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Indonesia: a large archipelago of volcanic islands

Indonesia (Republik Indonesia) is a presidential republic of Southeast Asia, with capital Jakarta. This country extends over a large part of the vast archipelago located between Indochina and Australia. It includes over 17,000 islands, some large ones such as Sumatra, Java, the central-southern part of Borneo, the western part of New Guinea (Western 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.) etc.

The Indonesian territory has land borders with Malaysia on the island of Borneo (Kalimantan), with Papua New Guinea in New Guinea, and with East Timor (Timor-Leste) on the island of Timor. The Indonesian archipelago, with the exception of Borneo (736,000 km², the third largest island in the world), is made up of islands of volcanic origin. The over 200 still active volcanoes in the archipelago bear witness to this. The Indonesian islands stretch, over the equator, from west to east for over 5,000 km.

THE SUMATRA ISLAND

To the west, separated from the Malay peninsula by the Strait of Malacca, we find the large island of Sumatra (420,000 km², the sixth largest island in the world). This island is crossed for its entire length, about 1,700 km, by a mountainous system that in many points exceeds 2,000 and sometimes 3,000 meters: the Barisan mountains. These mountains are rich in volcanoes, including Indonesia’s highest volcano, the Gunung Kerinci (3,800 meters). To the east the mountains slope down onto a flat and marshy coast, while in the north of the island is Lake Toba (1,264 sq km), a lake of volcanic origin with the island of Samosir in the center. The main cities of the island of Sumatra are Medan, Palembang, Padang, Jambi, Pematangsiantar, Bukittinggi and Banda Aceh.

THE ISLAND OF JAVA

To the southeast, the Strait of Sunda divides Sumatra from the island of Java. Here is the island with the Krakatoa volcano (813 meters) one of the most destructive volcanoes on the planet. The highly fertile island of Java (132,000 km²) with about 135 million inhabitants is the most populated island in the archipelago. Java is crossed by a volcanic mountain range with over 100 volcanic cones, of which 27 are still active, some of which exceed 3,000 meters in height. The highest volcano on the island is Gunung Semeru (3,676 meters).

In addition to the capital of the country, Jakarta, the main centers of the island of Java are: Surabaya, the main port of the island, Bandung, Solo (Surakarta), Yogyakarta and Semarang.

THE LESSER SUNDA ISLANDS

To the east of Java, the archipelago of the Lesser Sunda Islands begins with Bali (5,532 km²), Lombok (4,725 km²), Sumbawa (15,448 km²), Flores (13,540 km²), Sumba (11,153 km²) and Timor (30,777 km²). They are also islands with numerous volcanoes such as the Gunung Agung (3,142 meters) in Bali. The Gunung Rinjani (3,726 meters) in Lombok. The Gunung Tambora (2,850 meters) in Sumbawa. The Kelimutu, the Egon, the Ilimuda, the Leroboleng, the Lewotobi and the Little Ranakah (2,100 meters) in Flores.

THE ISLAND OF SULAWESI (CELEBES)

To the north of the Lesser Sunda Islands is the sprawling, rugged and mountainous island of Sulawesi (Celebes, 172,000 km²), with several peaks over 3,000 meters. This island reaches its maximum height with the Rantekombola (3,455 meters) and Rantemario (3,478 meters) mountains. The most important cities on the island are Makassar and Manado.

THE ISLAND OF BORNEO

To the west of Sulawesi is the large island of Borneo (736,000 km², the third largest island in the world). this island is covered by lush equatorial forests, of which only two thirds belong to Indonesia. The main centers of Indonesian Borneo are the cities of Banjarmasin, Pontianak, Balikpapan and Samarinda.

THE MOLUCCAS ISLANDS

To the east of Sulawesi lies the archipelago of the Moluccas Islands (Maluku). They are volcanic islands once famous as spice islands. The most important are Halmahera (17,780 km²), Ceram (Seram), Ambon, Buru, Bacan, Ternate and Tidore. Gunung Binaiya (3,027 meters) on the island of Ceram (Seram) is the highest mountain in the Moluccas.

THE NEW GUINEA

To the east of the Moluccas lies New Guinea (785,000 km²), the second largest island in the world (after Greenland), of which only the western section is part of Indonesia. New Guinea is crossed from north-west to south-east by the chain of the Maoke Mountains. Which in the Indonesian section of the island have the highest peak of the entire nation, the Puncak Jaya (4,884 meters).

THE ECONOMY OF INDONESIA

AN AGRICULTURAL ECONOMY

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 world’s largest producers. Other crops include coffee (the largest Asian producer and among the first in the world), cassava, coconut palm (copra), sweet potatoes, corn, vegetables (tomatoes, onions) and fruit ( bananas, citrus and pineapples), sugar cane, tea (Java), tobacco (Sumatra, Java), spices (cloves, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon).

CONSIDERABLE FORESTRY RESOURCES

The forest resources that make up about 60% of the country’s territory are also very rich. In the Indonesian forests there are precious essences such as teak, ebony, mahogany, sandalwood, bamboo, rattan. Very important is the production of rubber for which Indonesia is in second place in the world after Thailand.

Breeding is a marginal sector. While fishing (mackerel, tuna, sardines, prawns and prawns) represents a basic sector of the country’s economy. Being the fish together with the rice at the base of the Indonesian diet.

IMPORTANT RAW MATERIALS

Indonesia is very rich in subsoil resources.  The main mineral resources are 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).

Most of the industries, concentrated in Java, are related to the processing of raw materials, such as oil refining, or to the transformation of agricultural and land products such as the production of tobacco, timber and food. There are also chemical (fertilizers), textile, electronic (radio and television) and automotive industries. Tourism is an important source of income, but it would have significant development possibilities.

The climate of Indonesia.

  • Area: 1,919,440 sqkm. (Arable 16%, Pastures 6%, Forests and Woodlands 59%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 19%)
  • Population: 237,000,000 (2011 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.

This post is also available in: German

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