From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Topography of the island
Location South East Asia
Coordinates 8°33′54″S 116°21′04″E / 8.565°S 116.351°E / -8.565; 116.351
Archipelago Lesser Sunda Islands
Area 4,725 km2 (1,824.3 sq mi)
Highest elevation 3,726 m (12,224 ft)
Highest point Rinjani
Province West Nusa Tenggara
Largest city Mataram
Population 2,950,105 (as of 2005)
Density 792 /km2 (2,051 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Sasak, Balinese

Lombok (population 2,950,105 in 2005) is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east. It is roughly circular, with a “tail” to the southwest, about 70 km across and a total area of about 4,725 km² (1,825 sq mi). The provincial capital and largest city on the island is Mataram.



A temple in Lombok C1925

Lombok has a rich and enduring indigenous culture. The strong remnant culture and history of the indigenous Sasak people is one of the many unique attractions of the island. The majority of Sasak people are now Muslim [1] however before the arrival of Islam Lombok experienced a long period of Hindu and Buddhist influence that reached the island through Java. To this day a minority Balinese Hindu culture remains strong in Lombok.

Some have described Islam as being first brought to Lombok by traders arriving from Sumbawa in the 17th century who then established a following in eastern Lombok. Other accounts describe the first influences arriving in the first half of the 16th century. The palm leaf manuscript Babad Lombok which contains the history of Lombok describes how Sunan Prapen was sent by his father The Susuhunan Ratu of Giri on a military expedition to Lombok and Sumbawa in order to convert the population and propagate the new religion. However the new religion took on a highly syncretistic character, frequently mixing animist and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs and practices with Islam.[2]

Masters of Ceremonies employed by the Balinese rulers of Lombok C1870.

This remained so until a more orthodox version of Islam slowly began to become popular in the beginning of the 20th century. The Indonesian government agamaization programs (acquiring of a religion) in Lombok during 1967 and 1968 led to a period of some considerable confusion in religious allegiances and practices. These agamaization programs later led to the emergence of more conformity in religious practices in Lombok. The Hindu minority religion is still practised in Lombok alongside the majority Muslim religion.

Hinduism is followed by the many ethnic Balinese who have travelled across the Lombok Straight from Bali as well as some people of indigenous Sasak origin. All the main Hindu religious ceremonies are celebrated in Lombok and there are many villages throughout Lombok that have a Hindu majority population. According to local legends two of the oldest villages on the island, Bayan and Sembalun, were founded by a prince of Majapahit. The Nagarakertagama, the 14th century palm leaf poem that was found on Lombok, places the island as one of the vassals of the Majapahit empire. This manuscript contained detailed descriptions of the Majapahit Kingdom and also affirmed the importance of Hindu-Buddhism in the Majapahit empire by describing temple, palaces and several ceremonial observances[3].

The Christian religion is practised by some of Chinese ethnicity and other Indonesians who live in Lombok, especially those from East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur). There is also a small Arab community in Lombok who’s history dates back to early settlement by traders from Yemen. The small community is still evident mainly in Ampenan, the old Port of Mataram. Due to the siting of a UNHCR [1] refugee centre in Lombok some refugees from middle eastern countries have intermarried with Lombok people. Recently many people of Iraqi heritage have arrived in Lombok and many are suspended in limbo whilst trying to seek immigration to nearby Australia.

A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu (“Three times”), who as the name suggests pray only three times daily, instead of the five times stipulated in the Quran. Many of the Waktu Telu beliefs are entwined with animism. Waktu Telu has influences not only of Islam, but also Hinduism and pantheistic beliefs. There are also remnants of Boda (people without a religion) who maintain Pagan Sasak beliefs. The Boda are also referred to as Bodha and often by the Sasak people as Buda this apparently arising from the habit in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s of assigning Boda people to the Buddhist religion so as to ascribe their beliefs and practices to an officially recognised religion. There is some considerable uncertainty about this though as others believe that the term Buda was simply a pejorative term used by the Islamized Sasak to indicate those groups that refused to convert to Islam. If this hypothesis is true, the remnants of the Boda religion can be seen as representing a kind of original Sasak culture, undiluted by later Islamic innovations.[4] Many influences of animist belief still prevail within the Sasak people and most Sasak people believe strongly in the existence of spirits or ghosts. The sasak people regard both food and prayer as indispensable whenever they seek to communicate with spirits, including the dead [5] and many ritualistic traditional Sasak practices still endure despite the influences of both modernity and orthodox Islam. Traditional magic is practised to ward off evil and illness and to seek solutions to disputations and antipathy. There are a range of outcomes sought ranging from love spells to death. Thieves will often have magic used upon them so that their bodies will become ‘hot’ leading to a confession, a frequent trespasser may become disoriented and become ‘lost’ or a boy may fall under a girls spell of desire and fall in love with her. Magic may be practised by an individual alone but normally a person experienced in such things is sought out to render a service. Normally money or gifts are made to this person and the most powerful practitioners are treated with considerable respect.

Dutch intervention in Lombok and Karangasem against the Balinese in 1894.

The Dutch first visited Lombok in 1674 and settled the eastern most part of the island leaving the western half to be ruled by a Hindu dynasty from Bali. Also in 1674 the Dutch East India Company concluded it’s first treaty with the Sasak Princess of Lombok. In 1692 the Balinese invaded Lombok and by about 1740 the Balinese had effective control of the whole island with four small Balinese kingdoms feuding over control. In 1838 the King of Mataram overthrew his opponents and took over control of Lombok. The Sasak frequently rebelled against the Balinese rulers until eventually the Dutch intervened and despatched a military expedition to topple the Mataram ruler in 1894. [6]

The entire island was annexed to the Netherlands East Indies in 1895 after the Dutch intervention in Lombok

Main article: Dutch intervention in Lombok and Karangasem

[edit] Geography and demographics

Gunung Rinjani

The Lombok Strait marks the passage of the biogeographical division between the fauna of the Indomalayan ecozone and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia that is known as the Wallace Line, for Alfred Russel Wallace [2], who first remarked upon the distinction between these two major biogeographical regions and how abrupt the boundary was between the two biomes [3].

The island’s topography is dominated by the centrally-located stratovolcano Mount Rinjani, which rises to 3,726 m (12,224 ft), making the second highest volcano in Indonesia and the nations third highest mountain. The most recent eruption of Rinjani was in May, 2010 at Gunung Barujari. Ash was reported as rising up to two km into the atmosphere from the Barujari cone in Rinjani’s caldera lake of Segara Anak. Lava flowed into the caldera lake, pushing its temperature up and crops on the slopes of Rinjani were damaged by ash fall. The volcano, and its crater lake, ‘Segara Anak’ (child of the sea), are protected by the Gunung Rinjani National Park established in 1997.

The highlands of Lombok are forest clad and mostly undeveloped. The lowlands are highly cultivated. Rice, soybeans, coffee, tobacco, cotton, cinnamon, cacao, cloves, cassava, corn, coconuts, copra, bananas and vanilla are the major crops grown in the fertile soils of the island. The southern part of the island is fertile but dryer especially toward the southern coastline.

The island’s inhabitants are 85% Sasak whose origins are thought to have migrated from Java in the first millennium BC and number around 2.6 million of a total population 2.95 million (2005). Other residents include 10–15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Chinese, Arab, Javanese, and Sumbawanese. The Sasak population are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority are Muslim and the landscape is punctuated with mosques and minarets. Islamic traditions and holidays influence the Island’s daily activities.

[edit] Economy and politics

Proximity to Bali is Lombok’s blessing, and its curse. “While only 25 miles separate the two islands, they are in fact worlds apart”[7]. Indeed, overzealous tourism officials notwithstanding, Lombok is not “an unspoiled Bali,” or “Bali’s sister island.” Lombok is not Bali at all, and that is precisely its charm. Lombok has retained a more natural, uncrowded and undeveloped environment, which attract travelers who come to enjoy its relaxed pace and the opportunity to explore the island’s unspoiled, spectacular natural beauty.

Local Sasak children

Nusa Tenggara Barat and Lombok may be considered economically depressed by First World standards and a large majority of the population live in poverty. Still, the island is fertile, has sufficient rainfall in most areas for agriculture, and possesses a variety of climate zones. Consequently, food in abundant quantity and variety is available inexpensively at local farmer’s markets, though locals still suffer from famine due to drought and subsistence farming. A family of 4 can eat rice, vegetables, and fruit for as little as US$0.50. Even though a family’s income may be as small as US$1.00 per day from fishing or farming, many families are able to live a contented and productive life on such astonishingly small incomes. The people of Lombok however are coming under increasing pressure from rising food and fuel prices and access to housing, education and health services remains difficult for many of the islands indigenous population.

[edit] Tourism

Lombok’s most important industry is tourism. The most developed area of tourism in Lombok is centered about the township of Senggigi. Senggigi and it’s immediate surrounds contain the most developed tourism activities in the coastal tourism strip that is spread along a 30-kilometer strip of the coastal road north from Mataram and the nearby current airport at Ampenan. A large number of hotels and resorts offer accommodations ranging from budget to luxurious. Approximately 1-5 kilometers offshore from the mainland lie the three highly popular Gili Islands. These are most commonly accessed by boat from Bangsal near Pemenang, or from Senggigi. Recently direct fast boat services have been running from Bali making a direct connection to the Gili islands. Although rapidly changing in character, the Gili’s still provide both a lay-back backpacker’s retreat and a high class resort destination.

Other tourist destinations include Mount Rinjani [8] and Kuta[9] (distinctly different from Kuta, Bali) in south Lombok where surfing is considered some of the best in the world by leading surfing magazines. The Kuta area is also famous for its beautiful, largely deserted, white sand beaches. Sekotong, in southwest Lombok, is popular for its numerous and diverse scuba diving locations. The northern west coast near Tanjung [10] has many new upmarket hotel and villa developments centered about the Sire and Medana peninsular nearby to the Gili islands and a new boating marina at Medana bay. These new developments complement the already existing 5 star resorts and a large golf course already established there.

  • Pre-2000

Under the Suharto New Order, Lombok enjoyed stability and growth. Tourist development started in the mid-1980’s, when Lombok attracted attention as an ‘unspoiled’ alternative to Bali. Initially, low budget bungalows proliferated at places like the Gili islands and Kuta, Lombok on the South Coast. These tourist accommodations were largely owned by and operated by local business entrepreneurs. Areas in close proximity to the airport, places like Sengiggi, experienced rampant land speculation for prime beachfront land by big businesses from outside Lombok.

In the 1990’s the national government in Jakarta began to take a very active role in planning for and promoting Lombok’s tourism. Under Suharto’s autocratic rule, private organizations like the Bali Tourism Development Corporation (BTDC) and the Lombok Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) were formed as a way for high government officials to profit personally from the tourist development projects. LTDC prepared detailed land use plans, complete with maps and areas zoned for tourist facilities. To ensure large, prime beachfront parcels would be available for development by foreign investors, Suharto and his cronies worked to purchase land, using the LTDC as a thin veil of propriety. As a result, many unsophisticated, local landholders were pressured by Suharto’s henchmen to sell at bargain prices and forcefully removed from their land.

Although the autocratic techniques to control and profit from tourism can be criticized, the land planning and land acquisition programs have facilitated tourism businesses and benefited the local population. Large hotels provide primary employment for the local population. Ancillary business, ranging from restaurants to art shops have been started by local businessmen. These businesses provide secondary employment for local residents.

  • 1997 to 2007

The 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the fall of Suharto regime in 1998 marked the beginning a decade of setbacks for tourism. Spurred by rapid devaluation of the currency and the transition to true democracy caused all of Indonesia to experience a period of domestic unrest.[11]. Many of Indonesian Provinces struggled with elements of the population desiring autonomy or independence from the Republic of Indonesia. At the same time fanatical Islamicterrorism in Indonesia further aggravated domestic unrest across the archipelago.

In Jan 2000, radical Islamic agitators from the newly formed Jemaah Islamiyah provoked religious and ethnic violence in the Ampenan area of Mataram and the southern area of Senggigi. Many foreign expatriates and tourists were temporarily evacuated to Bali. Numerous foreign embassies issued Travel Warnings advising of the potential danger of traveling to Indonesia.

Subsequently, the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2005 Bali bombings and the Progress of the SARS outbreak in Asia all dramatically impacted tourism activities in Lombok. Tourism was slow to return to Lombok, provoked in part by a worldwide reluctance to travel because of global tensions. Only since 2007 – 2008, when most developed countries lifted their Travel Warnings[12] has tourism recovered to the pre-2000 levels.

  • 2008 to the Present

The years leading up to 2010 has seen a rapid revival and promotion of tourism recovery in the tourism industry. The number of visitors has far surpassed the pre-2000 levels. All signs indicate the long-term trend will see a steady increase in the number of visitor arrivals.

Both the local government and many residents recognize that tourism and services related to tourism will continue to be the major source of income for the island. The island’s natural beauty and the customary hospitality of its residents make it an obvious tourist destination.

Lombok retains the allure of an undeveloped and natural environment. Tourism visits to this tropical island are increasing again as both international and local tourists are re-discovering the charms of Lombok. With this new interest comes the development of a number of boutique resorts on the island providing quality accommodation, food and drinks in near proximity to an relatively unspoiled countryside.

The Indonesian government is actively promoting both Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa as Indonesia’s number two tourism destination after Bali. The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Ministry of Cultural and Tourism and the regional Governor have made public statements supporting the development of Lombok as a tourism destination and setting a goal of 1 million visitors annually by the year 2012 for the combined destination of Lombok and Sumbawa. [13][14] This has seen infrastructure improvements to the island including road upgrades and the construction of a much delayed new International airport in the islands south. [15]

[edit] Transportation

The island is served by the Selaparang Airport AMI in Ampenan, Selaparang airport provides an intentional terminal that services limited direct flights to and from Singapore with Silk Air. Domestic services connect directly to to Java, Bali and Sumbawa.

Lombok International Airport (Bandara Baru Internasional Lombok) is south west of Praya in South central Lombok. It is expected to begin operations in 2011 and at that time Selaparang may close[16][17].

PT. Angkasa Pura 1 (PERSERO) Mataram

  • Address: Jl. No Adisucipto. 1, Mataram, Lombok Barat, NTB, Indonesia, 83124
  • ☎+62 370 622987
  • Facsimile: +62 370 632030

Lembar Harbour seaport in the southwest provides shipping facilities and a ferry roll on roll off facility for inter-island transport and passenger services. Labuhan Lombok ferry port on the east coast provides a ferry roll on roll off facility for inter-island transport and passenger services to Poto Tano on Sumbawa with connections onward to the eastern areas of the province.

Pelni Shipping Lines, Jl Industri No1, Ampenan, Lombok,

  • ☎+62 370 37212 (fax: (0370) 31604)

INDONESIA, My Beautiful Country


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Republic of Indonesia

Republik Indonesia 

Flag Coat of arms
MottoBhinneka Tunggal Ika  (Old Javanese)
Unity in Diversity
National ideology: Pancasila[1]
AnthemIndonesia Raya
(and largest city)
6°10.5′S 106°49.7′E / 6.175°S 106.8283°E / -6.175; 106.8283
Official language(s) Indonesian
Demonym Indonesian
Government Unitary presidential republic
 –  President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
 –  Vice President Boediono
Independence from the Netherlands 
 –  Declared 17 August 1945 
 –  Acknowledged 27 December 1949 
 –  Land 1,919,440 km2 (16th)
735,355 sq mi 
 –  Water (%) 4.85
 –  2009 estimate 229,965,000[2] (4th)
 –  2000 census 206,264,595 
 –  Density 119.8/km2 (84th)
312.7/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
 –  Total $962.471 billion[3] 
 –  Per capita $4,156[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 –  Total $539.377 billion[3] 
 –  Per capita $2,329[3] 
Gini (2002) 34.3 
HDI (2007) ▲ 0.734[4] (medium) (111th)
Currency Rupiah (IDR)
Time zone various (UTC+7 to +9)
 –  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC)
Drives on the Left
Internet TLD .id
Calling code +62

Indonesia (pronounced /ˌɪndoʊˈniːziə/ or /ˌɪndəˈniːʒə/), officially the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Republik Indonesia), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia comprises 17,508 islands. With a population of around 230 million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous country, and has the world’s largest population of Muslims. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. The nation’s capital city is Jakarta. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a member of the G-20 major economies.

The Indonesian archipelago has been an important trade region since at least the seventh century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries CE, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Indonesia’s history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change. The current nation of Indonesia is a unitary presidential republic consisting of thirty three provinces.

Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest—and the politically dominant—ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism including rebellion against it. Indonesia’s national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (“Unity in Diversity” literally, “many, yet one”), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread in contemporary Indonesia.[5]

See The Map Below during The Era of Majapahit Emperor :

Majapahit was a vast archipelagic empire based on the island of Java from 1293 to around 1500. Majapahit reached its peak of glory during the era of Hayam Wuruk, whose reign from 1350 to 1389 marked by conquest which extended through Southeast Asia, including the present day Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, southern Thailand, the Philippines, and East Timor. His achievement is also credited to his prime minister, Gajah Mada.

Majapahit was one of the last major empires of the region and is considered to be one of the greatest and most powerful empires in the history of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, one that is sometimes seen as the precedent for Indonesia’s modern boundaries [3]. Its influence extended beyond the modern territory of Indonesia and has been a subject of many studies [4]. German orientalist Berthold Laufer suggested that maja came from the Javanese name of Indonesian tree [5].


The name Indonesia derives from the Latin Indus, and the Greek nesos, meaning “island”.[6] The name dates to the 18th century, far predating the formation of independent Indonesia.[7] In 1850, George Earl, an English ethnologist, proposed the terms Indunesians — and, his preference, Malayunesians — for the inhabitants of the “Indian Archipelago or Malayan Archipelago”.[8] In the same publication, a student of Earl’s, James Richardson Logan, used Indonesia as a synonym for Indian Archipelago.[9] However, Dutch academics writing in East Indies publications were reluctant to use Indonesia. Instead, they used the terms Malay Archipelago (Maleische Archipel); the Netherlands East Indies (Nederlandsch Oost Indië), popularly Indië; the East (de Oost); and even Insulinde.[10]

From 1900, the name Indonesia became more common in academic circles outside the Netherlands, and Indonesian nationalist groups adopted it for political expression.[11] Adolf Bastian, of the University of Berlin, popularized the name through his book Indonesien oder die Inseln des Malayischen Archipels, 1884–1894. The first Indonesian scholar to use the name was Suwardi Suryaningrat (Ki Hajar Dewantara), when he established a press bureau in the Netherlands with the name Indonesisch Pers-bureau in 1913.[7]


Main article: History of Indonesia

As early as the first century CE Indonesian vessels made trade voyages as far as Africa[citation needed]. Picture: a ship carved on Borobudur, circa 800 CE.

Fossilized remains of Homo erectus, popularly known as the “Java Man“, suggest that the Indonesian archipelago was inhabited two million to 500,000 years ago.[12] Austronesian people, who form the majority of the modern population, migrated to South East Asia from Taiwan. They arrived in Indonesia around 2000 BCE, and as they spread through the archipelago, confined the native Melanesian peoples to the far eastern regions.[13] Ideal agricultural conditions, and the mastering of wet-field rice cultivation as early as the eighth century BCE,[14] allowed villages, towns, and small kingdoms to flourish by the first century CE. Indonesia’s strategic sea-lane position fostered inter-island and international trade. For example, trade links with both Indian kingdoms and China were established several centuries BCE.[15] Trade has since fundamentally shaped Indonesian history.[16]

The nutmeg plant is native to Indonesia’s Banda Islands. Once one of the world’s most valuable commodities, it drew the first European colonial powers to Indonesia.

From the seventh century CE, the powerful Srivijaya naval kingdom flourished as a result of trade and the influences of Hinduism and Buddhism that were imported with it.[17] Between the eighth and 10th centuries CE, the agricultural Buddhist Sailendra and Hindu Mataram dynasties thrived and declined in inland Java, leaving grand religious monuments such as Sailendra’s Borobudur and Mataram’s Prambanan. The Hindu Majapahit kingdom was founded in eastern Java in the late 13th century, and under Gajah Mada, its influence stretched over much of Indonesia; this period is often referred to as a “Golden Age” in Indonesian history.[18]

Although Muslim traders first traveled through South East Asia early in the Islamic era, the earliest evidence of Islamized populations in Indonesia dates to the 13th century in northern Sumatra.[19] Other Indonesian areas gradually adopted Islam, and it was the dominant religion in Java and Sumatra by the end of the 16th century. For the most part, Islam overlaid and mixed with existing cultural and religious influences, which shaped the predominant form of Islam in Indonesia, particularly in Java.[20] The first Europeans arrived in Indonesia in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku.[21] Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602 the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and became the dominant European power. Following bankruptcy, the VOC was formally dissolved in 1800, and the government of the Netherlands established the Dutch East Indies as a nationalized colony.[21]

For most of the colonial period, Dutch control over the archipelago was tenuous outside of coastal strongholds; only in the early 20th century did Dutch dominance extend to what was to become Indonesia’s current boundaries.[22] The Japanese invasion and subsequent occupation during World War II[23] ended Dutch rule,[24] and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement.[25] Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed president.[26] The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence[27] (with the exception of The Dutch territory of West New Guinea, which was incorporated into Indonesia following the 1962 New York Agreement, and the UN-mandated Act of Free Choice of 1969).[28]

Soekarno, Indonesia’s founding president

Sukarno moved from democracy towards authoritarianism, and maintained his power base by balancing the opposing forces of the Military and the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI).[29] An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by the army, who led a violent anti-communist purge, during which the PKI was blamed for the coup and effectively destroyed.[30] Between 500,000 and one million people were killed.[31] The head of the military, General Suharto, out-maneuvered the politically weakened Sukarno, and was formally appointed president in March 1968. His New Order administration[32] was supported by the US government,[33] and encouraged foreign direct investment in Indonesia, which was a major factor in the subsequent three decades of substantial economic growth.[34] However, the authoritarian “New Order” was widely accused of corruption and suppression of political opposition.

In 1997 and 1998, Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the Asian Financial Crisis.[35] This increased popular discontent with the New Order[36] and led to popular protests. Suharto resigned on 21 May 1998.[37] In 1999, East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, after a twenty-five-year military occupation that was marked by international condemnation of often brutal repression of the East Timorese.[38] Since Suharto’s resignation, a strengthening of democratic processes has included a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, and terrorism have slowed progress. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, acute sectarian discontent and violence remain problems in some areas.[39] A political settlement to an armed separatist conflict in Aceh was achieved in 2005.[40]

[edit] Government and politics

Main article: Politics of Indonesia

Indonesia is a republic with a presidential system. As a unitary state, power is concentrated in the central government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and governmental structures have undergone major reforms. Four amendments to the 1945 Constitution of Indonesia[41] have revamped the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.[42] The president of Indonesia is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, and the director of domestic governance, policy-making, and foreign affairs. The president appoints a council of ministers, who are not required to be elected members of the legislature. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the president and vice president.[43] The president may serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.[44]

A session of the People’s Representative Council in Jakarta

The highest representative body at national level is the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR). Its main functions are supporting and amending the constitution, inaugurating the president, and formalizing broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the president.[45] The MPR comprises two houses; the People’s Representative Council (DPR), with 560 members, and the Regional Representative Council (DPD), with 132 members.[46] The DPR passes legislation and monitors the executive branch; party-aligned members are elected for five-year terms by proportional representation.[42] Reforms since 1998 have markedly increased the DPR’s role in national governance.[47] The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management.[48]

Most civil disputes appear before a State Court; appeals are heard before the High Court. The Supreme Court is the country’s highest court, and hears final cassation appeals and conducts case reviews. Other courts include the Commercial Court, which handles bankruptcy and insolvency; a State Administrative Court to hear administrative law cases against the government; a Constitutional Court to hear disputes concerning legality of law, general elections, dissolution of political parties, and the scope of authority of state institutions; and a Religious Court to deal with specific religious cases.[49]

 Foreign relations and military

Main articles: Foreign relations of Indonesia and Indonesian National Armed Forces

In contrast to Sukarno’s anti-imperialistic antipathy to western powers and tensions with Malaysia, Indonesia’s foreign relations since the Suharto “New Order” have been based on economic and political cooperation with Western nations.[50] Indonesia maintains close relationships with its neighbors in Asia, and is a founding member of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit.[46] The nation restored relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1990 following a freeze in place since anti-communist purges early in the Suharto era.[49] Indonesia has been a member of the United Nations since 1950,[51] and was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).[46] Indonesia is signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, the Cairns Group, and the WTO, and has historically been a member of OPEC, although it withdrew in 2008 as it was no longer a net exporter of oil. Indonesia has received humanitarian and development aid since 1966, in particular from the United States, western Europe, Australia, and Japan.[46]

National flags at the site of the 2002 terrorist bombing in Kuta, Bali

The Indonesian Government has worked with other countries to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of major bombings linked to militant Islamism and Al-Qaeda.[52] The deadliest killed 202 people (including 164 international tourists) in the Bali resort town of Kuta in 2002.[53] The attacks, and subsequent travel warnings issued by other countries, severely damaged Indonesia’s tourism industry and foreign investment prospects.[54]

Indonesia’s 300,000-member armed forces (TNI) include the Army (TNI–AD), Navy (TNI–AL, which includes marines), and Air Force (TNI–AU).[55] The army has about 233,000 active-duty personnel. Defense spending in the national budget was 4% of GDP in 2006, and is controversially supplemented by revenue from military commercial interests and foundations.[56] One of the reforms following the 1998 resignation of Suharto was the removal of formal TNI representation in parliament; nevertheless, its political influence remains extensive.[57]

Separatist movements in the provinces of Aceh and Papua have led to armed conflict, and subsequent allegations of human rights abuses and brutality from all sides.[58] Following a sporadic thirty-year guerrilla war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian military, a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2005.[59] In Papua, there has been a significant, albeit imperfect, implementation of regional autonomy laws, and a reported decline in the levels of violence and human rights abuses, since the presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.[60]

 Administrative divisions

Main articles: Provinces of Indonesia and Administrative divisions of Indonesia






Provinces of Indonesia

Administratively, Indonesia consists of 33 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own political legislature and governor. The provinces are subdivided into regencies (kabupaten) and cities (kota), which are further subdivided into subdistricts (kecamatan), and again into village groupings (either desa or kelurahan). Furthermore, a village is divided into several citizen-groups (Rukun-Warga (RW)) which are further divided into several neighbourhood-groups (Rukun-Tetangga (RT)). Following the implementation of regional autonomy measures in 2001, the regencies and cities have become the key administrative units, responsible for providing most government services. The village administration level is the most influential on a citizen’s daily life, and handles matters of a village or neighborhood through an elected lurah or kepala desa (village chief).

The provinces of Aceh, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and West Papua have greater legislative privileges and a higher degree of autonomy from the central government than the other provinces. The Acehnese government, for example, has the right to create an independent legal system; in 2003, it instituted a form of Sharia (Islamic law).[61] Yogyakarta was granted the status of Special Region in recognition of its pivotal role in supporting Indonesian Republicans during the Indonesian Revolution.[62] Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, now West Papua, was granted special autonomy status in 2001.[63] Jakarta is the country’s special capital region.

Indonesian provinces and their capitals – listed by region
(Indonesian name in parentheses if different from English)
† indicates provinces with Special Status



Lesser Sunda Islands



Maluku Islands

Western New Guinea

Principal Ethnic Groups of Indonesia

Written by The Library of Congress


For centuries the many thousands of islands and mountainous terrain have separated groups of people in the Indonesian archipelago from each other. The result of this is huge variations in culture and languages across the nation. The exact number is not clear, but approximately 300 ethnic groups live here, which speak 365 languages and a large number of dialects.

Most people descend from Malay origin, spread into Indonesia during many thousand years. The darker Melanesians in East Indonesia (Irian Jaya) is the other major group. The many groups were not “Indonesian” before 1949, when the border around the archipelago was drawn, but despite all this diversity, Indonesia is surprisingly unified. Much because of the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, which makes communication possible between the many groups. A majority of the inhabitants today identify themselves with their nation, flag and language.

A third group is the Chinese, which is a minority, but nevertheless have had a larger impact in the country than most other ethnic groups. In Indonesia the concept of ethnic minorities is often discussed not in numerical but in religious terms. Although the major ethnic groups claimed adherence to one of the major world religions (agama) recognized by the Pancasila ideology– Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, or Buddhism–there were millions of other Indonesians in the early 1980s who engaged in forms of religious or cultural practices that fell outside these categories. These practices were sometimes labeled animist or kafir (pagan). In general, these Indonesians tended to live in the more remote, sparsely populated islands of the archipelago. Following the massacre of tens of thousands associated with the 1965 coup attempt, religious affiliation became an even more intense political issue among minority groups. 

Principal Ethnic Groups by Island, 1983

Northern Sumatra
Acehnese Angkola Batak Dairi Gayo Karo
Kluet Alas Mandailing Pak-pak Simlungen Singkil Toba
Central Sumatra
Kerinci Melayu Minangkabau Rejang    
Southern Sumatra
Javanese Komering Lampung      
Islands southwest of Sumatra
Simeulue Nias Mentawai Enggano    
Javanese Sundanese  Betawi Baduy Samin  
Tengger            Bagelen


Nusa Tenggara
Alor Abui Kabola Kafoa Kelon Kui
Woisika Babar Flores Ende-Li’o Kedang Lamaholot
Manggarai Ngada Palu’e Riung Sikka Leti
Lombok Balinese Sasak Pantar Blagar Lama
Nedebang Tewa Roti Sawu Sumba Anakalang
Kambera Kodi Laboya Mamboru Wanukaka Weyewa
Bima Sumbawa Timor Atoni Galoli Kemak
Makasai Mambai Tetum Tukudede    
Northeastern Kalimantan
Apokayan Bajau Dusun Kenyah Modang Murut
Punan Tidung        
Central Kalimantan
Bakumpai Biatah Bukar Sadong Dohoi Iban Jagoi
Kahayan Kapuas(Ngaju) Katingan Kendayan Lara’ Maanyan
Mbaloh Melanau Merau Ot Danum Siang Silakau
Singgie Tunjung        
Southern Kalimantan
Ancalong Banjar Dayak Kutai Lawangan Melayu
Meratus(Bukit) Ngaju Dayak Pasir Tenggarong    
Northern Sulawesi
Bintauna Bola’ang Mongondow Gorontalo Kaidipang Minahasa Mongondow
Tombulu Tondano Tonsawang Tonsea Tontemboan  
Central and Southern Sulawesi
Bada Balantak Balesan Bugis Bungku Dompelasa
Dondo Kaili Kasimbar Mamuju Mandar Mori
Pamona(Bare’e) Saluan Sama Tolitoli Tomini Toraja
Maluku Islands
Ambonese Aru Kola Ujir Wokam Bandanese
Biak Buru Halmahera Galela Kalabra Loloda
Modole Pagu Sahu Tehit Tobaru Tobelo
Kai Makian Seram Alune Geser Hitu
Manusela Nuaulu Sepa-Teluti Watubela Wemale Sula
Taliabo Tanimbar Ternate Tidore    
Irian Jaya
Asmat Boazi Dani Dumut Ekagi Kemtuk
Kilmeri Kwerba Marind Mekwei-Gresi-Kansu Mianmin Moni
Ngali Nimboran Ok Papasena Sempan Wodani
Sentani Taikat Tanamerah Tor Uhunduni Waris
Yotafa (Tobati) Saberi (Isirawa)    

The major islands and island groups in this list are arranged geographically, generally from west to east. The category of Coastal Malays, which includes various groups listed in this table, are people found in northern and southern Sumatra, and the coast of Kalimantan. Ethnic Chinese are found in all major cities throughout Indonesia

Source: Based on information from Stephen A. Wurm and Shiro Hattori (eds.), Language Atlas of the Pacific Area, Canberra, 1981-83, 38-45; Frank M. LeBar (eds.), Ethnic Groups of Insular Southeast Asia, New Haven, 1972-75, various pages; and Indonesia, Department of Education and Culture, Directorate of History and Traditional Values, Petu suku bangsa di Indonesia (Geographic Distribution of Ethnic Groups in Indonesia), Jakarta, 1991, various pages.


Main article: Geography of Indonesia

Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited.[64] These are scattered over both sides of the equator. The five largest islands are Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea), and Sulawesi. Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on the islands of Borneo and Sebatik, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea, and East Timor on the island of Timor. Indonesia also shares borders with Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines to the north and Australia to the south across narrow straits of water. The capital, Jakarta, is on Java and is the nation’s largest city, followed by Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, and Semarang.[65]

At 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,050 sq mi), Indonesia is the world’s 16th-largest country in terms of land area.[66] Its average population density is 134 people per square kilometer (347 per sq mi), 79th in the world,[67] although Java, the world’s most populous island,[68] has a population density of 940 people per square kilometer (2,435 per sq mi). At 4,884 metres (16,024 ft), Puncak Jaya in Papua is Indonesia’s highest peak, and Lake Toba in Sumatra its largest lake, with an area of 1,145 square kilometers (442 sq mi). The country’s largest rivers are in Kalimantan, and include the Mahakam and Barito; such rivers are communication and transport links between the island’s river settlements.[69]

Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo in East Java. Indonesia’s seismic and volcanic activity is among the world’s highest.

Indonesia’s location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian, and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Indonesia has at least 150 active volcanoes,[70] including Krakatoa and Tambora, both famous for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century. The eruption of the Toba supervolcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 167,736 in northern Sumatra,[71] and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java and Bali.[72]

Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands varies from 1,780–3,175 millimeters (70–125 in), and up to 6,100 millimeters (240 in) in mountainous regions. Mountainous areas—particularly in the west coast of Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua—receive the highest rainfall. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80%. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C (79–86 °F).[73]

Biota and environment

Main articles: Fauna of Indonesia, Flora of Indonesia, and Environment of Indonesia

The critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan, a great ape endemic to Indonesia.

Indonesia’s size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world’s second highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil),[74] and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species.[75] Once linked to the Asian mainland, the islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) have a wealth of Asian fauna. Large species such as the tiger, rhinoceros, orangutan, elephant, and leopard, were once abundant as far east as Bali, but numbers and distribution have dwindled drastically. Forests cover approximately 60% of the country.[76] In Sumatra and Kalimantan, these are predominantly of Asian species. However, the forests of the smaller, and more densely populated Java, have largely been removed for human habitation and agriculture. Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku—having been long separated from the continental landmasses—have developed their own unique flora and fauna.[77] Papua was part of the Australian landmass, and is home to a unique fauna and flora closely related to that of Australia, including over 600 bird species.[78]

Indonesia is second only to Australia in terms of total endemic species, with 26% of its 1,531 species of bird and 39% of its 515 species of mammal being endemic.[79] Indonesia’s 80,000 kilometers (50,000 mi) of coastline are surrounded by tropical seas that contribute to the country’s high level of biodiversity. Indonesia has a range of sea and coastal ecosystems, including beaches, sand dunes, estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, sea grass beds, coastal mudflats, tidal flats, algal beds, and small island ecosystems.[6] The British naturalist, Alfred Wallace, described a dividing line between the distribution and peace of Indonesia’s Asian and Australasian species.[80] Known as the Wallace Line, it runs roughly north-south along the edge of the Sunda Shelf, between Kalimantan and Sulawesi, and along the deep Lombok Strait, between Lombok and Bali. West of the line the flora and fauna are more Asian; moving east from Lombok, they are increasingly Australian. In his 1869 book, The Malay Archipelago, Wallace described numerous species unique to the area.[81] The region of islands between his line and New Guinea is now termed Wallacea.[80]

Indonesia’s high population and rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance.[82] Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services.[82] Deforestation and the destruction of peatlands make Indonesia the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.[83] Habitat destruction threatens the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including 140 species of mammals identified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as threatened, and 15 identified as critically endangered, including the Sumatran Orangutan.[84]


Main article: Economy of Indonesia

Using water buffalo to plough rice fields in Java. Agriculture has been the country’s largest employer for centuries.

Indonesia has a mixed economy in which the government plays a significant role.[85] It is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and a member of the G-20 major economies.[86] Indonesia’s estimated gross domestic product (nominal), purchasing power parity aside for 2008 was US$511.7 billion with estimated nominal per capita GDP was US$2,246, and per capita GDP PPP was US$3,979 (international dollars).[87] The services sector is the economy’s largest and accounts for 45.3% of GDP (2005). This is followed by industry (40.7%) and agriculture (14.0%).[88] However, agriculture employs more people than other sectors, accounting for 44.3% of the 95 million-strong workforce. This is followed by the services sector (36.9%) and industry (18.8%).[89] Major industries include petroleum and natural gas, textiles, apparel, and mining. Major agricultural products include palm oil, rice, tea, coffee, spices, and rubber.

Indonesia’s main export markets (2005) are Japan (22.3%), the United States (13.9%), China (9.1%), and Singapore (8.9%). The major suppliers of imports to Indonesia are Japan (18.0%), China (16.1%), and Singapore (12.8%). In 2005, Indonesia ran a trade surplus with export revenues of US$83.64 billion and import expenditure of US$62.02 billion. The country has extensive natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, and gold. Indonesia’s major imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs.[90]

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia and the country’s largest commercial center

In the 1960s, the economy deteriorated drastically as a result of political instability, a young and inexperienced government, and economic nationalism, which resulted in severe poverty and hunger.[91] Following President Sukarno’s downfall in the mid-1960s, the New Order administration brought a degree of discipline to economic policy that quickly brought inflation down, stabilized the currency, rescheduled foreign debt, and attracted foreign aid and investment.[92] Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s only member of OPEC, and the 1970s oil price raises provided an export revenue windfall that contributed to sustained high economic growth rates.[93] Following further reforms in the late 1980s,[94] foreign investment flowed into Indonesia, particularly into the rapidly developing export-oriented manufacturing sector, and from 1989 to 1997, the Indonesian economy grew by an average of over 7%.[95]

Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the East Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. Against the US dollar, the rupiah dropped from about Rp. 2,600 to a low point of 14,000, and the economy shrank by 13.7%.[96] The Rupiah has since stabilised in the Rp. 8,000 to 10,000 range,[97] and a slow but significant economic recovery has ensued. However, political instability, slow economic reform, and corruption at all levels of government and business, have slowed the recovery.[5][98] Transparency International ranked Indonesia 143rd out of 180 countries in its 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index.[99] The rank rose to 111st out of 180 in 2009[100] GDP growth, however, exceeded 5% in both 2004 and 2005, and is forecast to increase further.[101] This growth rate, however, was not enough to make a significant impact on unemployment,[102] and stagnant wages growth and increases in fuel and rice prices have worsened poverty levels. As of 2006, an estimated 17.8% of the population was living below the poverty line, defined by the Indonesian government as purchasing power parity of US$1.55 per day (household income). According to the 2006 estimates, nearly half of the population was living on less than US$2 per day.[103] In recent years, the strongest growth rates since the Suharto years have helped the unemployment rate decline to 8.46% in 2008,[104] and in comparison to its neighbours, Indonesia has been less affected by the recent global recession.[105]


Main articles: Demographics of Indonesia, Languages of Indonesia, and Religion in Indonesia

The national population from the 2000 national census is 206 million,[106] and the Indonesian Central Statistics Bureau and Statistics Indonesia estimate a population of 222 million for 2006.[107] 130 million people live on the island of Java, the world’s most populous island.[108] Despite a fairly effective family planning program that has been in place since the 1960s, the population is expected to grow to around 254 million by 2020 and 288 million by 2050.[109]

Balinese children. There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia.

Most Indonesians are descended from Austronesian-speaking peoples whose languages can be traced to Proto Austronesian (PAn), which likely originated on Taiwan. The other major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia.[110] There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects.[111] The largest ethnic group is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant.[112] The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are the largest non-Javanese groups.[113] A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside strong regional identities.[114] Society is largely harmonious, although social, religious and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence.[115] Chinese Indonesians are an influential ethnic minority comprising less than 1% of the population.[116] Much of the country’s privately owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-Indonesian-controlled,[117] which has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence.[118]

The Istiqlal Mosque and Jakarta Cathedral in Central Jakarta. Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims

The official national language, Indonesian, is universally taught in schools, and consequently is spoken by nearly every Indonesian. It is the language of business, politics, national media, education, and academia. It was constructed from a lingua franca that was in wide use throughout the region, and is thus closely related to Malay which is an official language in Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore. Indonesian was first promoted by nationalists in the 1920s, and declared the official language on the proclamation of independence in 1945. Most Indonesians speak at least one of the several hundred local languages (bahasa daerah), often as their first language. Of these, Javanese is the most widely spoken as the language of the largest ethnic group.[90] On the other hand, Papua has over 270 indigenous Papuan and Austronesian languages,[119] in a region of about 2.7 million people. A significant fraction of the people who attended school before independence can speak Dutch to some extent.[120]

Although religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution,[121] the government officially recognizes only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.[122] Although it is not an Islamic state, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, with 86.1% of Indonesians declared Muslim according to the 2000 census.[90] 8.7% of the population is Christian,[123] 3% are Hindu, and 1.8% Buddhist or other. Most Indonesian Hindus are Balinese,[124] and most Buddhists in modern-day Indonesia are ethnic Chinese.[125] Though now minority religions, Hinduism and Buddhism remain defining influences in Indonesian culture. Islam was first adopted by Indonesians in northern Sumatra in the 13th century, through the influence of traders, and became the country’s dominant religion by the 16th century.[126] Roman Catholicism was brought to Indonesia by early Portuguese colonialists and missionaries,[127] and the Protestant denominations are largely a result of Dutch Calvinist and Lutheran missionary efforts during the country’s colonial period.[128] A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.[129]


Main article: Culture of Indonesia

A wayang kulit shadow puppet performance as seen by the audience

Indonesia has around 300 ethnic groups, each with cultural identities developed over centuries, and influenced by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Malay, and European sources. Traditional Javanese and Balinese dances, for example, contain aspects of Hindu culture and mythology, as do wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performances. Textiles such as batik, ikat and songket are created across Indonesia in styles that vary by region. The most dominant influences on Indonesian architecture have traditionally been Indian; however, Chinese, Arab, and European architectural influences have been significant.

Sports in Indonesia are generally male-orientated and spectator sports are often associated with illegal gambling.[130] The most popular sports are badminton and football. Indonesian teams have won the Thomas Cup (the world team championship of men’s badminton) thirteen of the twenty-five times that it has been held since 1949, as well as Olympic medals since the sport gained full Olympic status in 1992. Its women have won the Uber Cup, the female equivalent of the Thomas Cup, twice, in 1994 and 1996. Liga Indonesia is the country’s premier football club league. Traditional sports include sepak takraw, and bull racing in Madura. In areas with a history of tribal warfare, mock fighting contests are held, such as, caci in Flores, and pasola in Sumba. Pencak Silat is an Indonesian martial art.

A selection of Indonesian food, including Soto Ayam (chicken soup), sate kerang (shellfish kebabs), telor pindang (preserved eggs), perkedel (fritter), and es teh manis (sweet iced tea)

Indonesian cuisine varies by region and is based on Chinese, European, Middle Eastern, and Indian precedents.[131] Rice is the main staple food and is served with side dishes of meat and vegetables. Spices (notably chili), coconut milk, fish and chicken are fundamental ingredients.[132] Indonesian traditional music includes gamelan and keroncong. Dangdut is a popular contemporary genre of pop music that draws influence from Arabic, Indian, and Malay folk music. The Indonesian film industry’s popularity peaked in the 1980s and dominated cinemas in Indonesia,[133] although it declined significantly in the early 1990s.[134] Between 2000 and 2005, the number of Indonesian films released each year has steadily increased.[133]

The oldest evidence of writing in Indonesia is a series of Sanskrit inscriptions dated to the 5th century CE. Important figures in modern Indonesian literature include: Dutch author Multatuli, who criticized treatment of the Indonesians under Dutch colonial rule; Sumatrans Muhammad Yamin and Hamka, who were influential pre-independence nationalist writers and politicians;[135] and proletarian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesia’s most famous novelist.[136] Many of Indonesia’s peoples have strongly rooted oral traditions, which help to define and preserve their cultural identities.[137]

Media freedom in Indonesia increased considerably after the end of President Suharto‘s rule, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media, and restricted foreign media.[138] The TV market includes ten national commercial networks, and provincial networks that compete with public TVRI. Private radio stations carry their own news bulletins and foreign broadcasters supply programs. At a reported 25 million users in 2008,[139] Internet usage was estimated at 12.5% in September 2009.[140]