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East Indies,name formerly used for the Malay ArchipelagoMalay Archipelago,
great island group of SE Asia, formerly called the East Indies. Lying between the Asian mainland and Australia, and separating the Pacific Ocean from the Indian Ocean, it includes Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and E Malaysia.
..... Click the link for more information. , but also more restrictively for Indonesia and more widely to include SE Asia. It once referred chiefly to India.
the term previously used with reference to India and several other countries in South and Southeast Asia. It originated as the antonym of the term “West Indies,” after Europeans traveling east from Europe reached the shores of the Hindustan Peninsula. At that time, Europeans believed the Caribbean islands discovered by Columbus to be India (or the Indies).
For a long time the term “East Indies” continued to be used in connection with the colonial activities of the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company, the French East India Company, and the India Company, which replaced the French company.