About Indonesia



Garuda Pancasila, Coat of Arms of Indonesia
Garuda Pancasila, Coat of Arms of Indonesia

is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 17,508 islands. It encompasses 33 provinces and 1 Special Administrative Region (for being governed by a pre-colonial monarchy) with over 238 million people, making it the world’s fourth most populous country.

  • Country name: Republic of Indonesia
  • Capital: Jakarta
  • National Day: 17 August
  • Time: seven hours ahead of GMT
  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (Rp or IDR)
  • Exchange rate: Rp 11.355 per US dollar (fluctuative).
  • Flag: two equal horizontal bands of red and white[/tcontent]

Indonesia is the largest archipelagic state in the world that has 17,508 islands, situated between 6 degrees northern latitude and 11 degrees southern latitude and spreading from 97 degrees to 141 degrees eastern longitude and it is located between two continents – Asia and Australia/Oceania. This strategic position greatly influences the country’s culture, social, politics and economy.

Stretching along 3,977 miles between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, Indonesia has a total area of 1.9 million square miles including the ocean waters. The five large islands of Indonesia are: Sumatera covering 473.606 square km, Java with 132.107 square km, Kalimantan (the third largest island in the world) with an area of 539.460 square km, Sulawesi with 189.216 square km, and Papua with an area of 421.981 square km.

The islands of Indonesia were formed in the Miocene age (12 million years BC); Palaeocene age (70 million years BC); Eocene age (30 million years BC); Oligacene age (25 million years BC). As people from Asia started to migrate, it is believed that Indonesia existed since the Pleistocene age (4 million years BC). The islands have a great effect on the change of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plate. The Australian plate changes slowly with an upward movement into the small plates of the Pacific plate that moves southward. Between these lines, the islands of Indonesia are stretched out.

This makes Indonesia as one of the most changing geological area in the world. There are 400 volcanic mountains – which 100 of them are active- that dot the islands of Indonesia.  Every day Indonesia experiences three vibrations, at least one earthquake a day and one volcanic eruption in a year.

The population of Indonesia can be divided into two major groups: in the western region most of the people are from the Malay ethnicity while in the eastern region there are the Papuans originating from the Melanesian Islands. Indonesia also recognizes specific ethnic groups that come from a certain province/area and have specific language for example the Javanese from Central or East Java, the Sundanese from West Java or the Batak ethnicity from North Sumatra.

In addition, there are also minority ethnicities derived from Chinese, Indian and Arabic descendents. These people travelled as merchants through trade exchange since the 8th century BC and migrated to Indonesia. Approximately 3% of the population is from Chinese ethnicity, although the exact percentage is not known as the last ethnicity census was held in the 1930s.

Islam is the major religion of 85.2% of the population, designating Indonesia as the largest Moslem country in the world. The remaining population consists of Protestants (8.9%); Catholics (3%); Hindus (1.8%); Buddhists (0.8%) and other religion (0.3%).

Many Indonesians speak their ethnic language as their mother tongue. However, the Indonesian language is the official language and it is taught at all schools and most Indonesians are proficient in using the language for communication.

The political system of Indonesia is a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic. Indonesia is a unitary state with power concentrated in the national government. In the Indonesian government, the powers is vested in the executive, which is exercised by the government, legislative power is vested in both the government and the two People’s Representative Councils and the judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The Constitutional System

The Indonesian constitution was first written in July and August 1945 at the end of World War II but it was abolished by the Federal Constitution of 1949 and the Provisional Constitution of 1950. Finally on 5th July 1959 the constitution was restored.

Executive Branch

The President of Indonesia is both head of state and head of government and of a multi-party system. He is also the commander-in-chief of the Indonesian armed forces, and responsible for domestic governance, policy-making and foreign affairs. The president and vice president are both selected by the vote of the citizens for a term of five years. Previously prior to 2004 they were elected by the People’s Consultative Assembly. Its also the president who heads the United Indonesia Cabinet or the ‘Kabinet Indonesia Bersatu’ and elects the council of ministers.

Legislative Branch

In the political system of Indonesia the highest representative body at national level is the People’s Consultative Assembly or the ‘Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat’ (MPR). MPR also has the power to impeach the President. It has two lower houses or chambers, viz the People’s Representative Council or the ‘Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat’ (DPR) and the Regional Representatives Council or the ‘Dewan Perwakilan Daerah’ (DPD). The DPR has 550 members, elected for a five year term by proportional representation in multi-member constituencies and the DPD has 168 members. All legislation is passed by the legislative body DPR which also monitors the executive branch. After the 2004 election the MPR became a bicameral parliament, with the DPD as its second chamber in an effort to increase regional representation.

Judicial Branch

The highest level of judicial branch in Indonesia is the Supreme Court or the ‘Mahkamah Agung’. The president appoints the judges of the Supreme Court. Besides Indonesia has a different court for different matters. All civil disputes appear first before a State Court before being heard in the High Court. There’s the Commercial Court to handle 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 products, dissolution of political parties, general elections and the scope of authority of a state institution; and a Religious Court to deal with specific religious cases.

The Political Party

The main political parties of Indonesia are  the Democratic Party (PD ) the Functional Groups Party (Golkar), Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDIP), and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Administrative Divisions

Indonesia consists of 34 provinces, 4 of which have special status) including a special capital region. Each of these provinces has its own political legislature and is headed by a governor.

indonesia-industryIndonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is one of the emerging market economies of the world. The country is also a member of G-20 major economies and classified as a newly industrialized country. Indonesia has abundant natural resources outside Java including crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Despite being the second largest exporter of natural gas, Indonesia recently has become a net importer of crude oil. The agriculture products of Indonesia include rice, tea, coffee, spices and rubber. The major trade partners of Indonesia are Japan, the United States of America and neighboring countries namely Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

Indonesia has achieved remarkable economic development success over decade and until the first half of 1990s was among the best performing East Asian economies, having growth rate of 7.1% between 1985 and 1995, but In the face of financial crisis in the mid of 1997, the Indonesian economic growth moved very low, even reached minus 13.13 % in 1998. Purchasing power parity of Indonesian people set back by ten years and its per capita income decreased to US$ 467 in 1998, while a condition before crisis (1996) stood at US$ 1,141. A huge depreciation Rupiah against US dollar furthermore has also brought some difficulties to Indonesian economy, such as the increasing of burden of debt payment in foreign currency and the interest rate as well as the escalation of cost of production due to the higher prices of imported goods for production process.

In order to overcome the economy problems, the Indonesian government has taken the economic recovery program which has brought some positive result and development. Several years after its program, Indonesian economic indicators demonstrated a positive result as reflected in economic growth (GDP) which was rose 4.7% annually during 2001 – 2005 and GDP per capita increased 17% annually.

Despite a slowing global economy, Indonesia’s economic growth accelerated to a ten-year high of 6.3% in 2007. This growth rate was sufficient to reduce poverty from 17.8% to 16.6% based on the Government’s poverty line and reversed the recent trend towards jobless growth, with unemployment falling to 8.46% in February 2008. Unlike many of its more export-dependent neighbors, it has managed to skirt the recession, helped by strong domestic demand (which makes up about two-thirds of the economy) and a government fiscal stimulus package of about 1.4% of GDP, announced earlier this year. After India and China, Indonesia is currently the third fastest growing economy in the Group of Twenty (G20) industrialized and developing economies. The $512 billion economy expanded 4.4% in the first quarter from a year earlier and last month, the IMF revised its 2009 forecast for the country to 3-4% from 2.5%. Indonesia enjoyed stronger fundamentals with the authorities implemented wide-ranging economic and financial reforms, including a rapid reduction in public and external debt, strengthening of corporate and banking sector balance sheets and reducing bank vulnerabilities through higher capitalization and better supervision.

In general, Indonesian economy has moved on the right track. It was also supported by the Government’s commitments to bring back macroeconomic stability coupled with higher economic growth, improve investment climate and provide competitive and transparency. Indonesia regained its investment grade rating from Fitch Rating in late 2011 and from Moody’s Rating in early 2012.