The Story of Indonesia

Indonesia straddles the Equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. While it has land borders with Malaysia to the north as well as East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east, it also neighbors Australia to the south, and Palau, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand to the north, India to the northwest.
With 18,110 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. About 240 million people live in this fourth most populous country in the world — after China, India and the USA and by far the largest country in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world. Indonesia’s population is on course to overtake the US and become the third largest before 2044. In the decade that ended in 2010, population growth remained high at 1.49% ,each year but there is substantial Muslim opposition to boosting family planning.
Indonesia markets itself as Wonderful Indonesia, and the slogan is quite true, although not necessarily always in good ways. Indonesia’s tropical forests are the second-largest in the world after Brazil, and are being logged and cut down at the same alarming speed.
While the rich shop and party in Jakarta and Bali. After decades of economic mismanagement 50.6% of the population still earns less than USD2/day according to figures compiled by the World bank in 2009,This had come down by 6% in the 2 years between 2007 and 2009.

Infrastructure in much of the country remains rudimentary, and travellers off the beaten track will need some patience and flexibility. According to the “Energy Access” Working Group Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development, in 2001, 53.4% of the Indonesian population had access to electricity and they consumed 345kWh for each person in a year. In the same year the residents of nearby Singapore had 100% access and they consumed 6,641 kWh A very large percentage of the Indonesian population remain reliant upon wood for a cooking fuel. The central government has in recent years instituted a program of LPG gas access to use as a replacement for the burning of bio-mass sources for cooking.

People

Despite 50 years of promoting Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity”) as the official state motto, the concept of an “Indonesian” remains artificial and the country’s citizens divide themselves along a vast slew of ethnicities, clans, tribes and even castes. If this wasn’t enough, religious differences add a volatile ingredient to the mix and the vast gaps in wealth create a class society as well. On a purely numerical scale the largest ethnic groups are the Javanese (45%) of central and eastern Java, the Sundanese (14%) from western Java, the Madurese (7.5%) from the island of Madura, and Coastal Malays (7.5%), mostly from Sumatra. This leaves 26% for the Acehnese and Minangkabau of Sumatra the Balinese, the Iban and Dayaks of Kalimantan, and a bewildering patchwork of groups in Nusa Tenggara and Papua the official total is no less than 3000.
For the most part, Indonesia’s many peoples coexist happily, but ethnic conflicts do continue to fester in some remote areas of the country. The policy of transmigration (transmigrasi), initiated by the Dutch but continued by Suharto, resettled Javanese, Balinese and Madurese migrants to less crowded parts of the archipelago. The new settlers, viewed as privileged and insensitive, were often resented by the indigenous populace and, particularly on Kalimantan and Papua, led to sometimes violent conflict.
One particularly notable ethnic group found throughout the country are the Indonesian Chinese known as Tionghoa or the somewhat derogatory Cina. At an estimated 6-7 million they make up 3% of the population and probably constitute the largest ethnic Chinese group in any country outside China.
Indonesian Chinese wield a disproportionate influence in the economy, with one famous,if largely discredited,
study of companies on the Jakarta Stock Exchange concluding that as many as 70% of its companies (and, by extension, the country)

Culture

There is no one unified Indonesian culture as such, but the Hindu culture of the former Majapahit empire does provide a framework for many of the cultural traditions found across the central islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lombok. Perhaps the most distinctively “Indonesian” arts are wayang kulit shadow puppetry,where intricately detailed cutouts act out scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana and other popular folk stories, and its accompaniment the gamelan orchestra, whose incredibly complex metallic rhythms are the obligatory backdrop to both religious ceremonies and traditional entertainment.
Indonesia is culturally intertwined with the Malays, with notable items such as batik cloth and kris daggers, and Arabic culture has also been adopted to  some degree thanks to Islam.
Modern-day Indonesian popular culture is largely dominated by the largest ethnic group, the Javanese Suharto’s ban on Western imports like rock’n’roll, while long since repealed, led to the development of indigenous forms of music like dangdut, a sultry form of pop developed in the 1970s, and the televised pelvic thrusts of starlet Inul Daratista in 2003 were nearly as controversial as Elvis once was. Anggun Cipta Sasmi is a talented Indonesian singer who became a famous singer in France Her single “La neige au sahara” became a top hit on the European charts in the summer of 1997.

Religion

80-88% of the population of Indonesia state their religion as being Islam (Sunni). The other four state-sanctioned religions are Protestantism (5%), Roman Catholicism (3%), Hinduism (2%) and Buddhism (1%). Hindus are concentrated on Bali while Christians are found mostly in parts of North Sumatra, Papua, North Sulawesi, and East Nusa Tenggara. Buddhism, on the other hand.

Destinations

a) Baliem Valley – superb trekking into the lands of the Lani, Dani and Yali tribes in remote Papua
b) Borobudur – one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world located in Central Java province
c) Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park – some of the scariest volcanic scenery on the planet and one of the
best locations in the world to see sunrise
d) Bunaken – one of the best scuba diving destinations in Indonesia, if not the world
e) Kerinci Seblat National Park – tigers, elephants, monstrous rafflesia flowers and so much more in this huge expanse of
forest in Sumatra
f) Komodo National Park – home of the Komodo dragon and a hugely important marine ecosystem
g) Lake Toba – the largest volcanic lake in the world
h) Lombok – popular island to east of Bali with the tiny laid-back Gili Islands, mighty Mount Rinjani and much more
i) Tana Toraja – highland area of Southern Sulawesi famed for extraordinary funeral rites
j) BALI , very popular around the world
etc..

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