der Kooij in 1932. It is considered that Homo sapiens is present in the islands since 35,000 years ago although, for many scholars, its arrival is even earlier. The first inhabitants are populations of Palaeolithic culture that were supposed to reach the region with elementary bamboo rafts.

Melanesian Period

Around 8,000 years ago, the Melanesian people were already established in the archipelago. They were people of Neolithic culture that lived in the forests and that, through the centuries, have occupied the territory. They used spears, stone axes, bows and arrows, and their tribes were constantly fighting each other. Headhunting and cannibalism were common practices. It is believed that Suduk, Hakerehe, Atawodo and Moinate people are descendant of those populations.

Austronesian Period

Coming probably from the island of Seram in Indonesia, new human waves, arrived to the archipelago since 1,000 BC. They had lighter skin and lower stature and were more developed than the previous inhabitants. With their settlement, the aboriginal populations -- known as alfur or matutu -- migrated to the interior of the larger islands or to most distant ones. A slow miscegenation process took place with the remaining people and the new inhabitants settled mostly along the coast.

In the archipelago, the migrations started from the north, populating the eastern coast of Wisanu first and then, south of Kiwangar and north of Nilau. Later waves of people settled in the west of Wisanu and in the north of Kiwangar. They were skilled seafarers, fishermen and hunters that wore body tattoos, dressed rough fabrics and worshiped the gods of the nature such as the sun, the moon, the sea and the shark. A priest (ratu lui) conducted rituals of magic to cure, to exorcize, to win wars, to obtain food or to honour ancestor spirits. Witches and sorceries were common. They made sacrifices to good and evil spirits. Their hamlets had a hallowed place with a shrine (uma lui) and some places were considered taboo (mali).

About the eighth century, the coastal communities began to have contact with Hindu and Buddhist traders, mostly from Java, looking for spices and bringing a totally new cultural influence.

Period of the Realms

The predominantly Hindu influence became stronger in the following centuries. The first written records, made in palm leaves and bronze sheets, appeared in the island of Kiwangar. The oldest records, written in the 10th century, are chronicles about a legendary raja, sri raja Singhaatman ("the soul of the lion").

Temples were raised and cities flourished everywhere devoted to the maritime trade. The realm of Walmaheol was established in the southwest of Wisanu, as well as Tjanwadulan, in the north of Nilau and Kotamakuwa ("the city of the strong people"), in the south of Kiwangar. The cultivation of rice and the extraction of the native sandalwood and nutmeg prospered. The trade was established with other kingdoms in the Indonesian archipelago.

The kingdom of Kotamakuwa became powerful. The local nobility experienced an epoch of opulence. Written records tell about the deeds of great kings, such as Tjandraputra ("Prince of the Moon") and Uwatsatria ("the noble blood"). At this time, Makuwa (or old Kaupelanese) was spoken in Kotamakuwa. This Bandanic language with loanwords from Sanskrit and Javanese, had a peculiar characteristic – one classical and literary form, forbidden to those not belonging to the noblesse and royalty, and one colloquial form, used by common people.

The Five Precepts of Buddhism written in a lontar palm leaf, in the 12th century

(Courtesy of the National Museum, Purikali)

Little by little, due to the trade between the local kingdoms, this vernacular form became the lingua franca of the archipelago. At the end of the reign of Buwanamatan ("the Eye of the Universe"), 1349-1363, Kotamakuwa fell under the rule of Majapahit Empire, becoming a vassal state. 

One Makuwa record of the beginning of the 13th century reports a terrible earthquake that destroyed Wisnupuran ("the Vishnu temple") in the east of Kotamakuwa.

The spice trade was intensified by the end of the fourteenth century with the arrival of Malay traders converted to Islam. The culture assimilated new influences and the Muslim religion made followers among traders and soldiers.

Map of the archipelago in the 13th century

Period of the Sultanate

Resentful with the monopoly of the nobles of Kotamakuwa, Muslim traders from the neighbour village of Purikali ("the palace of the river") on the banks of the river Hubi, rose up against raja Dharatpahlawan ("the hero of the Earth"). Kotamakuwa was destroyed in the beginning of the fifteenth century. Akeri became the first sultan of Purikali and inherited the commercial power of Kotamakuwa that had dominated the most part of the island of Kiwangar, then named Nuhu Rajakaopalan, (‘Island of Raja’s Nutmeg Trees’).

The military and commercial power of Purikali led to the expansionism of the so-called Sultanate of Rajakaopalan. Guhamale ("the sacred cave") succeeded Akeri. The sultan annexed the realms of Wamti'ai and Wisenyu. The expansion of the empire reached its apogee at the end of the fifteenth century with Guhamale’s heir, Bumakirta ("glorious crown"), which defeated and conquered the realms of Walmaheol and Tjanwadulan and the eastern islands. Then, the Sultanate of Rajakaopalan dominated the entire archipelago.

Attracted by the spices, Portuguese traders arrived to the islands in 1512, in a maritime expedition lead by Dom Antônio d’Abreu. In the following years, with successive expeditions, they built commercial establishments (feitorias), missions and fortresses, aiming the control of the profitable spice market. During the XVI century, the feitorias of Santa Maria (Santamaria), Santo Antônio (Sanantonyo), Villa Nova (Wilanowa), Santa Cruz (Santakrus) and Lopes Gusmão were established in the nowadays Kaupelanese territory. This occupation, however, was not pacific, though several attempts have been made by the Portuguese crown to negotiate with the sultan Ismail and with his successor, Amin, both from Da'ejaya dynasty.


Colonial Period

The decline of Rajakaopalan began with constant fights against the Portuguese and culminated with the destruction of Purikali. Sultan Abdul Muhammad Kisakurak died in his palace defending the city against the invader. In the vicinity of the destroyed city, the churches of São Gabriel do Hube, in 1557, and São Lucas de Mássar, in 1561, were built. The settlement around those churches originated respectively the villages of São Gabriel (current Purikali) and São Lucas (current Masar).

Portugal began its domination of the famous Eastern Indies. The local population gradually assimilated the European culture. The Portuguese brought the Catholic religion, today still majority in the archipelago, and the Portuguese language which influenced the local tongues. On the other hand, much of the traditional Kaupelanese culture was lost during that period.

By the middle of the XVII century, the Dutch took off the monopoly of the islands from the Portuguese. In the beginning the new colonisers occupied only the island of Nilau. They used a different strategy, taking advantage of the rivalry among local chieftains to conquer new lands. The ratu ("king") of Bandajaya (northern Kiwangar) and the chiefs of Jalabarat (southwest Wisanu) and Palimaata (southeast Nilau), enemies of the Portuguese and Christianised natives, became allied of the Dutch. The Islamic kingdom of Bandajaya, reinforced by this alliance and by a large number of Malay soldiers, went to war against the Christians. The Christian resistance was not enough to avoid the Muslim invasion coming from the north. In 1687, from the village of Kuruwan, the Islamic armies commanded by ratu Ahmad bin Hasan Uninperaing conquered São Gabriel, renamed Purikali after the victory. To celebrate the event, the great mosque of Kuwat Wijaya ("the Dome of the Victory") was erected in Kuruwan. Friar Joaquim Gonçalo, captured and condemned to death by the Muslims, was considered a martyr by the Christians.

The kings of Bandajaya ruled the island without repeating the golden period lived during the sultan age. In the beginning of the XVIII century, the ratu Ismail bin Ibrahim Rajasena built a new palace in Purikali, Keratun Weru. Portuguese was banished as official language, replaced by Kaupelanese and Malay. Christianity, however, was tolerated in the overcrowded south of the island.

In the island of Nilau, the lands of a powerful Dutch landlord, a perkenier, called heer Niklaas Heitink, became known as the lands of "heer Nik", originating the name of the city of Irnik. The Portuguese lost the majority of their lands to the Dutch through the United East Indies Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie).

In the middle of the XVIII century, following the downfall of the world commercial interest for the spices, the Dutch changed their strategy and invested in plantations of coffee and tobacco. The natives from the highly populated south of Kiwangar (called Kauta) were forced to work in plantations in less populated regions, like Nilau and Wisanu. By this time, the maritime trade underwent a major development and Purikali became an important port in the route between Europe and Asia. Although dominating the trade in the region, the Dutch allowed that the political power remained with the native chiefs, their allied.

Map of the archipelago in the 17th century

(Courtesy of the National Museum, Purikali)

British Period

With the Napoleonic wars, British troops occupied the territory in the beginning of the XIX century. A fort was built by sir William Hammond close to the strait of Libaru where the current city of Rataanga is located. The Kauta natives, always resentful with the Dutch and Muslim domination, saw England as an important allied. A rebellion of peasants broke out in Kiwangar, Wisanu and Nilau, culminating with the deposition of Rasad bin Wahid Rajasena in 1806. The ratu Fernao Cuvahi,  adopting the name of Purajaya ("temple of the victory"), was acclaimed as the new lirai ("great king") of the Kaupelanese islands. His political power covered the three major islands, Kiwangar, Wisanu and Nilau, and the small archipelago of Terong, strongly influenced by Portuguese culture.

In 1846, an eruption of volcano Ra’u killed hundreds of natives in the island of Narik and let the island almost uninhabited. In the second half of the XIX century, settlers from Sutumai repopulated that island.

In the end of the century, the Dutch and British governments sealed an agreement giving British sovereignty over the islands.

flag of East Banda Islands

Purikali, the biggest city in the region with a population close to one hundred thousand inhabitants, became the capital of the British colony of East Banda Islands. The political power was allowed to remain with local leaders of the House of Purajaya, controlled by a British governor. A great number of Chinese migrated to the archipelago, mostly to Purikali. Initially devoted to the exterior trade of Asiatic and European products, these immigrants changed to industrial activities launching the basis of the future industry of Kaupelan. In the beginning of the new century, the first factories of cigar, textile, porcelain and fish were installed.

Purikali experienced a fast growing. British schools were built to resident Europeans and to local rich families, mostly of Chinese origin. Published in 1910 after a translation made by the Scottish reverend Jeremy McLoy, the Bibèlya Lui ("the Holy Bible") was the first book printed in Kaupelanese language. Father Aloisio Yalabasar created an educational program in native language in Purikali. In 1920, a literary movement with nationalist inspiration took place in the city and looked for ancestral roots. The greatest representative of this movement was a writer called James Akino.

In February of 1938, it is estimated that around 500 casualties were claimed by a strong earthquake in the eastern islands of Kaupelan. Only in the village of Ontehe, the tsunami that followed the earthquake killed more than 300 natives of the tribe Hakerehe.

During the World War II, the Japanese Army occupied the archipelago. When the end of the war was close, the Japanese began to support separatist movements supplying armament to local militias. In the post-war, rebellions startedt against the colonisers. The separatist group Kaupelanese Liberation Front (Baha Muktye Kaupèlan) united the activists of Kiwangar around the ideal of independence. This movement propagated to the other islands. Its purpose was to depose the governor sir Francis Hamilton. Troops loyal to the British Crown, however, suffocated the rebellion and arrested the leader, Kuwan Budiwata. Budiwata was murdered in the prison, causing a violent popular reaction.

With the fast industrial development of Purikali, a large amount of rural workers from Kiwangar and other islands migrated to the city. The availability of jobs, housing and food was not proportional to the population growth and conflicts erupted like that of 1951, between rural workers (totanu) and the local Kauta workers.

The aristocracy of Purikali was favourable to stay under British domain. The situation, however, was so critical that autonomy was granted in 1958 within the British Commonwealth. Nevertheless, separatist groups did not recognise the new government and the guerrilla activities continued.

Then, after a plebiscite throughout the archipelago, it was decided by the total independence of the region. On June 23, 1960, it was proclaimed the independence of the Liraidahen Kaupèlan ("Kingdom of Kaupelan"). Wasahi Sunu Kira Wuru Kamak Purajaya became the first lirai of the new country, supported by an alliance between Christians and Muslims. The powerful Parti Tana ("National Party"), party of the Kauta aristocracy, guaranteed the political basis of the new government.

Independent Period

In the first ten years of independence, Kaupelan had a fast economic development. Education in Kaupelanese language was prioritised aiming to eradicate illiteracy. The industry of consumer goods developed due to a policy of tax incentives that led to a massive inflow of foreign capital. A large number of bank establishments were installed in the country. Petroleum, refined at Palimaata, became the chief mineral export. The population reached 2.6 million inhabitants, while the income per capita jumped to 1,000 dollars per year.

In the foreign affairs, the pro-Western lirai was favourable to USA in the war of Vietnam and in the fight against communism. In exchange, Kaupelan received military support, allowing the creation of its own armed forces, necessary to assure the national sovereignty. In 1970, the minister of foreign affairs, Malwet Umalui negotiated with the former members of the British colony the creation of a military and commercial alliance to avoid the risk of annexation by Indonesia. An international agreement was signed in Santana, Santoi, creating UIEMB ("Union of Eastern Banda Sea Islands") on May 7, 1971.

Internally, Wasahi ruled in an authoritarian way. There were denounces of torture of prisoners and violation to the human rights. In 1972, Senator Nuno Kotamakuwa, oppositionist leader and founder of Parti Haima ("People Party"), was arrested. In Nilau, the communist group Naga Ira ("the red dragon") practiced guerrilla activity in opposition to the government. The situation became extremely unstable. A terrorist attack injured gravely the lirai in 1974. Alleging to defend the country against external and internal menaces, General Tahi Tuamuhasin took the head of government and applied the martial law.

After the re-establishment of the political tranquillity and the end of the guerrilla, a constituent assembly was elected. In 1977, the first Constitution of the country was promulgated, establishing a constitutional monarchy and ceasing the totalitarian epoch in the archipelago. The death penalty was abolished among other measures. Tuamuhasin left the government. Wasahi II, son of the old lirai, was crowned in 1978. One hundred awayuni ("senators") were elected to the Haimauman ("Parliament") and the Parti Haima became majority. Nuno Kotamakuwa, representing a coalition of opposition forces, was chosen as prime minister (wasir) and he formed the first democratic cabinet (Tua nira Watampu).

In the 80’s, new industries emerged. The industries of electronic components and precision mechanics had a significant evolution, basically due to Japanese capital. Immigrants from poorer regions of Banda and Indonesia came to the city. The subway began to be constructed. The tourism gradually reached a prime position in the economy. 

A criminal organization called Fètoria, formed mostly by Bandanese immigrants, controlled the traffic of narcotics produced in Southeast Asia and sent to Australia and USA. A special force, called Bandanese Police, was created to repress the fètor ("drug dealer").

Parti Haima lost the majority of seats in the Parliament to a new party, Parti Majuwe ("Party of Development"). With liberal proposals and supporting private initiatives, Majuwe wanted the country to become an "Asian tiger". In 84, Philip Kurumali, of PM, was chosen as Prime Minister.

The Parliament rejects the proposal of the government to privatise several public companies, such as Kumpania Yalawasi Kiwangar (train & subway), RTK - Redyo na Telwijun Kaupèlan (radio & TV), PTT Kaupelan - Kumpania Pos na Telwon na Telkrafik Kaupèlan ("telecommunications"), Kumpania Sakti Elektrik Kaupèlan ("electrical energy") and Kaupec - Kaupelanese Petroleum Corporation. Still in this government, the basic school, public and gratuitous, became to be taught in native languages for the ethnic minorities of the country.

In 1990, the Parliament chose Silwi Aragao of Parti Majuwe for prime minister. In the beginning of the 90’s, the country faced a strong economic crisis. Fall of the exports, recession and unemployment. There were many protests against the competition of manpower from the other Bandanese countries and claims for protectionist measures. Led by the Parti Tana, the opposition requested more autonomy concerning the UIEMB and a more independent participation of the country in the international market, especially in Asia and Pacific.

The popular dissatisfaction created the environment for revolutionary groups. The so-called Islamic Haimarata Army (Kisahe Haimarata Islam) arose, demanding the end of the monarchy and the creation of an Islamic republic.

In 1994, the parliamentary elections confirmed that dissatisfaction: The Parti Tana became majority again. Aragao resigned. Abdul Tawadim, a Muslim from Bandajaya, took her place. A State-owned company, Watera, joined with a Japanese company to manufacture cars in Purikali.

In 96, Tawadim is reconfirmed as Prime Minister. The Bandanese Military Force is extinguished and a policy of approximation with the Southeast Asian countries is established.

In 1997, Kaupelan suffered the consequences of the economic crisis that affected Southeast Asia, leading to unemployment, inflation and devaluation of the currency.

At the end of the decade, the economy recovered the growth. The national income per capita surpassed 6,000 dollars yearly. The Kaupelanese economy turned completely into a foreign market oriented economy and had Japan and USA as major commercial partners. The high-tech industry was installed in the country. Components, electronic equipment and personal computers were produced in large scale. The vehicle manufacturer Watera is privatised in 2000. An international airport was inaugurated in Masar with capacity of ten million passengers per year, as an alternative to the overcrowded metropolitan airport of Purikali.

In 2002, the Parti Haima was majority again. Samira Dahen was chosen as prime minister. In the following year, the Parliament approved the change from private to municipal administration of urban public transportation (bus). At the end of the year, an explosion in the famous Yala Basar ("Market Street") killed 33 people, most of them foreign tourists. The terrorist attack was attributed to an Islamic group.

After a long debate, a proposal to build a nuclear power plant was approved by the Parliament, despite the opposition of the government coalition. The construction, however, did not start in the following years. 

In 2004, the Parliament approved a reduction of the Prime Minister mandate from 6 to 4 years. Samira Dahe resigned by medical reasons in the end of the year. The senator Peter Nguwa Puramèsar, president of the Parliament, took the place.

In 2006, Parti Haima remained majority in the parliament. Peter Puramèsar remained in the post of prime minister. The economy kept the motto: "low-tech products for high-tech nations and high-tech products for low-tech nations", created by the economist Paul Lasahi. The parliament approved a 11% tax on the gasoline to be applied to reduce the public transportation fares.

By the end of the first decade of the XXI century, the world economic crisis affected significantly Kaupelan, a country mostly dedicated to export. The government restricted the usage of private cars, increasing the price of gasoline, toll fees and car taxes. On the other hand, public transportation was stimulated and the price of tickets and diesel oil was kept unchanged. A new subway line was built in Purikali. The car manufacturer Watera purchased the tricycle manufacturer of Bandajaya, Darapali.

In 2009, the lirai Wasahi II, 69 years old, abdicated in favour of his son, Kira, 41. On April 14th, the heir was crowned as lirai Kira II. The environmentalist Parti Muktye Raun ("Party of Green Freedom") surprisingly won the elections, surpassing the Parti Haima and the forecasted winner, Parti Majuwe. But, to have the absolute majority in the Haimauman, PMR had to make alliances with other parties with different programs, like the leftist PH and the Islamic PRI.

For 2010 on, Aswini Ruikawahi of PMR was chosen as prime minister promising to focus on social measures, public transportation and environment.  The construction of the nuclear power plant was defenitively cancelled and the government decided to invest in alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar. The global crisis in the following years, however, and the internal opposition, chiefly of PM and PT, frustrated the government policy. High unemployment, growing inflation and negative GDP growth in 2012 reduced the popularity of Ruikawahi’s government.

After the Summit of Purikali in 2011, the international organisation FICT – the Forum for International Cooperation and Trade had been created, congregating small countries all over the world. Despite the failure of the first General Assembly in 2012, a group of remaining members decided to rebuild the organisation and a new summit was organised in Yukland in the same year, chaired by Kaupelanese ambassador Isbel Kurataata.

In 2014, after 20 years, Parti Majuwe returned to the government with Sindi Wisnumatan as prime minister, in a coalition with Parti Tana. The new government focused primarily in the economic growth instead of social and environmental issues of the previous government, and reduced taxes and government expenditures.

The former king Wasahi II passed away in February 2014 and was buried in a funeral attended by several foreign leaders.

In the election of 2017, with the Parliament reduced to 74 seats, the government coalition -- PM, Parti Werweru (former PRI) and PDK -- remains majority and Sindi Wisnumatan remains as prime minister.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020-2021, Kaupelan faced significant economic loss due to the dependence on foreign market and tourism, despite having a low death toll, thanks to quick countermeasures and vaccination. After the 2021 parliamentary election, Parti Werweru formed a new coalition with PMR and PH. Ms. Lawin Peng, a Kaupelanese engineer of Chinese origin, became the new prime minister in 2022.