Indonesia

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Republik Indonesia
Flag of Indonesia Coat of arms of Indonesia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
( Old Javanese/ Kawi: Unity in Diversity)
National ideology: Pancasila
Anthem: Indonesia Raya
Location of Indonesia
Capital Jakarta
6°08′ S 106°45′ E
Largest city Jakarta
Official language(s) Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia, a standardized dialect of the Malay language)
Government
President
Republic
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Independence
- Declared
- Recognised
From Netherlands
17 August 1945
27 December 1949
Area
• Total

• Water (%)

1,919,440 km² ( 15th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

4.85%%
Population
2005 est.
2000 census

Density

241,973,879 ( 4th)
206,264,595

126/km² ( 61)
{{{population_densitymi²}}}/mi²
GDP ( PPP)
• Total
• Per capita
2004 estimate
$827.4 billion ( 15th)
$3,500 ( 109th)
HDI ( 2003) 0.697 ( 110th) – medium
Currency Rupiah ( IDR)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
various ( UTC+7 to +9)
not observed ( UTC+7 to +9)
Internet TLD .id
Calling code +62

The Republic of Indonesia ( Bahasa Indonesia: Republik Indonesia) is located in the Malay Archipelago, the world's largest archipelago, between Indochina and Australia, between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world and the fourth most populous overall. It has had free elections since the 1998 Revolution which led to the resignation of President Suharto, who came to power in 1965.

History

Under the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism, several kingdoms formed on the islands of Sumatra and Java from the 7th to 14th century. The arrival of Arabs trading in spices later brought Islam, which became the dominant religion in many parts of the archipelago after the collapse of Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms.

When the Portuguese came in early 16th century, they found a multitude of small states, vulnerable to the Portuguese, and later other Europeans wanting to dominate the spice trade. In the 17th century, the Dutch became the most powerful of the Europeans, ousting the Spanish and Portuguese (except for their colony of Portuguese Timor on the island of Timor). Dutch influence started with trading by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), a chartered private enterprise constituting a state in all but name, complete with its own fleet and army, which gradually expanded its influence and grip on political matters. Like the British, the Dutch mainly relied on indirect rule, using traditional native elites as vassals, while imposing their will and extracting major income under supervision by their colonial officials. After VOC was dissolved in 1799 by the Batavian Republic ( Napoleon's Dutch satellite state) and the political instability from the Napoleonic Wars including partial British occupation, the East Indies were awarded to the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. Since then, the East Indies were officially ruled as the major colonies of the Dutch crown.

Under the 19th-century Cultivation System (Cultuurstelsel), large plantations and forced cultivation were established on Java, finally creating the profit for the Netherlands that the VOC had been unable to produce. In a more liberal period of colonial rule after 1870, the Cultivation System was abolished, and after 1901 the Dutch introduced the Ethical Policy, which included limited political reform and increased investment in the colony.

During World War II, with the Netherlands under German occupation, Japan began a five-prong campaign in December 1941 towards Java and the vital fuel supplies of the Dutch East Indies. Though Japan captured Java by March 1942, it initially could not find any national leader willing to collaborate with the Japanese government against the Dutch. Eventually the Japanese commander ordered Sukarno's release from his prison island, and in July 1942, Sukarno arrived in Jakarta. Sukarno and his colleagues collaborated with the Japanese occupiers. In 1945, with the war drawing to a close, Sukarno was made aware of an opportunity to declare independence. In response to lobbying, Japan agreed to allow Sukarno to establish a committee to plan for independence. Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta declared independence on 17 August.

Following the defeat of Japan in the World War, the Netherlands' Army, at first backed by the Allies, attempted to reoccupy their former East Indies colonies. Indonesia's war for independence lasted from 1945 until 27 December 1949 when, under heavy international pressure, the Netherlands acknowledged the independence of Indonesia as a Federation of autonomous states. This federation soon became a republic with Sukarno as president and Hatta as vice president. See Indonesian National Revolution. It was not until 16 August 2005 that the Dutch government recognised 1945 as the country's year of independence and expressed regrets over the Indonesian deaths caused by the Netherlands' Army.

The 1950s and 1960s saw Sukarno's government aligned first with the emerging non-aligned movement and later with the socialist bloc. The 1960s saw Indonesia in a military confrontation against neighboring Malaysia, and increasing frustration over domestic economic difficulties. Army general Suharto became president in 1967 on the pretext of securing the country against an alleged communist coup attempt against a weakening Sukarno. In the aftermath of Suharto's rise, hundreds of thousands people were killed or imprisoned by the military and religious groups in a backlash against alleged communist supporters. Suharto's administration is commonly called the New Order era. Suharto invited major foreign investment, which produced substantial, if uneven, economic growth. However, Suharto enriched himself and his family through widespread corruption and was forced to step down amid massive popular demonstrations and a faltering economy by the Indonesian Revolution of 1998.

From 1998 to 2001, the country had three presidents: Bacharuddin Jusuf (BJ) Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri. Indonesia's first direct presidential election was held in 2004, and won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It was the largest one-day election in the world.

A massive earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004 devastated parts of northern Sumatra, particularly Aceh.

Politics

The highest legislative body is the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat (MPR, head: Hidayat Nur Wahid) or 'People's Consultative Assembly', consisting of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (DPR, head: Agung Laksono) or People's Representative Council, elected for a five-year term, and the Dewan Perwakilan Daerah (DPD, head: Ginandjar Kartasasmita) or Regional Representatives Council. Following elections in 2004, the MPR became a bicameral parliament, with the creation of the DPD as its second chamber.

Provinces

Map of the provinces of Indonesia
Map of the provinces of Indonesia

Currently, Indonesia has 33 provinces (of those, 2 are special territories and 1 special capital region). The provinces are subdivided into regencies and cities, which are in turn split up in sub-districts. The provinces are:

Bali, Bangka-Belitung, Banten, Bengkulu, Central Java, Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, East Java, East Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara, South Sumatra, Gorontalo, Jambi, Lampung, Maluku, North Maluku, North Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Papua (Irian Jaya), Riau, Riau Kepulauan, South East Sulawesi, South Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, West Irian Jaya, West Java, West Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, West Sulawesi, West Sumatra

The special territories (daerah istimewa) are Aceh (or Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam) and Yogyakarta. Special territories have more autonomy from the central government than other provinces, and so have unique legislative privileges: the Acehnese government has the right to create an independent legal system, and instituted a form of sharia (Islamic Law) in 2003; Yogyakarta remains a sultanate whose sultan (currently the wildly popular Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X) is the territory's de facto governor for life.

The special capital region is Jakarta. Though Jakarta is a single city, it is administered much as any other Indonesian province. For example, Jakarta has a governor (instead of a mayor), and is divided into several sub-regions with their own administrative systems.

East Timor was a province of Indonesia from 1975, when it was annexed by military invasion, until Indonesia relinquished sovereignty in 1999 after years of bitter fighting against East Timor guerrillas and abuses by Indonesian military forces against the East Timorese civilians. Following a period of transitional administration by the UN, it became an independent state in 2002.

Geography

Map of Indonesia
Map of Indonesia

Indonesia's 18,108 islands, of which about 6,000 are inhabited, are scattered around the equator, giving the country a tropical climate. The most populated islands are Java (one of the most densely populated regions on Earth, where about half of the population lives), Sumatra, Borneo (shared with Malaysia and Brunei), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea) and Sulawesi.

Indonesia borders Malaysia on the island of Borneo ( Indonesian: Kalimantan), Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea and East Timor on the island of Timor. In addition to the capital city of Jakarta, principal cities of high population include Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Palembang, and Semarang.

Indonesia's seismic and volcanic activity is among the Earth's highest
Indonesia's seismic and volcanic activity is among the Earth's highest

Its location on the edges of tectonic plates, specifically the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian, means Indonesia is frequently hit by earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis. Indonesia is also rich in volcanoes, the most famous being the now-vanished Krakatau (Krakatoa), which was located between Sumatra and Java.

Flora and fauna differ markedly between Kalimantan, Bali, and western islands on the one hand and Sulawesi, Lombok, and islands further east on the other. This ecological boundary has been called the Wallace line after its discoverer. The line is often given as the boundary between Asia and Australasia, as such making Indonesia a bicontinental country.

See also: Map of Asia

Economy

Irrigation in Pachung, Bali.
Irrigation in Pachung, Bali.

Indonesia's economy suffered greatly in the late 1990s, partly due to the financial crisis that struck most of Asia at the time. It has stabilized somewhat since then.

The country has extensive natural resources outside Java, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Indonesia is the world's second-largest exporter of natural gas, though it has recently become a net importer of crude oil. Major agricultural products include rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber. The central bank of Indonesia is Bank Indonesia [1].

Indonesia's major trading partners are Japan, the United States and the surrounding nations of Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

Despite being the only Asian member of OPEC, Indonesia's fuel production has declined significantly over the years, owing to aging oil fields and lack of investment in new equipment. As a result, despite being an exporter of crude oil, Indonesia is now a net importer of oil and had previously subsidized fuel prices to keep prices low, costing US$ 7 billion in 2004 [2]. The current president has mandated a significant reduction of government subsidy of fuel prices in several stages [3]. In order to alleviate economic hardships, the government has offered one-time subsidies to qualified citizens.

The economy is now undergoing rebuilding after the December 2004 tsunami. The government has stated to reduce subsidies, aiming to reduce the budget deficit to 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, down from around 1.6% last year.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Indonesia

Indonesia's population statistics are difficult to estimate. In the 2000 national census, an initial population estimate of 203 million was recorded: most of the population of Aceh was estimated from previous counts as the conflict meant that a survey was not possible, as were hard-to-reach regions of Papua. The Indonesian government later revised the estimate up to 206 million. Internationally, an undercount had been assumed, though there is no data to confirm it. The country's Central Statistics Bureau ( BPS) and Statistics Indonesia quote 219.9 million as the population for 2005, while the CIA Factbook estimates are over 240 million. Some parts of Indonesia are some of the most densly populated areas in the world: for example, Java is the most populous island in the world and many Indonesian cities are some of the most populous and densely populated.

Indonesia's population can be roughly divided into two groups. The west of the country is Asian and the people are mostly Malay, while the east is more Pacific and people on New Guinea are Papuan, with roots in the islands of Melanesia. There are, however, many more subdivisions, since Indonesia spans an area the size of Europe or the USA and consists of many islands that to a large degree had separate developments. Many Indonesians identify with a more specific ethnic group that is often linked to language and regional origins; examples of these are Javanese, Sundanese, or Batak. There are also quite different groups within many islands, such as Borneo, with its Dayak and Punan, who have different lifestyles and skintones.

Most Indonesians speak a local language (bahasa daerah) as their first tongue, but the official national language, Indonesian (locally called Bahasa Indonesia) is almost universally taught in schools and is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It was originally a lingua franca for most of the region, including present-day Malaysia (and is thus closely related to Malay), accepted by the Dutch as the de facto language for the colony, and declared the official language after independence. The formerly large, influential Eurasian community (locally known as Indos) has largely left the country for the Netherlands, California and Australia, but some Eurasians remain in Indonesia and are highly esteemed models and soap opera stars.

Indonesia has serious ethnic tensions, particularly between Indonesians of Chinese ethnicity and the Pribumi peoples, who are considered natives of Indonesia. "Non-Pribumi" people are not always considered entirely Indonesian. The riots in Jakarta in 1997 and 1998 highlight this recurring tension. Ethnic relations are strained mostly due to a perception that the Chinese community is too rich relative to the Pribumis, and that this is unfair. It is indisputable that the Chinese community is on average wealthier than the Pribumis, and positions of power and influence in the business sphere are indeed held by relatively few very wealthy ethnic Chinese Indonesians. However, some of the resentment may be against the shopkeepers and more or less small-time creditors who constitute much of the Chinese Indonesian community. Chinese people occupied these roles under Dutch rule, and were used as middlemen and treated as second-class citizens, while Pribumi peasants and laborers were treated as third-class citizens (see Indonesian Chinese#Pre-independence History). Chinese-owned shops, and the families living and working in storefront dwellings were the target of much of the wrath of the rioters. The Indonesian government is attempting to remedy problems which helped trigger the riots, but due to widespread corruption and discontent experienced by poorer Indonesians, ethnic harmony is slow in coming. The corruption, collusion, and nepotism which characterized Suharto's presidency built up a public resentment that led to the eventual downfall of the Orde Baru regime but also clearly exacerbated ethnic tensions in Indonesia.

Another type of ethnic conflict that occurs with some frequency and lethality in certain areas of Indonesia is between people with deep roots in those areas and Javanese and Madurese people whose internal migration ( transmigrasi) to those areas was facilitated by the central government. This type of conflict often takes on religious overtones, too, as Muslim Javanese and Madurese find themselves in areas which were predominantly Christian or animist. A particularly horrific example of this type of ethnic violence occurred in West Kalimantan, where some members of the local Dayak community massacred hundreds of Madurese, and the survivors ran for their lives. Other places where conflicts at least partly sparked by differences between internal migrants and members of the preexisting local population have resulted in fatalities include Ambon, Sulawesi Tengah, and parts of West Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya).

Islam is Indonesia's main religion, with almost 88% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 religious census, making Indonesia the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. The remaining population is 8% Christian (of which roughly 75% are Protestant, the remainder mainly Catholic, and a large minority Charismatic), 3% Hindu and 1% Buddhist, with small communities of Jews. Before the arrival of the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity and Islam in the Malay Archipelago, the popular beliefs in region had been thoroughly influenced by Indic religious philosophy through Hinduism and Buddhism. Although Islam was once mainly practiced in Java and parts of Sumatra, the transmigration program has increased the number of Muslims living in Bali, Borneo, the Celebes, the Moluccas, and Papua. After independence, syncretism and intermarriage has decreased somewhat and religious divides sharpened, leading to communal violence in many eastern islands and in Java. Although only about 3% of Indonesians are officially Hindu, Indonesian beliefs are too complex to classify as belonging to a single world religion. In Java in particular, a substantial number of Muslims follow a non-orthodox, Hindu-influenced form of Islam known as Abangan, while across the archipelago the Hindu legacy, along with the older mystic traditions, influences popular beliefs. Indonesians are required to declare themselves as one of these official religions. As a result, many Indonesian "Muslims" are non-practicing, follow Indonesia's animist traditions (a fact that the government strenuously denies), or are entirely secular.

Culture

Wayang kulit as seen by the audience
Wayang kulit as seen by the audience

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 and Balinese wayang kulit shadow theatre shows, displaying several mythological events. Several islands are famous for their batik and ikat cloth.

Pencak Silat is a unique martial art originating from the archipelago.

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