Dutch East India Company

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The Dutch East India Company (Old Dutch: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC, Modern Dutch: Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) was the world's first private stock company. Established in 1602, it possessed a monopoly on all Dutch trade in Asia. Whilst initially only given a short term charter, it very quickly assumed quasi-national status with its own armed forces and diplomatic power.

The first Dutch landings on the west coast of Australia were from Company ships whose masters had misjudged their turn north towards Java after using the roaring forties to speed across the southern Indian Ocean from Cape of Good Hope. The Company controlled the export of spices and other trade from the Spice Islands (part of modern Indonesia) until 1800, when it went bankrupt, due to wrong business decisions, the growing strength of the English, loss of trade in south Asia, internal corruption and the changing world.

Its remaining holdings in the East Indies were taken over by the Dutch government which was to control them until they became Indonesia after World War II.