Consisting of the territory of the former Netherlands East Indies, Indonesia's main island groups are the Greater Sunda Islands, which include Java, Sumatra, central and S Borneo (Kalimantan), and Sulawesi; the Lesser Sunda Islands, consisting of Bali, Flores, Sumba, Lombok, and the western part of Timor; the Moluccas (Maluku), with Ambon, Seram, and Halmahera; and the Riau Archipelago. After years of dispute with the Dutch, W New Guinea (now Papua and West Papua) was formally annexed by Indonesia in Aug., 1969. The most important islands, culturally and economically, are Java, Bali, and Sumatra.
All the larger islands have a central volcanic mountainous area flanked by coastal plains; there are more than 100 active volcanoes. Earthquakes are frequent and, although not usually severe, can sometimes cause devastation. The islands of W Indonesia are subject to heavy rains during the rainy season (Dec.-Mar.), which often cause flooding and landslides. The animal life of Indonesia roughly forms a connecting link between the fauna of Asia and that of Australia. Elephants are found in Sumatra and Borneo, tigers as far south as Java and Bali, and marsupials in Timor and New Guinea. Crocodiles, snakes, and richly colored birds are everywhere. The tropical climate, abundant rainfall, and remarkably fertile volcanic soils permit a rich agricultural yield.
The population falls roughly into two groups, the Malayan and the Papuan, with many of the inhabitants east of Bali representing a transition between the two types. Within each group are numerous subdivisions, and cultural development ranges from the modern Javanese and Balinese to traditional tribes in Borneo, Sumatra, and New Guinea. The complex ethnic structure is the result of several great migrations many centuries ago, largely from Asia. The Chinese constitute by far the greatest majority of the nonindigenous population; they number about 2 to 3 million and play an important role in the country's economic life. There are smaller minorities of Arabs and South Asians.
More than 300 languages are spoken in Indonesia, but an official language, Bahasa Indonesia (a form of Malay), was adopted after independence and is now understood in all but the most remote villages. English is considered to be the country's second language, and Dutch is also spoken. Almost 90% of the population is Muslim, making Indonesia the largest Islamic nation in the world. Slightly less than 10% of the population is Christian, and about 2% is Hindu and 1% Buddhist. Hindus are concentrated principally on Bali, which is known for its unique culture. Animism, sometimes combined with Islam, is common among some groups.
Crude oil and natural gas are Indonesia's most valuable natural resources and were long its major source of export revenue, but production has declined and domestic use increased since the 1990s. Agriculture accounts for about 13% of the GDP and employs over 40% of the labor force. Indonesia is one of the world's major rubber producers; other plantation crops include cocoa, coffee, palm oil, coconuts, sugarcane, tea, tobacco, cinchona, cloves, sisal, and spices. Despite plantation cultivation, Indonesia has a wide landholding base; the majority of the people are largely self-sufficient in food. Rice is the major crop; cassava, corn, yams, soybeans, peanuts, and fruit are also grown. Horses and cattle are raised on some of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Fish are abundant, both in the ocean and in inland ponds.
In natural-resource potential, Indonesia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It has great timberlands; vast rain forests of giant trees (among the world's tallest) cover the mountain slopes, and teak, sandalwood, ironwood, camphor, and ebony are cut. Palm, rattan, and bamboo abound, and a great variety of forest products is produced. Indonesia is a major exporter of timber, accounting for nearly half of the world's tropical hardwood trade, but the rapid deforestation of Indonesia's hardwoods, mainly due to its expanding population and growing timber-related industries, has caused concern among international environmental groups and sparked ethnic conflict (particularly between immigrants and native Dyaks on Borneo). In addition, enormous out-of-control brush fires, started illegally during the dry season to clear land, have caused significant health, navigation, and economic hazards in some years.
Tin, nickel, bauxite, copper, coal, manganese, gold, and silver are mined, and salt is available in large quantities from shallow enclosed seashore lagoons. Iron and uranium are believed to exist in quantity but have not yet been exploited. Primarily a supplier of raw materials, the country began to industrialize and developed rapidly in the 1990s. The industrial sector includes the manufacture of textiles and clothing, building materials, chemical fertilizers, rubber tires, and electrical and electronic goods; there is also food, mineral, and wood processing. The government also promotes tourism, and Bali is a popular tourist destination.
Indonesia has attracted increased foreign investment in recent years, but corruption is widespread. Labor unrest has been a persistent problem due to the tensions between the predominantly ethnic Chinese business owners and a workforce made up almost entirely of ethnic Malays. The country's economy was severely impacted by the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and it continues to experience high unemployment and inflation, although the nation began to rebound in 2000. The main exports are natural gas and petroleum, electrical appliances, textiles, wood and wood products, and rubber. Imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs. Indonesia's main trading partners are Japan, Singapore, the United States, China, and South Korea.
Indonesia is governed under the constitution of 1945 (which was restored in 1959) as amended. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The vice president is similarly elected. The unicameral legislature consists of the 550-seat House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat; DPR), whose members are popularly elected (by proportional representation) from multimember constituences. This body plus 195 indirectly selected members make up the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat; MPR), which meets every five years to determine national policy and annually to consider constitutional amendments and other changes. Prior to 2004 the president and vice president were chosen by the MPR. For over 30 years, until 1999, the government was essentially controlled by the quasi-official Golkar party. Administratively, the country is divided into 30 provinces, 2 special regions, and the special capital city district of Jakarta; these are subdivided into 440 regencies (districts).
Early in the Christian era, Indonesia came under the influence of Indian civilization through the gradual influx of Indian traders and Buddhist and Hindu monks. By the 7th and 8th cent., kingdoms closely connected with India had developed in Sumatra and Java; the spectacular Buddhist temples of Borobudur date from this period. Sumatra was the seat (7th-13th cent.) of the important Buddhist kingdom of Sri Vijaya. In the late 13th cent. the center of power shifted to Java, where the fabulous Hindu kingdom of Majapahit had arisen; for two centuries it held sway over Indonesia and large areas of the Malay Peninsula. A gradual infiltration of Islam began in the 14th and 15th cent. with the arrival of Arab traders, and by the end of the 16th cent. Islam had replaced Buddhism and Hinduism as the dominant religion. The once-powerful kingdoms broke into smaller Islamic states whose internecine strife made them vulnerable to European imperialism.
Early in the 16th cent. the Portuguese, in pursuit of the rich spice trade, began establishing trading posts in Indonesia, after taking (1511) the strategic commercial center of Malacca (see Melaka) on the Malay Peninsula. The Dutch followed in 1596 and the English in 1600. By 1610 the Dutch had ousted the Portuguese, who were allowed to retain only the eastern part of Timor, but the English competition remained strong, and it was only after a series of Anglo-Dutch conflicts (1610-23) that the Dutch emerged as the dominant power in Indonesia.
Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th cent. the Dutch East India Company steadily expanded its control over the entire area. When the company was liquidated in 1799, the Dutch government assumed its holdings, which were thereafter known in English as the Netherlands (or Dutch) East Indies. Dutch rule was briefly broken (1811-14) during the Napoleonic Wars when the islands were occupied by the British under T. Stamford Raffles. The Dutch exploited the riches of the islands throughout the 19th cent., but their rule did not go unchallenged by the Indonesians. In 1825, Prince Diponegoro of Java launched a long and bloody guerrilla war against the colonists, and in 1906 and again in 1908 the native rulers of Bali led their subjects in suicidal charges against Dutch fortifications.Nationalism, Independence, and Sukarno
The Indonesian movement for independence began early in the 20th cent. The Indonesian Communist party (PKI) was founded in 1920; in 1927 the Indonesian Nationalist party (PNI) arose under the leadership of Sukarno. It received its impetus during World War II, when the Japanese drove out (1942) the Dutch and occupied the islands. In Aug., 1945, immediately after the Japanese surrender, Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta, another nationalist leader, proclaimed Indonesia an independent republic. The Dutch bitterly resisted the nationalists, and four years of intermittent and sometimes heavy fighting followed. Under UN pressure, an agreement was finally reached (Nov., 1949) for the creation of an independent republic of Indonesia. A new constitution provided for a parliamentary form of government. Sukarno was elected president, and Hatta became premier.
Although Sukarno had achieved a major accomplishment in uniting so many diverse peoples and regions under one government and one language, his administration was marked by inefficiency, injustice, corruption, and chaos. The rapid expropriation of Dutch property and the ousting of Dutch citizens (late 1950s) severely dislocated the economy; the country's great wealth was not exploited, and soaring inflation and great economic hardship ensued. A popular revolt, stemming from a desire for greater autonomy, began on Sumatra early in 1958 and spread to Sulawesi and other islands; the disorders led to increasingly authoritarian rule by Sukarno, who dissolved (1960) the parliament and reinstated the constitution of 1945, which had provided for a strong, independent executive (Hatta had resigned in 1956 following a conflict with Sukarno). The army, whose influence was strengthened by its role in quickly quelling the revolts, and the Communist party, whose ranks were growing very rapidly, constituted two important power blocs in Indonesian politics, with Sukarno holding the balance of power between the two.
In early 1962, Sukarno dispatched paratroopers to Netherlands New Guinea—territory claimed by Indonesia but firmly held by the Dutch—forcing the Dutch to agree to transfer that area to the United Nations with the understanding that it would pass under Indonesian administration in May, 1963, pending a referendum that was to be held by 1970. After the referendum, in Aug., 1969, Netherlands New Guinea was formally annexed by Indonesia, and its name was changed to West Irian (Irian Barat), then Irian Jaya, and later Papua. A guerrilla war was begun soon after by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM; Free Papua Movement), a group seeking Papua's independence.
Meanwhile, Sukarno made (1963) a major propaganda issue of Indonesian opposition to the newly created Federation of Malaysia and staged guerrilla raids into Malaysian territory on Borneo, beginning a conflict that was waged intermittently for three years. Sukarno began to lean increasingly toward the left, openly summoning Communist leaders for advice, exhibiting hostility toward the United States, and cultivating the friendship of Communist China. In 1965 he withdrew Indonesia from the United Nations. There is reason to believe that he may have known in advance of the abortive Communist coup against the army that began in Sept., 1965, with the assassination of six high army officials.The Suharto Regime
The coup was swiftly thwarted by army forces under General Suharto, who gradually assumed power (although retaining Sukarno as symbolic leader). Thousands of alleged Communists were executed; people everywhere took the law into their own hands and a widespread massacre ensued (Oct.-Dec., 1965). As many as 750,000 people may have been killed, including many ethnic Chinese; in E and central Java and in Bali entire villages were wiped out.
The new government steadily increased its power, aided by massive student demonstrations against Sukarno. General Suharto brought an end (1966) to hostilities against Malaysia, banned the PKI, reestablished close ties with the United States, and reentered (1966) the United Nations. Indonesia became one of the founding countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. On Mar. 12, 1967, the national assembly voted Sukarno out of power altogether and named General Suharto acting president.
Suharto was elected president in 1968, and reelected in 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1998. His government reinstated an earlier Dutch colonial policy of "transmigration," in which farmers from the overpopulated islands of Java and Bali were moved to underpopulated areas such as Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Indonesian New Guinea. The policy has had mixed results; though more than six million had moved by the 1990s, Java and Bali continue to be heavily populated. The economy began to grow rapidly in the 1970s, due mainly to expanded oil, gas, and timber exports; in the 1980s and 90s manufacturing for export became important.
In 1975-76, Indonesia annexed East Timor (a former Portuguese colony), and incorporated it as a province of the country; the takeover was not recognized by the United Nations. Following the annexation, separatists in the largely Roman Catholic province resisted Indonesian control, suffering substantial loss of life. Indonesia came under increasing criticism from the United States and international organizations for human-rights abuses in the area.
During Suharto's regime, his family held sway over much of Indonesia's economic life, and government corruption increased. While the economic conditions of many Indonesians improved, opposition to his policies continued to be suppressed. In Oct., 1997, the country was plunged into economic upheaval when its currency plummeted. The stock market followed soon after, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to provide the country with a $40 billion aid package in exchange for economic reforms. Struggling under a huge foreign debt and Suharto's reluctance to implement the IMF reforms, Indonesia's economy continued to worsen in 1998. Student protests and riots over rising prices broke out across the country, with increasing demands for Suharto to resign. Suharto stepped down in May, 1998, and his vice president, B. J. Habibie, assumed the presidency, pledging reform, clean government, and economic responsibility. In June, the government reached an agreement with foreign bankers on the rescheduling of nearly $80 billion in debt.
Early in 1999, Indonesia and Portugal reached an agreement permitting the people of East Timor to choose between limited autonomy within Indonesia and independence in a referendum. Fighting in East Timor between government security forces and anti-independence militias on one side and separatist guerrillas on the other increased in mid-1999 as the vote approached. In August, voters chose independence, but the territory descended into chaos as pro-Indonesian militias and the army engaged in a campaign of terror and brutality, killing proindependence Timorese and causing thousands to flee their homes. In Sept., 1999, after intense international pressure, President Habibie asked the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to the area, and in October the United Nations agreed to take full control of East Timor until independence, which was achieved in 2002. Even as the situation in East Timor quieted down, however, calls for independence rose in other provinces, particularly Aceh, in N Sumatra, and Papua.
Meanwhile, in the June, 1999, parliamentary elections, the Indonesian Democratic party of Struggle of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno, came in first with 34% of the vote; President Habibie's Golkar party came in second, with 22%. In the Oct., 1999, presidential elections, Abdurrahman Wahid, of the National Awakening party, became the country's first democratically elected president after Megawati failed to build the coalition needed to win; she was chosen by parliament as vice president. A Muslim theologian and religious leader, as well as a defender of human rights and religious tolerance, Wahid moved to increase civilian control over the military, which lost influence and prestige following Suharto's fall and the East Timor debacle. He also was forced to deal with often vociferous opposition in parliament. The economy began to revive in 2000, although the currency (rupiah) suffered a sharp loss in value.
In Feb., 2001, the parliament censured the president, who was implicated in two corruption scandals. Wahid, who had alienated Megawati and suffered a drop in popularity, was censured again in April. Although he was subsequently cleared of wrongdoing in the scandals, the parliament voted in July to remove him from office. Megawati succeeded Wahid as president. Subsequently the parliament passed laws granting limited autonomy (including substantial control over natural resources) to Aceh and Papua, in the hope of undercutting local secessionist movements, but violence in both provinces has continued. An agreement was signed with the Aceh rebels in Dec., 2002, raising hopes for peace that were dashed six months later when Indonesia ended what it regarded as fruitless talks and resumed military action.
Relations were strained with Malaysia in 2002 when as many as 400,000 Indonesians were forcibly deported under a tough new anti-illegal-immigrant law. Constitutional amendments passed in the same year called for the direct election of the president and the elimination of the seats reserved for the military in the national legislature. Both amendments took effect in 2004. In Oct., 2002, a terrorist bombing at a night club in Bali that was frequented by foreigners killed more than 200 people. The bombing was apparently by Indonesian Islamic radicals linked to Al Qaeda. Despite economic improvement since Megawati became president, corruption remains a major problem, having worsened significantly since Suharto's fall. A proposal in 2003 to split Papua into three provinces sparked new unrest there, and after legals appeals Papua was divided (2004) into Papua and West Irian Jaya (now West Papua).
Legislative elections in Apr., 2004, were a setback for Megawati's party, which came in second to Golkar; the latter won slightly more than a fourth of the seats. Seven parties secured significant blocks of seats. Megawati subsequently lost the presidency (Sept., 2004) to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general and security minister and the candidate of the Democrat party, after a runoff in Sept., 2004. The election was the first time that Indonesians were able to elect a president directly.
In Dec., 2004, a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake off NW Sumatra devastated Aceh, killing some 167,000 people, and a subsequent earthquake in March, caused much destruction on the islands of Simeulue and Nias, west of Sumatra. There was a polio outbreak in Java in May, 2005, that was linked to the persistence of the disease in W Africa and was believed to have been transmitted to Muslim pilgrims at Mecca. Indonesia began a massive immunization campaign that ultimately brought the outbreak under control. Acehnese rebels signed a peace agreement with the government in Aug., 2005, and subsequently disarmed in exchange for the establishment of local self-government. In May, 2006, an earthquake centered S of Yogyakarta in central Java killed some 5,800 people; a July quake off W Java caused a tsunami that killed some 400 people. Heavy rains caused massive flooding in the Jakarta area in Feb., 2007, forcing as many as 400,000 people from their homes. A series of severe earthquakes in Sept., 2007, caused caused much damage in W Sumatra.
In the parliamentary elections in Apr., 2009, the president's Democratic party won 148 seats; Golkar came in second (108 seats), followed by Megawati's party (93), and six other parties won seats. The July presidential elections were contested by Yudhoyono, Megawati, and, running as Golkar's candidate, Vice President Jusuf Kalla; the president secured a majority, avoiding a runoff election. An earthquake off the coast of W Sumatra in Sept., 2009, caused significant destruction and more than a thousand deaths in Padang and the surrounding area. In Nov., 2009, a scandal concerning attempts by high-ranking law-enforcement officials to damage the reputation of Indonesia's anticorruption agency by bringing false charges against two of its top officials hurt Yudhoyono when he failed to dismiss the law-enforcement officials.
See G. M. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia (1952, repr. 1970); C. A. Fisher, South-east Asia (1964); G. Coedès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia (1968); B. Dahm, History of Indonesia in the Twentieth Century (tr. 1971); H. R. Heekeren, The Stone Age of Indonesia (2d ed. 1972); W. T. Neill, Twentieth-Century Indonesia (1973); L. Palmier, ed., Understanding Indonesia (1985); D. Wilhelm, Emerging Indonesia (1986).
The Republic of Indonesia (Republik Indonesia), is a country in Southeast Asia. Comprising 17,508 islands, it is the world's largest archipelagic state. With a population of 222 million people in 2006, it is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority nation; however, no reference is made to Islam in the Indonesian constitution. Indonesia is a republic, with 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, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when the Srivijaya Kingdom traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually adopted Indian 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 Islam, and European powers 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.
Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest and most politically dominant ethnic group. As a unitary state and a nation, Indonesia has developed a shared identity 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. However, sectarian tensions and separatism have led to violent confrontations that have undermined political and economic stability. 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 is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty is a defining feature of contemporary Indonesia.
From 1900, the name Indonesia became more common in academic circles outside the Netherlands, and Indonesian nationalist groups adopted it for political expression. Adolf Bastian, of the University of Berlin, popularized the name through his book Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayischen Archipels, 1884–1894. The first Indonesian scholar to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau in the Netherlands with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in 1913.
Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the "Java Man", suggest that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago. Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, migrated to South East Asia from Taiwan. They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and confined the native Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions as they expanded. Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the eighth century BCE, allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first century CE. Indonesia's strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade. For example, trade links with both Indian kingdoms and China were established several centuries BCE. Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.
From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it. Between the eighth and 10th centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as Sailendra's Borobudur and Mataram's Prambanan. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century, and under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia; this period is often referred to as a "Golden Age" in Indonesian history.
Although Muslim traders first traveled through South East Asia early in the Islamic era, the earliest evidence of Islamized populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra. Other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam, and it was the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java. The first Europeans arrived in Indonesia in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalized colony.
For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over these territories was tenuous; only in the early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia's current boundaries. The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during World War II ended Dutch rule, and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed president. The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence (with the exception of The Dutch territory of West New Guinea, which was incorporated following the 1962 New York Agreement, and UN-mandated Act of Free Choice).
Sukarno moved from democracy towards authoritarianism, and maintained his power base by balancing the opposing forces of the Military, and the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by the army, who led a violent anti-communist purge, during which the PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively destroyed. Between 500,000 and one million people were killed. The head of the military, General Suharto, out-maneuvered the politically weakened Sukarno, and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration was supported by the US government, and encouraged foreign direct investment in Indonesia, which was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth. However, the authoritarian "New Order" was widely accused of corruption and suppression of political opposition.
In 1997 and 1998, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the Asian Financial Crisis. This increased popular discontent with the New Order and led to popular protests. Suharto resigned on 21 May 1998. In 1999, East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, after a twenty-five-year military occupation that was marked by international condemnation of often brutal repression of the East Timorese. The Reformasi era following Suharto's resignation, has led to a strengthening of democratic processes, including a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, and terrorism have slowed progress. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent and violence remain problems in some areas. A political settlement to an armed separatist conflict in Aceh was achieved in 2005.
Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the national government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. The president of Indonesia is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the president and vice president. The president may serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
The highest representative body at national level is the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president. The MPR comprises two houses; the People's Representative Council (DPR), with 550 members, and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), with 128 members. The DPR passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for five-year terms by proportional representation. Reforms since 1998 have markedly increased the DPR's role in national governance. The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management.
Most civil disputes appear before a State Court; appeals are heard before the High Court. The Supreme Court is the country's highest court, and hears final cassation appeals and conducts case reviews. Other courts include the Commercial Court, which handles bankruptcy and insolvency; a State Administrative Court to hear administrative law cases against the government; a Constitutional Court to hear disputes concerning legality of law, general elections, dissolution of political parties, and the scope of authority of state institutions; and a Religious Court to deal with specific religious cases.
The Indonesian Government has worked with other countries to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of major bombings linked to militant Islamism and Al-Qaeda. The deadliest killed 202 people (including 164 international tourists) in the Bali resort town of Kuta in 2002. The attacks, and subsequent travel warnings issued by other countries, severely damaged Indonesia's tourism industry and foreign investment prospects.
Indonesia's 300,000-member armed forces (TNI) include the Army (TNI-AD), Navy (TNI-AL, which includes marines), and Air Force (TNI-AU). The army has about 233,000 active-duty personnel. Defense spending in the national budget was 4% of GDP in 2006, and is controversially supplemented by revenue from military commercial interests and foundations. In the post-Suharto period since 1998, formal TNI representation in parliament has been removed; though curtailed; its political influence remains extensive. Separatist movements in the provinces of Aceh and Papua have led to armed conflict, and subsequent allegations of human rights abuses and brutality from all sides. Following a sporadic thirty year guerrilla war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military, a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2005. In Papua, there has been a significant, albeit imperfect, implementation of regional autonomy laws, and a reported decline in the levels of violence and human rights abuses, since the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Administratively, Indonesia consists of 33 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own political legislature and governor. The provinces are subdivided into regencies (kabupaten) and cities (kota), which are further subdivided into subdistricts (kecamatan), and again into village groupings (either desa or kelurahan). Following the implementation of regional autonomy measures in 2001, the regencies and cities have become the key administrative units, responsible for providing most government services. The village administration level is the most influential on a citizen's daily life, and handles matters of a village or neighborhood through an elected lurah or kepala desa (village chief).
The provinces of Aceh, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Papua, and West Papua have greater legislative privileges and a higher degree of autonomy from the central government than the other provinces. The Acehnese government, for example, has the right to create an independent legal system; in 2003, it instituted a form of Sharia (Islamic law). Yogyakarta was granted the status of Special Region in recognition of its pivotal role in supporting Indonesian Republicans during the Indonesian Revolution. Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, was granted special autonomy status in 2001. Jakarta is the country's special capital region.Indonesian provinces and their capitals
(Indonesian name in brackets where different from English)
† indicates provinces with Special Status Sumatra
Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited. These are scattered over both sides of the equator. The five largest islands are Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea), and Sulawesi. Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on the islands of Borneo and Sebatik, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea, and East Timor on the island of Timor. Indonesia also shares borders with Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines to the north and Australia to the south across narrow straits of water. The capital, Jakarta, is on Java and is the nation's largest city, followed by Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, and Semarang.
At 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,050 sq mi), Indonesia is the world's 16th-largest country in terms of land area. Its average population density is 134 people per square kilometer (347 per sq mi), 79th in the world, although Java, the world's most populous island, has a population density of 940 people per square kilometer (2,435 per sq mi). At 4,884 meters (16,024 ft), Puncak Jaya in Papua is Indonesia's highest peak, and Lake Toba in Sumatra its largest lake, with an area of 1,145 square kilometers (442 sq mi). The country's largest rivers are in Kalimantan, and include the Mahakam and Barito; such rivers are communication and transport links between the island's river settlements.
Indonesia's location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes, including Krakatoa and Tambora, both famous for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century. The eruption of the Toba supervolcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 167,736 in northern Sumatra, and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java and Bali.
Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands varies from 1,780–3,175 millimeters (70–125 in), and up to 6,100 millimeters (240 in) in mountainous regions. Mountainous areas—particularly in the west coast of Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua—receive the highest rainfall. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80%. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C (79–86 °F).
Indonesia's size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world's second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil), and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species. Once linked to the Asian mainland, the islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution have dwindled drastically.
Forests cover approximately 60% of the country. In Sumatra and Kalimantan, these are predominantly of Asian species. However, the forests of the smaller, and more densely populated Java, have largely been removed for human habitation and agriculture. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku—having been long separated from the continental landmasses—have developed their own unique flora and fauna. Papua was part of the Australian landmass, and is home to a unique fauna and flora closely related to that of Australia, including over 600 bird species. Indonesia is second only to Australia in its degree of endemism, with 26% of its 1,531 species of bird and 39% of its 515 species of mammal being endemic. Indonesia's 80,000 kilometers (50,000 mi) of coastline are surrounded by tropical seas that contribute to the country's high level of biodiversity. Indonesia has a range of sea and coastal ecosystems, including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems.
The British naturalist, Alfred Wallace, described a dividing line between the distribution and peace of Indonesia's Asian and Australasian species. Known as the Wallace Line, it runs roughly north-south along the edge of the Sunda Shelf, between Kalimantan and Sulawesi, and along the deep Lombok Strait, between Lombok and Bali. West of the line the flora and fauna are more Asian; moving east from Lombok, they are increasingly Australian. In his 1869 book, The Malay Archipelago, Wallace described numerous species unique to the surrounding area, which is now termed Wallacea.
Indonesia's high population and rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance. Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services. Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including the Sumatran Orangutan.
Indonesia's estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2007 is US$408 billion (US$1,038 bn PPP). In 2007, estimated nominal per capita GDP is US$1,812, and per capita GDP PPP was US$4,616 (International Dollars). The services sector is the economy's largest and accounts for 45.3% of GDP (2005). This is followed by industry (40.7%) and agriculture (14.0%). However, agriculture employs more people than other sectors, accounting for 44.3% of the 95 million-strong workforce. This is followed by the services sector (36.9%) and industry (18.8%). Major industries include petroleum and natural gas, textiles, apparel, and mining. Major agricultural products include palm oil, rice, tea, coffee, spices, and rubber.
Indonesia's main export markets (2005) are Japan (22.3%), the United States (13.9%), China (9.1%), and Singapore (8.9%). The major suppliers of imports to Indonesia are Japan (18.0%), China (16.1%), and Singapore (12.8%). In 2005, Indonesia ran a trade surplus with export revenues of US$83.64 billion and import expenditure of US$62.02 billion. The country has extensive natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia's major imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs.
In the 1960s, the economy deteriorated drastically as a result of political instability, a young and inexperienced government, and ill-disciplined economic nationalism, which resulted in severe poverty and hunger. Following President Sukarno's downfall in the mid-1960s, the New Order administration brought a degree of discipline to economic policy that quickly brought inflation down, stabilized the currency, rescheduled foreign debt, and attracted foreign aid and investment. Indonesia is Southeast Asia's only member of OPEC, and the 1970s oil price raises provided an export revenue windfall that contributed to sustained high economic growth rates. Following further reforms in the late 1980s, foreign investment flowed into Indonesia, particularly into the rapidly developing export-oriented manufacturing sector, and from 1989 to 1997, the Indonesian economy grew by an average of over 7%.
Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. Against the US dollar, the currency dropped from about Rp. 2,000 to Rp. 18,000, and the economy shrunk by 13.7%. The rupiah has since stabilized at around Rp. 10,000, and there has been a slow but significant economic recovery. Political instability since 1998, slow economic reform, and corruption at all levels of government and business, have contributed to the patchy nature of the recovery. (Transparency International, for example, ranked Indonesia 143rd out of 180 countries in its 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index). GDP growth, however, exceeded 5% in both 2004 and 2005, and is forecast to increase further. This growth rate, however, is not enough to make a significant impact on unemployment, and stagnant wages growth, and increases in fuel and rice prices have worsened poverty levels. As of 2006, an estimated 17.8% of the population live below the poverty line, 49.0% of the population live on less than US$2 per day, and unemployment rate at 9.75%.
Most Indonesians are descendant from Austronesian-speaking peoples who originated from Taiwan. The other major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia. There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. The largest 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 strongly maintained regional identities. Society is largely harmonious, although social, religious and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence. Chinese Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising less than 5% of the population. Much of the country's privately-owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-controlled, which has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence.
The official national language, Indonesian, is universally taught in schools, and is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. It was originally a lingua franca for most of the region, including present-day Malaysia, and is thus closely related to Malay. Indonesian was first promoted by nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language on independence in 1945. Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages (bahasa daerah), 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 500 or more indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages, in a region of just 2.7 million people. Much of the older population can still speak a level of Dutch.
Although religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam; Protestantism; Roman Catholicism; Hinduism; Buddhism; and Confucianism. Although it is not an Islamic state, Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with almost 86.1% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 census. 8.7% of the population is Christian, 3% are Hindu, and 1.8% 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 has around 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural differences developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Malay, and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances. Textiles such as batik, ikat and songket are created across Indonesia in styles that vary by region. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have been significant. The most popular sports in Indonesia are badminton and football; Liga Indonesia is the country's premier football club league. Traditional sports include sepak takraw, and bull racing in Madura. In areas with a history of tribal warfare, mock fighting contests are held, such as, caci in Flores, and pasola in Sumba. Pencak Silat is an Indonesian martial art. Sports in Indonesia are generally male-orientated and spectator sports are often associated with illegal gambling.
Indonesian cuisine varies by region and is based on Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, and Indian precedents. Rice is the main staple food and is served with side dishes of meat and vegetables. Spices (notably chili), coconut milk, fish and chicken are fundamental ingredients. Indonesian traditional music includes gamelan and keroncong. Dangdut is a popular contemporary genre of pop music that draws influence from Arabic, Indian, and Malay folk music. The Indonesian film industry's popularity peaked in the 1980s and dominated cinemas in Indonesia, although it declined significantly in the early 1990s. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Indonesian films released each year has steadily increased.
The oldest evidence of writing in Indonesia is a series of Sanskrit inscriptions dated to the 5th century CE. Important figures in modern Indonesian literature include: Dutch author Multatuli, who criticized treatment of the Indonesians under Dutch colonial rule; Sumatrans Muhammad Yamin and Hamka, who were influential pre-independence nationalist writers and politicians; and proletarian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia's most famous novelist. Many of Indonesia's peoples have strongly-rooted oral traditions, which help to define and preserve their cultural identities. Media freedom in Indonesia increased considerably after the end of President Suharto's rule, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media, and restricted foreign media. The TV market includes ten national commercial networks, and provincial networks that compete with public TVRI. Private radio stations carry their own news bulletins and foreign broadcasters supply programs. At a reported 20 million users in 2007, Internet usage is limited to a minority of the population, approximately 8.5%.