Indonesia is a republic in Southeast Asia between the Asian mainland in the north and Australia in the south. The country, which is the world’s largest island kingdom, consists of 17,508 islands. Indonesia borders Malaysia in the north and East Timor and Papua New Guinea in the east, and has 54,716 kilometers of coastline.

With a population of 270.6 million (2019), Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, the country with the most Muslims and the world’s third largest democracy after India and the United States. Jakarta is the capital.

Measured by gross domestic product (GDP), Indonesia has the world’s 16th largest and Southeast Asia’s largest economy (2018).

National anthem is ‘Indonesia Raya’ (‘Big Indonesia’). The name Indonesia is derived from ‘indo’- (India, Indian) and Greek:’ nesos’, island.

Geography and environment

Indonesia lies on both sides of the equator. The country’s largest islands are Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. Most of the island of Borneo (Kalimantan) and the western part of the island of New Guinea ( Papua ) belong to Indonesia.

Indonesia is located in an area where three crustaceans meet. The country therefore has many active volcanoes, and earthquakes often occur.

Indonesia has large areas of rainforest and partly wooded mountains, and the world’s second largest biodiversity. Large lowland areas are found on some of the islands, otherwise long, wooded mountain ranges are characteristic.

Most of Indonesia has a tropical coastal climate with humidity of 70-90 percent. The temperature differences are small with an average of 27-28 degrees in the lowlands and slightly cooler in the mountains. Most places have about 2000 millimeters of rainfall per year.

The wildlife is very rich. Among 515 species of mammals are monkeys who orangutan, gibbon and proboscis monkey and many Prosimian, in addition, including Indian elephant, two rhino species, tiger and leopard. Papua constitutes the western border for Australian animal groups such as punk rats and tree gurus. There are about 1531 bird species, including bankivans and Papua larvae and paradise birds. Of reptiles can participate crocodile, two pythons species, eyeglass long and komodovaran is mentioned.

Plant life is rich with economically important trees such as teak, camphor, coconut palm and sago palm. Forests cover just under 50 per cent of the area, but are largely cut down, for example, for planting plantations for the extraction of palm oil. Every year, one percent of the forest disappears from the country.

Temple in a river in Indonesia

People and society

There are about 300 ethnic groups and 742 languages ​​in Indonesia, of which 270 are languages ​​in Papua. 56.7 percent of the population lives on Java, the world’s most populous island (2019). The largest ethnic group is Javanese, the second largest are Sundanese. Chinese Indonesians make up 1.2 percent of the population (2010). They control a lot of trade and wealth and have been exposed to anti-Chinese violence.

The complicated ethnic pattern has provided a basis for separatist movements in Aceh on northern Sumatra, on northern Sulawesi, in southern Moluccas and in Papua.

Transmigration, a controversial migration program, has transferred more than two million people from Java to Sumatra, Kalimantan, the Moluccas and Papua.

Indonesia has many villages. There is a great deal of influence from the countryside to Jakarta and large regional cities. The largest cities are Jakarta and Surabaya in Java.

Indonesia has no state religion. 87.2 percent of the population are Muslims and there is a 9.4 percent Christian minority (2010). In Bali, most Hindus are.

Two Indonesian dancers

State and politics

Indonesia is a republic with a multi-party system. The president is the chief of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and heads the country with a vice president. The two can be selected for up to two 5-year periods.

The National Assembly, Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR) has one chamber and consists of 550 members elected for five years. A House of Representatives has regionally elected representatives, Dewan Perwakilan Daerah (DPD) and a consultative assembly, Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (MPR) with members from DPR and DPD.

The country is divided into 34 provinces; five of these have special status. Jakarta is a capital region.

Indonesia is a member of the UN, the World Health Organization, ASEAN and OPEC, among others.

Military service has two years of service. The defense includes the army, navy and air defense.


Fossils and tools show that Indonesia was inhabited by Homo erectus between 35,000 and 1 million years ago. In the centuries, possibly, Hindu kingdoms grew in Java and Sumatra. From the 13th century, Islam became more prevalent in Indonesia and in the 1300s and 1400s became the dominant religion; Hinduism stayed in Bali.

Temple in Indonesia

Around 1500, the Portuguese took control of the important spice export from the Moluccas. Around 1600, the Portuguese were displaced by the Dutch.

In the 19th century, the Netherlands secured dominion over Indonesia and introduced colonial rule. In the early 1900s, several national liberation movements arose. Indonesia was under Japanese occupation in 1942-1945. In 1949, the country was recognized as an independent state in a loose union with the Netherlands. The Union gained little importance and in 1950 President Achmed Sukarno introduced a centralized Indonesian government.

The Southern Moluccas tried to break free in 1950, but the rebellion was turned down and many Moluccans fled to the Netherlands. There have also been separatist movements and riots on other islands.

In 1965 there was a coup attempt with communist elements. The coup was knocked down by the army, and in the aftermath, mainly activists massacred at least 80,000 real and alleged communists. Military leaders deposed President Sukarno in 1967. Following military conquest and mediation in 1963, Indonesia was awarded the western part of New Guinea. Indonesia annexed East Timor after hard fighting in 1976.

In the 1990s, several groups strongly criticized the regime’s military policy. Indonesia during this decade was severely hit by the crisis in the Asian economy and riots came. In 1999, the first free elections since 1955 were held and in the same year East Timor became independent after a referendum.

In 2004, Indonesia elected for the first time a president by direct election; Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono received more than 60 percent of the vote, ruling for two five-year terms. New President of 2014 is Joko Widodo. Aceh province in Sumatra was hit hardest by the tsunami in December 2004, when 220,000 Indonesians were killed.

In recent years, Indonesia has had a stable economic development.

Economy and business

Primary industries employ 32 per cent of the working population (2017). Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, nutmeg and clove and the world’s second largest producer of natural rubber. However, economically, the production of rice is the most important of the agricultural products. Other important products are cassava, copra, sugar cane, coffee, soybeans, corn and tobacco. Forestry is significant and fisheries are important.

Petroleum, tin, nickel, bauxite, copper, coal, silver and gold are extracted. The production of textiles and food is great.

Tourism is considerable; About a third of tourists visit Bali.

China is the main trading partner for both export and import.

Knowledge and culture

6-year primary school is followed by 3-year secondary school; high school lasts for three years. There are many universities and colleges. The language of instruction is Bahasa Indonesia.

There are about 50 national newspapers and 120 local newspapers.

The state radio and television channel Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) broadcasts in six channels. There are many local radio stations and television channels.

Rich folk poetry has existed for hundreds of years. Western influenced modern literature developed in the 1920s; Indonesia’s best-known contemporary author is Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006).

Buddhism has played a major role in construction, with the 35-meter-high stupa Borobudur in Java as one of the foremost monumental buildings. After independence, much of the art life has been influenced by European models, but a new national design language is based on Indonesian traditions.

Within theater, the shadow play tradition dates back to the 700s, or speech theater was developed in the early 1900s.

Carnival in Indonesia

In music, the Javanese and Balinese orchestral form gamelan is best known internationally. Dangdut is pop music inspired by Arabic, Indian and Malaysian folk music.

Dance and dance drama are characterized by Hindu and Islamic tradition. In dance in Bali the whole body is used while dancers in Java keep their backs straight.