Nusantara is a term used to describe the archipelago stretching from Sumatra to Papua. Another term variations are also known are Nuswantara.

This word was first recorded in Middle Javanese literature (the 12th century until the 16th), to illustrate the concept adopted state of Majapahit. After a sink, at the beginning of the 20th century this term was revived by Ki Hajar Dewantara as one alternative name for an independent state progressors Dutch East Indies that has not materialized. When using the name "Indonesia" (meaning the Indian Archipelago) is approved for use for the idea, said the archipelago continues to be used as a synonym for the archipelago of Indonesia. This understanding until now used in Indonesia. Due to subsequent political developments, the term was later used also to describe the unity of geography-anthropology archipelago that lies between Asia and Australia, including the Malay Peninsula but usually do not include the Philippines. In this last sense, the archipelago is equivalent to the Malay Archipelago (Malay Archipelago), a term popular in the late 19th century until the early 20th century, especially in English-language literature.

The term is also written in the Book Nusantara Pararaton and Nagarakretagama, relic of ancient manuscripts found in the kingdom of Majapahit in the late 19th century and translated by J. L. A. Brandes. The script was later published by Nicholaas Johannes Krom in 1920.

In the Majapahit era, the term used to refer to the archipelago islands outside Java. According to the ancient Javanese language, Nusa means island and between means beyond or across. Gadjah Mada Mahapatih mention in the oath which the term of the archipelago known as the Palapa Oath:

Sira Gajah Mada pepatih amungkubumi tan ayun amukita palapa, sira Gajah Mada : Lamun huwus kalah nusantara ingsun amukti palapa, lamun kalah ring Gurun, ring Seram, Tanjungpura, ring Haru, ring Pahang, Dompo, ring Bali, Sunda, Palembang, Tumasik, Hujung Medini (Semenanjung),samana ingsun amukti palapa "

In the 1920s, the term was popularized again by Dr Nusantara Setiabudi (EFE Douwes Dekker) to replace the Dutch East Indies designation because it does not contain elements of India said. Understanding the archipelago according to Dr. Setiabudi is an island between two continents and two oceans including the island of Java.