Indonesia is the world's archipelagic country, it has a total of 17.508 islands. Indonesia extends between 6 degree country, it was until 11 degree indonesia, and from 97 degree until 144 degree, also it is situated between two continents .i.e. Asia and Australia/Oceania. This strategic location has a significant influence towards its Culture, Social, Politics and Economy.
Indonesia's territory extends along 3.977 mile between the Indian ocean and the pacific ocean. If the coastal area between the islands be connected, Indonesia's area would become 1.9 million square miles. There are five large islands in Indonesia, they are : Sumatera with an area of 473.606 square km, Java with an area of 132.107 square km, Borneo / Kalimantan (The third biggest island in the world) with an area of 539.460 square km, Sulawesi with an are of 189.216 square km, and Papua with an area of 421.981 square km.
The islands in Indonesia were formed in the Miocene Era (12 million years BC), Palaecene Era (70 million years BC), Eocene Era (30 million years BC) and Oligacene Era (25 million years BC). With the arrival of people from Asia, Indonesia was believed to have existed in the Pleistocene Era (4 million years BC). The islands were formed due to strong tectonic alterations in Australia and The Pacific. Therfore, this makes Indonesia to be one of the countries that often changes its geological area in the world. The mountains in the Indonesian islands number more than 400 volcanoes, of which 100 are still active. Indonesia suffers vibrations 3 times per day, earthquares occurs once a day, and a minimum of one volcano erupting per year.
Pancasila is the philosophical foundation of indonesia, which comes from two sanscrit words "PANCA" meaning Five, and "SILA" meaning Principles. Pancasila consists of Five Interconnecting Principles:
- The Belief in One God
- Humanity which is Civil and Just
- A United Indonesia
- Wise Representation of Democracy
- Social Justice for Every Indonesian Citizen
Indonesia is a Democratic country which is governed by a presidential system and pancasila constitute the Principles underlying Democracy. Democracy founded upon the Five Principles is called Democracy Pancasila. The country's foundation was announced by President Soekarno (Indonesia's First President) at the republic of Indonesia's Independance Proclamation on the 17th of August 1945
In Indonesian Archipelago there are about 583 languages and dialects spoken. Each dialect and language belongs to the different ethnic groups of population. The distinctly different local languages and dialects are: Acehnese, Bataknese, Sundanese, Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Toraja, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese, and several Irianese languages. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language, which is akin to Malay, written in Roman script and based on European orthography. In all tourist destination areas English is the number one foreign language fairly spoken and writer, whereas some Dutch is still spoken and understood in the bigger cities and French increasing in its popularity at the better hotels and restaurants. Many establishments serving tourists have personnel speaking in German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese.
- You can easily contact your country's embassy if you wish to have a translator accompany you in your journey.
- Most Indonesians in big cities understand a bit of English
As declared in the in the first principle of the State Philosophy Pancasila, Belief in one Supreme "God" meaning that Indonesian Constitution recognizes freedom of religion. Even though the majority of the population, about 85% is Moslem but Churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples are found throughout the country besides mosques of the Moslem faith
The population of Indonesia has grown vastly. Before the country's Independence in 1945 Indonesian population is 60 million people. By the year 1997, Indonesian population has reach over 200 million people, which make this country as the fourth most populous country in the world next to China, India and the United States. Culturally you would not find another nation with a richer ethnic diversity. There is always an emanating social energy in Indonesia to create the sense of togetherness. The Indonesia word "ramah tamah" (attitude of cordially and amiability towards others, especially guests) is innately embodied suggesting that throughout history the spirit of tolerance is deeply cultivated. Nowhere else could you find more than 300 ethnic groups speaking at least 500 languages living in harmony and communicating in one national language. Tourists are treated with respects, Indonesian, sometimes perhaps looking shy and uptight to you, are in fact displaying their observing attitude in their contact with foreigners. You can count on your smile to grease any awkward moment.
ART AND CULTURE
Indonesia is rich in arts and culture, which are intertwined with religion and age-old traditions from the time of early migrans with Western thought, brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonists.
The basic principles, which guide life include the concepts of mutual assistance or "gotong royong" and consultations or "musyawarah" to arrive at a consensus "mufakat". Derived from rural life, this code of behaviour or "adat" law is still verymuch in use in community life throughout the country and differs from area to area.
Religious influences on the community are evident from island to island. Unlike some countries, art forms in Indonesia are not only based on folklore, as many were developed in the courts of former kingdoms such as in Bali and Java, where they are part of religious ceremonies.
The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindy mythology. Highly stylized in movement and costume, dances and the "wayang" drama are accompanied by a full "gamelan" orchestra comprising of xylophones, drums, gongs, string instruments and flutes.
The bamboo "angklung" instruments of West Java are well-known for their unique tinkling notes. The "wayang kulit" or leather puppets of Java is performed with the puppets held by the puppeteer against a white screen, with the shadow of the characters on the screen visible from the other side where the audience are seated. The Bataks of North Sumatera form popular singing groups to entertain visitors in many international hotels.
The crafts of Indonesia vary in botrh medium and art form. The people are artistic by nature and express themselves on wood, metal, clay, cloth and stone. Batik, the famous waxed and dyed cloth of Java, is very much Indonesia. It is also being produced in some other area, like Bali, Jambi and Madura. Other provinces produce hand-woven cloths of gold and silver threads, silks or cotton with intricate designs.
Though the legal system is based on the old Dutch penal code, social life as well as the rites of passage are founded on customary or "adat" law which differs from area to area. "Adat" law has a binding impact on Indonesian life. Religious influences on the community are variously evident from island to island.
Many regions still have traditional villages you can visit. Check Cultural Tourism section in each region for more info.
Indonesian ancestors were born with talent for crafting things out of trees, metal, mud and rock. This led to the beauty and artful Indonesian handicrafts. Our love towards the beauty of rhythm and movements gave births to many performing arts, as well as traditional music and dances. Tips:
- Indonesians are helpful in nature. Don't be reluctant to ask for help or information.
- Check out www.culture.or.id for complete information about Indonesian culture
Being located near the equator, Indonesian climate is divided into two: dry and rainy seasons. Most of Indonesia has their rainiy seasons from October through April, but certain places like Maluku have theirs from March to August. During the rainy season, rain starts around noon and lasts into the afternoon. Some areas can have sudden showers for more than two hours.
This doesn't mean that there will be drought for half of the year. It is quite possible that there will be tropical showers in a dry season's afternoon, as much as dry, summer-like days in a rainy season.
The average precipitation for Indonesia is 150 mm per month.
The temperature is almost constant except for the exceptionally rainy season's nights, when it can drop. The temperature on the coast is about 28 degrees Celcius (82,4 in Fahrenheit) and drops dramatically in the highlands. For instance, in the highlands of Irian Jaya, temperatures at night can drop to about 7 degrees C (to even 0 degree on mountain tops), while during daytime they reach to about 22 degrees C.
The Indonesian archipelago is spread over 3 time zones. West Indonesia Standard Time GMT plus 7 hours, covering the island of Sumatera, Java, Madura and Kalimantan; Central Indonesia Standard Time is GMT plus 8 hours for Bali, Sulawesi and Nusatenggara Lesser Sunda Island and East Indonesia Standard Time is GMT plus 9 hours for Maluku and Irian Jaya.
Indonesia is divided into three time zones: Western Indonesia Time (Sumatra, Java, West and Central Kalimantan) is seven hours ahead of GMT. Central Indonesia Time (Bali, South and East Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara) is eight hours ahead of GMT. East Indonesia Time (Maluku, Irian Jaya) is nine hours ahead of GMT.
A valid international certificate of smallpox, cholera and yellow fever vaccinations is required only from travellers coming infected areas.
Health standards are improving rapidly in Indonesia and good medical care is available in all the major centers. However, if you are extending your trip with a tour to the more remote parts of the archipelago it is wise to consult a professional for advice as to what precautionary measures maybe necessary.