Indonesia, also known as the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia, lies between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The country shares its land borders with East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east and with Malaysia to the north. Australia is to the south, and Philippines, Palau, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand are to the north.With over 18,110 islands, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the w
Indonesia, also known as the sleeping giant of Southeast Asia, lies between the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The country shares its land borders with East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the east and with Malaysia to the north. Australia is to the south, and Philippines, Palau, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand are to the north.
With over 18,110 islands, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. Out of these, only 6,000 islands are inhabited.
With a population of more than 230 million, Indonesia after China, India and USA is the fourth most populous country of the world. In addition, the country is by far the largest in Southeast Asia. The country is home to the largest Muslim population in the world.
It is believed that the earliest Inhabitants of this land of Komodo Dragons were of Burmese or Indian origin. However, the oldest known inhabitants of this country were Java men or pithecanthropus. Later migrants from Indochina and Southern China came to Indonesia around 3000 BC and were known as Malaya.
Trade between China, India and these islands have been thriving since the 1st century AD as mentioned in Chinese chronicles. During the 8th and 9th century, a Buddhist Borobudur temple was built in Central Java. This temple was constructed by the Sailendra Dynasty of the Mataram Kingdom. This was followed by the construction of the Hindu Prambanan Temple by the Civaistic King, Rakai Pikatan.
From 1294 to the 15th century, the Majapahit Kingdom in East Java controlled large parts of this country. During the 13th century, Islam was introduced by merchants who entered the country through the trade route via India. All through the history, traders of different religions have introduced Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other religions of the world in Indonesia.
The first European to set foot on Sumatra was Marco Polo. Later, the Portuguese and Spaniards arrived in the world's largest archipelago, in search of the Spice Islands. In 1596, the first Dutch reached the shores of West Java. The Dutch arrived in the country, gradually colonised it over the next three centuries and named it as the Dutch East Indies.
On 17th August, 1945 the Japanese army was defeated in the Second World War. After this, under the leadership of Hatta and Soekarno, the people of Indonesia declared their independence. Independence was not granted easily and it was in the year 1950 that the Dutch government finally recognised Indonesia’s independence.
Jakarta, the capital of the Republic of Indonesia, is located on the north coast of western Java. The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is the seat of government and is also the centre of finance and business. After sixty five years of independence, Indonesia has now become the third largest democracy in the world.
With the presence of different cultures in the country, there is no one dominant culture in Indonesia. However, the Hindu culture brought in by the former Majapahit Empire forms the framework for the cultural traditions of the Java, Sumatra and Bali. At present, the culture of Indonesia is largely dominated by the Javanese, which is the largest ethnic group.
The culture of Indonesia, along with several other things like artwork, handicraft, orchestra and others attract tourists year-round. One of the most popular Indonesian art form is the wayang kulit shadow puppetry. In this, the intricately detailed cut-outs depicting the scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are performed, along with other popular folk stories.
Gamelan orchestra is also quite popular. The metallic rhythms form the backdrop of religious ceremonies as well as traditional entertainment. Besides, one can find several notable items such as batik cloth and kris daggers. In addition, literature of Indonesia has made headway on the world platform as well, with the displays of works of Pramoedya Ananta Toer which was initially banned in his homeland.
The best time to visit Indonesia is during the months of May through October, which form the dry season.
Coordinates: 5 º00 S, 120 º00 E
Climate/Weather: 25 º C - 28 º C all round the year