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(born June 6, 1901, Surabaja, Java, Dutch East Indiesdied June 21, 1970, Jakarta, Indon.) First president of Indonesia (1949–67). Son of a Javanese schoolteacher, he excelled in languages, mastering Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese, and modern Indonesian, which he did much to create. He emerged as a charismatic leader in the country's independence movement. When the Japanese invaded in 1942, he served them as a chief adviser, while pressuring them to grant Indonesia independence. Immediately following Japan's defeat, he declared independence; the Dutch did not transfer sovereignty until 1949. Once he became president, Indonesia made gains in health, education, and cultural self-awareness, but democracy and the economy foundered. His government was corrupt, inflation soared, and the country experienced a continuous state of crisis. An attempted coup, purportedly by communists, in 1965 led to a military takeover by Suharto and a purge of alleged communists. Stripped of his power in 1966, Sukarno resigned in 1967 and lived under house arrest until his death.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Sukarno, visit Britannica.com.