Something of Interest
Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago (an island group) comprising approximately 17,508 islands. It encompasses 33 provinces and 1 Special Administrative Region with over 238 million people, making it the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia's republic form of government comprises an elected legislature and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies. The Indonesian economy is the world's 16th largest by nominal GDP.
The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region, since at least the 7th century, involved with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought the now-dominant Islam, while European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.
Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups. The largest – and politically dominant – ethnic group are the Javanese. A shared identity has developed, defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread.
The name Indonesia is derived from the Greek indos, meaning “India,” and nesos, meaning “island”.
The history of Indonesia has been shaped by its geographic position, its natural resources, a series of human migrations and contacts, wars and conquests, as well as by trade, economics and politics. Indonesia is an archipelagic country of 17,508 islands (6,000 inhabited) stretching along the equator in South East Asia. The country's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade; trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history. The area of Indonesia is populated by peoples of various migrations, creating a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and languages. The archipelago's landforms and climate significantly influenced agriculture and trade, and the formation of states. The boundaries of the state of Indonesia represent the twentieth century borders of the Dutch East Indies.
Fossilised remains of Homo erectus and his tools, popularly known as the Java Man, suggest the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited by at least 1.5 million years ago. The majority of the modern Indonesian population, is thought to have originally been from Taiwan and arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. From the 7th century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished bringing Hindu and Buddhist influences with it. The agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties subsequently thrived and declined in inland Java. The last significant non-Muslim kingdom, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom, flourished from the late 13th century, and its influence stretched over much of Indonesia. The earliest evidence of Islamised populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra; other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam which became the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences.
For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over the archipelago was tenuous and only in the early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia's present boundaries.
The Japanese occupation during the Second World War ended Dutch rule and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement.
Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed President. The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and the resulting conflict ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence.
Government and politics
Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the central government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The president of Indonesia is the head of state and head of government, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the president and vice president. The president may serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
The Indonesian Government has worked with other countries to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of major bombings linked to militant Islamism and Al-Qaeda. The deadliest bombing killed 202 people (including 164 international tourists) in the Bali resort town of Kuta in 2002. The attacks, and subsequent travel warnings issued by other countries, severely damaged Indonesia's tourism industry and foreign investment prospects.
Indonesia's location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes, including Krakatoa and Tambora, both famous for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century. The eruption of the Toba supervolcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 167,736 in northern Sumatra, and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java and Bali.
Biota and Environment
Indonesia's size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world's second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil) in general and second only to Australia in terms of total endemic (found in a particular place) species, with 36% of its 1,531 species of bird and 39% of its 515 species of mammal being endemic. Its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species. The islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) were once linked to the Asian mainland, and have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution have dwindled drastically. Forests cover approximately 60% of the country. In Sumatra and Kalimantan, these are predominantly of Asian species. However, the forests of the smaller, and more densely populated Java, have largely been removed for human habitation and agriculture. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku – having been long separated from the continental landmasses—have developed their own unique flora and fauna. Papua was part of the Australian landmass, and is home to a unique fauna and flora closely related to that of Australia, including over 600 bird species.
Indonesia's high population and rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance.
Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including Bali Starling, Sumatran Orangutan, and Javan Rhinoceros.
Economy and Trade
Indonesia has a mixed economy in which both the private sector and government play significant roles. The country is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and a member of the G-20 major economies.
According to World Trade Organization data, Indonesia was the 27th biggest exporting country in the world in 2010, moving up three places from a year before. Indonesia's main export markets (2009) are Japan (17.28%), Singapore (11.29%), the United States (10.81%), and China (7.62%). The major suppliers of imports to Indonesia are Singapore (24.96%), China (12.52%), and Japan (8.92%). In 2005, Indonesia ran a trade surplus with export revenues of US$83.64 billion and import expenditure of US$62.02 billion. The country has extensive natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia's major imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs. And the country's major export commodities include oil and gas, electrical appliances, plywood, rubber, and textiles.
Demographics and Religion
According to the 2010 national census, the population of Indonesia is 237.6 million, with high population growth at 1.9%. 58% of the population lives in Java, the world's most populous island. In 1961 the first post-colonial census gave a total population of 97 million. Despite a fairly effective family planning program that has been in place since the 1960s, population is expected to grow to around 265 million by 2020 and 306 million by 2050.
There are around 300 distinct native ethnic groups in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. Most Indonesians are descended from Austronesian-speaking peoples which possibly originated in Taiwan. Another major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia. The largest ethnic group is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant.
While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, at 87.2% in 2010, with the majority being nondenominational Muslims. 9% of the population is Christian, 3% Hindu, and 2% Buddhist or other.
Indonesia has about 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural identities developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances. Textiles such as batik, ikat, ulos and songket are created across Indonesia in styles that vary by region. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have been significant.
Internet usage was estimated at 12.5% in September 2009. More than 30 million cell phones are sold in Indonesia each year, and 27% of them are local brands.
Source and more information:
Text is available under: