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Republic of Indonesia, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 17,508 islands. It encompasses 33 provinces and 1 Special Administrative Region (for being governed by a pre-colonial monarchy) with over 238 million people, making it the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia's republic form of government comprises an elected legislature and president. The nation's capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Palau, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies. The Indonesian economy is the world's 16th largest by nominal GDP. The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the 7th century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought the now-dominant Islam, while European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change.
Indonesia consists of hundreds of distinct native ethnic and linguistic groups. The largest – and politically dominant – ethnic group are theJavanese. A shared identity has developed, defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity" literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country has abundant natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread.
Overview & Country Facts
According to the 2010 national census, the population of Indonesia is 237.6 million, with high population growth at 1.9%. 58% of the population lives in Java, the world's most populous island. In 1961 the first post-colonial census gave a total population of 97 million. Despite a fairly effective family planning program that has been in place since the 1960s, population is expected to grow to around 265 million by 2020 and 306 million by 2050.
There are around 300 distinct native ethnic groups in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. Most Indonesians are descended from Austronesian-speaking peoples whose languages can be traced to Proto-Austronesian (PAn), which possibly originated in Taiwan. Another major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia. The largest ethnic group is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant. The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are the largest non-Javanese groups. A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside strong regional identities. Society is largely harmonious, although social, religious and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence. Chinese Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising 3–4% of the population. Much of the country's privately owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-Indonesian-controlled. Chinese businesses in Indonesia are part of the larger bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses operating in the markets of Southeast Asia that share common family and cultural ties. This has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence.
The official national language is Indonesian, a form of Malay. It is based on the prestige dialect of Malay, that of the Johor-Riau Sultanate, which for centuries had been the lingua franca of the archipelago, standards of which are the official languages in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Indonesian is universally taught in schools, consequently it is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. It was promoted by Indonesian nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language under the name Bahasa Indonesia on the proclamation of independence in 1945. Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages and dialects, often as their first language. Of these, Javanese is the most widely spoken as the language of the largest ethnic group. On the other hand, Papua has over 270 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages, in a region of about 2.7 million people.
While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, at 87.2% in 2010, with the majority being nondenominational Muslims. On 21 May 2011 the Indonesian Sunni-Shia Council (MUHSIN) was established. The council aims to hold gatherings, dialogues and social activities. It was an answer to violence committed in the name of religion. 9% of the population was Christian, 3% Hindu, and 2% Buddhist or other. Most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese, and most Buddhists in modern-day Indonesia are ethnic Chinese. Though now minority religions, Hinduism and Buddhism remain defining influences in Indonesian culture. Islam was first adopted by Indonesians in northern Sumatra in the 13th century, through the influence of traders, and became the country's dominant religion by the 16th century. Roman Catholicism was brought to Indonesia by early Portuguese colonialists and missionaries, and the Protestant denominations are largely a result of Dutch Calvinist and Lutheran missionary efforts during the country's colonial period. A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.
Indonesia is culturally rich. Indonesian art and culture are intertwined with religion and age-old traditions from the time of early migrants with Western thoughts brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists. The basic principles which guide life include the concepts of mutual assistance or “gotong royong” and consultations or “musyawarah” to arrive at a consensus or “mufakat” Derived from rural life, this system is still very much in use in community life throughout the country.
Though the legal system is based on the old Dutch penal code, social life as well as the rites of passage are founded on customary or “adat” law which differs from area to area. “Adat” law has a binding impact on Indonesian life and it may be concluded that this law has been instrumental in maintaining equal rights for women in the community. Religious influences on the community are variously evident from island to island.
Intertwined with religion and age-old traditions from the time of early migrants the art and culture of Indonesia is rich in itself with Western thoughts brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists. The art and culture of Indonesia has been shaped around its hundreds of ethnic groups, each with cultural differences that have shifted over the centuries. Modern-day Indonesian culture is a fusion of cultural aspects from Arabic, Chinese, Malay and European sources. Indonesian art and culture has also been influenced from the ancient trading routes between the Far East and the Middle East leading to many cultural practices being strongly influenced by a multitude of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam.
The official language of Indonesia is ‘Indonesian’ or ‘Bahasa Indonesia’. It’s universally taught in schools and is spoken by nearly every Indonesian in business, politics, national media, education and academia. The Indonesians also speak several hundreds of local languages like ‘bahasa daerah’ as their first language. Javanese is also widely used besides other Papuan or Austronesian languages in a region of just 2.7 million people.
The government of Indonesia officially recognizes only six religions, viz Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism. The largest religious group in Indonesia is Islam with almost 86% of Indonesians being Muslims. Indonesia is also the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world.
Indonesia has created many internationally famous celebrated authors. There has also been a long tradition, particularly among ethnically Malay populations, of impromptu, interactive, verbal composition of poetry referred to as the ‘pantun’. Pramoedya Ananta Toer, a well-known author won the Magsaysay Award and was considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Chairil Anwar was also an important figure in the literature world and a member of the Generation 45 group of authors who were active in the Indonesian independence movement.
Home to hundreds of forms of music, it plays an important role in Indonesia’s art and culture. Traces of its origin can be made to the islands of Java, Sumatra and Bali. ‘Gamelan’ is the traditional music from Central- and East Java and Bali. Another very popular style of music is ‘Dangdut’ which is accompanied with free dance style. This style first came up in the 1970s and is quite useful in political campaigns. Other forms of music include the Keroncong with its roots in Portugal, the soft Sasando music from West Timor and Degung and Angklung from West Java, which is played with bamboo instruments.
The traditional dances depict episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata from India. Traditional Javanese and Balinese tinge is also seen in the dance forms of Indonesian art and culture. The highly stylized dances of the courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta are some of the popular variations. Mythological events of Indonesia are also depicted.
Drama and Theatre
The Javanese and Balinese shadow puppet theatre shows ‘wayang kulit’ displaying several mythological events. A traditional folk theatre, Randai of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, is performed during ceremonies and festivals. Music, singing, dance, drama and the silat martial art are all incorporated together and are based on the stories of the legend.
Indonesian culture, especially its architecture has been to a great extent dominated and influenced by the Indian, although European influences have also been particularly strong since the nineteenth century. Traditional buildings in Indonesia are built on stilts with oversized saddle roofs which have been the home of the Batak and the Toraja. The Torajan use the buffalo horns, stacked one above another in front of the house as an indication of status. Scenes from the Ramayana adorn the outer walls in different colors. However, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have also been quite significant in Indonesian architecture.
Indonesians distinctive cuisine has been derived from centuries with the influence of the Chinese, European, Middle Eastern and the Indians. The staple food of most Indonesian dishes is rice served with meat and vegetables. Flavors of Vietnamese and Thai food can also be got from the cuisine of Indonesia. Spices, notably chili, and coconut milk are fundamental ingredients in most of the dishes, especially fish and chicken.
The arts of Indonesia are many, especially Indonesian paintings which are unique works of art. The intricate and expressive Balinese paintings are quite famous and often express natural scenes and themes from the traditional dances. A long-standing tradition of sculpture can also be seen in the art and culture of Indonesia, some dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. Examples of sculpture illustrating the story of the life of Buddha can be seen in the temples of the 8th and the 10th century. Indonesia’s art and culture is also famous for their unique batik, ikat and songket cloth which is even popular today.
Unlike some countries art forms in Indonesia are not only based on folklore, as many were developed in the courts of former kingdoms such as in Bali, where they are part of religious ceremonies. The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindu mythology and often feature fragments from the Ramayana and Mahabharata Hindu epics.
Highly stylized in movement and costume, dances and the “wayang” drama are accompanied by a full “gamelan” orchestra comprising xylophones, drums, gongs, and in some cases string instruments and flutes. Bamboo xylophones are used in North Sulawesi and the bamboo “angklung” instruments of West Java are well- known for their unique tinkling notes which can be adapted to any melody.
The “Wayang kulit” (leather puppets) of Java is performed with leather puppets held by the puppeteer, who narates the story of one of the famous episodes of the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata or the Ramayana. It is performed against a white screen while a lantern in the background casts the shadows of the characters on the screen, visible from the other side where the spectators are seated.
The “Wayang Golek” (wooden puppets) of West Java is based on the same concept. The crafts of Indonesia vary in both medium and art form. As a whole the people are artistic by nature and express themselves on canvas, wood, metals, clay and stone. The batik process of waxing and dyeing originated in Java centuries ago and classic designs have been modified with modern trends in both pattern and technology. There are several centres of Batik in Java, the major ones being Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Pekalongan and Cirebon.
Batik is also being produced in some other areas as in Bali where local designs are incorporated. Other provinces produce hand-woven cloths of gold and silver threads, silks or cottons with intricate designs. Painting are numerous all over the country, both traditional and contemporary, woodcarvings for ornamentation and furniture, silverwork and engraving form Yogyakarta and Sumatra, filgree from South Sulawesi and Bali with different styles of clay, sandstone and wood sculptures. These are but a few of the handicrafts found in Indonesia.
The climate of Indonesia is almost entirely tropical. The uniformly warm waters that make up 81% of Indonesia's area ensure that temperatures on land remain fairly constant, with the coastal plains averaging 28 °C, the inland and mountain areas averaging 26 °C, and the higher mountain regions, 23 °C. Temperature varies little from season to season, and Indonesia experiences relatively little change in the length of daylight hours from one season to the next; the difference between the longest day and the shortest day of the year is only forty-eight minutes. This allows crops to be grown all year round.
The main variable of Indonesia's climate is not temperature or air pressure, but rainfall. The area's relative humidity ranges between 70 and 90%. Winds are moderate and generally predictable, with monsoons usually blowing in from the south and east in June through September and from the northwest in December through March. Typhoons and large scale storms pose little hazard to mariners in Indonesia waters; the major danger comes from swift currents in channels, such as the Lombok and Sape straits.
The extreme variations in rainfall are linked with the monsoons. Generally speaking, there is a dry season (June to October), influenced by the Australian continental air masses, and a rainy season (November to March) that is caused by Asia and Pacific Ocean air masses. Local wind patterns, however, can greatly modify these general wind patterns, especially in the islands of central Maluku—Seram, Ambon, and Buru. This oscillating annual pattern of wind and rain is related to Indonesia's geographical location as an isthmus between two large continents. In September and May, high pressure over the Gobi desert moves winds from that continent toward the northwest. As the winds reach the equator, the Earth's rotation causes them to veer off their original course in a northeasterly direction toward the Southeast Asian mainland. During January and February, a corresponding low pressure system over Asia causes the pattern to reverse. The result is a monsoon which is augmented by humid breezes from the Indian Ocean, producing significant amounts of rain throughout many parts of the archipelago.
Prevailing wind patterns interact with local topographic conditions to produce significant variations in rainfall throughout the archipelago. In general, western and northern parts of Indonesia experience the most precipitation, since the north- and westward-moving monsoon clouds are heavy with moisture by the time they reach these more distant regions. Western Sumatra, Java, Bali, the interiors of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua are the most predictably damp regions of Indonesia, with rainfall measuring more than 2,000 millimeters (78.7 in) per year. In part, this moisture originates on high mountain peaks that trap damp air. The city of Bogor, near Jakarta, lays claim to having the world's highest number of thunderstorm days per year—322. On the other hand, the islands closest to Australia—including Nusa Tenggara and the eastern tip of Java—tend to be dry, with some areas experiencing less than 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) per year. To complicate the situation, some of the islands of the southern Malukus experience highly unpredictable rainfall patterns, depending on local wind currents.
Although air temperature changes little from season to season or from one region to the next, cooler temperatures prevail at higher elevations. In general, temperatures drop approximately 1° per 90-meter increase in elevation from sea level with some high-altitude interior mountain regions experiencing night frosts. The highest mountain ranges in Papua are permanently capped with snow.
- When a public holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, it is common practice for the government to declare a bridge holiday (cuti bersama or "Shared Holiday by Government Decree"), by taking off the Friday or Monday creating a long weekend
- Public holidays that fall on the weekend are not moved to another date
- Official public holidays are announced in the summer of each year, for the following year, although the date of Islamic holidays may not be confirmed until a few days before as these are based on the lunar calendar. Following the appropriate moon sighting, announcements are made in the national press confirming the official date.
- Nyepi day (literally, day of silence) is strictly observed on the island of Bali. The airport closes for 24 hours
- Banks close on 31 December
- Eid al-Fitr (Idul Fitri) is a national public holiday for the first two days. Banks close for a week and businesses may close for up to two weeks
|National Public holidays of Indonesia in 2015|
|Date||Weekday||Holiday name||Holiday type|
|Jan 1||Thursday||New Year's Day||Public Holiday|
|Jan 3||Saturday||The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday||Public Holiday|
|Feb 19||Thursday||Chinese Lunar New Year's Day||Public Holiday|
|Mar 20||Friday||March equinox||Season|
|Mar 21||Saturday||Bali's Day of Silence and Hindu New Year||Public Holiday|
|Apr 3||Friday||Good Friday||Public Holiday|
|Apr 5||Sunday||Easter Sunday||Observance|
|May 1||Friday||International Labor Day||Public Holiday|
|May 14||Thursday||Ascension Day of Jesus Christ||Public Holiday|
|May 16||Saturday||Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad||Public Holiday|
|Jun 2||Tuesday||Waisak Day (Buddha's Anniversary)||Public Holiday|
|Jun 21||Sunday||June Solstice||Season|
|Jul 16||Thursday||Joint Holiday before Idul Fitri||Joint Holiday|
|Jul 17||Friday||Idul Fitri Day 1||Public Holiday|
|Jul 18||Saturday||Idul Fitri Day 2||Public Holiday|
|Jul 20||Monday||Joint Holiday After Idul Fitri||Joint Holiday|
|Jul 21||Tuesday||Second Joint Holiday After Idul Fitri||Joint Holiday|
|Aug 17||Monday||Indonesian Independence Day||Public Holiday|
|Sep 23||Wednesday||September equinox||Season|
|Sep 24||Thursday||Muslim Day of Sacrifice (Idul Adha)||Public Holiday|
|Oct 14||Wednesday||Muharram/Islamic New Year||Public Holiday|
|Dec 22||Tuesday||December Solstice||Season|
|Dec 24||Thursday||Christmas Eve common leave||Joint Holiday|
|Dec 24||Thursday||The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday||Public Holiday|
|Dec 25||Friday||Christmas Day||Public Holiday|
|Dec 31||Thursday||New Year's Eve||Observance|
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Indonesia, exercise normal security precautions.