INDONESIA: THE GEM OF THE EQUATOR
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of more than 13,000 islands positioned between the Asian and Austalian continents, spread across 5,120 kilometers, which is as wide as Europe. Four fifths of the area is sea, with the major islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua.
Its neighbours to the north are Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore and to the east are Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Australia.
Indonesia is part of the “ring of fire” and has the largest number of active volcanoes in the world. Earthquakes are frequent. The Wallace line, a zoological demarcation between Asian and Australian flora and fauna, divides Indonesia: Asian mammals in the west, Australian maruspial special and birds in the east, and endemic species in the middle of the archipelago. Orangutans, tigers, one-horned rhinocerous, elephants, dugongs, anoas,and komodo dragons are the pride of Indonesia. The rich marine environment also holds a myriad of species of fish, corals, and marine mammals. National parks serve to preserve this rich natural heritage.
It was this richness that made an early 20th century Dutch writer, Multatuli, named the archipelago as The Gem of the Equator.
Unity in Diversity
The national motto of Indonesia is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – Unity in Diversity.
As the world’s 4th largest nation, the population of Indonesia totals over 240 million people comprising of more than 250 ethnic groups and languages, but are united by the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, which is widely spoken throughout the archipelago. The majority are Muslims, with Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and followers of Confucianism making up the rest. The Indonesians are proud of this multiculural heritage which one can observe not only through the various languages and dialects, but also reflected in the variety of local ethnic architecture, cuisine, musical forms, dance, costumes, handicrafts, and festive occasions and ceremonies. Depending of the region, some of these ethnic cultures may have Arab, Chinese, Dutch, Indian, Malay, and Portuguese influences brought by traders, missionaries and travellers of the past.
Indonesia is distinctly tropical. The east monsoon from June to September brings dry weather, while the west monsoon from December to March is mosture-laden bringing rain. Temperature ranges from 210 – 330 C.
Republic of Indonesia – Country Summary
|Official name||:||Republik Indonesia|
|President||:||Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2009)|
|Land area||:||1,811,831 sq kms|
|Total area||:||1,919,440 sq kms|
|Population||:||237,512,355 (est. 2008)|
|Capital||:||Jakarta (pop. 13,194,000)|
|Major cities||:||Surabaya (3,038,800); Bandung (2,733,500);
Medan (2,204,300); Semarang (1,267,100)
|Language||:||Bahasa Indonesia (official) and about 300
other languages and dialects
|Ethnicity||:||Javanese 45%, Sundanese 14%, Malay 3,4%,
Madurese 3,3%, Batak 3%, Chinese-
Indonesians 3%, Minangkabau2.7%, Betawi
2.5%, Bugis2.5%, Balinese 1.5% and
250 other ethnic groups.
|Religion||:||Muslims 88%, Protestants 5%, Roman
Catholics 3%, Hindus 2%, Buddhists 1%
|National Day||:||Independence Day, 17 August|
|Literacy rate||:||90% (est. 2004 )|
|Life expectancy||:||71 years (men), 77 years (women)|
|Percapita income||:||US $1,160 (World Bank, 2006)|
(cumulative to March 2009)
|:||6277 HIV + 16964 AIDS|
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