The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC in Dutch, literally "United East Indies Company") was established on March 20, 1602, when the government of the Netherlands granted it a monopoly to trade with Asia. It is considered the first company that issued shares.
The VOC consisted of 6 Chambers (Kamers) in Amsterdam, Middelburg (for Zeeland), Enkhuizen, Delft, Hoorn and Rotterdam. Delegates of these chambers convened as the Heeren XVII (the Lords Seventeen). The Kamers contributed delegates to the seventeen in proportion to the capital that they had subscribed; Amsterdam's delegates numbered eight.
The company established its headquarters in Batavia on Java (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Other trade posts were also established in what became Indonesia, such as on the Spice Islands (Moluccas), which include the Banda Islands where the VOC maintained a monopoly over the trade in nutmeg and mace.
In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck established a post at the Cape of Good Hope (south end of Africa, currently in South Africa) to resupply VOC ships on their journey to East Asia. This post later became a conventional colony when Europeans started to settle there. VOC trade posts were also established in Persia (now Iran), Bengal (now Bangladesh and part of India), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Formosa (now Taiwan) and southern India. In 1664, Koxinga expelled the Dutch from Taiwan. By 1669, the VOC had 150 merchant ships, 40 warships, 10,000 soldiers, and paid a dividend of 40%.
The company was in almost constant conflict with the English; relations were particularly embittered after the Amboyna Massacre in 1623. During the 18th century, its possessions were increasingly focussed on the modern Indonesia. After the fourth war between the Dutch Republic and England (1780-1784), the VOC got into financial trouble, and in 1798, the company was dissolved. Indonesia was awarded to The Netherlands by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.