Driving Directions Indonesia

INDONESIA is a republic made up of 13,677 islands, less than half of which are inhabited, scattered across the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a huge crescent, and it is one of the world’s most highly populated coun­tries.

Five main islands take up three-quarters of Indonesia’s total area and are home to 80 percent of its people: Kalimantan (part of the island of Borneo), Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi (Celebes) and Irian Jaya (the west­ern half of the island of New Guinea). Its largest landmass is the province of Kalimantan, which is part of the island of Borneo, while Sumatra is the largest individual island, and Java is the dominant and most densely pop­ulated island.

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The Indonesian islands have an extremely varied topography, ranging from high mountains to coastal plains and the southern ones occupy a volcanic belt containing 130 active volcanoes, 70 of which have erupted during the last 200 years. Natural vegetation varies according to the exact location and topography of each island but ranges from lowland tropical jungle to coastal mangrove swamps and upland mountain forest.

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An enormous variety of wildlife can found throughout Indonesia, with some species being unique to particular islands. Their number includes the orang-utan, tapir, proboscis monkey, black gibbon, Komodo dragon (Komodo and Rinca islands), birds of paradise, and cassowary.

Indonesia has a tropical climate that varies according to the exact location. In many areas, the eastern monsoon causes a dry season between June and September, while the western monsoon causes the main rains to fall between December and March. Rain and storms may, however, occur at any time of the year.

Rice, maize, and cassava are the main crops grown. Indonesia has the largest reserves of tin in the world and is one of the world’s leading rubber producers. Other mineral resources found are bauxite, natural gas, nickel, and copper. Oil production is also important. Indonesia’s resources are not as yet fully developed, but the country’s economy needs to expand if Indonesia is to create the two million jobs needed annually to keep pace with the growth in its population.

Ongoing political instability and human rights abuse, such as occurred in East Timor in August 1999, has been condemned by the international community and is hampering this process.

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