Indonesia Geography

The Republic of Indonesia extends over an area of 5100 km. Ethnically and culturally, Indonesia is very diverse. 88% of the 275 million Indonesians are Muslim. Indonesia has been a democracy since 1998. The high economic growth – up to the Covid19 pandemic – has led to a growing middle class. For the first time since 1998 economic growth is falling.

Country overview

With around 274 million residents, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. The east-west extension of Indonesia is 5100 km, the north-south extension 1900 km. There is a tropical monsoon climate.

Official name: Republic of Indonesia

Area: 1,919,400 kmĀ²

Residents: approx. 273 million (2020)

Growth of population: 0.83% per year (2018)

Seat of government: Jakarta

Official language: Indonesian

Regional languages: Javanese, Sundanese and about 250 others

Country name

According to areacodesexplorer, the name Indonesia is made up of the Latin word ‘indus’ for India and the Greek word ‘nesos’ for island. This term was introduced in 1850 by the British J. Logan and originally referred to a geographical area that went well beyond the colonial empire of the Dutch East Indies. However, it only gained its current political importance through the so-called ‘youth oath ‘ (Bahasa Indonesia: sumpah pemuda) of October 28, 1928, with which members of regional independence movements committed themselves to national unity.

Natural resources and agricultural products

Indonesia is rich in natural resources. Indonesia is currently the world’s largest exporter of steam coal and the second largest exporter of nickel, tin, and bauxite ores. The most important are silver, petroleum, natural gas, gold, copper, tin and nickel. The deposits of these resources are mainly on the sparsely populated “outer islands”, ie the populous political and economic center Java is dependent on the income from these areas. This fact often gives rise to conflicts between the central government and the outer regions.

The most important crops are rice, rubber, palm oil, copra, sugar cane, tea, coffee, pepper, nutmegs and cloves. In particular, the export of palm oil has increased significantly in recent years.

Gold prospecting in Sumatra


The climate of Indonesia is determined by monsoons. The island location and the large amounts of water surrounding Indonesia lead to regionally strongly varying climates. The Indonesian state motto “Unity in Diversity” can therefore also be applied to the climate.

The Indonesian climate has changed in recent years. As before, however, hot and humid regions are mainly found near the equator, while in some eastern regions there are only very short dry seasons.

In Java, the dry season usually lasts from April to October. The dry season of other islands (eg in the far north or south-east) differs considerably from this.


Due to the convergence of the Sahul and Sunda shelfs, on which the islands of the Indonesian archipelago rest, the region is at great risk of earthquakes. There have also been several severe tsunamis in recent years. The Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika publishes information on earthquakes that usually occur several times a month.

One or more of the Indonesian volcanoes erupt almost every year.

Administrative division

Jakarta is currently the capital of Indonesia. Since Jakarta is sinking due to the heavy development and runs the risk of being flooded by the sea during storm surges, the plan is to move the capital to East Kalimantan by 2024. As early as 2024 – the end of Joko Widodo’s term of office – 200,000 government employees and several ministries are to be based in the new capital. So far, however, the area has mainly consisted of jungle and palm oil plantations. The necessary infrastructure is almost completely missing. The plan therefore seems very ambitious.

The decision to move the new capital to East Kalimantan also has domestic political reasons. The new capital is roughly in the middle of Indonesia’s national territory. This choice is therefore also suitable for the sake of separatist movements that repeatedly invoke Javanese dominance.

Another argument in favor of East Kalimantan, however, is that the risk of earthquakes, which can be felt again and again in Jakarta, is very low.

Since 2004, due to the splitting up of some provinces and the independence of the ‘province’ of East Timor (which under international law never belongs to Indonesia), Indonesia no longer consists of 27, but now 34 provinces.

The 34 provinces are divided into a total of 416 districts (Kabupaten) and 98 cities (Kota). Kota and Kabupaten are in turn divided into 7,024 subdistricts or district administrations (Kecamatan). These are in turn divided into 79,075 villages or village communities (Kelurahan). These are often divided into hamlets (dusun).

The new national village law (2014) gave the villages significantly greater freedom of their own financially and organizationally, which, however, also leads to new problems.

There are separate autonomy regulations for the provinces of Aceh and Papua, which, among other things, provide for a larger share of the raw material revenues. There are also separate rights for the city of Jakarta, which has the status of a province, and for historical reasons the special region of Yogyakarta.