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Indonesia - Overview

Capital: Jakarta
Government: Republic
Currency: Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
Area: 1,919,440 km2
Population: 245,452,739 (July 2006 est.)
Language: Bahasa Indonesia (official) and countless regional languages, the most widely spoken of which are Javanese and Sundanese
Religion: Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1% (1998)
Electricity: 220V/50Hz (Shuko Euro plug)
Calling Code: +62
Internet TLD: .id
Time Zone: GMT+7 through GMT+9

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world that straddles the Equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. While it has land borders with Malaysia to the north as well as East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east, it also neighbors Australia to the south, and Palau, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand to the north, India to the northwest.

With 18,110 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, it is the largest archipelago in the world. With well over 210 million people, Indonesia is is the fourth most populous country in the world — after China, India and the US — and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world.

Indonesia markets itself as the ultimate in diversity, and the slogan is quite true, although not necessarily always in good ways. Indonesia's tropical forests are the second-largest in the world after Brazil, and are being logged and cut down at the same alarming speed. While the rich shop and party in Jakarta and Bali, after decades of economic mismanagement, the country is the only member of OPEC that has to import oil, and 53% of the population earns less than $2/day. Infrastructure in much of the country remains rudimentary, and travellers off the beaten track (pretty much anywhere outside Bali) will need some patience and flexibility.


Indonesia is almost unimaginably vast: 18 110 islands providing 108 000 kilometres of beaches, and the distance between Aceh and Papua is more than 4 000 kilometres (2500 miles), comparable to the distance between New York and San Francisco. There are more than 400 volcanoes in Indonesia, 130 of them being considered active, and many undersea volcanoes. The island of New Guinea (on which the Indonesian province of Papua is located) is the second largest island in the world.

Provinces are usually grouped under main big islands and their surroundings, as listed below:

Sumatra (incl. the Riau Islands and Bangka-Belitung)

Wild and rugged, the 6th largest island in the world has a great natural and cultural wealth with more than 40 million inhabintants.

Kalimantan (Borneo)

The vast majority of this, the world's third largest island is covered by the Indonesian province. Uncharted jungles, mighty rivers, home of the orangutan, a paradise for the adventurer.

Java (and Madura)

The country's heartland, big cities including the capital Jakarta, and a lot of people packed on a not-so-big island. Also features the cultural treasures of Yogyakarta, Borobudur and Prambanan. One of the most populous island in the earth with more than 120 million inhabitans in a land equal to New York state

Sulawesi (Celebes)

Strangely shaped, this island houses a diversity of societies and some spectacular scenery, Toraja cuture, rich flora and fauna, world class diving site, finest undersea scenery.

Nusa Tenggara (Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Komodo and West Timor)

Also known as the Lesser Sunda Islands, the "Southeast Islands" contain scores of ethnic groups, languages and religions, home to Komodo lizards and one of the best undersea coral site.

Maluku (Moluccas)

The historic Spice Islands, largely unexplored and almost unknown to the outside world.

Irian Jaya (Papua)

The western half of the island of New Guinea, with mountains, forests, swamps, an almost impenetrable wilderness in one of the remotest places on earth.

Read more about this country

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