The VOC began immediately to take away the string of coastal fortresses that at the time comprised the Portuguese Empire. The settlements were isolated, difficult to reinforce if attacked, and prone to being picked off one by one, and the Dutch enjoyed great success attacking these forts. Amboina was captured from the Portuguese in 1605, but an attack on Malacca the following year narrowly failed in its objective to provide a more strategically located base in the East Indies with favorable monsoon winds.
The Dutch found what they were looking for in Jakarta, conquered by Jan Coen in 1619, later renamed Batavia after the Latin name for Holland, and which would become the capital of the Dutch East Indies. Meanwhile, the Dutch continued to drive out the Portuguese from their bases in Asia. Malacca succumbed in 1641 (the first attempt had failed), Colombo in 1656, Ceylon in 1658, Nagappattinam in 1662 and Cranganore and Cochin in 1662. Goa, the capital of the Portuguese Empire in the East, was attacked by the Dutch twice in 1603 and 1610, on both occasions unsuccessfully.
While the Dutch were unable in four attempts to capture Macau from where Portugal monopolised the lucrative China-Japan trade, the Japanese shogunate's increasing suspicion of the intentions of the Catholic Portuguese led to their expulsion in 1639. Under the subsequent sakoku policy, for two hundred years the Dutch were the only European power allowed to operate in Japan, confined in 1639 to Hirado and then from 1641 at Deshima.
In 1624 the VOC established Fort Zeelandia in Taiwan. The Dutch originally sought to use their castle Fort Zeelandia at Tayowan (Anping) as a trading base between Japan and China, but soon realized the potential of the huge deer populations that roamed in herds of thousands along the alluvial plains of Taiwan's western regions.
The Dutch built a second administrative castle on the main island of Taiwan in 1633 and set out to turn Taiwan into a Dutch colony. They suppressed the villages who resisted them. In 1661, a naval fleet of 1000 warships, led by the Ming loyalist Koxinga, landed at Lu'ermen to attack Taiwan in order to destroy and oust the Dutch from Zeelandia.
Following a nine month siege, Koxinga captured the Dutch Fort Zeelandia and defeated the Dutch. Koxinga then forced the Dutch Government to sign a peace treaty at Zeelandia on February 1, 1662, and leave Taiwan.
By the middle of the seventeenth century, the Dutch had overtaken Portugal as the dominant player in the spice and silk trade, and in 1652 founded a colony at Cape Town on the coast of South Africa, as a way-station for its ships on the route between Europe and Asia.