|Republic of Indonesia
|Form of government
||UTC + 7 to UTC + 9
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Indonesia is located in Southeast
Asia and consists of over 13,600 islands, some of which
are inhabited, the remains of a land bridge between Asia
and Australia, which broke in geological times. The
archipelago stretches from the island of Sumatra in the
west over 5 100 km to Papua (formerly Irian Jaya;
western part of New Guinea) in the east.
Geologically, the Indonesian territory can be divided
into three large areas: The western part with Borneo and
the entire southern chain of islands from Sumatra in the
west to West Timor in the southeast belong to the
so-called Sunda shelf, a largely flooded continuation of
the Asian continent. New Guinea and the Northern
Moluccas are part of the Sahul Shelf, the northern
extension of Australia. In the middle are Sulawesi
(Celebes) and the southern Moluccas, which belong to a
long mountain range that extends to the Philippines. To
date, there are countless active volcanoes on the
islands, and eruptions and earthquakes are always
killing new people.
On Borneo, with almost 755,000 km² the third largest
island in the world, the province of Kalimantan in the
south belongs to Indonesia, the rest of the island area
to Malaysia. The western part of the island of New
Guinea, Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) is now a special
region of Indonesia; the eastern part belongs to Papua
New Guinea. New Guinea has the highest peak in
Indonesia, the Puncak Jaya at 5,030 m. The capital of
Indonesia,Jakarta, has over 9 million residents and is
located on the mountainous island of Java. Java is the
most densely populated island in the world: 1 125 km
long and 65 to 200 km wide, more than 107 million people
live here, which is almost 60% of the total population
of Indonesia. The island forms the core economic area of
Indonesia: In addition to the fertile lowlands on the
north coast, there are rich mineral resources and a
well-developed infrastructure. The third largest island
in Indonesia is Sulawesi (Celebes), which lies between
Borneo and the Moluccas. Around 12.6 million people live
on just under 190,000 km². The island's mountain ranges
with numerous active volcanoes reach heights of up to 3
500 m.Almost 37 million people live in Sumatra on an
area of approx. 425,000 km². The Barisan Mountains
rise from the swampy lowlands in the east with ten
active volcanoes. Sumatra is also home to the largest
lake in Indonesia (Lake Toba), one of the largest
volcanic craters in the world.
Although the entire archipelago is close to the
equator, the climate on the individual islands is
different. The four large islands of Borneo, Sumatra,
Sulawesi and Java, numerous smaller islands and Irian
Jaya (West Guinea) have a tropical monsoon climate,
which in some areas brings very different amounts of
rain, which are often distributed throughout the year.
Rainfall generally decreases to the east. There are high
temperatures all year round, snowfalls are only known in
the high altitudes above 5,000 m in Irian Jaya.
Flora and fauna
Around a quarter of the islands are of volcanic
origin and have very fertile soils. Marshy lowlands with
numerous waters and dense mangrove vegetation are found
mainly in southern Borneo and eastern Sumatra. Large
parts of the islands are covered with forests (tropical
rainforest) that have already been largely decimated by
deforestation and by devastating forest fires (eg 1997
and 1999). Savannas and steppes can be found on the
smaller islands in the east.
There is a large biodiversity in Indonesia, the
origins of which can be found in Asia and Australia
(marsupials such as the Sulawesi Koala). The British
zoologist Alfred Wallace divided the animals of the
Malay Archipelago into an Asian and an Australian empire
through the so-called Wallace Line between Bali and
Lombok in the 19th century. Many of the animal species
are endemic, which means that they only occur in this
region worldwide. For example the Sumatran rhinoceros,
the Sumatran elephant (both species threatened with
extinction) or the leprechaun makis on Sulawesi. Another
endemic animal species is the Komodo dragon, a lizard
species up to 3 m long and weighing 250 kg, which only
occurs on the island of Komodo and the directly
neighboring islands. Animal species like the hammer
chickens use the volcanoes that have not gone out, by
burying their eggs in the hot volcanic ash and letting
them hatch there. Birdlife is also unique in Indonesia:
around 1,480 species have been counted (including the
colorful birds of paradise), which corresponds to 16% of
all bird species worldwide.
With an estimated 241.97 million residents, Indonesia
has the fourth largest population worldwide, and it is
growing by a further 1.1% annually. It is made up of
more than 300 ethnic groups. The largest population
group are the Javanese (almost 45%), followed by the
Sundanese, Maduresen, Balinese and Minang. The largest
minority are approximately 4 million Chinese.
There are a variety of languages and dialects, 15
different languages are used in Sumatra alone. The
official language is Bahasa Indonesia, a modified form
of Malay, the commercial language is English. Many
residents also speak Dutch. According to COUNTRYAAH, 90% of the population
are Muslims, with Islam in Indonesia strongly influenced
by Buddhism and Hinduism. Since Islam took over Java in
the 16th century, Bali has been the center of the Hindu
movement in Indonesia.
Since the end of the 1980s, all children from seven
to 13 years old have had to go to school, there are 49
state universities and several private colleges. The
literacy rate is 88%. The average life expectancy is
just under 70 years.
Indonesia has been a presidential republic since
1945. The President (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, since
October 2004) is the owner of the executive and heads
the cabinet he has appointed. He is directly elected by
the people for five years.
The 560 members of parliament (Dewan Perwakilan
Rakyat, DPR) are also elected for five years in the
constituencies. There is also a regional chamber (Dewan
Perwakilan Daereah, DPD) (newly formed in 2004) with 132
members, in which the 33 provinces of the state are
represented with four members each. The constituent
assembly unites the members of both institutions and can
decide on constitutional changes, impeachment and the
appointment of the president.
Indonesia is divided into 30 provinces plus two
special regions and the capital district.
Indonesia has opened up to international trade in
recent years and liberalized large areas of its economy.
However, the economy is still heavily influenced by the
government, and some large companies are state-owned.
36% of the workforce in Indonesia is employed in
agriculture. The main food is rice, which is mainly
grown on Java, where the favorable climate enables three
harvests a year. Grain, soy, spices, peanuts, rubber,
tea and coffee are also grown. The increasing demand for
wood and the cultivation of oil palms for the extraction
of biofuels are causes of the continued deforestation
and slash and burn.
The industrial companies are mainly based on Java.
Important branches of industry are the food and luxury
food industry as well as the textile, synthetic
fertilizer, wood, paper, tire and leather industries.
Indonesia is rich in natural resources. Tin, nickel,
bauxite, copper and ores are mined. Natural gas and coal
generate important export earnings, and oil has to be
imported recently due to falling production volumes. The
goods are mainly exported to Japan, the USA, China and
Singapore. Imports - machinery, chemical products, fuels
and food - also largely come from Japan, China,
Singapore and Thailand. The ASEAN Free Trade Agreement
entered into force in 2002.
Indonesia has four international airports (Java,
Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi), a well-developed road network
is only available in Java and partly in Bali. The main
means of transport between the islands is by ship.
The currency is the rupiah (= 100 sen).