The Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world comprising 13,466 large and small tropical islands fringed with white sandy beaches, many still uninhabited and a number even still unnamed. Straddling the equator, situated between the continents of Asia and Australia and between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Indonesia covers about 1,919,000 square kilometers (741,000 square miles). It shares land borders with Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.
Among the most well known islands are Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), the Maluku Islands (or better known as Moluccas, the original Spice Islands) and Papua. Then, there is Bali the worlds best island resort with its enchanting culture, beaches, dynamic dances and music. But Indonesia still has many unexplored islands with grand mountain views, green rainforests to trek through, rolling waves to surf and deep blue pristine seas to dive in where one can swim with dugongs, dolphins and large mantarays.
The 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia were home to a diversity of cultures and indigenous beliefs when the islands came under the influence of Hindu priests and traders in the first and second centuries A.D. Muslim invasions began in the 13th century, and most of the archipelago had converted to Islam by the 15th century. Portuguese traders arrived early in the next century but were ousted by the Dutch around 1595. The Dutch United East India Company established posts on the island of Java, in an effort to control the spice trade.
After Napoleon subjugated the Netherlands in 1811, the British seized the islands but returned them to the Dutch in 1816. In 1922, Indonesia was made an integral part of the Dutch kingdom. During World War II, Japan seized the islands. Tokyo was primarily interested in Indonesia's oil, which was vital to the war effort, and tolerated fledgling nationalists such as Sukarno and Mohammed Hatta. After Japan's surrender, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence on Aug. 17, 1945. Allied troops, mostly British Indian forces, fought nationalist militias to reassert the prewar status quo until the arrival of Dutch troops. Throughout the early 20th century, nationalism grew in the Dutch East Indies. In March of 1942, the Japanese occupied Indonesia, expelling the Dutch. Initially welcomed as liberators, the Japanese were brutal and oppressive, catalyzing nationalist sentiment in Indonesia.
After Japan's defeat in 1945, the Dutch tried to return to their most valuable colony. The people of Indonesia launched a four-year independence war, gaining full freedom in 1949 with U.N. help. The first two presidents of Indonesia, Sukarno (r. 1945-1967) and Suharto (r. 1967-1998) were autocrats who relied upon the military to stay in power. Since 2000, Indonesia's presidents have been selected through reasonably free and fair elections.
Indonesia is home to over 240 million people. It is the fourth most populous nation on Earth (after China, India and the US). Indonesians belong to more than 300 ethno-linguistic groups, most of which are Austronesian in origin. The largest ethnic group is the Javanese, at almost 42% of the population, followed by the Sundanese with just over 15%. Others with more than 2 million members each include: Chinese (3.7%), Malay (3.4%), Madurese (3.3%), Batak (3.0%), Minangkabau (2.7%), Betawi (2.5%), Buginese (2.5%), Bantenese (2.1%), Banjarese (1.7%), Balinese (1.5%) and Sasak (1.3%).
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country, with 86% of the population professing Islam. In addition, almost 9% of the population is Christian, 2% are Hindu, and 3% are Buddhist or animist. The majority of the population embraces Islam, while in Bali the Hindu religion is predominant. On the whole the Indonesian people are religious in nature.
Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language in the entire country. It is the language of official communication, taught in schools and spoken on television. Most Indonesians today speak at least two languages or more, Bahasa Indonesia and their local language, of which Indonesia counts more than 300 regional languages. Javanese is the most popular first language, boasting 84 million speakers. Sundanese and Madurese follow it, with 34 and 14 million speakers, respectively.
Indonesia is a huge country, in both population and land area, with significant cultural and geological diversity. Be it for leisure, shopping, culture, history, diving, trekking or nature, here is a wealth of top tourist attractions in Indonesia to discover in this vast and varied country.
Lake Toba, Tanjung Puting, Baliem Valley, Mount Bromo, Bunaken, Torajaland, Gili Islands, Borobudur, Ubud, Seminyak, Legian, Bunaken National Park, Green Canyon, Goa Gong, Garuda Wisnu Kencana, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Baki Safari and Marine Park, Wayang Museum, Komodo National Park, Orangutan at Bukit Lawang, Kelimutu Lake and Raja Ampat Islands.
The Indonesian Rupiah is the currency of Indonesia. Rupiah comes from the Sanskrit word for wrought silver, rupya. The currency code for Rupiahs is IDR, and the currency symbol is Rp. Indonesian banknotes come in denominations of Rp 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000, and Rp 100,000. Coins in circulation include the Rp 1,000 (gold and silver colored), Rp 500, 200, and 100 coins.
The most popular Indonesian Rupiah currency exchanges in Indonesia are US Dollar (USD
), European Euro (EUR
), UK Pound Sterling (GBP
), Australian Dollar (AUD
), Indian Rupee (INR
), Malaysian Ringgit (MYR
), Singapore Dollar (SGD
), South Korean Won (KRW
), and Thai Baht (THB