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INDONESIA


 


The Indonesian archipelago extending over an area of 2,000,000 m2 - as large as as the whole of Europe - is the largest in the world. Indonesia is called the “water country”, a definition that in Indonesian corresponds to “tanah air kita”, which liberally translated means, our country although the term ‘tanah” means earth and “air means water. Indonesia can be divided into four areas: the islands of the Greater Sunda (comprising Sumatra and Java), the islands of the Lesser Sunda (with Bali and Timor), the Moluccas and West Papua.
 
Indonesia has 222 million inhabitants of which some 115 million live on the island of Java. The capital - Jakarta - has over 10 million inhabitants with a poulation density of 850 people per square kilometer.
 
In Bali the density is 500 / km2 and in Sumatra 60. Density in the rest of the country is low and many islands are still uninhabited.
 
Volcanoes dominate the scenery of many islands: among them, Sumatra, Java, Bali. Many are active and in Java 35 of them are even potentially dangerous.
 
Tropical forests cover 50% of the land mass. Indonesia is the major producer of hard timber: teak, ebony, sandalwood. On the other hand, many areas are not suitable for farming or even desertic.
 
Indonesia is an ethnic melting-pot: Malay, Minangkabau. Acehnese, Alas Gayo, Batak , Bugis, Dayak, Lomang, Balantak, Toraja, Minahasa, Pigmies, Eipo, Papuans just to name a few.
 
There are no less than 250 languages and three times as many dialects. Some languages are differentiated. For example, Javanese has five different strains. “Ancient Javanese’ was the court language - spoken until the XV century. The great Hindu epics of the “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana” are handed down in that language.
 
Indonesia is a presidential republic - it proclaimed its independence from the Dutch in 1945. Bahasa Indonesia or the Indonesian language was introduced for the specific purpose of unifying the country.
 

 
Prambanan, completed in the IX century, is the most complex Hindu temple in Indonesia. Its central part consisted originally of six temples of which only three remain: the temple of Shiva, the most important and located at the center, with, at its sides, the temples of Vishnu and Brahma.
 
The new language “constructed” to unify many ethnic groups and languages is rooted in the Malay language and enriched by several terms from other local and foreign languages, particularly Dutch but also Latin and Greek, especially for professional terms. In terms of writing, the ancient Javanese and Arab scripts have given way to the Latin script.
 
In Indonesia there is freedom of religion - the powers of State and Church are separated although the largest part of the population adheres to Sunni Islam, while in Bali 95% of its people are Hindu.
 
“Bhinneka tunggal ika” means Unity in Diversity and with this slogan the government satisfies the aspirations of its diverse population.
 

 

 
Borobudur, built around the year 800, is an enormous building covering the slopes of an entire hill and represents the stone realization of the Mahayana Buddhist view of the world. It is close to the city of Yogyakarta.
 
Indonesia is part of what is known as a “developing country” and is a member of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian States, and the UN. It is a centralistic presidential republic whose independence was proclaimed on 17th August 1945. The president of the Republic is the supreme head of state as well as the head of government and is vested with a wide range of powers.
 
The philosohy underlying the political, social and religious organization of the country is based on Pancasila or the Five Principles, loosely translated as: belief in one god; humanity and tolerance; Indonesian unity; representative democracy, social justice.
 
Indonesia is open to trade and tourism; European citizens do not need a visa before departure.
 

 
 
INDONESIA IN FIGURES
 
  • Surrounded by two oceans and eight seas
  • Largest archipelago in the world with 13,677 islands, 2 million square kilometer area or seven times the size of Italy.
  • 3,000 inhabited islands; eight out of ten islands are uninhabited or inhabited by small groups of indigenous people.
  • 222 million inhabitants
  • Java, covers a territory half the size of Italy and has 114 million inhabitants
  • 100 known ethnic groups
  • 55 percent of the population are farmers
  • It is a “developing country”
  • It is rich in forests (valuable hard timber), coffee, coconut oil, gold, iron ore, nickel, bauxite, copper, oil and gas, spices.
  • state: Presidential Republic
  • 1997: First direct general elections
  • The current president is Susilo Bambang Yudoyono; he is the Head of State and Head of Government; he is elected together with the Vice-President. He is currently serving his second and last term.
  • 5 years is the duration of a presidential term

 
 

Indonesia current president Susilo Bambang Yudoyono

 
Legislative power is held by Parliament - Lower House and Upper House - directly elected.
 
The House of Representatives has 550 members
 
128 elected form the Regional House of Representatives
 
Administratively Indonesia is made up 33 provinces, propinsi - and Bali is one of them - and three special territories: the Capital city Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Aceh.
 
The 33 provinces are divided into 400 districts, kabupaten, 90 municipalities, kotamadya, and over 6,000 sub-districts, kecamatan, comprising several villages
 
 
LANGUAGE
 
250 the languages spoken in the archipelago
 
700 the dialects
 
Bahasa Indonesia, the official unifying language.