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The islands of the Indonesian archipelago are strung like beads across the equator. Clear blue seas lap pristine beaches, gentle breezes carry scents of spices and flowers, and divers are entranced by the ocean’s riches. Inland, dramatic volcanic ranges tower above a green mantle of terraced hillsides and lush rainforest. Bali offers an image of paradise: stunning scenery, gentle sarong-clad people and sunsets of legendary glory. On peaceful Lombok, life moves at a slower pace, while bustling Jakarta exhibits Indonesia’s cosmopolitan, modern face. Komodo Island’s ‘living dinosaurs’ and the entrancing ‘sea gardens’ of Suwalesi invite exploration, as do Borobudur’s architectural treasures, which include 5km (3 miles) of Buddhist relief carvings. Adventure-seekers head for Kalimantan’s remote jungle interior or explore Sumatra, with its teeming wildlife and wealth of tribal groups.

Yet modern Indonesia's amalgam of more than 17,500 islands and a wide variety of cultural and religious traditions, stemming from 1,000 years of maritime trade, have triggered troubles. The main independence movement, the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), emerged in the 1920s under the leadership of Ahmed Sukarno and, by 1949, finally claimed the country’s sovereignty. Such sovereignty did not get off to a good start - previous colonial powers had depleted much of Indonesia’s wealth while contributing little to its development. The Sukarno government also had to forge a national consciousness among dozens of mutually suspicious tribes and ethnic groups. The leaders therefore chose as their national motto the phrase Bhineka Tunggalika, meaning ‘unity in diversity’.

Indonesia lies between the mainland of South-East Asia and Australia in the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world’s largest archipelago state. Indonesia is made up of five main islands – Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan (part of the island of Borneo) and Irian Jaya (the western half of New Guinea) – and 30 smaller archipelagos. In total, the Indonesian archipelago consists of about 17,508 islands; 6,000 of these are inhabited and stretch over 4,828km (3,000 miles), most lying in a volcanic belt with more than 300 volcanoes, the great majority of which are extinct. The landscape varies from island to island, ranging from high mountains and plateau to coastal lowlands and alluvial belts.

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South-East Asia.


1,922,570 million sq km (742,308 sq miles).

245 million (CIA estimate 2006).

Population Density
127 per sq km.

Jakarta (Java).  Population: 13.2 million (UN estimate 2005).

Republic. Declared independence from The Netherlands in 1945.

Bahasa Indonesia is the official national language. Altogether, there are an estimated 583 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago. The older generation still speaks Dutch as a second language.

There is a Muslim majority of approximately 90%, with Christian, Hindu (mainly in Bali) and Buddhist minorities.

GMT + 7 (West) in Sumatra, Java and Western Borneo; GMT + 8 (Central) in Sulawesi, Lesser Sunda Islands, Bali and Eastern Borneo; GMT + 9 (East) in Papua and Maluku.

127/230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs used are European-style with two circular metal pins and British-style with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade.

Head of State
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono since 2004.

Country code: 62 (followed by 22 for Bandung, 21 for Jakarta, 61 for Medan and 31 for Surabaya). Many hotel lobbies have public phones which take credit cards and phone cards. State-operated phone booths or offices (Telkom, wartel, warpostel or warparpostel), which work on a pay-as-you-leave basis, can be found in towns and cities throughout the country.

Mobile Telephone
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage may be limited to main towns and cities.

There are Internet cafes in all major cities and tourist destinations.

Media freedom increased considerably after the end of President Suharto’s rule in 1998, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media and restricted foreign media.

Airmail to western Europe, the USA and Australia takes about 10 days. An express service is available.

Post office hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1500, Sat 0800-1300 (hours may be longer in city centers).

• Kompas and Pos Kota are mass-circulation dailies.
• English-language newspapers include The Jakarta Post.

• Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) is a public broadcaster that operates six national networks, regional and local stations, and the external service, Voice of Indonesia.

Below are listed Public Holidays for the January - December 2010 period.

1 January - New Year's Day.
14 February - Chinese New Year.
26 February - Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet).
16 March - Nyepi (Hindu New Year).
2 April - Good Friday.
28 April - Waisak Day (Buddha's Birthday).
13 May - Ascension.
9 July - Lailat al Miraj (Ascension of the Prophet).
17 August - Indonesian Independence Day.
11 September - Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
17 November - Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
7 December - Islamic New Year.
25 December / 26 December - Christmas Day/Boxing Day

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