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Ancient Sunda

According to the legend, Galuh kingdom with Karang Kamulyan as its capital city, existed in Tanah sunda (land of Sunda) in the pre-historic Hindu Buddhist stone period, until the beginning of the Islamic arrival to Banten in the 14th century. The remains of an ancient city of Karang Kamulyan can be found in Ciamis. Karang Kamulyan covers 25.5 square hectares.

In Tanah Sunda was also the kingdom of Taruma Negara. An inscribed stone in the Sanskrit language, which is a relic from the Tarumanegara kingdom during the reign of King Purnawarman in 450 A.D. can still be found in the village of Ciaruteun Ilir, regency of Bogor. The kingdom was attacked and defeated by Srivijaya (a kingdom established in Sumatra island in 500 AD) in about 650 AD.

The kingdoms of Pajajaran, and Sunda (later called Cirebon) came later. The largest kingdom among them was Pajajaran. It was founded by King Purana with Kawali (Ciamis) and then Pakuan (Bogor) as its capital. The most charismatic king of Pajajaran was Prabu Siliwangi (king Siliwangi). Concern of maintaining peaceful interactions (between Sundanese people) resulted in avoidance conflict between Pajajaran, Galuh and Sunda (Cirebon) kingdoms; there had never been wars among them. Even, when a son of Prabu Sana (a Pajajaran king) had an intention to build a new kingdom called Mataram, he developed and expanded his new kingdom to eastern areas instead of to western areas which had been developed by Pajajaran, Galuh, and Sunda (Cirebon) kingdoms.

Eventually, Galuh merged with Pajajaran.

By about the end of Pajajaran kingdom, Sundanese were animistic and worshiped gods and goddesses. They celled their faith as Sunda Wiwitan and they called their highest god as Sanghiyang Rumuhun. There was relatively minor Hindu influence in Tanah sunda,
Candi Cangkuang, located at Cangkuang, regency of Garut, is the only Hindu shrine found in Tanah Sunda. It is thought to have been built by the early Sundanese kingdom of Galuh. Hindu influence just can be seen on Ramayana and Mahabarata myths, which are presented through the medium of puppet plays (describing the conflict between good and evil) and also many Sundanese names which are derived from Indian Sanskrit.

When Islam came to Tanah Sunda, most of Sundanese accepted it. The first islamic kingdoms in Tanah Sunda were the Sultanate of Banten (Bantam) and the Sultanate of Cirebon. The Sultanate of Bantam was reached early in the sixteenth century by the Islamic wave coming westwards along the northern coast of Java island. One century later, the Sultanate shared with the Sultanate of Cirebon the role of most active islamic cities of Java island.

The history of Bantam was marked by the interventions of the Europeans, mainly Portuguese and Dutch. Europeans first came to Tanah Sunda in 1511 when Portuguese merchants arrived in Sunda Kelapa or Jayakarta (the harbor of Pajajaran kingdom) and, in cooperation with a Pajajaran prince called Pangeran Jayakarta, established a port there. But Bantam with its heroic prince called Fatahillah could force Portuguese to leave Jayakarta.

Meanwhile, the last king of Pajajaran and a small number of his followers resisted the coming wave of Islam. He came into conflict with Banten and Cirebon kingdoms until he was defeated by the Cirebon armies in 1578. A small number of his followers fleed to remote Kendeng mountains, Banten, and they formed a community called Baduy. (But nowadays Baduy people have converted to Islam). Before his death, the king gave his crown to his successor governing Sumedang Larang (later called Sumedang city) and then the Sumedang Larang kingdom was established.

Then Dutch come for the first time to Tanah Sunda in 1595. The Dutch established their own port in Jayakarta in 1619. They called the port as Batavia. From the port, the Dutch gradually extended their control over the Java island.

Because of its political and religious vitality, Bantam soon came into conflict with the colonial power of Batavia, which eventually caused its downfall.

Except for occupation by the British from 1811-1816, Tanah Sunda was a Dutch colony until the establishment of Indonesia in 1945 when Tanah Sunda started to become one of its provinces.