Suharto was born in a small village, Kemusuk, in the Godean area near Yogyakarta, during the Dutch colonial era. He grew up in humble circumstances. His Javanese peasant parents divorced not long after his birth, and he was passed between foster parents for much of his childhood. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Suharto served in Japanese-organised Indonesian security forces. Indonesia's independence struggle saw him joining the newly formed Indonesian army. Suharto rose to the rank of Major General following Indonesian independence. An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by Suharto-led troops and was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party. The army subsequently led an anti-communist purge, and Suharto wrested power from Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno. He was appointed acting president in 1967 and President the following year. Support for Suharto's presidency was strong throughout the 1970s and 1980s but eroded following a severe financial crisis that led to widespread unrest and his resignation in May 1998. Suharto died in 2008.
The legacy of Suharto's 32-year rule is debated both in Indonesia and abroad. Under his "New Order" administration, Suharto constructed a strong, centralised and military-dominated government. An ability to maintain stability over a sprawling and diverse Indonesia and an avowedly anti-Communist stance won him the economic and diplomatic support of the West during the Cold War. For most of his presidency, Indonesia experienced significant economic growth and industrialisation, dramatically improving health, education and living standards. Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor during Suharto's presidency, which received de facto support from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia at the time, resulted in at least 100,000 deaths. By the 1990s, the New Order's authoritarianism and widespread corruption were a source of discontent. In the years after his presidency, attempts to try him on charges of corruption and genocide failed because of his poor health and because of lack of support within Indonesia.