Land area: 1,919,317 sq km
The Republic’s 17,500 islands (6,000 inhabited) stretch over 9.5 million sq km of the Indian/Pacific Oceans, with 33 provinces, 5 of which have special status. Includes the world’s second-largest rain forest and vast coral reefs.
Tens of thousands of tropical coastline miles hem in the world’s largest archipelagic state of Indonesia. With over 17,000 islands separating the Indian Ocean from the Pacific, Indonesia and its people are as numerous as the islands themselves, and it stands as the fourth most populous country in the world.
Unity proves to be a constant challenge as over 722 languages are spoken and people are scattered across 6,000 islands varying in composition from rural fishing villages to highly metropolitan megacities.
Official language: Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). Its increasing use is unifying the nation and lessening the importance of smaller languages to the younger generation
The 2004 undersea earthquake and tsunami, which left over 220,000 either dead or missing and displaced millions more, established a tragic sense of unity, yet challenges remain.
From the early 16th century until the mid-1940s, Indonesia found itself at the center of colonization and imperialism. The Portuguese, Dutch, British, and Japanese all took turns as uninvited rulers of Indonesian lands, but the nation gained independence by 1945.
A 1965 communist coup brought General Suharto into power, and while the economy flourished for periods of his thirty-year reign, Suharto was an oppressive dictator who led with little regard for his people. Riots and a collapsing economy ended Suharto’s rule in 1997 and ushered in a time of reconstruction.
Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is one of the emerging market economies of the world. In 2012, Indonesia replaced India as the second-fastest-growing G-20 economy, behind China.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of palm oil, providing about half of the world’s supply.
Economic disparity and the flow of natural resource profits to Jakarta has led to discontent and even contributed to separatist movements.