Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many different languages. It’s known for beaches, volcanoes, Komodo dragons and jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans, and tigers. On the island of Java lies Indonesia’s vibrant, sprawling capital, Jakarta, and the city of Yogyakarta, known for its gamelan music and traditional puppetry.

Strategically positioned between the Pacific and Indian oceans, Indonesia is an archipelagic nation containing over 18,000 islands. Of those, the larger islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (which comprises two-thirds of the island of Borneo), Sulawesi, and Irian Jaya are quite mountainous, with some peaks reaching 12,000 ft. The highest elevations (over 16,000 ft) are found on Irian Jaya in the east, with the highest point being Puncak Jaya at 16,502 ft. (5,030 m). Indonesia’s former tallest peak, Mount Tambora (8,930 ft, 2,722 m), is an active stratovolcano whose 1815 eruption was the largest ever in recorded history – killing nearly 71,000 people. The explosion alone was heard as far west as Sumatra island, some 1,200 miles (2,000 km) away, and ashfalls were recorded on the islands of Borneo, Sulawesi, Java and Maluku. Located along the Ring of Fire, Indonesia has about 400 volcanoes within its borders, with at least 90 still active in some way. The most active volcanoes are Kelut (which has erupted more than 30 times since 1000 AD) and Merapi (which has erupted more than 80 times since 1000 AD) on Java island. Due to its location between numerous tectonic plates, including two continental plates: the Eurasian Plate (Sunda Shelf) and the Australian Plate (Sahul Shelf); and two oceanic plates: the Philippine Sea Plate and Pacific Plate; natural disasters are common in Indonesia. Most notable is the 9.2 earthquake that struck in the Indian Ocean which triggered the Tsunami of December, 2004 and devastated many of the islands within Indonesia’s archipelago. In addition to the mountainous landscape, much of the islands are covered in thick tropical rainforests that give way to coastal plains. Significant rivers of Indonesia include the Barito, Digul, Hari, Kampar, Kapuas, Kayan and Musi; as well, there are also scattered inland lakes that are relatively small in size.

Key Cities

Key cities in Indonesia include: Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Semarang, Bekasi, Tangerang, Depok, and Palembang

Historical, Cultural facts & Religion

The History of Indonesia or more precisely of the Indonesian archipelago in South East Asia with 17,508 islands goes back to Homo erectus (popularly known as the “Java Man”).  They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE. The native Melanesian peoples went to the far eastern regions.

Indonesia is centrally-located along ancient trading routes between the Far East, South Asia and the Middle East, resulting in many cultural practices being strongly influenced by a multitude of religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity, all strong in the major trading cities.

In the 2010 Indonesian census, 87.18% of Indonesians identified themselves as Muslim (with Sunnis about 99%, Shias about 1% and Ahmadis 0.2%), 7% Protestant Christian, 2.91% Catholic Christian, 1.69% Hindu, 0.72% Buddhist, 0.05% Confucianist, 0.13% other, and 0.38% unstated or not asked.

Brief Country History

The first people in Indonesia arrived about 40,000 years ago when sea level was lower and it was joined to Asia by a land bridge. Then at the end of the last ice age about 10,000 BC, a new wave of people came. At first, they hunted animals, collected shellfish and gathered plants for food. By about 2,500 BC they learned to grow crops such as taro, bananas, millet and rice. The early farmers also made pottery but all their tools were made of stone.

However, by 700 BC the Indonesians had learned to make bronze and iron. Furthermore, at that time wet rice cultivation was introduced. Indonesian villages were forced to co-operate to regulate the supply of water to their fields. In time organized kingdoms emerged. From about 400 BC Indonesians traded with other nations such as China and India. Hinduism and Buddhism were also introduced to Indonesia and they took route. By the 8th century AD Indonesian civilization was flourishing. Among the kingdoms was a Hindu kingdom in central Java called Sailandra. There was also the great Buddhist kingdom of Sriwijaya in south Sumatra. From the 7th century to the 13th century Sriwijaya prospered and it became a maritime empire controlling western Java and part of the Malay Peninsula. It was also a center of Buddhist learning. However, in the 13th century, the Sriwijaya Empire broke up into separate states. Meanwhile, Islam was brought to Indonesia by Indian merchants. It first gained a toehold in Aceh in north Sumatra and in the following centuries it spread through the rest of Indonesia.

However, in the 13th and 14th centuries, a Hindu kingdom flourished. It was called the Majapahit Empire. It was founded in 1292 and soon rose to dominate most of Indonesia. However, in the early 15th century the Majapahit Empire went into a rapid decline. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Indonesian economy began to recover. Today the economy of Indonesia is growing steadily. Today the population of Indonesia is 261 million.

Language (s) Written & Spoken

Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. It is a standardized register of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries.

Important Types of Commerce in Indonesia

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has the biggest economy and is among the world’s emerging market economies. On a global scale, the nation is ranked sixteenth in terms of the size of the economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP). Despite this impressive ranking, the nation has a GDP per capita that is well below the global average. The government is one of the biggest owners of enterprises in the nation with a total of 41 enterprises. Currently, however, private citizens and foreign investors or companies control a huge section of the economy after establishing themselves in the key industries of the state.

Looking at the data from 2006, the biggest industries in the state include agriculture, oil and gas manufacturing, non-oil and gas manufacturing, mining, trade, hotels, and restaurants, and a few others making respectable contributions to the economy. The sectors that had the most improvement between 2003 and 2006 include mining, electricity, gas, and water, transport, and communication.

Language Services US and others will provide working with Indonesia

Indonesian language, or Bahasa Indonesia, which literally means “the language of Indonesia” has been the official language since 1945 with the passing of the Indonesian declaration of Independence.  Indonesia is a neighbor of several countries that it does business with, and as such, there is significant demand for an Indonesian translator, Indonesian interpreter or Indonesian document translation.  Indonesian is spoken by almost everyone in Indonesia.  Most Indonesians are also fluent in their local dialect such as Balinese or Javanese with is predominately used at home and in their daily social lives. Your Indonesian interpreter will understand that the Indonesian language is used in the media outlets, business, and administrative purposes and taught in schools and universities.

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