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Indonesia: a large archipelago of volcanic islands

Indonesia (Republik Indonesia) is a presidential republic of South-East Asia, with the capital Jakarta (Jakarta), which covers much of the vast archipelago located between Indochina and Australia, it includes more than 17,000 islands, some large as Sumatra, Java, the central-southern part of Borneo, the western part of New Guinea (West Irian), Sulawesi (Celebes), the western part of Timor, the Lesser Sunda Islands (Bali, Lombok, Flores, Sumbawa, Sumba, etc..), the Moluccas (Ceram, Halmahera, Buru, Ambon, Ternate, Tidore, etc..), Bangka etc. The Indonesian territory has land borders with Malaysia on the island of Borneo (Kalimantan), with Papua New Guinea in New Guinea, and with Timor-Leste in the island of Timor.

The Indonesian archipelago, with the exception of Borneo (736,000 sq km, the third island in the world for surface), is made up of islands of volcanic origin, of this are witness the more than 200 active volcanoes still present in the archipelago. The Indonesian islands stretching, along the equator, from west to east for over 5,000 km, separated from the Malay Peninsula through the Strait of Malacca.

We find the big island of Sumatra (420,000 sq km, the sixth largest island in the world), crossed throughout its length, about 1700 km, from a mountain range that exceeds in many points 2,000 and sometimes 3,000 meters, the Barisan mountains, full of volcanoes, including the highest Indonesia volcano, Gunung Kerinci (3,800 metres). Towards the east the mountains slope down on a flat and marshy coast, while in the north of the island is Lake Toba (1,264 sq km) lake of volcanic origin, with in the middle Samosir Island.

The biggest cities on the island of Sumatra are Medan, Palembang, Padang, Jambi, Pematangsiantar, Bukittinggi and Banda Aceh. To the south-east the Sunda Strait divides Sumatra from Java island, here lies the island volcano Krakatoa (813 metres) one of the more destructive volcanoes in the world.

The island of Java (125,900 sq km), fertile, with around 125 million inhabitants is the most populated island of the archipelago, Java is covered by a volcanic mountain chain with more than 100 volcanic cones, of which 27 are still active, some of which exceed the height of 3,000 meters (Cereme, Slamet, Sundoro, Sumbing, Merbabu, Lawu, Arjuno-Welirang, Iyang-Argapura, Raung). The highest volcano on the island is the Gunung Semeru (3,676 meters). Apart from the capital, Jakarta, the main centers of the island of Java are: Surabaya, main port, Bandung, Solo (Surakarta), Yogyakarta and Semarang. East of Java begin the Lesser Sunda Island archipelago with Bali (5,532 sq km), Lombok (4,725 sq km), Sumbawa (15,448 sq km), Flores (13,540 sq km), Sumba (11,153 sq km) and Timor (30,777 sq km), are those islands also with numerous volcanoes such as Gunung Agung (3,142 meters) in Bali, Gunung Rinjani (3,726 meters) in Lombok, Gunung Tambora (2,850 meters) in Sumbawa, Kelimutu, Egon, Ilimuda, Leroboleng, Lewotobi and Poco Ranakah (2,100 metres) in Flores.

To the north of the Lesser Sunda Islands is the island of Sulawesi (Celebes, 172,000 sq km), rough and mountainous, with several peaks above 3,000 meters, it reaches the maximum height with mounts Rantekombola (3,455 meters) and Rantemario (3,478 meters), the most important cities are Ujung Pandang and Manado. To the west of Sulawesi is the large island of Borneo (736,000 sq km, the third island in the world in size), covered by lush equatorial forests, of which only two-thirds belong to Indonesia. The main cities of the Indonesian Borneo are Banjarmasin, Pontianak, Balikpapan and Samarinda.

East of Sulawesi extends the archipelago of the Moluccas (Maluku), volcanic islands once known as the Spice Islands, the most important are Halmahera (17,780 sq km), Ceram (Seram), Ambon, Buru, Bacan, Ternate and Tidore. The Gunung Binaiya (3,027 metres) on Ceram (Seram) is the highest mountain in the Moluccas. To the east of the Moluccas is New Guinea (785,000 sq km), the second largest island in the world (after Greenland), of which only the western section is part of Indonesia. New Guinea is crossed from the north-west to south-east by the chain of Maoke Mountains, which in the Indonesian section presenting the highest peak of the nation, Puncak Jaya (4,884 metres).

Indonesia is a country rich in raw materials, but its economy is still based on agriculture, the main crop is rice (Java, Sumatra, Borneo, etc..), Of which Indonesia is one of the leading world producers, among other crops are coffee (the largest producer in Asia and among the first in the world), cassava, palm trees (cover), sweet potatoes, corn, vegetables (tomatoes, onions) and fruit (bananas, citrus and pineapple), cane sugar, tea (Java), tobacco (Sumatra, Java), spices (cloves, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon). Very rich are also the forest resources which form about 60% of the territory of the country there are valuable essences like teak, ebony, mahogany, sandalwood, bamboo, rattan; important is the production of rubber for which Indonesia is the second largest producer in the world after Thailand. The farming sector is marginal, while fishing (mackerel, tuna, sardines, shrimp and prawns) is a basis sector for the country’s economy, since the rice and fish together are the base of Indonesian food.

Indonesia is rich in subsoil resources, oil (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java), natural gas (Sumatra), tin (Riau islands, Singkep, Bangka and Belitung), bauxite (Bintan island), nickel (Sulawesi), coal (Sumatra, Kalimantan), copper, manganese, iron, diamonds, gold, silver, phosphates, salt and uranium (Borneo) are the main mineral resources. Most industries, concentrated in Java, are linked to the processing of raw materials such as oil refining or processing of agricultural and earth products as the production of tobacco, wood and food, but also the chemical industry (fertilisers), textiles and electronic equipment (radio and television). Tourism is an important source of income, but would have significant development opportunities.

  • Area: 1,919,440 sqkm. (Arable 16%, Pastures 6%, Forests and Woodlands 59%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 19%)
  • Population: 234,693,000 (2007 data). (Javanese 42%, Sundanese 15%, Malay 3%, Madurese 3%, Batak 3%)
  • State Capital: Jakarta.
  • Languages: The official language is Indonesian. Spoken several hundred local languages.
  • Religion: Muslim 86%, Christian 9% (Protestant 6%, Catholic 3%), Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, Confucian.
  • Currency: Rupiah (IDR)
  • Time: UTC +7, +8, +9 hours.

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