The Republic of Indonesia is a large archipelago located between the South East Asian peninsula and Australia, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Indonesia borders Malaysia on the island of Borneo, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea and East Timor on the island of Timor.
National motto: Bhinneka Tunggal lka (Indonesian: Unity in Diversity)
Official language; Bahasa Indonesia
President; Megawati Sukarnoputri
Area; 1,919,440 km²
Independence – Declared: August 17, 1945
– Recognised: From the Netherlands, December 27, 1949
Time zone: UTC +7 to UTC +9
National anthem: Indonesia Raya
Internet TLD: .ID
Phone Calling Code; 62
History Under influence of Buddhism, several kingdoms formed on the islands of Sumatra and Java from the 7th to 14th century.
The arrival of Arab traders later brought Islam, which became the dominant religion.
When the Europeans came in the early 16th century, they found a multitude of small states.
These were vulnerable to the Europeans, who were in pursuit of dominating the spice trade.
In the 17th century, the Dutch emerged as the most powerful of the Europeans, ousting the British and Portuguese (except for Timor).
After the Dutch East India Company was liquidated, its possessions in Indonesia were taken over by the Dutch government.
After Japanese occupation ended in 1945, the Indonesians declared independence, led by Sukarno.
The Dutch finally accepted in 1949, and Sukarno became the country’s first president.
After Sukarno’s autocratic rule was almost overthrown, army leader Suharto became president in 1968.
President Suharto was forced to step down after massive demonstrations in 1998.
Politics Executive power lies with the president and his/her advisers.
The Indonesian parliament is bi-cameral, consisting of the People’s Congress and the People’s Representative Assembly, each elected for 5-year terms.
Currently, Indonesia has 28 provinces, 2 special territories and 1 capital city territory.
The provinces are subdivided in districts, which are in turn split up in sub-districts and municipalities.
The provinces are: Bali, Bangka-Belitung, Banten, Bengkulu, Gorontalo, Jambi, Jawa Barat, Jawa Tengah, Jawa Timur, Kalimantan Barat, Kalimantan Selatan, Kalimantan Tengah, Kalimantan Timur, Lampung, Maluku, Maluku Utara, Nusa Tenggara Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Papua (Irian Jaya), Riau, Riau Kepulauan, Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tengah, Sulawesi Tenggara, Sulawesi Utara, Sumatera Barat, Sumatera Selatan, Sumatera Utara.
The special territories (daerah istimewa) are Aceh and Yogyakarta.
The capital city territory is Jakarta.
Indonesia’s 17,000 islands (ca. 6,000 are inhabited) are scattered around the equator, giving the country a tropical climate.
The largest islands are Java, where about half of the population lives, Sumatra, Borneo (partially Malaysian), Irian Jaya (western half of New Guinea) and Sulawesi.
Its location on the edges of tectonic plates means Indonesia is frequently hit by earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis.
Indonesia is also rich in volcanoes, the most famous being the now disappeared Krakatau (Krakatoa).
Indonesia suffered of major economic problems in the late 1990s, but economy has recently stabilised.
The country has extensive natural resources like oil and natural gas, tin, copper and gold.
Agriculture mainly produces rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber.
Indonesia’s major trading partners are Japan, the United States and the surrounding nations of Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
Art forms in Indonesia have been influenced by several cultures.
The famous Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology.
Also well-known are the Javanese wayang kulit shadow theatre shows, displaying several mythological events.