A very short introduction to a very big country
Indonesia is the largest archipelagic nation on the planet. Satellite data from the Indonesian Aviation and Space Institute have shown that within the archipelago there are in total 18,108 islands. Only about 6,000 of these islands are inhabited with Java accounting for more than half the nation's population. Straddling the equator and wedged between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans the country covers three time zones and a total land area of 1,811,569 sq km. The map of Indonesia, when superimposed over the map of Europe, stretches from Ireland to the Ural. The distance between the two habitually mentioned extremities of Indonesia, the cities of Sabang (the westernmost on Sumatra) and Merauke (the easternmost on Papua) is 400 miles more than the distance between New York to San Francisco.
As the fourth most populous country in the world its population is estimated at 245 million of which 44% lives in urban areas. Life expectancy is 69 years and the literacy rate as reported by UNDP is 90.4 %. The republic of Indonesia is the third largest democracy in the world. The official state motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’ (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika) Some 300 ethnic groups call Indonesia their home and they speak over 500 different languages but since Indonesia declared independence in 1945, the official national language is Bahasa Indonesia, which is similar to Malay and written in Roman script. It is used on radio and television everywhere, and for all written communication in education, government and business. Nowadays English is widely understood and spoken in the tourist destinations.
About 85% of the population follows Islam, while 11 percent is Christian, and 4 percent is either Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, or following traditional indigenous faiths. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution, and defined in the First Principle of the State Philosophy' "Pancasila", which uniquely and admirably upholds that all religions share the same Supreme God.
The monsoon type tropical climate of Indonesia has two distinct seasons, a relatively dry season from June to September and a rainy season from December to March. However it is very unusual that it rains all day; there is sun all year around and temperatures range between 21 and 33 degrees centigrade. Average humidity is 60-90%.
The country is blessed with a great diversity of landscapes, with virgin rain forests in Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Papua, fertile rice terraces on Java and Bali, savannah grasslands on the Nusa Tenggara islands and snow-capped peaks overlooking the Papua jungle. Indonesia is home to 10 percent of the world’s known plant species, 12 percent of mammal and 17 percent of all known bird species. As the epicenter of the coral triangle the biodiversity underwater is equally unique. Spread over 18000 islands there are 93 majestic mountains and 81,000 km of exotic tropical beaches to be explored plus a multitude of different cultures.
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