Rice terraces at Gunung-Kawi, Bali, Indonesia

Indonesia, the Emerald of the Equator, in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 28th August 2011

Indonesia - Facts and Factoids

  • The Republic of Indonesia is vast - the largest archipelago in the world, comprising either 13,466 or 18,307 islands, depending on which survey you believe.  It straddles the Equator, spreadings over 5,120 miles. That would take you from London to well past the Middle East. The coastline is 33,998 miles long (the second longest after Canada).
  • Indonesia has a total population of more than 260 million people from more than 200 ethnic groups.That's the fourth largest in the world
  • Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world.
  • Ethnically Indonesia is highly diverse, with more than 300 local languages. The people range from rural hunter-gatherers to a modern urban elite.
  • Some of the administrative division's of Indonesia, sub provinces are referred to as regencies. They are equivalent to cities.
  • Indonesia is part of the Pacific Rim "Ring of Fire"- there are 139 volcanoes - that's the third most in the world.
  • The Komodo dragon, found on five of the islands, is the world's largest lizard. As well as being huge, it has a venomous bite.
  • According to the 2004 Global Corruption Report, former Indonesian President Suharto was the most corrupt leader of all time, embezzling between 15 billion and 35 billion USD.

Who Colonised Indonesia?

  • Sophisticated kingdoms existed before the arrival of the Dutch, who colonised the archipelago, bringing the whole of Indonesia under one government, as the Dutch East Indies.
  • The Dutch East Indies was occupied by Japan in 1942 
  • Independence was won in 1949.

Is Indonesia a Poor Country?

Indonesia has become one of the world's major emerging economies, but 10% of the population still lives below the poverty line.

Is Indonesia Safe to Visit?

Indonesia faces demands for independence in several provinces and increasing attacks by Islamist armed groups, so travellers need to stay alert. There are also frequent, sometimes unexpected, volcanic eruptions to watch out for.

Where To Visit in Indonesia?

Nearly all the islands are diverse and rewarding. There are amazing temples and other historical sites, incredible scenery (Indonesia is known, romantically, as the Emerald of the Equator, because of its lush rainforests), beautiful beaches and diving/snorkelling. There is hand to mouth existence village life and then the urban sprawls. You may not want to spend long in Jakarta. And don't forget the orang utans - and the Komodo dragons.

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