Coordinates: 1°00′N103°00′E / 1.000°N 103.000°E
The East Indies (or simply the Indies) is a term used in historical narratives of the Age of Discovery. The Indies refers to various lands in the East or the Eastern hemisphere, particularly the islands and mainlands found in and around the Indian Ocean by Portuguese explorers, soon after the Cape route was discovered. Nowadays, this term is broadly used to refer to the Malay Archipelago, which today comprises the Philippine Archipelago, Indonesian Archipelago, Borneo, and New Guinea. Historically, the term was used in the Age of Discovery to refer to the coasts of the landmasses comprising the Indian subcontinent and the Indochinese Peninsula along with the Malay Archipelago.   
During the era of European colonization, territories of the Spanish Empire in Asia were known as the Spanish East Indies for 333 years before the American conquest. Dutch occupied colonies in the area were known for about 300 years as the Dutch East Indies till Indonesian independence. The East Indies may also include the former French Indochina, former British territories Brunei, Hong Kong and Singapore and former Portuguese Macau and Timor. It does not, however, include the former Netherlands New Guinea, which is geographically considered to be part of Melanesia.
The inhabitants of the East Indies are never called East Indians, as they are not linguistically related to South Asia, most specifically the Indo-Aryan languages. It distinguishes them both from inhabitants of the Caribbean (which is also called the West Indies) and from the indigenous peoples of the Americas who are often called American Indians . In colonial times, they were just "natives".
Peoples of the East Indies comprise a wide variety of cultural diversity, and the inhabitants do not consider themselves as belonging to a single ethnic group. The region is mostly populated by the Austronesians, who first expanded from the island of Taiwan, and later on during the early modern period, when East Asians such as the Han Chinese started to migrate south and became known as the Peranakans or Straits Chinese.
Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are the most popular religions throughout the region, while Sikhism, Jainism, Chinese folk religion and various other traditional beliefs and practices are also prominent in some areas. The major languages in this area draw from a wide variety of language families such as the Austronesian and Sino-Tibetan languages, and should not be confused with the term Indo-Aryan, a group of languages spoken in the Indian subcontinent.
Regions of the East Indies are sometimes known by the colonial empire they once belonged to, hence, Spanish East Indies means the Philippines, Dutch East Indies means Indonesia, and British East Indies refers to Malaysia.
Historically, the king of Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) was identified with "Prester John of the Indies", since that part of the world was imagined to be one of "Three Indias".
Exploration of the East Indies by European powers began in the last three years of the 15th century and continued into the 16th century, led by the Portuguese explorers.  The Portuguese described the entire region they discovered as the Indies. Eventually, the region would be broken up into a series of Indies: The East Indies, which was also called "Old Indies" or "Great Indies", consisting of India, and the West Indies, also called "New Indies" or "Little Indies", consisting of the Americas. 
These regions were important sources of trading goods, particularly cotton, indigo and spices after the establishment of European trading companies: the British East India Company and Dutch East India Company, among others, in the 17th century.
The New World was initially thought to be the easternmost part of the Indies by explorer Christopher Columbus, who had grossly underestimated the westerly distance from Europe to Asia. Later, to avoid confusion, the New World came to be called the "West Indies", while the original Indies came to be called the "East Indies".
The designation East Indian was once primarily used to describe people of all of the East Indies, in order to avoid the potential confusion from the term American Indian who were once simply referred to as Indians (see the Native American name controversy for more information).
During the Harsha's reign a term Five Indies was used as a synonym for the territory to the north of the vindhyas. According to Xuanzang "The circumference of the Five Indies is about 90,000 li; on three sides it is surrounded by a great sea; on the north it is supported by icy mountains. In the north it is wide and narrow in the south; its shape is crescent".
The history of Indonesia has been shaped by geographic position, its natural resources, a series of human migrations and contacts, wars of conquest, the spread of Islam from the island of Sumatra in the 7th century AD and the establishment of Islamic kingdoms, as well as by trade Bowls, Jars, Jugs and so on, economics and politics. Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,000 to 18,000 islands stretching along the equator in South East Asia. The country's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. The area of Indonesia is populated by peoples of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages. The archipelago's landforms and climate significantly influenced agriculture and trade, and the formation of states. The boundaries of the state of Indonesia match the 20th-century borders of the Dutch East Indies.
Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia, South-eastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical south-eastern region of Asia, consisting of the regions that are situated south of mainland China, east of the Indian subcontinent, and north-west of mainland Australia which is part of Oceania. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. Apart from the British Indian Ocean Territory and two out of 26 atolls of Maldives in South Asia, Maritime Southeast Asia is the only other subregion of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere. Mainland Southeast Asia is completely in the Northern Hemisphere. Timor-Leste and the southern portion of Indonesia are the only parts in Southeast Asia that are south of the Equator.
Asia, comprising different language families and some unrelated isolates. The major language families include Austroasiatic, Austronesian, Caucasian, Dravidian, Indo-European, Afroasiatic, Turkic, Sino-Tibetan and Kra–Dai. Most, but not all, have a long history as a written language.
Malays are an Austronesian ethnic group native to eastern Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and coastal Borneo, as well as the smaller islands that lie between these locations — areas that are collectively known as the Malay world. These locations are today part of the countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, southern part of Thailand, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.
The Malay Archipelago or also called the Indo-Australian Archipelago is the archipelago between Mainland Southeast Asia and Australia. It has also been called the "Malay world," "Nusantara", "East Indies" and other names over time. The name was taken from the 19th-century European concept of a Malay race, later based on the distribution of Austronesian languages.
Nusantara is the Indonesian name of Maritime Southeast Asia. It is an Old Javanese term that literally means "outer islands". In Indonesia, it is generally taken to mean the Indonesian Archipelago. Outside of Indonesia, the term has been adopted to refer the Malay Archipelago.
The Minahasans are an ethnic group native to the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia, formerly known as North Celebes. The Minahasa people sometimes refer to themselves as Manado people. Although the Minahasan pre-Christian creation myth entails some form of ethnic unification, before the nineteenth century the Minahasa region was in no way unified. Instead, a number of politically independent groups (walak) existed together, often in a permanent state of conflict.
Maritime Southeast Asia comprises the countries of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and East Timor. Maritime Southeast Asia is sometimes also referred to as Island Southeast Asia, Insular Southeast Asia or Oceanic Southeast Asia. The 16th-century term "East Indies" and the later 19th-century term "Malay Archipelago" are also used to refer to Maritime Southeast Asia.
Filipinos are citizens or people identified with the country of the Philippines. The majority of Filipinos today come from various Austronesian ethnolinguistic groups, all typically speaking Filipino, English or other Philippine languages. Currently, there are more than 185 ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines each with its own language, identity, culture, and history.
The Mardijker people refers to an ethnic community in the Dutch East Indies made up of descendants of freed slaves. They could be found at all major trading posts in the East Indies. They were mostly Christian, of various ethnicity from conquered Portuguese and Spanish territories, and some with European ancestry. They spoke Mardijker Creole, a Portuguese-based creole, which has influenced the modern Indonesian language.
Greater Indonesia was a political concept that sought to bring the so-called Malay race together by uniting the territories of Dutch East Indies with the British Malaya and British Borneo. It was espoused by students and graduates of Sultan Idris Training College for Malay Teachers in the late 1920s, and individuals from Sumatra and Java, including Mohammad Natsir and Sukarno, on September 28, 1950. Indonesia Raya was adopted as the name of what later became the Indonesian national anthem in 1924. While the definition of Greater Indonesia is consistent, the definition of Greater Malay and related concept of Malay world and realm are varied from the synonym of Greater Indonesia to Peninsular-focused dominance.
The concept of a Malay race was originally proposed by the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), and classified as a brown race. Malay is a loose term used in the late 19th century and early 20th century to describe the Austronesian peoples.
Spanish Filipino is any citizen or resident of the Philippines who is of Spanish or Central American ancestry. Many trace their ancestry to early settlers from Spain and Mexico who settled in the Philippines during the Spanish Crown’s ownership of the territory which was ruled through Mexico City, and later, Madrid.
Company rule in the Dutch East Indies began when the Dutch East India Company appointed the first governor-general of the Dutch East Indies in 1610, and ended in 1800 when the bankrupt company was dissolved and its possessions were nationalized as the Dutch East Indies. By then it exerted territorial control over much of the archipelago, most notably on Java.
The Malay world or Malay realm, is a concept or an expression that has been used by different authors and groups over time to denote several different notions, derived from varied interpretations of Malayness, either as a racial category, as a linguistic group or as a cultural group. The use of the term 'Malay' in much of the conceptualisation is largely based on the prevalent Malay cultural influence, manifested in particular through the spread of the Malay language in Southeast Asia as observed by different colonial powers during the Age of Discovery and spread of Islam. The term remains highly controversial outside of Malay-speaking areas and as such is considered politically charged and irredentist rather than purely cultural.
Indonesia is the common and official name to refer to the Republic of Indonesia or Indonesian archipelago; however, other names, such as Nusantara and East Indies are also known. Some names are considered obsolete and confined to certain periods of history, while some might be more geographically specific or general.
Southeast Asia was in the Indian sphere of cultural influence from 290 BCE to the 15th century CE, when Hindu-Buddhist influences were incorporated into local political systems. Kingdoms in the southeast coast of the Indian Subcontinent had established trade, cultural and political relations with Southeast Asian kingdoms in Burma, Bhutan, Sri Lanka ,Thailand, Indonesia, Malay Peninsula, Philippines, Cambodia and Champa. This led to the Indianisation and Sanskritisation of Southeast Asia within the Indosphere, Southeast Asian polities were the Indianised Hindu-Buddhist Mandala.
Malays played a significant role in pre-Hispanic Philippine history. Malay involvement in Philippine history goes back to the Classical Era with the establishment of Rajahnates as well as the Islamic era, in which various sultanates and Islamic states were formed in Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and around Manila.
The Maritime Silk Road or Maritime Silk Route is the maritime section of the historic Silk Road that connected Southeast Asia, China, the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian peninsula, Somalia, Egypt and Europe. It began by the 2nd century BCE and flourished later on until the 15th century CE. The Maritime Silk Road was primarily established and operated by Austronesian sailors in Southeast Asia, Tamil merchants in India and Southeast Asia, and by Persian and Arab traders in the Arabian Sea and beyond. The network followed the footsteps of an older maritime network, the Maritime Jade Road of Taiwan and maritime Southeast Asia, as well as the maritime spice networks of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, and the Indian Ocean, coinciding with these ancient maritime trade roads by the current era.