Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, consist of five major islands and about 30 smaller groups. There are total of 17,508 islands of which about 6000 are inhabited. Straddling the equator, the archipelago is on a crossroads between two oceans, it is Pacific and Indian Ocean and bridges of two continents, they are Asia and Australia.
The territory of Indonesia stretches from 6°08' N latitude to 11°15' S latitude, and from 94°45' E to 141°05' E longitude and total area of Indonesia is 1,919,440 kilometre square. The land: 1,826,440 kilometre square and sea area: 93,000 kilometre square. The five main islands are: Sumatra 473,606 km square, the most fertile and densely populated islands, Java/Madura is 132,107 km square, Kalimantan, which comprises two-thirds of Borneo island 539,460 km square, Sulawesi 189,216 km square, and then Papua 421,981 km square, which is part of the world's second largest island, it is Papua New Guinea.
The country is predominantly mountainous with 400 volcanoes which are 100 active. The highest mountain is the perpetually snow capped Mandala top 6000 meters on mount Jaya Wijaya range of Papua. Plenty of rivers flow throughout to the country. They serve as useful transportation routes on certain islands, like: Musi, Batanghari, Indragiri and Kampar rivers in Sumatra; Kapuas, Barito, Mahakam and Rejang rivers in Borneo and Memberamo and Digul rivers in Papua.
Weather and Climate
Because of its proximity to equator, that is why Indonesia has tropical climate. Normally the weather is hot and humid. Indonesian climate is divided become two distinct seasons: dry and rainy seasons. Most of Indonesia has their rainy season from November up to April, but certain places like Maluku have theirs from March up to August. During rainy season, the rain starts around noon time and lasts into the afternoon. Some areas could have sudden showers for more than three hours.
The dry season does not mean that there is no rain. In fact tropical showers in a dry season is a regular affair. The temperature is constant except for the exceptionally rainy season's nights, when it could drop. The temperature on the coast is about 28° Celsius and drops dramatically in the highlands. For instance, in the highlands of Papua, temperatures at night can drop to about 7° C, while during daytime they reach about 22° C.
The present day, Indonesia culture is an outcome of the interplay of age old traditions from the time of early migrants and the Western thought brought by Dutch Colonist and Portuguese traders. The basic principles, which guide life include the concepts of mutual assistance and consultations to arrive at a consensus or result. Derived from rural life, this system is still very much in use in community life throughout the Indonesia country. Though the legal system is based on the Old Dutch penal code and the social life as well as the rites of passage is founded on customary or "adat" law, which differs from place to other. Adat law has been instrumental in maintaining gender equality in Indonesia.
The crafts of Indonesia vary in both medium and art form. The people are artistic by nature and express themselves on canvas, wood, metal, clay and stone. The batik process of waxing and dyeing originated in Java centuries ago and classic designs have been modified with modern trends in both pattern and technology. There are some centre of Batik in Java, the major one being Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Pekalongan and also Cirebon.
Indonesia is rich of handicrafts and various forms practiced are: woodcarvings for ornamentation and furniture, silver work and engraving from Yogyakarta and Sumatra; filigree from South Sulawesi and Bali with different styles of clay, sandstone and wood sculptures.
The majority of the population follows Islam, it is 81%. In fact Indonesia is the nation with largest population of Muslim. However, freedom of religion is provided by the Indonesian Constitution, which is defined in First Principle of the State Philosophy of Pancasila, which upholds a Belief in One Supreme God. Other religions followed in Indonesia are Christian, Catholic, Buddhist and Hindu.
Rice is the staple food in most parts of Indonesia though some variation is found in some of the islands in eastern Indonesia where staple food ranges from corn, sago, cassava to sweet potatoes. The things are changing fast and here also rice is catching them up in popularity. Fried rice, fried noodle and gado-gado (vegetables topped with peanut sauce and sliced boiled egg) are some of the typical Indonesian dishes.
As Indonesia is an archipelago, fish is one of the favourite food items and various types of fish feature prominently in the diet. Seafood found in abundance and has great variety such as lobster, oyster, prawns, shrimp, squid, crab, and others. Coconut is ubiquitously available and apart from being used as cooking oil its milk and pulp is used as an ingredient in plenty of dishes. Beef and chicken are widely available; pork is only found in Chinese restaurants or in non-Muslim regions. Coconut, soy sauce, chili and peanut sauce are common flavouring. Some of the major fruits found in Indonesia are jack fruit, durian, star fruit, papaya, pineapple and mango.
The local currency of Indonesia is IDR Rupiah, Bills come in denominations of 100, 500, 1.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000 and 100.000. Coins come in denominations of 25, 50 and 100. Foreign currencies, either banknotes or traveler checks, are easily exchanged at banks and money changers in major tourist destinations. Credit card is accepted at most hotels and restaurants in main cities. It is very advisable to carry sufficient amounts of Rupiah when traveling to smaller towns or outer provinces.