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Republic of Indonesia

Republik Indonesia

CAPITAL: Jakarta

FLAG: The national flag, adopted in 1949, consists of a red horizontal stripe above a white stripe.

ANTHEM: Indonesia Raya (Great Indonesia).

MONETARY UNIT: The rupiah (Rp) consists of 100 sen. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 rupiahs, and notes of 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 rupiahs. Rp1 = $0.00010 (or $1 = Rp9,739.35) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Independence Day, 17 August; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include the Prophet's Birthday, Ascension of Muhammad, Good Friday, Ascension Day of Jesus Christ, the end of Ramadan, 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and the 1st of Muharram (Muslim New Year).

TIME: Western, 7 pm = noon GMT; Central, 8 pm = noon GMT; Eastern, 9 pm = noon GMT.


The Republic of Indonesia consists of five large islands and 13,677 smaller islands (about 6,000 of which are inhabited) forming an arc between Asia and Australia. With a total area of 1,919,440 sq km (741,100 sq mi), Indonesia is the fourth-largest Asian country, after China, India, and Saudi Arabia. Comparatively, the area occupied by Indonesia is slightly less than three times the size of the state of Texas. It extends 5,271 km (3,275 mi) ew and 2,210 km (1,373 mi) ns. The five principal islands are Sumatra; Java; Borneo, of which the 72% belonging to Indonesia is known as Kalimantan; Sulawesi, formerly called Celebes; and Irian Jaya (West Irian), the western portion of the island of New Guinea. Indonesia has land boundaries with Malaysia (on Borneo), Papua New Guinea (on New Guinea), and East Timor (on Timor). It is bounded on the n by the South China Sea, on the n and e by the Pacific Ocean, and on the s and w by the Indian Ocean. Indonesia's total land boundary length is 2,830 km (1,758 mi). Its coastline is 54, 716 km (33,999 mi).

Indonesia's capital city, Jakarta, is located on the island of Java.


The Indonesian archipelago consists of three main regions. One of the regions consists of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and the islands that lie between them, which stand on the Sunda shelf, where the ocean depths are never more than 210 m (700 ft). Another region consists of Irian Jaya and the Aru Isles, which stand on the Sahul shelf, projecting northward from the north coast of Australia at similar depths. Between these two shelves are the Lesser Sunda Islands, the Maluku Islands (Moluccas), and Sulawesi, which are surrounded by seas with depths that reach 4,570 m (15,000 ft). The large islands have central mountain ranges rising from more or less extensive lowlands and coastal plains. Many inactive and scores of active volcanoes dot the islands, accounting for the predominantly rich volcanic soil that is carried down by the rivers to the plains and lowlands; there are over 100 volcanoes. Peaks rise to 3,650 m (12,000 ft) in Java and Sumatra. Java, Bali, and Lombok have extensive lowland plains and gently sloping cultivable mountainsides. Extensive swamp forests and not very fertile hill country are found in Kalimantan. Sumatra's eastern coastline is bordered by morasses, floodplains, and alluvial terraces suitable for cultivation farther inland. Mountainous areas predominate in Sulawesi.

Earthquakes and tsunamis often devastate Indonesia. In 1992, an earthquake off the island of Flores caused more than 2,500 deaths. More than 200 people died in 1994 from an earthquake and tsunami in eastern Java. An earthquake in Sumatra with a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter Scale killed more than 100 people in 2000.

A disastrous tsunami struck Indonesia and its neighboring Asian countries on 26 December 2004. Stemming from an underwater earthquake about 324 km (180 mi) south off the coast of Sumatra, the city of Banda Aceh witnessed a 10-minute earthquake, the longest ever recorded as of 2005. The tsunami rolled waves onto the mainland at an estimated 800 km/h (500 mi/h), leaving about 131,000 dead and another 38,000 missing. The devastation of the disaster crushed entire villages and most of the country's coastal region.

On 19 February 2005, an earthquake measuring a 6.5 magnitude on the Richter Scale occurred at Sulawesi. Simeulue experienced a 6.8 magnitude tremor on 26 February 2005. On 28 March 2005, an earthquake measuring 8.7 struck both of the small islands of Nias and Simeulue. One of the most powerful in a century, the disaster caused hundreds of deaths and severe damage to many homes. Nias felt additional quakes on 14 May (at 6.8 magnitude) and 5 July (6.7 magnitude). Simeulue felt another quake of 6.7 magnitude on 19 May.


Straddling the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate characterized by heavy rainfall, high humidity, high temperature, and low winds. The wet season is from November to March, the dry season from April to October. Rainfall in lowland areas averages 180320 cm (70125 in) annually, increasing with elevation to an average of 610 cm (240 in) in some mountain areas. In the lowlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the rainfall range is 305370 cm (120145 in); the amount diminishes southward, closer to the northwest Australian desert. Average humidity is 82%.

Altitude rather than season affects the temperature in Indonesia. At sea level, the mean annual temperature is about 2527°c (7781°f). There is slight daily variation in temperature, with the greatest variation at inland points and at higher levels. The mean annual temperature at Jakarta is 26°c (79°f); average annual rainfall is about 200 cm (79 in).


The plant life of the archipelago reflects a mingling of Asiatic and Australian forms with endemic ones. Vegetation ranges from that of the tropical rain forest of the northern lowlands and the seasonal forests of the southern lowlands, through vegetation of the less luxuriant hill forests and mountain forests, to subalpine shrub vegetation.

The bridge between Asia and Australia formed by the archipelago is reflected in the varieties of animal life. The fauna of Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Java is similar to that of peninsular Malaysia, but each island has its peculiar types. The orangutan is found in Sumatra and Kalimantan but not in Java, the siamang only in Sumatra, the proboscis monkey only in Kalimantan, the elephant and tapir only in Sumatra, and the wild ox in Java and Kalimantan but not in Sumatra. In Sulawesi, the Maluku Islands, and Timor, Australian types begin to occurthe bandicoot, a marsupial, is found in Timor. All the islands, especially the Malukus, abound in great varieties of bird life, reptiles, and amphibians. The abundant marine life of Indonesia's extensive territorial waters includes a rich variety of corals.

As of 2002, there were at least 515 species of mammals, 929 species of birds, and over 29,300 species of plants throughout the country.


An extensive "regreening" and reforestation of barren land, initiated under the 197579 national economic development plan, was greatly expanded and integrated with flood control and irrigation programs under the national plans for 197984 and 198489. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Indonesia's forests and woodland areas increased by 1.4%. However, in 19902000, the deforestation rate was about 1.2% per year. Indonesia also has the world's most extensive mangrove area, which covered over 4 million hectares (9.9 million acres) in 1994. In 2000, about 58% of the total land area was forested.

Flood-control programs involve river dredging, dike strengthening, construction of new dams, and sandbagging of river banks at critical points. The burning of oil and coal along with the abuse of fertilizers and pesticides results in significant damage to the environment. The nation used 3.1 million tons of fertilizer per year at last estimate. Indonesia has 2,838 cu km of renewable water resources with 93% used in farming activity and 1% used for industrial purposes. About 89% of all city dwellers and 69% of rural dwellers have access to pure drinking water. Legislation introduced in 1982 endorsed the establishment of penalties for environmental pollution.

Protection of indigenous wildlife is entrusted to the Directorate of Nature Conservation and Wildlife Management. In 1984/85, the government set up three new national parks (of nineteen included in the 198489 plan) and four new natural reserves. By 2001 the government's goal to allocate 10% of the nation's land area to reserves had been metprotected lands totaled 10.1% of Indonesia's total land area. In 2003, about 20.6% of the total land area was protected, including five natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two Ramsar wetland sites.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 146 types of mammals, 121 species of birds, 28 types of reptiles, 33 species of amphibians, 91 species of fish, 3 types of mollusks, 28 species of other invertebrates, and 383 species of plants. Endangered species in Indonesia include the pig-tailed langur, Javan gibbon, orangutan, tiger, Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, Javan rhinoceros, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran serow, Rothschild's starling, lowland anoa, mountain anoa, Siamese crocodile, false gavial, river terrapin, and four species of turtle (green sea, hawksbill, olive ridley, and leatherback). The Kalimantan mango, Buhler's rat, and the Javanese lapwing have become extinct.


The population of Indonesia in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 221,932,000, which placed it at number 4 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 30% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.6%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The government was continuing efforts to curb population growth by reducing the fertility rate, which stood at 2.7 births per woman in 2005, half of what it was in the 1970s. The government's goal was to reach a fertility rate of 2.2 births per woman by 2010. The projected population for the year 2025 was 275,406,000. The population density was 117 per sq km (302 per sq mi); population distribution is uneven, with 60% of the population living in just 7% of the nation's land. Some urban areas have density equivalent to 44,030 per sq km (17,000 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 42% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 3.22%. The capital city, Jakarta, had a population of 12,296,000 in that year. Other large cities and their estimated populations include Bandung, 4,020,000; Surabaya, 2,735,000; Medan, 2,109,000; Palembang, 1,675,000; Ujungpandang, 1,205,000; and Semarang, 816,000.


Historically, there has been considerable migration from and to China. Following a decree banning foreigners from participating in retail trade in rural Indonesia, some 120,000 Chinese left Indonesia in 196061. After the attempted coup of 1965 and the resultant deterioration in relations with China, many more Chinese left Indonesia. Migration between the Netherlands and Indonesia has been greatly reduced since independence; at the time of independence, 250,000 Netherlands nationalsnearly all of whom have since returned homelived in Indonesia.

Resettlement of people from crowded areas to the less populous outer islands is official government policy. The 197984 National Economic Plan had as a target the "transmigration" of 500,000 families from Java, Bali, and Madura to Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku Province, and Irian Jaya. Participation was voluntary, and the actual number of families that resettled was about 366,000, containing about 1.5 million people. Since the annual population increase of Java is more than two million, the costly transmigration scheme did little to relieve that island's human congestion, but it had a considerable impact in developing sparsely settled areas. Each family was entitled to two ha (five acres) and was provided with housing, food, seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides, and other supplies that it could use to become productive. Under the 198791 plan, 338,433 families were resettled.

First asylum was granted to over 145,000 Indochinese refugees between 1975 and 1993. Of these refugees, 121,708 were from Vietnam. Of the Vietnam asylum seekers, 112,000 had left for resettlement in the West by 1996, with the remaining group of Vietnamese expected to return home eventually. In 2004 there were 535,000 internally displaced persons in Indonesia.

In 2004 Indonesia had 169 refugees and 59 asylum seekers, with 16,390 persons of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Populations of concern to UNHCR in 2004 were some 16,000 from East Timor and Afghanistan. In that same year over 7,000 Indonesians applied for asylum in Malaysia, the United States, and Australia. Another 15,181 were refugees in Malaysia, and 7,626 in Papua New Guinea.

In 2005 the net migration rate for Indonesia was zero.


The indigenous peoples, ethnologically referred to as Malays or Indonesians, also are found on the neighboring islands of the Philippines, in peninsular Malaysia, and even as far away as Taiwan and Madagascar. Indonesians are characterized by smallness of stature, light to dark-brown pigmentation, thick, sleek black hair, broad formation of the head, a wide nose, and thick lips. The inhabitants of eastern Indonesia have Negroid features, the result of intermarriage with the Papuans of New Guinea.

The population is officially classified into four main ethnic groups: Melanesians, who constitute the majority; Proto-Austronesians, including the Wajaks and the Irianese on Irian Jaya; Polynesians, including the Ambonese on the Maluku Islands; and Micronesians, found on the tiny islets of Indonesia's eastern borders. The Melanesians are subdivided into the Acehnese of north Sumatra; the Bataks of northeastern Sumatra; the Minangkabaus of west Sumatra; the Sundanese of west Java; the Javanese in central and east Java; the Madurese on the island of Madura; the Balinese on Bali; the Sasaks on the island of Lombok; the Timorese on Timor; the Dayaks in Kalimantan; and the Minahasa, Torajas, Makassarese, and Buginese on Sulawesi. About 45% of the population is Javanese, 14% Sundanese, 7.5% Madurese, 7.5% coastal Malays, and 26% other.

Ethnic Chinese, the principal minority, were the target of riots in 1974, 1980, and 1998. Active mainly in business in the major cities, they are relatively prosperous and widely resented by ethnic Indonesians.


Bahasa Indonesia, a product of the nationalist movement, is the official language, serving as a common vehicle of communication for the various language groups. Based primarily on Malay and similar to the official language of Malaysia, it also contains many words from other Indonesian languages and dialects, as well as from Dutch, English, Arabic, Sanskrit, and other languages. In 1973, Indonesia and Malaysia adopted similar systems of spelling. Outside of Jakarta, only 1015% of the population speaks the language in the home, but more than half the population uses it as a secondary language. Use of some 669 local languages persists, including Sundanese, Malay, and the most widely used, Javanese. English and Dutch are widely used in industry and commerce.


According to a 2000 census, about 88.22% of the inhabitants were adherents of Islam, 5.87% were Protestant, 3.05% were Roman Catholic, 1.81% were Hindu, 0.84% were Buddhist, and 0.2% followed tribal and other religions.

Most Muslims are Sunni, but the Shia, Amadhiyah, and Sufi branches are also represented. There are also small groups of messianic Islam groups including Darul Argam, Jamaah Salamulla, and Negara Islam Indonesia. The mainstream Muslim community is divided into modernists (who embrace modern learning but adhere to scriptural orthodox theology) and traditionalists (who are generally followers of charismatic religious scholars). Many modernists belong to a social organization known as Muhammadiyah; traditionalists belong to Nahdlatul. The Muslim majorities are found in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, and North Maluku.

Hinduism was the religion of Java for several centuries, but when Islam swept over Indonesia in the 15th century, Hinduism retreated somewhat to Bali. Hindu authorities estimate that there are about 18 million Hindus in the country; government estimates, however, indicate that there are only about 3.6 million. The Naurus on Seram Island practice a combination of Hindu and animist beliefs. Of the Buddhists, about 60% ascribe to the Mahayana school and 30% adhere to the Theravada school. Tantrayana, Tridharma, Kasogatan, Nichiren, and Maitreya schools are all represented as well. The religious faith of the Chinese in Indonesia may be characterized as Christian, Buddhist-Confucians, or even a combination of the two. The chief Christian communities are found in the eastern part of the country. In central Kalimantan and Irian Jaya, as well as a few other areas, substantial numbers of Indonesians follow animist tribal religions.

The constitution provides for freedom of worship but there have been some restrictions on religious practice. Only five religions are officially recognized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Other religious groups may register as social organizations, but this status comes with certain restrictions. Proselytizing is prohibited. The government actively supports Islamic religious schools and pays for a number of annual pilgrimages to Mecca. Certain Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist holidays are observed as national holidays.


Indonesia is politically and economically dependent upon good communications and transportation among the islands. Transportation facilities suffered greatly from destruction and neglect during World War II and immediately thereafter. The revitalized and partially modernized system suffered an additional setback during 195758 as a result of the withdrawal of Dutch equipment and personnel.

Of the 368,360 km (229,119 mi) of roadways in 2002, a total of 213,648 km (132,889 mi) were paved. Indonesia had 3,556,000 passenger cars and 2,720,000 commercial vehicles as of 2003. Railways connect the main cities in Java and parts of Sumatra. As of 2004, the state owned all of the 6,458 km (4,013 mi) of railroad track in service, all of which was narrow gauge. Of that total, 125 km (78 mi) have been electrified. Air-conditioned cars and express service have been introduced in parts of Java, but no new lines have been built in recent years.

As of 2004, about 21,579 km (13,409 mi) of inland waterways form the most important means of transportation in Kalimantan and in parts of Sumatra. The principal ports of international trade are Tanjungpriok (for Jakarta) and Tanjungperak (for Surabaya) in Java, and Belawan (near Medan) and Padang in Sumatra. Ports with less traffic but capable of handling sizable ships are Cirebon and Semarang in Java; Palembang in Sumatra; Banjarmasin, Balikpapan, and Pontianak in Kalimantan; Tanjungpinang in Bintan; and Ujung Padang in Sulawesi. In 2005, Indonesia's merchant fleet included 728 vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 3,192,847 GRT. Regulations were imposed in 1982 requiring that all government imports and exports be shipped in Indonesian vessels, and port charges were substantially altered to benefit Indonesia's national carriers. In 1984, a policy of scrapping old vessels was implemented.

Indonesia had an estimated 667 airports in 2004. As of 2005, a total of 161 had paved runways, and there were also 23 heliports. The center of international air traffic is Jakarta's Sukarno-Hatta International Airport. Other principal airports include Halim Perdanak at Jakarta and Polonia at Medan. In 2003, about 12.221 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


Evidence for the ancient habitation of Indonesia was discovered by the Dutch paleontologist Eugène Dubois in 1891; these fossil remains of so-called Java man (Pithecanthropus erectus ) date from the Pleistocene period, when Indonesia was linked with the Asian mainland. Indonesia's characteristic racial mixture resulted from at least two waves of invasions from South China by way of the Malay Peninsula and from intermarriage of these Indonesians with later immigrants, especially from India. The important population groups of today trace their descent from the immigrants of the second wave, which occurred around the 2nd or 3rd century bc. They subjugated and absorbed most of the other inhabitants. Indian influences permeated Java and Sumatra from the 1st to the 7th century ad. During this period and extending into the 15th century, local Buddhist and Hindu rulers established a number of powerful kingdoms. Among the most powerful of these was the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya, established on Sumatra in the 7th century; it prospered by gaining control of trade through the Strait of Malacca. To the east, in central Java, the Sailendra dynasty established its Buddhist kingdom in the 8th century. Relics of Sailendra rule include the great temple of Borobudur, Asia's largest Buddhist monument, with hundreds of bas-reliefs depicting the life of Buddha. Succeeding the Sailendra dynasty in 856 were followers of the Hindu god Shiva; these Shivaites built the great temple at Prambanan, east of Yogyakarta. Other Hindu kingdoms subsequently extended Indian influence eastward into east Java and Bali. The last of these was the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit, which was at the height of its power during the 13th century, when Marco Polo visited Java and northern Sumatra. When Majapahit collapsed around 1520, many of its leaders, according to tradition, fled to Bali, the only island in Indonesia that retains Hinduism as the chief religion. Even before Majapahit disintegrated, Muslim missionaries, probably Persian merchants, had begun to win much of the archipelago for Islam. About this time, also, the first Europeans arrived, and the first Chinese settlements were made. The Portuguese captured Malacca (Melaka), on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, in 1511 and established control over the archipelago.

Dutch ships visited Java in 1596. The Dutch came in increasing numbers and soon drove the Portuguese out of the archipelago (except for the eastern half of the island of Timor), beginning nearly 350 years of colonial rule. The States-General of the Dutch Republic in 1602 incorporated the East Indian spice traders as the United East India Company and granted it a monopoly on shipping and trade and the power to make alliances and contracts with the rulers of the East. By force and diplomacy, the company thus became the supreme ruler of what became known as the Dutch East Indies. However, maladministration and corruption weakened the company after its early years of prosperity, and the Dutch government nullified its charter in 1799 and took over its affairs in 1800. The British East India Company ruled the Indies during the Napoleonic wars, from 1811 to 1816. During this period, Sir Th omas Stamford Raffl es became governor of Java. When Dutch rule was restored, the Netherlands government instituted the "culture system" on Java, under which the Javanese, instead of paying a certain proportion of their crops as tax, were required to put at the disposal of the government a share of their land and labor and to grow crops for export under government direction. From a fiscal point of view the system was very successful, yielding millions of guilders for the Netherlands treasury, but this "net profit" or "favorable balance" policy fell under increasing moral attack in the Netherlands and was brought to an end about 1877.

Thereafter, private Dutch capital moved into the Indies, but the augmentation of Dutch prosperity at the expense of Indonesian living standards was increasingly resented. With the adoption of what colonial administrators called the "ethical policy" at the beginning of the 20th century, the first steps were taken to give Indonesians participation in government. A central representative body, the Volksraad, was instituted in 1918. At first it had only advisory powers, but in 1927 it was given colegislative powers. An Indonesian nationalist movement began to develop during those years and steadily gained strength. Although retarded in the 1930s by the world economic depression, which was strongly felt in Indonesia, the movement revived during the Japanese occupation (194245) in World War II. A nationalist group under the leadership of Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed an independent republic on 17 August 1945, adopted a provisional constitution providing for a strong presidential form of government, formed a revolutionary government, and resisted Dutch reoccupation. After four years of intermittent negotiations, frequent hostilities, and intervention by the United Nations (UN), the Netherlands agreed to Indonesian demands.

On 27 December 1949, the Dutch recognized the independence of all the former Dutch East Indies except West New Guinea (Irian Jaya) as the Republic of the United States of Indonesia. A few months later, on 17 August 1950, the federal system was rejected and a unitary state, the Republic of Indonesia, was established under a new constitution. West New Guinea remained under Dutch control until October 1962, when the Netherlands transferred the territory to the UN Temporary Executive Administration (UNTEA). On 1 May 1963, Indonesia took complete possession of the disputed territory as the province of Irian Barat (West Irian); the province was renamed Irian Jaya in 1973. Indonesia, which aimed to acquire Sarawak and Sabah (which are on the island of Borneo with Kalimantan), opposed the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in September 1963 and announced a "crush Malaysia" policy. This policy was implemented by guerrilla raids into Malaysian territory that continued until August 1966, when a formal treaty was concluded between the two countries.

Sukarno became the first president of the new nation in 1949, and Hatta the vice president. Internal diffi culties, fostered by a multiplicity of political parties inherited from Dutch colonial days, soon developed, and regional rivalries also threatened the unity of the new nation. Then as now, Java had some two-thirds of the country's population, but the great sources of wealth were found on the other, much less densely settled islands. Th ose living in the so-called Outer Islands believed too much governmental revenue was being spent in Java and too little elsewhere. After Vice President Hatta, a Sumatran, resigned in December 1956, many in the Outer Islands felt they had lost their chief and most effective spokesman in Jakarta. Territorial army commanders in Sumatra staged coups and defied the central government; other rebel movements developed in Sulawesi. The government took measures providing for greater fiscal and administrative decentralization, but discontent remained, and the rebellions were put down by force. Thereafter, Sukarno bypassed parliamentary procedures and pursued an increasingly authoritarian, anti-Western policy of "guided democracy." In 1959, he decreed a return to the 1945 constitution, providing for a centralized form of government, and consolidated his control.

Communist agitation within the country and secessionist uprisings in central and eastern Java came to a head in the 30th of September Movement under the direction of Lt. Col. Untung. Sukarno, whose foreign policy had turned increasingly toward the Communist Chinese, may have had advance knowledge of the Communist-led coup attempt on 30 September 1965, which was directed against Indonesia's top military men; the coup was crushed immediately by the army, however, and in the ensuing anti-Communist purges more than 100,000 persons (mostly Indonesian Chinese) lost their lives and another 700,000 were arrested. By mid-October, the army, under the command of Gen. Suharto, was in virtual control of the country. On 12 March 1966, following nearly three weeks of student riots, President Sukarno transferred to Suharto the authority to take, in the president's name, "all measures required for the safekeeping and stability of the government administration." In March 1967, the People's Consultative Assembly (Majetis Permusyawaratan RakyatMPR) voted unanimously to withdraw all Sukarno's governmental power and appointed Gen. Suharto acting president. One year later, it conferred full presidential powers on Suharto, and he was sworn in as president for a five-year term. The congress also agreed to postpone the general elections due in 1968 until 1971. Sukarno died in June 1970. On 3 July 1971, national and regional elections were held for the majority of seats in all legislative bodies. The Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups (Sekber Golongan KaryaGolkar), a mass political front backed by Suharto, gained 60% of the popular vote and emerged in control of both the House of Representatives (DPR) and the MPR.

Suharto Gains Control

In March 1973, the MPR elected Suharto to a second five-year term. Thus Suharto, with key backing from the military, began a long period of dominance over Indonesian politics. Under Suharto's "New Order," Indonesia turned to the West and began following a conservative economic course stressing capital development and foreign investment. In foreign affairs, Suharto's government achieved vastly improved ties with the United States, Japan, and Western Europe while maintaining links with the USSR.

On 7 December 1975, following Portugal's withdrawal from East Timor, a power struggle developed among various political groups, including the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Frente Revolucionário de Este Timor IndependenteFretilin). The left-wing independence movement achieved military dominance forcing the Indonesian government to send troops into the former Portuguese colony and assume full control of the territory. On 17 July 1976, the Suharto government incorporated the territory as an Indonesian province. This action was neither recognized by the UN, which called on Indonesia to withdraw and allow the Timorese the right to self-determination, nor accepted by Fretilin. Discontent with the Suharto regime mounted after the elections of 1977, in which Suharto's Golkar Party gained an overwhelming majority. The government acknowledged holding 31,000 political prisoners; according to Amnesty International, the total was closer to 100,000. Student riots and criticism of government repression resulted in further government measures: political activity was suspended, and leading newspapers were temporarily closed. Suharto was elected by the MPR to a third five-year term in 1978; during late 1977 and 1978, some 16,000 political prisoners were released, and the remainder of those detained in 1965 were released by the end of 1979. Golkar made further gains in the 1982 elections, and Suharto was elected for a fourth five-year term in March 1983.

To strengthen the government in the face of rising Muslim militancy, Suharto began to reestablish Sukarno as a national hero eight years after his death. Suharto called for greater loyalty by all political groups to the Pancasila ("five principles") framed by Sukarno in 1945. The credo encompassed belief in the one supreme being, humanitarianism, national unity, consensus democracy, and social justice. Muslim groups strongly objected to the new government program and organized demonstrations that took place in 1984 and 1985. The war against Fretilin continued into the 1980s, with reports of massacres by government troops and severe economic hardship among the Timorese. Negotiations with Portugal, still considered responsible for decolonization by the UN, began in July 1983. In Irian Jaya, the Organization for a Free Papua (Organisasi Papua MerdekaOPM), which desires unification with Papua New Guinea and has been active since the early 1960s, increased its militant activities in 1986. The Indonesian Army (ABRI) continued to play a dual military and socioeconomic function, and this role was supported by legislation in 1988. Golkar made further gains in the 1987 elections, and Suharto was again reelected for a fifth five-year term in March 1988. During disagreements over nomination procedures for the vice presidency, ABRI's influence was eroded.

Golkar sought to create national unity through its resettlement policies. From 196992, the Transmigration Program, a policy aimed at redistributing population in Indonesia for political purposes and demographic reasons, resulted in almost 1,488,000 families moving from the Inner Islands to the Outer Islands. The Transmigration Program suffered from land disputes with local residents and environmental concerns over deforestation. The program alienated local populations and fueled ethnic conflict throughout the country. In Irian Jaya, OPM attempted to sabotage the government's program, which was turning the indigenous Melanesian majority into a minority. Indonesian troops attempting to capture Melanesian separatists would cross the border into Papua New Guinea. Indonesia and Papua New Guinea agreed to provide greater cooperation on security and trade issues and the leader of OPM, Melkianus Salossa, was eventually arrested in Papua New Guinea and deported to Indonesia and sentenced to life in prison in 1991. In 1989, tension from land disputes in Java and the Outer Islands produced social unrest that resulted in clashes between villagers and the armed forces. In 1990 an armed rebellion in northern Sumatra at Aceh arose over hostility toward government exploitation of mineral resources and its transmigration program. The government squashed the rebellion with a massive display of force.

Political openness was increasingly espoused during 199091 by political and labor organizations. In 1990 a group of prominent Indonesians publicly demanded that Suharto retire from the presidency at the end of his current term; in 1991 labor unrest increased with a rash of strikes, which the army was called in to quell. Government efforts to raise funds through a state lottery were opposed and finally forbidden on religious grounds when the country's highest Islamic authority declared the lottery haram (forbidden).

On 12 November 1991, during a funeral for a young Timorese killed in demonstrations against Indonesia's rule of East Timor, soldiers opened fire on the defenseless mourners, provoking worldwide condemnation. Although the government took unprecedented steps to punish those involved, Western governments threatened to suspend aid, and demands were made linking aid to human rights issues. The Netherlands' demand linking its aid to improvements in human rights was rejected when Suharto refused Dutch economic aid on 25 March 1992. In the aftermath of these events, Suharto spoke at the Nonaligned Movement summit in Jakarta and to the UN General Assembly, suggesting that developing nations needed to take a more prominent role in opposing North-South economic inequality. Suharto's challenge received a cool reception from Western nations, but it clearly signaled a reassessment of Indonesia's future international presence. In early December 1992 government forces captured Jose Alexandre (Xanana) Gusmao, leader of the Fretilin, who was hiding in Dili, East Timor. On 21 May 1993 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In late 1992, tensions between Muslims and Christians increased to the point of violence and vandalism of churches and mosques. Suharto requested that religious tolerance be practiced. By 1993 US policy toward Indonesia shifted, toward criticism of Indonesia's rule in East Timor and a threat to revoke trade privileges pursuant to Indonesia's treatment of the largest independent trade union, the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI). Adding further scrutiny to Indonesia's tarnished international image was a UN resolution on Indonesia's human rights violations placing the country on a rights "watch" list in 1993.

Although its total share of votes declined, Golkar won the 1992 elections, securing 282 of the 400 elective seats. In March 1993, Suharto was elected to a sixth term as president. Try Sutrisno, the commander in chief of ABRI, was chosen as vice president. Despite Golkar's victory, the country continued to experience economic and political diffi culties. A major scandal occurred in March 1993 with the sale of $5 million in fake shares on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSE). In January 1994 President Suharto inaugurated 12 electric power plants with combined installed capacity of more than 2,000 MW. Violent labor unrest broke out in Medan in April 1994 with the mysterious death of a union activist. Ethnic Chinese, who are only about 3% of the population of Indonesia, were the target of demonstrators; one Chinese factory manager was killed. The success of the Chinese is widely envied and they are accused of exploiting the workers. On 21 June 1994 the government closed Tempo and two other publications by revoking publishing licenses. Tempo was accused of violating the journalistic code of ethics and pitting one person against another to the point where it affected national security based on its coverage of a controversial purchase of 39 warships from the former East German navy. Other publications were accused of more technical infractions, including the failure to comply with registration procedures and publishing political and general news in spite of license restrictions limiting a popular tabloid's coverage to detective stories and crime stories.

Violent outbreaks, clashes, and riots increased in Indonesia from 199597. Riots between Catholics and Muslims broke out in East Timor in September 1995, leaving Dili's central marketplace in ashes. This was before Timor's Roman Catholic bishop, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, and pro-independence advocateJosé Ramos-Horta, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Many incidents of rural unrest, including land disputes and ethnic strife, continued in 199596. The campaign for the 29 May 1997 elections was an unusually violent one, dubbed the "festival of democracy," as voters and demonstrators brought rocks, bricks, knives, machetes, and even snakes to the campaign. There was a ban on parades of trucks, cars, and motorcycles. This followed the uproar resulting from the ouster of Megawati Sukarnoputri as the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) chairperson in June 1996. Her political involvement was seen as a rallying point for democratic change. Golkar took 74% of the vote in elections that were seen to be marked by fraud; over 200 people were killed during the campaign. The Muslim-oriented United Development Party (PPP) obtained 22% and the PDI, 3%.

In other violence, hundreds of lives were lost in a full-scale ethnic war in Kalimantan, as clashes between the Dayaks, the indigenous people of the area, and Muslim settlers from the island of Madora, broke out in December 1996. The fighting led to Malaysia closing part of its border with Indonesia in February 1997. In 1997, the country experienced the dual effect of increased ethnic conflict and economic decline. These twin forces were the harbinger for the decline of Golkar and the departure of Suharto from Indonesian politics. In the May 1997 legislative elections, Golkar allegedly secured 74.3% of the popular vote, amid massive violence that killed over 100 political activists. Violence continued after the elections and was worsened by the Asian economic crisis. After severe devaluation of the rupiah in August and October of 1997, Suharto accepted an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan package but failed to carry out IMF-imposed conditions for economic reform. By December, news of Suharto's declining health furthered doubt on his ability to see Indonesia through a worsening economic and political situation.

After Suharto won an unopposed presidential election in March 1998, student protests swept Jakarta and ethnic tensions also swelled as Chinese merchants were attacked. In East Timor, José Ramos-Horta urged the government to agree to a cease-fire and cooperation with the UN to determine the ultimate governance structure for the country. On 21 May 1998, Suharto resigned as president, after hundreds of people were killed, looting swept through the capital, and thousands of foreigners living or working in Indonesia were evacuated in months of unrest. B. J. Habibie, the former vice president, was sworn in as president. Upon assuming the presidency, he adopted a conciliatory posture toward defusing the East Timor crisis by stating that East Timor may be given "special status" with increased autonomy within Indonesia. In August 1998, Portugal and Indonesia met to discuss the future of the province. After significant pressure from the United Nations, Australia, and Portugal, Habibie agreed on 27 January 1999 to hold a referendum for the province. Despite widespread violence instigated by the pro-Indonesia armed militia, 98% of voters cast their ballots on 30 August, with 78.5% in favor of independence. Th is was followed by a rampage by pro-Indonesia forces who looted and burned the entire province creating a major humanitarian situation and refugee crisis. With the aid of Australian troops, the UN intervened with approximately 8,000 troops to restore order and establish humanitarian programs. Meanwhile, in Irian Jaya and Aceh, the military forces and the national police continued to commit extra-judicial killings in 2000.

B. J. Habibie's political fortunes waned in the aftermath of the UN-sponsored referendum in East Timor. His state of the nation address to the People's Consultative Assembly in October 1999 did not allay the perception that he had not exercised the appropriate leadership in handling domestic and international matters. Pressure on Habibie mounted and he subsequently resigned as a result of a no-confidence vote. In 20 October elections in the People's Consultative Assembly, the first free elections in 44 years, Abdurrahman Wahid, the leader of the National Awakening Party and a near-blind Muslim cleric, was pitted against Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno's daughter. Megawati's party won the most votes, but rather than negotiate with other politicians to form a coalition, Megawati allowed the more experienced Wahid to become president. Despite protest from her supporters, Megawati asked backers to refrain from violent protest. She became vice president. Wahid worked to curb the influence of the military and promised major reforms in the government.

In July 2001, after months of opposition from legislators over the competence of his administration, Wahid declared a state of emergency and ordered parliament dissolved. On 23 July 2001, legislators in the People's Consultative Assembly voted 5910 to remove Wahid from the presidency. He had been charged with corruption and incompetence, being accused of embezzling us$4.1 million in state funds and illegally accepting us$2 million from the Sultan of Brunei. He was cleared of all charges that May, but the parliament continued to insist upon impeachment proceedings based on dissatisfaction with his administration. Megawati was sworn in as president immediately after Wahid's removal.

Megawati, a Muslim who was identified with nationalist-secular policies, faced demonstrations upon assuming office from strict Islamic fundamentalists calling for the establishment of Shariah law. She also had to face the Aceh independence movement, as more than 1,000 people were killed in the province in 2001, adding to the thousands more that had been killed in the past decade. Megawati expressed support for the US-led war on terrorism following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, and she visited the United States the following week.

Following the fall of Suharto, Indonesia experienced a resurgence of Islamic activity. The main extremist Islamist organizations in Indonesia are Darul Islam, the Islamic Defender's Front, and Laskar Jihad. Laskar Jihad is the most prominent and organized of Indonesia's radical Islamist organizations, and between 300400 new members joined within the first month following the 11 September attacks. On 12 October 2002, Indonesia experienced its own major terrorist attack. Two nightclubs in the resort town of Kuta on the island of Bali were bombed, killing 202 people, the majority being young Western tourists, many from Australia. On 18 October, President Megawati issued an emergency decree to give the government expanded powers to fight terrorism. This act came after international criticism directed at her government for not taking the necessary steps to address the problem of terrorism. Megawati permitted the arrest of Abubakar Bashir, a Muslim cleric who is the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah. Jemaah Islamiyah, accused of staging the Bali bombings, has links to the al-Qaeda organization. Bashir in 2003 was cleared of treason charges but jailed for subversion and immigration offenses. The subversion charge was later overturned, but in 2005 he was found guilty of conspiracy over the 2002 Bali bombings, and sentenced to 2½ years in prison. Later bombing attacks took place in August 2003 outside the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, killing 14 people; in September 2004 outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta, which killed 9 and injured more than 180 people; and in October 2005 on the island of Bali, when 3 suicide bombings killed 22 people, including the bombers.

Following its independence referendum held in August 1999, East Timor was governed by UNTAET (the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) and a National Consultative Council. A constituent assembly was elected in September 2001 with the task of writing a constitution for the country. In April 2002 José Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmão was elected president, and on 20 May 2002 East Timor became an independent nation.

In June 2000, 2,500 activists representing 250 tribal groups in Irian Jaya declared the regionwhich they call West Papuaa sovereign state. The region was granted limited autonomy by parliament in October 2001, but many inhabitants, including independence rebels, rejected the measure and called for full independence. On 9 December 2002, the government and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed a peace deal aimed at ending over three decades of violence. The accord provided for autonomy and free elections in Aceh; in return the GAM was to disarm. In May 2003, peace talks between the government and GAM broke down; the government mounted a military offensive against GAM separatists in Aceh and imposed martial law. In August 2005, the government and GAM separatists once again signed a peace agreement providing for the disarmament of rebels and the withdrawal of government soldiers from Aceh. In September, rebels began handing in their weapons.

Demonstrators protested price increases on basic necessities such as fuel and electricity commodities that have been rooted in corruption, in January 2003. Megawati, originally seen as a friend of the poor, was urged to resign by some for failing to eliminate corruption. In April 2004, parliamentary and local elections were held: the Golkar party of former President Suharto took the greatest share of the vote, with Megawati's PDI-P (Indonesia Democracy PartyStruggle) party coming in second. In July 2004, the country's first direct presidential election was held. In the runoff held on 20 September 2004, Megawati was defeated by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who received 60.6% of the vote. The election was hailed as the first peaceful transition of power in Indonesian history.

On 26 December 2004, a powerful undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra generated massive tidal waves. The tsunami devastated Indian Ocean communities as far away as Th ailand, India, Sri Lanka, and Somalia. More than 160,000 people were dead or missing in Indonesia alone. In March 2005, another earthquake off the coast of Sumatra killed at least 1,000 people, most of them on the island of Nias.


The provisional constitution of 17 August 1950 provided for a unitary republic. The president and vice president, "elected in accordance with rules to be laid down by law," were to be inviolable, but cabinet ministers were jointly and individually responsible. The House of Representatives was to be a unicameral parliament. Its members were elected by a system of proportional representation for a four-year term, but it might be dissolved earlier by presidential decree. Sukarno and Hatta, the first president and vice president, were elected by parliament; no term of office was stipulated by the constitution. In practice, the government was not truly parliamentary, since President Sukarno played a role far greater than is usual for the head of state in a parliamentary system. He was the great national revolutionary hero, and his popularity with the masses enabled him to exert great influence on government policy. Parliament was not strong enough to hold the president to the role prescribed by the constitution. In 1957, Sukarno adopted a more authoritarian policy of "guided democracy." He further strengthened his powers in 1959 by decreeing a return to the provisional 1945 constitution, which called for a strong president and stressed the philosophy of Pancasila as a national ideology. On 5 March 1960, Sukarno suspended parliament and began to rule by decree. In June, he appointed a new 283-member parliament drawn from 9 political parties and 14 "functional groups." In midAugust, Sukarno named another 326 legislators who, with the 283 members of parliament, were to constitute the Provisional People's Congress. This congress was to meet at least once every five years and to be responsible for drawing up the outlines of national policy and electing the president and vice president. In 1963, the congress elected Sukarno president for life. Following the political upheavals of 196566, the army, led by Gen. Suharto, moved to establish a "New Order." In 1967, Sukarno formally relinquished power to Suharto, who had become Indonesia's effective ruler in March 1966. Suharto reorganized the cabinet, making all of its 12 ministers responsible to him. In February 1968, he dismissed 123 members of the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat or MPR), an outgrowth of the Provisional People's Congress, and replaced them with his own nominees. In June of that year, following his appointment to a five-year term as president, Suharto formed a new cabinet, with himself as prime minister and defense minister.

On 3 July 1971, general electionsthe first since 1955were held for portions of two reconstituted national bodies, a 460-seat House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat or DPR) and a 920-seat People's Consultative Assembly or MPR. In 1987, the memberships were increased to 500 and 1,000, respectively. The number of seats in the MPR was later reduced to 700. The People's Consultative Assembly included the DPR plus 200 indirectly selected members; it met every five years to elect the president and vice president and to approve broad outlines of national policy and also had yearly meetings to consider constitutional and legislative changes. Legislative responsibility was vested in the DPR, which consisted of 462 elected members and 38 members appointed by the president from the military (Armed Forces of People's Republic of Indonesia, Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia or ABRI). Under the Suharto government, the MPR acted as a consultative body, setting guidelines for national policy; its principal legislative task was to approve the broad outlines of state policy. In March 1973, the MPR elected President Suharto to a second five-year term; he was reelected to a third term in 1978, a fourth in 1983, a fifth in 1988, a sixth in 1993, and a seventh in 1998. However, Suharto was forced to step down in May 1998 in favor of his vice president, B. J. Habibie. Habibie sought to decrease the role of the military in Indonesian politics and promised major political and economic reforms. He too was forced to resign after the People's Consultative Assembly questioned his leadership. In a surprise move, the body chose Abdurrahman Wahid as president in October 1999. Wahid, a well respected Muslim cleric, promised democratization and an end to corruption. Ironically, Wahid was eventually removed from office in July 2001, for corruption and political incompetence. Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno, became president. She also took on the perennial problem of corruption, but had to face the issue of international terrorism as well.

In August 2002, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) approved constitutional amendments to take effect in time for the presidential elections held in 2004. Seats in the 550-member DPR were no longer reserved for the armed forces; in return, members of the military were allowed to vote. Members of the DPR are elected for five-year terms. The MPR rejected the imposition of Shariah for Muslims. A second standing body, the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan DaerahDPD), now functions as a senate in Indonesia. Parliament no longer elects the president; instead, he or she is now directly elected.

In 2004, Megawati was defeated in the second round of the first direct presidential elections held in Indonesia. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono became president with 60.6% of the votes.


Until the autumn of 1955, when the first national elections were held, members of the House of Representatives were appointed by the president in consultation with party leaders. Of the 37,785,299 votes cast in the 1955 general election, six parties received more than one million votes each: the Indonesian Nationalist Party (Partai Nasional IndonesiaPNI), 22.3% of the total; the Council of Muslim Organizations (Masjumi), 20.9%; the Orthodox Muslim Scholars (Nahdlatul UlamaNU), 18.4%; the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis IndonesiaPKI), 16.4%; the United Muslim Party, 2.9%; and the Christian Party, 2.6%. In all, 28 parties won representation in the 273-member parliament. Almost all the political parties had socialist aims or tendencies. The PNI, many of whose prominent members were leaders in the prewar nationalist movement, represented a combination of nationalism and socialism. Government officials and employees had originally constituted its backbone, but subsequently it grew powerful among labor and farmer groups as well. The Masjumi was more evenly distributed throughout Indonesia than any other party. Although it contained a large percentage of the small middle class, its principles were markedly socialist, owing to the influence in the party of a religious socialist group. The NU, which broke away from the Masjumi largely because of differences in religious outlook, represented the orthodox but not strictly conservative views of the rural people and religious teachers. The Christian Party was founded by Protestants; a smaller Roman Catholic Party was also formed. On 17 August 1960, Sukarno ordered the dissolution of the Masjumi and socialist parties on the grounds of disloyalty. A month later, on 13 September, political action by all parties was barred.

Early in 1961, notice was given that all political parties were required to apply for permission to function. On 15 April, parties certified to continue in existence included the PKI, PNI, NU, Catholic, Islamic Association, Indonesian Protestant Christian, Indonesian Islam Sarekat, and the League for Upholding Indonesian Independence. The PKI, which at the height of its power in 1965 had an estimated three million members and was especially strong on Java, was banned by Gen. Suharto in March 1966, by which time more than 100,000 PKI members were estimated to have been killed in riots, assassinations, and purges; many more PKI members were arrested. Since then, the party has operated underground. The Masjumi dissolved in 1960. Under the Suhar- to government, political opposition in Indonesia had become increasingly quiescent. Prior to the 1971 elections, the government formed a mass organization, known as Golkar (Golongan Karya), as the political vanguard for its "New Order" program. Golkar drew upon elements outside traditional party ranksthe civil service, labor, youth, cooperatives, and other groupsand succeeded in effectively circumventing the parties' ability to play a national role. Prior to the 1971 voting, a government-appointed election committee screened all prospective candidates, eliminating 735 from the initial list of 3,840; only 11 of those eliminated were from Golkar. Candidates were forbidden to criticize the government or to discuss religious issues. In the elections, held on 3 July 1971, Golkar candidates received 63% of the vote, while winning 227 of the 351 contested seats in the House of Representatives. Besides Golkarwhich is not formally considered a political party9 parties took part in the elections, as compared with 28 in 1955. The Orthodox Muslim NU placed second in the balloting, with 58 seats; the moderate Indonesian Muslim Party (Parmusi), an offshoot of the banned Masjumi Party, won 24 seats; and the PNI, Sukarno's former base, won only 20 seats. Four smaller groupsthe Muslim Political Federation, the Protestant Christian Party, the Catholic Party, and the Islamic Partydivided the remaining 22 seats. The government subsequently announced that 57 million persons, or over 95% of the electorate, had taken part in the voting. An act of 1975 provided for the fusion of the major political organizations into two partiesthe United Development Party (Partai Persuatan PembangunanPPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (Partai DemoKrasi IndonesiaPDI)and Golkar. The PPP, then Golkar's chief opposition, is a fusion of the NU, Parmusi and other Muslim groups, while the PDI represents the merger of the PNI, the Christian Party, the Roman Catholic Party, and smaller groups. In the third general election, held on 2 May 1977, Golkar won 232 seats in the House of Representatives, against 99 seats for the PPP and 29 seats for the PDI. Golkar made further gains in the elections of 4 May 1982, winning 246 of the 364 contested seats, against 94 for the PPP and 24 for the PDI. Both opposition parties charged that the government had falsified the vote totals. Rioting marred the campaign period, and 35,000 army troops were stationed in Jakarta on election day. In the election of 23 April 1987, Golkar won 292 of the 400 elected seats (73.2%), against 64 for the PPP (16%) and 44 for the PDI (10.8%).

For the 1992 election the campaign rules banned automobile rallies and picture posters of political leaders; large outdoor rallies were discouraged, radio and televised appeals had to be approved in advance by the elections commission, and no campaigning took place in the five days before the elections. In 1992 there were 17 million first-time voters in a population of 108 million registered voters. More than 97 million Indonesians voted, 90% of the registered voters. Golkar won 68% of the popular vote, down by 5% from 1987. The PPP took 17% of the vote. The PDI took 15% of the vote compared to 10.9% in 1987. These results in terms of DPR seats were: Golkar, 281 (down 18 seats from 1987); PPP, 63 (down 2 seats from 1987); and PDI, 56 seats (an increase of 16 seats).

The most violent election campaign in recent years was in 1997 as the ruling Golkar party took 74% of the vote. The 29 May 1997 elections were marked by fraud. More than 200 people were killed in the campaign, which banned motorcades. The PPP took 22% of the vote and the PDI, 3%. The 7 June 1999 elections resulted in a victory for Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P (Indonesia Democracy PartyStruggle); however, she relinquished the presidency in favor of Abdurrahman Wahid. The PDI-P took 37.4% of the vote, Golkar took 20.9% of the vote, Wahid's National Awakening Party (PKB) took 17.4% of the vote, and the PPP took 10.7%. Megawati became president on the removal of Wahid in July 2001.

The next parliamentary elections were held in April 2004. Golkar took 21.6% of the vote (128 seats), followed by the PDI-P, with 18.5% (109 seats). The PPP won 8.2% of the vote (58 seats). The National Awakening Party (PKB) won 10.6% of the vote (52 seats); the Democratic Party won 7.5% of the vote (55 seats); the National Mandate Party (PAN), 6.4% (53 seats); the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), 7.3% (45 seats). Other parties won a collective 19.9% of the vote and held 50 seats. Due to election rules, the number of seats won does not always follow the number of votes received by the parties.


The structure and organization of local governments follow the pattern of national government. Indonesia is divided into 30 provinces. There are three special territories, namely the capital city of Jakarta, the special territory of Yogyakarta, and the special territory of Aceh. Each province is administered by a governor chosen by the central government from candidates proposed by the provincial assembly. Governors must be approved by the president. Provinces are divided into districts (kabupatens ), administered by bupati appointed in the same manner as governors. Both provincial and district governments are granted autonomy. There are also municipalities (kotamadyas ) headed by a mayor (walikota ), subdistricts (kecamatan ) headed by a camat, and villages. Desa are rural villages and kelurahans are urban villages. The head of a desa is elected by the village community. The head of a kelurahan, a lurah, is a civil servant appointed by a camat on behalf of the governor. A unique feature of village life is the village council of elders, composed of 9 to 15 prominent village leaders. With the implementation of decentralization on 1 January 2001, the 357 districts became the key administrative units responsible for providing most government services.


Since 1951, the administration of justice has been unified. Government courts, each with a single judge, have jurisdiction in the first instance in civil and criminal cases. In December 1989, the Islamic Judicature Law gave wider powers to Shariah courts. The new law gave Muslim courts jurisdiction over civil matters, including marriage. Muslims and non-Muslims can decide to appear before secular courts. The Supreme Court has as its primary function the review of decisions by lower courts. The high court hears appeals in civil cases and reviews criminal cases. Judges are appointed by the president from a list of candidates chosen by the legislature. On 16 August 2003, a separate Constitutional Court was invested by the president. In March 2004, the Supreme Court assumed administrative and financial responsibility for the lower court system from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. In the villages, customary law (adat ) procedures continue unchanged.

Islamic law (Shariah) governs many noncriminal matters involving Muslims, including family law, inheritance and divorce; however, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) rejected the imposition of Shariah for Muslims in 2002. A civil code based on Roman law is applied to Europeans; a combination of codes is applied to other groups such as ethnic Chinese and Indians. Military and administrative courts also exist below the Supreme Court level.


The Indonesian armed forces in 2005 consisted of 302,000 active personnel and 400,000 reserves. The Army, estimated at 233,000, included provincial and special forces. The Army's weapons included 350 light tanks, 142 reconnaissance vehicles, 11 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 356 armored personnel carriers, and 1,060 artillery pieces. The Army's aviation arm had 2 attack and 37 utility helicopters. The Air Force had 24,000 personnel, with 94 combat capable aircraft, including 26 fighters and 18 fighter ground attack aircraft. The Navy had an estimated 29,000 personnel (including an estimated 1,000 naval aviation personnel and 15,000 Marines). The Navy's major units consisted of 2 tactical submarines, 13 frigates, 16 corvettes, and 23 patrol/coastal craft. Paramilitary forces consisted of a 280,000-member police force and 3 other armed security forces. Indonesia's defense budget for 2005 totaled $2.53 billion. Indonesia provided support to UN peacekeeping missions in five countries.


Indonesia was admitted to the United Nations on 28 September 1950 and is a member of ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies. Following the seating of Malaysia in the Security Council, Indonesia withdrew from the United Nations on 7 January 1965; it resumed its seat on 28 September 1966. Indonesia is also a member of the WTO, the Asian Development Bank, Colombo Plan, G-15, G-77, APEC, the WTO, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), APEC, and OPEC. Indonesia became one of the founding members of ASEAN in 1967. Indonesia was a founding member of the Nonaligned Movement.

In March 1970, a treaty of friendship was signed between Indonesia and Malaysia; the treaty also established the boundary between the two countries in the Strait of Malacca. Relations between Indonesia and much of the international community were strained following the 1999 East Timorese referendum through which that nation voted for its independence from Indonesia. Indonesian military forces supported violent upheavals in East Timor immediately following the referendum, but these were calmed by the arrival of the Australian-led peacekeeping mission of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET).

In environmental cooperation, Indonesia is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


In colonial times Indonesia depended upon the export of a relatively small range of primary commodities. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the basis of the export-oriented economy was spices. In the 19th century, it shifted to sugar and coffee; in the 20th century, production of oil, tin, timber, and rubber became fundamental. Despite export gains, however, subsistence agriculture, with rice as the chief crop, remains the principal occupation of a large proportion of Indonesians, and standards of living are low. In 1991, the share of manufacturing in GDP exceeded that of the agricultural sector for the first time. In the early 2000s, the services sector expanded with a determined effort to promote tourism, and in 2005 it accounted for 40.4% of GDP and employed more than one-third of the workforce. Indonesia's record of economic growth and diversification was among the most successful in the developing world; but the onset of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 with Indonesia at the epicenter, followed by the 1998 political unrest and drought, contributed to a recession that hit the country hard, severely depressing the economy and halting economic growth. The economy slowly recovered in the beginning of the 21st century, however, with a 5.1% GDP growth rate in 2004, the fastest rate since the Asian financial crisis. The 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami resulted in the deaths of an estimated 131,000 Indonesians and left another 38,000 missing, with 570,000 displaced persons and $4.5 billion in damages and losses. Nevertheless, the overall impact of the tsunami on the economy was small: the large amount of donor aid and assistance and the beginning of reconstruction was projected to contribute to a further increase in GDP growth. A recovery in investment demand was projected to enable GDP growth to average 5.2% a year in 200607.

Indonesia is exceptionally rich in coal, oil, and other industrial raw materials, but industrial development has lagged in relation to the size of the population and the national income. In part, this was a consequence of expropriation policies carried out by Sukarno and of chronic inefficiency and corruption among government officials. After the 196466 political crisis, the government of President Suharto took steps to stabilize the economy. Exporters were allowed to keep a larger proportion of their foreign exchange earnings. The government also imposed strict controls on imports, encouraged foreign investment, returned many nationalized assets, ended nonproductive projects, and reduced government control of the economy. The inflation rate, which had been 635% in 1966 and 120% in 1967, fell to 85% in 1968 and further declined to 10% in 1971. National economic planning was used to guide economic growth. Under the 196974 plan, the government successfully introduced fiscal and credit restraints, rescheduled internal debts, returned expropriated properties, liberalized foreign investment laws, and actively sought assistance from overseas. Economic growth was set back by the near-collapse in 1975 of Pertamina, the giant government-backed oil conglomerate; growth was restored as rising oil prices increased revenues in the late 1970s. The economy was again severely strained in the early 1980s as falling oil prices forced the government to cut back on spending plans. Legislation requiring majority participation of ethnic Indonesians (pribumi ) in all enterprises formed since 1974 also slowed foreign investment. Indonesia's obligation to reduce production of oil, then its chief export, in line with OPEC agreements, together with the decline in non-oil export earnings, severely strained the government's resources. In an effort to meet the nation's developmental needs, Suharto was forced to end subsidies on food and to reduce subsidies on kerosene and other fuels. He also announced new trade policies to spur exports in an effort to reverse the nation's worsening economic condition.

Restrictive monetary policy and a conservative fiscal stance held inflation to below 10%. Real growth climbed to 7.3% and 7.5% in 1994 and 1995, respectively, before peaking in 1996 at 7.8%. Inflation was held to single digits. The official unemployment rate was 3%, although underemployment was estimated at 4%. Economic catastrophe struck in mid-1997, when the collapse of currencies began in Thailand and spread swiftly to Indonesia. Within a year, 7580% of all businesses in Indonesia were technically bankrupt as the rupiah went from about 2,600 to one US dollar in June 1997 to a low of 17,000 to one US dollar in June 1998. GDP growth, which had been 8% in the first quarter of 1997, and 7% in the second quarter, fell to 3% in the third quarter and 2% in the fourth. In November 1997 an international bail-out package was arranged that included a stand-by agreement with the IMF with a $11.5 billion line of credit, an $8 billion loan from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), $5 billion loan from its own reserves, and $3 billion in US loan guarantees. The extended impact of the crisis can be seen in the figures for 1998, when real GDP fell by over 13%, industrial production was down by 18.24%, and the net outflow of invested capital reached of about $13.8 billion.

Economic distress erupted in bloody pogroms against resident Chinese in which over 1,000 people were killed, dozens of women raped, over 2,500 shops were looted or destroyed, and the streets were left strewn with more than 1,000 vandalized vehicles. On 19 May, students took over the parliament building, and two days later President Suharto resigned, ending 32 years of autocratic rule. His designated successor was B. J. Habibie, the architect of Indonesia's ambitious shipping and aircraft manufacturing industry. Habibie promised elections, which were held in 1999.

The government's official debt situation was being radically altered. Before the crisis of 1997, the government had incurred virtually no domestic debt, borrowing all capital primarily from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). External debt was 2527% of GDP. In 1998, total debt rose to 78% of GDP, but with no domestic borrowing. In 1999, however, domestic borrowing went from $0 to $68.7 million, and combined with a record $75.8 million in foreign loans, government debt reached a peak of 102% of GDP. In 1999 real growth returned, but only at an anemic 0.2% level, as there was a net outflow of investment funds of almost $10 billiona net loss of $2.7 billion in FDI and a net loss of $7.2 billion in portfolio investment. The outflow continued, as did rising violence throughout the country around the parliamentary election, and, of particular international concern, before and after the referendum on the independence of East Timor. Economic frustrations doubtless aggravated the conflicts. In February 1999 the government estimated that 27% of the population was living in poverty, with inflation at 20%.

In 2000, however, the economy showed signs of recovery with a real GDP growth rate of 4.8%, a budget deficit of 3.2% of GDP, and an inflation rate of 3.75%. In February 2000, the government entered into an extended agreement with the IMF that included a $5 billion line of credit. In April 2000, a second agreement was reached with the Paris Club members for the rescheduling another $5.8 billion of principal owed on official debt.

Unfortunately, both internal and external factors soon contrived to slow the momentum of the recovery. In December 2000, Indonesia's agreement with the IMF was suspended, and President Wahid, through a combination of neglect and defiance, was failing to implement the requirements of the IMF programs. Tensions were increased as thousands of Wahid's Islamic followers vowed to fight to the death his removal from office. It was not until August 2001, after Wahid's removal in July and the installation of Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri as president, that discussions with the IMF could be reopened. Megawati's economic team promised a favorable response in the international economy, but this was cut short, first by the global economic slowdown of 2001, and then the aftershocks of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. GDP growth averaged 3.3% for the year. Inflation returned to double digits, at 11.5%, and the government reported that poverty had increased, to 14.5% of the population. The net outflow of capital continued, reaching $9 billion for 2001.

In 2002, the economy began to look up. The total debt-to-GDP ratio for the government fell from 90% for 2001 to 70% in 2002, and the annual budget deficit was estimated to have fallen to below 2% of GDP. Hopes that Indonesia might be safely on its way out of its postcrisis stagflation were shattered by the terrorist bombs in Bali on 12 October 2002. Beyond the death toll of nearly 200 was the message that Indonesia was no longer safe for foreign visitors and foreign investors. After the Bali bombings, the rupiah depreciated to more than 9,000 to one US dollar and the Jakarta Stock Exchange Index fell back below 400. (By 2003 both indicators of investor confidence had returned to near their pre-bombing levels.)

Real GDP growth climbed to 4.1% in 2003, and to 5.1% in 2004, its fastest rate since the 1997 crisis. The budget deficit registered 1.3% of GDP in 2004, and was projected to be lower in 2005, when GDP growth was projected to be 5.3%. President Yudhoyono, elected in 2004, claimed he wanted the economy to grow by 7% or more, in part to generate enough jobs for Indonesia's large unemployed population. Yudhoyono, in March 2005, reduced subsidies on various fuels, raising gas prices by some 30%. The government had been spending more on fuel subsidies than it was on health and education combined. Economists welcomed the move for Southeast Asia's largest economy, although the reduction in subsidies resulted in a decline in popularity for Yudhoyono. In August 2005, a run on the currency took place, and prompted the government to enact an average 126% fuel price increase in October. The resulting inflation and interest-rate hikes were projected to temper growth prospects in 2006, although the government planned to spend more money on promoting infrastructure development. Nevertheless, a recovery in investment demand was forecast to lead to annual GDP growth rates of 5.2% in 200607. Average annual inflation was projected to rise in 2006, owing to the increase in fuel prices, but inflation was projected to fall significantly in 2007 as global oil prices eased. Indonesia became a net oil importer in 2004, due to declining production and a lack of new exploration investment.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2005 Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $899.0 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $3,700. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.3%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 9.3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 15.1% of GDP, industry 44.5%, and services 40.4%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1.489 billion or about $7 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.6% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $1,743 million or about $8 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.9% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Indonesia totaled $136.60 billion or about $635 per capita based on a GDP of $238.5 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 5.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 47% of household consumption was spent on food, 6% on fuel, 5% on health care, and 14% on education. It was estimated that in 2004 about 15.2% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, Indonesia's labor force numbered an estimated 110.4 million people. In 2002, agriculture accounted for 44.3% of the workforce, with 18.8% in industry, and 36.9% in services. Unemployment figures for 2005 were estimated at 10%.

The law protects the right to form and join unions to all workers regardless of political affiliation. Ten or more workers can unionize, and thousands of unions have been registered. However, a union can be banned by the government if its foundation goes against the constitution. Sometimes there are clashes between different unions within one workplace. With the exception of civil servants, workers have the right to strike after mandatory mediation. Collective bargaining is utilized, but most contracts do not provide workers with more than the government minimum standards. The reported size of Indonesia's unionized labor force varies, depending upon how it is measured. According to a survey of union membership conducted in 2005 by the Ministry of Manpower, when compared to the total workforce, unionized workers accounted for under 4%. However, when compared to the number of employees in the nation's formal workplace, the unionized workforce totaled 14%.

Although children under age 18 were prohibited from working as of 2005, the nation's laws recognized that some children must work to supplement family income. As a result, there is an exception for 1315 year olds, who can work but are limited to working no more than three hours per day. In additiuon, they must have parental consent, cannot work during school hours, and must be paid legal wages. The law however was silent on exceptions for 1617 year olds. In addition, children are not legally permitted to work in hazardous occupations, but child labor laws are not enforced.

There is no national minimum wage. Wages are set by area wage councils who estimate the amount a worker needs to earn to provide for his or her basic needs. In 2005, the minimum wage in Jakarta was $71 per month. However, many employers do not pay this minimum wage. The 40-hour workweek and a 7- to 8-hour day are established by law throughout Indonesia, although these standards are not regularly enforced.


About 48% of Indonesian workers are engaged in agriculture, which accounted for 17% of GDP in 2003. Some 34.4 million hectares (78.5 million acres) were under cultivation, with 3540% of the cultivated land devoted to the production of export crops. Some 60% of the country's cultivated land is in Java.

There are three main types of farming: smallholder farming (mostly rice), smallholder cash cropping, and about 1,800 large foreign-owned or privately owned estates, the latter two producing export crops. Small-scale farming is usually carried out on modest plotsthose in Java average about 0.81 hectares (22.5 acres)often without benefit of modern tools and methods, good seed, or fertilizer. Although rice, vegetables, and fruit constitute the bulk of the small farmer's crops, about 20% of output is in cash crops for export, the chief of which is rubber. Of the estategrown crops, rubber, tobacco, sugar, palm oil, hard fiber, coffee, tea, cocoa, and cinchona are the most important. Dutch, United Kingdom, United States, French, and Belgian capital financed estate agriculture in colonial times, with the Dutch share being the largest. Management of Dutch interests was taken over by the Indonesian government in December 1957; in 1964, the 104 UK-operated plantations were confiscated without any compensation, and Indonesian managers were appointed. The following year, the US-operated plantations were expropriated, and all foreign plantations were placed under the control and supervision of the Indonesian government. In 1967, some of the estates seized in 1965, including the US-leased rubber plantations, were returned, but the majority were retained by the government.

Because the population is rapidly increasing, the government seeks to achieve food self-suffi ciency through expansion of arable acreage, improved farm techniques (especially the use of fertilizers and improved seeds), extension of irrigation facilities, and expanded training for farmers. Production of rice, the staple food, has been gradually increasing, and production comes close to meeting domestic requirements. This increase has resulted less from extension of cultivated area through the government's resettlement policy than from expanded use of irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides and cultivation of high-yielding hybrid rice, especially insect-resistant hybrids. It also reflects the success of the government's "mass guidance" program, which provides technical assistance, easy credit terms, and marketing support through a system of village cooperatives. Additional support was provided by the National Logistics Board, which is responsible for price regulation and the national rice-rationing programs.

Rice is the primary staple crop; production in 2004 totaled 54,000,000 tons. Other staple crops in 2004 included cassava (19,264,000 tons), corn (11,355,000 tons), and sweet potato (1,876,000 tons). Vegetable and melon production in 2004 totaled 6,729,410 tons. Sugar is the largest commercial crop, with production reaching 24,600,000 tons in 2004. About 2,767,000 tons of rubber were produced in 2004, as compared with about 648,400 in 1964. Faced with the prospect of declining yields, the government began an extensive replanting and rehabilitation program in 1981. In 2004, Indonesia was the world's third-largest producer of coffee (after Brazil and Vietnam); some 702,000 tons of coffee were grown that year, as compared with 188,900 tons in 1972 and an annual average of 120,400 tons during 196065. Indonesia is the world's second-largest producer of palm oil (after Malaysia); 15.2 million tons were produced in 2004/05. Palm kernels (3.63 million tons in 2004/05) and copra (1.4 million tons in 2004/05) are also important export crops.


In 2005, the livestock population was 11,500,000 head of cattle, 13,182,000 goats, 8,306,000 sheep, 6,267,000 hogs, and 405,000 horses. There are also about 2,248,000 buffalo in the country. The production of meat (about 2,477,000 tons in 2005) and cows' milk (341,990 tons) is secondary to the raising of draft animals for agricultural purposes and transportation. The government has established cattle-breeding stations and artificial-insemination centers to improve the stock and has been carrying on research to improve pastures. Technical and other assistance is also offered to chicken and duck farmers in an effort to increase protein supplies. There were an estimated 1.25 billion chickens and 34.3 million ducks in 2005, when some 1.1 million tons of eggs were produced. Local demand for animal products is constrained by low purchasing power, but increases in consumer income will raise demand for animal protein. Dairy and egg exports exceeded $69 million in 2005.


As Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago (13,667 islands), fish is a readily-available source of animal protein for domestic consumption. In 2003, the total catch was 5,960,930 tons (81% from marine fishing), ranking Indonesia sixth in aquaculture and fourth in capture fishing in the world. Fishing is more important than statistics indicate, because the catch of many part-time fishermen never enters trade channels. Commercial fishing is confined to a narrow band of inshore waters, especially off northern Java, but other fishing also takes place along the coast and in the rivers, lakes, coastal swamps, artificial ponds, and flooded rice fields. The government has stocked the inland waters, encouraged cooperatives to provide credit facilities, introduced improved fishing methods, provided for the use of motorized fishing boats and improved tackle, and built or rehabilitated piers. Fish and fish product exports had a value of $1.55 billion in 2003, 12th-highest in the world.


Forests represent a potentially vast source of wealth in Indonesia. Of the 146.3 million hectares (361.5 million acres) of forests, nearly three-fourths are in Kalimantan and eastern Indonesia, and 68% are commercial forests. The more accessible forest areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan furnish the commercially cut timber for domestic consumption and export. Indonesia has over 4,000 species of trees, including 120 types of hardwood suitable for commercial use. Timber estates produce fast growth species such as pine, eucalyptus, albizia, and acacia for the pulp and paper industry. Practically all forestlands belong to the state. In Java, excessive cutting has caused soil erosion, aggravated floods, created water shortages, and damaged some irrigation facilities. Replanting and rehabilitation of the Javanese forests and reforestation in the Outer Islands are promoted as part of the nation's "regreening program." Meranti, kruing, kapur, and bakau are the leading types of logs produced. Teak and other tropical hardwoods are the most valuable species, but there is hope of obtaining wood pulp from pine and bamboo and commercial timber from new plantings of fir and pine.

Indonesia is the largest producer of tropical hardwood plywood in the world. Export sales of processed wood in 2004 amounted to $4.57 billion, representing 6.4% of all Indonesian exports. Production of sawn wood in 2004 totaled 6.25 million cu m (220 million cu ft); plywood, 6.4 million cu m (226 million cu ft); and particleboard, 427,000 cu m (15.1 million cu ft). About two-thirds of the timber output is exported. French, Japanese, US, and Philippine interests have large investments in the timber industry. Indonesia is the world's second-largest producer of tropical hardwood logs and lumber, after Malaysia. Due to a hardwood log export ban enacted in 1985 to protect rapidly diminishing forests, Indonesia has exported no logs since then. Prohibitive export taxes imposed in 1990 have all but eliminated tropical hardwood exports, in order to conserve declining forest resources for production and export of higher value items such as plywood. The annual allowable cut of logs is set at 5.74 million cu m. However, up to 68 million cu m of logs are cut illegally, with some 10 million cu m of logs illegally shipped out of the country. With plummeting annual allowable cuts of logs, industries are using conversion forests, community forests, and timber estates.


Indonesia's principal mineral resources (excluding oil, natural gas, and coal) are copper, gold, nickel, and tin. Indonesia was also a major world supplier of tin, nickel, copper and gold, with large reserves of each. In addition, Indonesia was a leading regional producer of cement, bauxite, and nitrogen fertilizer. Indonesia also produced hydraulic cement, dolomite, feldspar, granite, gypsum, marble, nitrogen, salt, quartz sand, silica stone, sulfur, and zeolite.

Mined copper output (content in ore) in 2003 was 1,005,837 metric tons, down from 1,171,726 metric tons in 2002. Bauxite production in 2003 (wet basis, gross weight) was 1.263 million tons, and 1.283 million tons in 2002. Indonesia possessed large deposits of high-grade bauxite, from mines in Kijang (Bintan Island) and Sumatra. Most of the output was exported to Japan, the remainder to the United States.

Tin mine output in 2003 was 71,694 metric tons. The chief deposits of tin were in Bangka, Belitung, and Singkep, islands off the east coast of Sumatra. Indonesia is the world's second-largest producer of tin (after China). The industry in Indonesia is dominated by PT Koba Tin and PT Tambang Timah. However, the industry has, for several years, faced depleting resources, community conflicts in several mining sites, and illegal mining and smuggling, the latter resulting in increased compensation to company contractors and high tin output from offshore mining.

Gold mine output in 2003 was 141,010 kg, down from 142,238 kg in 2002. Illegal mining activity and associated mercury contamination was an ongoing problem for the Indonesian government and legal gold mining operators.

Nickel mine output in 2003 totaled 143,000 metric tons, up from 123,000 metric tons in 2002. Nickel was produced in Soroako (North Sulawesi), Pomalaa (South Sulawesi), and the Maluku and Gebe islands, with some of the largest reserves in the world.

Iron ore was found in sizable quantities, but was commercially exploited only in central Java. There were fair-to-good reserves of gold, silver, iodine, diamond (industrial and gem quality), and phosphate rock, and considerable supplies of limestone, asphalt, bentonite, fireclay, and kaolin powder. Herald Resources Ltd. of Australia announced the discovery of significant lead and zinc resources in the Dairi area, Bukit Barisan Highland; the exploration concentrated in the Anjing Hitam area; it was estimated that the deposit contained an indicated resource of 7.5 million tons of lead and zinc at 10.3% lead, 16.7% zinc, and 14 grams per ton of silver and an inferred resource of 2.5 million tons at 6.8% lead and 11.3% zinc.

Indonesia's constitution places all natural resources in the soil and waters under the jurisdiction of the state. In 1999, the government increased taxes and royalties that created a less competitive investment environment. Restructuring and privatization of state-owned industries has been very slow, and new investment was still low. As the world's fourth-most-populous country, Indonesia could become one of the largest steel-consuming countries. However, its volatile political situation and uncertain economic climate hampered development. The state-owned general mining company, PT Aneka Tambang, was privatized, with its stock trading on the Jakarta Stock Exchange.


Indonesia ranks among the world's leading petroleum-producing countries. Proven reserves in 2004 were estimated at 4.9 billion barrels. However, resources may be much larger. Sumatra, the richest oil area, produces about 70% of Indonesian oil. Kalimantan is the second-leading producer; Java and Madura have a scattering of smaller producing wells. Lesser amounts are also produced in Irian Jaya. Indonesia's production and consumption of oil in 2003 was estimated at 971,000 barrels per day, and at 1.183 million barrels per day respectively. Exports in 2003 averaged 518,100 barrels per day, with oil imports placed at 370,500 barrels per day for that year.

Indonesia also has significant reserves of natural gas. Proven reserves of natural gas in 2004 were put at 2.549 trillion cu m. For 2003, it was estimated that natural gas exports were placed at 39.7 billion cu m; consumption at 55.3 billion cu m; and production at 77.6 billion cu m, respectively. Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of LNG; its major customers are Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Power facilities are overtaxed, despite heavy government investment in electrical installations. Total electric power generating capacity in 2002 was placed at 24.706 million kW, as compared with 10,830,000 kW in 1988. Production in 2003 totaled 110.2 billion kWh, up from 102.273 billion kWh in 2002. In 2002, about 85% was generated by fossil fuels, 9.6% from hydropower, and the remainder from other sources. Electricity consumption in 2003 was 92.35 billion kWh. The nation's first geothermal electric power station was inaugurated in 1974 in West Java, and a 750 MW hydroelectric plant was completed there in 1985. In 1995, P.T. Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the state-owned electric company, projected that electricity demand would rise 14% annually, with a generating capacity at 25,00030,000 million kW needed by 2010.


The leading industries by value are petroleum and natural gas; textiles, apparel and footwear; mining; cement; chemical fertilizers; plywood; rubber; food; and tourism.

Industrial expansion is given a high priority in development plans. Labor-intensive industries are stressed, together with industries producing consumer items for domestic consumption and export and products accelerating agricultural development. The government encourages industrial investors, particularly those who plan to export, to locate in one of its eight bonded zones (BZs), the Batam Industrial Park or free trade zone (FTZ) or in an export-processing zone (EPZ). The Batam Industrial Park, located on Batam Island in the Malacca Strait 20 km (12.5 mi) south of Jakarta, was designed to attract investment away from crowded Singapore.

Industries that process Indonesia's abundance of natural resources include those based on petroleum, wood, sugar, rubber, tea, coconuts, palm kernels, sisal, kapok, rice, and cassava. Manufactured products include consumer goods such as tires and tubes, rubber shoes, radios, batteries, soap, margarine, cigarettes, light bulbs, textiles, glass, paper, tractors, and trucks. Other industries include the Krakatau Steel Industrial Estate at Cilegon (in north-west Java), plywood factories, cement works, spinning mills, knitting plants, iron works, copper and other foundries, a ceramics plant, a leather-goods plant, and a glass factory. Petrochemicals and urea fertilizers are manufactured, and there are facilities for automobile assembly, shipbuilding, and aircraft manufacture.

From World War II until the 1990s, overall industrial growth was small, with agriculture the dominant sector of the Indonesian economy. However, in the 1990s, industry and services took over as the dominant sectors, respectively contributing about 41% and 42% of the GDP, with agriculture falling to 17%. Although the government has put an emphasis on developing labor-intensive industries, industry accounts for only for 16% of employment, compared to a 45% share for agriculture and 39% for services. In 1991, textiles were the key industrial export, accounting for 47% of the total. In 2001 textiles and garments were technically still the leading industrial export, but only accounted for 13.6% of total export earnings. The textile sector remains characterized by small producers, with more than 1,200 registered textile companies in Indonesia, employing more than a million workers. In January 2005, the WTO abolished world textile quotas, and Chinese exports to the United States and European Union (EU) soared. Both the United States and EU responded during the course of 2005, reimposing certain quotas to protect their textile industries, thus putting a slight curb on the flow of Chinese goods. Th is policy bode well for Indonesia and other Southeast Asian textile exporters, as competition with China was eased. Indonesia and other developing countries in the long term, however, must pursue strategies to save their clothing industries from being obliterated in a quota-free world.

The petroleum refining industry has declined over the last decade. In 2004, Indonesia had seven refineries, all operated by Pertamina, the state oil company. (Pertamina was slated to be fully privatized in 2006.) The combined capacity of Indonesia's seven refineries was nearly 993,000 barrels per day in 2004. Statistics on refined petroleum products consumption are questionable because of considerable smuggling out of Indonesia to escape its price controls. In 2004, Indonesia became a net importer of petroleum, due to declining production and a lack of new exploration investment. Natural gas production has steadily increased; Indonesia in 2005 was the world's leading exporter of liquid natural gas (LNG). Coal production reached 70 million metric tons per year by 1999, and in 2003 production was 114 million metric tons, up 11% from 2002. The regulation and licensing of the coal industry in Indonesia was decentralized in legislation that went into effect in 2001.

The steel industry in Indonesia basically consists of one large integrated millthe PT Krakatau Steel complexplus numerous mini mills that use scrap steel as their raw material input. In 1992 steel billet production was 560,000 tons. In 2000, total steel billet capacity was 2.34 million tons across 11 companies, but the plants were only running at 60% capacity. In the Asian financial crisis, Indonesia's total steel production dropped from 7.3 million tons in 1997 to 2.7 million tons in 1998 as domestic demand collapsed. The industry was able to survive through exports. What recovery had been achieved in 2000, however, was cut off abruptly in 2001 when the United States, its biggest customer, placed dumping duties on Indonesian steel. These were lifted in 2003. In 2004, Indonesia produced a total of 2.8 million metric tons of crude steel and was ranked 37th in the world in terms of crude steel production.

Indonesia produces nitrogen, phosphate, and potash fertilizers, but the strongest prospects are for the urea industry because of Indonesia's natural gas deposits. Prospects are good for an export market in urea, but most fertilizer output in the early 2000s was for domestic consumption and fertilizer formed less than 1% of exports.

Wood and wood products have traditionally been Indonesia's second-largest industrial export group, accounting for 11% or 12% of total export value, though electronics sometimes claims a larger share. The robust growth in the output of wood and wood products, from 4 million cu m in 1967 to an estimated 60 to 70 million cu m in the early 2000s, is the cause of international controversy because of the rapid deforestation involved. Global Forest Watch estimates that forest cover declined from 162 million hectares to 98 million hectares (39.5%) from 1995 to 2000. Laws are in place to curb the rate of exploitation, but it is estimated that over half of the logging done is illegal. Wood products, pulp, paper, and paper products, are Indonesia's second-largest sector of industrial exports.

The chemical industry experienced an annual growth rate of 13% prior to 1993; after 1997, the depreciation of the currency encouraged chemical production for the export market. In the consumer goods manufacturing sector, activities are run primarily by private enterprise. All oil and natural gas processing have historically been controlled by government enterprises, as have been other major heavy industries, such as basic metals, cement, paper products, fertilizer, and transport equipment. After the recession in 1998, the government proposed liberalizing heavy industry. Of the 168 parastatals, 140 were scheduled for privatization. As of 2004, however, the government controlled 158 state-owned enterprises.

In July 1992 nontariff barriers were reduced and key industries were deregulated to allow free importation of essential manufacturing inputs. There is a shortage of skilled technical personnel to support high-tech industries; most technology has been imported through joint ventures. The agency for strategic industries, a state-owned holding company including aircraft, telecommunications, and high-technology industries, formed a joint venture with a major foreign multinational technology corporation to promote technology transfer to Indonesia. Most industrial enterprises were negatively affected by the 1998 recession, with an overall decline of at least 15%. The Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) took over the majority of Indonesia's nonperforming industrial assets in 2000 with plans to sell, including: cement factories, mining facilities, manufacturing plants, food processing firms, plywood production plants, vehicle assembly lines, chemical plants, property, and agribusinesses.


Like many developing nations, Indonesia has a shortage of scientific personnel and engineers. The Indonesian Institute of Sciences, a government agency established in 1967, has centers for research and development in biology, oceanology, geotechnology, applied physics and applied chemistry, metallurgy, limnology, biotechnology, electricity and electrical engineering, information and computer sciences, telecommunications, strategic electronics, component and material sciences, and calibration, instrumentation, and metrology. The country has 45 other research institutes concerned with agriculture and veterinary science, medicine, the natural sciences, and technology. Courses in basic and applied sciences are offered at 53 state and private universities. At a more basic level, Agricultural Training Center programs provide workshops throughout Indonesia to acquaint rural workers with the use of plumbing and automotive equipment, small engines, electric tools, and chain saws, and to familiarize farmers with the use of modern hybrid seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers.

In 198797, total expenditures for research and development amounted to 0.07% of GDP. There were also 182 scientists and engineers per million population actively engaged in research and development. During the same period, science and engineering students accounted for 39% of all college and university students. In 2002, high-tech exports were valued at $5.070 billion and accounted for 16% of manufactured exports.


Jakarta, the capital and chief commercial city, is Indonesia's main distribution center. The principal business houses, shipping and transportation firms, and service agencies have their main offices there and branches in other cities. After the end of World War II, the government sought to channel trade and business activities into Indonesian hands by a policy of granting special privileges to Indonesian firmsincluding export license monopolies, sole agency rights, and exclusive licenses to import and sell specific goodsand of making government purchases through Indonesians. In 1998, however, most of these restrictions of foreign retail investment were removed. Foreign investment is also allowed in wholesale and distribution activities; however, in many cases, the company must be represented locally by an Indonesian firm or national. Most trade is conducted through small and medium-sized importers who specialize in specific product lines. Direct marketing has become popular for a variety of goods and services.

Commercial business hours vary, but are usually 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday, although some Indonesians take Saturday off. Many shops are open from 9 am to 10 pm, Monday through Saturday. Muslims are released for prayers every Friday from 12 to 1 pm. Local banks transact business from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. Newspapers, magazines, television, radio, posters, and billboards are the most popular advertising media. English is widely used in business and government.


Trade balances since World War II have invariably been favorable. Trade liberalization began in 1982 as an effort to increase nonoil exports. By 1987, non-oil exports matched revenue from oil and gas exports for the first time. Imports, which are closely regulated in government efforts to restrain growth of merchandise imports, consist mainly of machinery and raw materials, indicating a reliance on imports to support industry. The late 1990s revealed shrinking exports of plywood, and slow growth in exports of garments and textiles. Emerging exports such as footwear and consumer electronics also showed weak growth. However, rising world prices for oil, rubber, and other commodities kept these exports

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 61,058.2 32,550.7 28,507.5
Japan 13,603.5 4,228.3 9,375.2
United States 7,386.4 2,702.4 4,684.0
Singapore 5,399.7 4,155.1 1,244.6
Korea, Republic of 4,323.8 1,527.9 2,795.9
China 3,802.5 2,957.5 845.0
Malaysia 2,363.9 1,138.2 1,225.7
Other Asia nes 2,233.2 877.1 1,356.1
Australia 1,791.6 1,648.4 143.2
India 1,742.5 665.6 1,076.9
Germany 1,416.8 1,181.2 235.6
() data not available or not significant.

high. Economic, political, and social crisis was accompanied by a small leap in exports due to currency depreciation, but earnings in the non-oil sector remained low nonetheless.

In the 1970s, Japan became Indonesia's dominant trade partner, taking over 41% of Indonesia's exports (mainly petroleum) and supplying over 25% of its imports. Although Japan remains the dominant trade partner, other trade partnersincluding the United States, Singapore, South Korea, and Chinahave become important to the economy. Trade with the Netherlands, which was of primary importance in colonial times when Indonesia was known as the Dutch East Indies, has decreased since 1957. With the creation in 1992 of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), trade within the region increased.

Indonesia puts out a large amount of gas and crude petroleum into its commodities export market. Other major exports include apparel, textiles, paper products, plywood, footwear, and copper ore. In percentage terms, the major exports in 2004 were crude petroleum and petroleum products (11.5% of total exports); textiles and apparel (11.4%); liquefied natural gas (10.4%); and wood and wood products (5.2%). The major imports in 2004 were machinery and transportation equipment (26.3% of all imports); flues and lubricants (23.5%); chemicals (16.3%); and manufactures (12.8%).

Indonesia's leading markets in 2004 were Japan (24.3% of all exports), the United States (15.2%), Singapore (10.2%), and South Korea (8.8%). Leading suppliers included Japan (21.6% of all imports), Singapore (12.6%), China (11.7%), and South Korea (7.6%).


Indonesia had persistent balance-of-payments difficulties from the time of its independence. Indonesia's payments position brightened considerably in the late 1970s as a result of a rapid increase in oil prices mandated by OPEC. However, expansion of the non-oil export industries failed to keep pace with burgeoning import requirements

Current Account 7,534.0
     Balance on goods 23,990.0
         Imports -39,262.0
         Exports 63,252.0
     Balance on services -12,107.0
     Balance on income -6,218.0
     Current transfers 1,869.0
Capital Account
Financial Account -949.0
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Indonesia -597.0
     Portfolio investment assets
     Portfolio investment liabilities 2,251.0
     Financial derivatives
Other investment assets -5.0
Other investment liabilities -2,599.0
Net Errors and Omissions -2,937.0
Reserves and Related Items -3,647.0
() data not available or not significant.

for some consumer goods and machinery, equipment, and spare parts for development programs. The current account deficit averaged -2% of GDP between 1992 and 1997, but accrued a surplus of over 4% of GDP in 1998 due to currency devaluation and a one-third cut in imports.

In 2004, merchandise exports rose by 12.6% to $72.4 billion, and imports rose by 21.9% to $50.6 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $21.8 billion. At the same time, the deficit rose slightly to $18.5 billion, up from $12.1 billion in 2003, leaving a currentaccount surplus of $3.3 billion. The current account balance averaged 3.9% of GDP over the 200105 period.


The government's Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) was established in 1953 as the successor to the Java Bank. In 1965, all state banks with the exception of State Trading Bank were incorporated into the BNI as separate units. In 1969, this policy was reversed, and the state banks were again reorganized as individual banks. In 1967, as part of the new regime's policy of encouraging foreign investment, foreign banks were permitted to operate in Indonesia, on condition that they invested at least $1 million, of which at least $500,000 had to be brought into the country. The law also provided that foreign banks were to appoint Indonesian banks as their correspondents for any dealings outside Jakarta. The Indonesian banking system transformed after 1980, through a process of gradual but steady reform that culminated in the 1992 banking law. Joint ventures were allowed with Indonesian partners. The partial liberalization of the banking industry had a dramatic impact. A precipitous growth in bank credits threatened to undermine economic stability by stimulating a sharp increase in import demand and inflationary pressures. Responding to this threat, the government initiated an abrupt tightening of monetary policy during the 1990s. From 1992 until 1997, the rupiah was managed in relation to the dollar, but in 1997, the currency was allowed to float because of Asian currency depreciation. Political and social unrest resulted in a highly volatile currency. The 1998 economic failure brought about a major restructuring of the banking system, which was literally bankrupted. State-owned banks held $80 billion in corporate debt and more than two-thirds of their loans were nonperforming in 1999. Bank Indonesia alone faced a deficit of over $4.1 billion in 2000.

Bank Indonesia, as the central bank, is responsible for the administration and regulation of the four state banks and other banking operations. Among the state banks, Bank Rakjat Indonesia specializes in credits to agricultural cooperative societies but also provides fishing and rural credit in general. Bank Tabungan Negara promotes savings among the general public. Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) provides funding for industry. After the financial crash in 1999, four of the state banks were merged into the new Bank Mandiri; including the Bank Bumi Daya, Bank Dagang Negara, Bank Ekspor Impor, and BAPINDO. Bank Bumi Daya provided credits to estates and forestry operations; Bank Dagang Negara provided credits to the mining sector; and Bank Ekspor Impor Indonesia specialized in credits for the production, processing, and marketing of export products; and the Development Bank of Indonesia (Bank Pembangunan Indonesia-or BAPINDO) provided financial assistance to government enterprises and approved new industries. There were 128 private domestic commercial banks in 1998; 38 of them were liquidated in 1999, 8 were taken over by the government, 8 were able to function with government aid, and 71 private banks were able to continue without assistance. Foreign investment in the banking system is now allowed up to 99%.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $16.6 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $81.6 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 15.03%. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 17.62%.

Indonesia's first stock exchange was established in December 1912 in Jakarta, although both this and two subsequent exchanges established in Surabaya and Semarang in 1925 were shut down during the Japanese occupation. An attempt to revive the capital markets in the early 1950s proved futile. It was not until August 1977 that the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSE) was successfully relaunched amid a comprehensive set of institutional reforms that resulted in the establishment of the Capital Market Executive Agency (Badan Pelaksana Pasar Modal-BAPEPAM) to manage the market, as well as a state-owned securities firm, Danareksa, to facilitate the flotation of shares. After sinking to 276 in the fall of 1998, the JSI rose to just below 500 in early 1999 to above 700 in mid-1999. It was back down to 508 in mid-2000 and below 400 by 2001. As of 2004, a total of 331 companies were listed on the JSE, which had a market capitalization of $73.251 billion that year. In 2004, the JSE Composite Index rose 44.6% from the previous year to 1,000.2.


The insurance and reinsurance industry is governed by an insurance law issued in February 1992 that allows foreign ownership of insurance companies. The industry is regulated by the Ministry of Finance as well as the Insurance Council of Indonesia. The growth of the industry over the past decade is reflected in an impressive increase in many of the industry's financial variables, including assets, gross premiums, and investments. Third-party motor liability insurance, workers' compensation, and passenger accident insurance are compulsory. Workers' compensation must be insured with the government company, ASTEK, and employees have no right to sue. A 1998 Financial Services Agreement with the WTO equalized capital requirements for both domestic and foreign insurance firms. In 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $3.107 billion, with nonlife premiums accounting for the largest portion at $1.733 billion. Tugu Pratama was Indonesia's largest nonlife insurer in 2003, with gross written nonlife premiums totaling $175.5 million. Bumiputera was the largest life insurer that same year, with gross written life premiums of $294.2 million.


Government expenditures (including capital expenditures) have outrun public income by a considerable margin each year since 1952, and this cash deficit has been met by foreign aid receipts. Since 1985, however, Indonesia has discouraged public sector and monetary growth. The East Asian financial crisis of 1998 hit Indonesia

Revenue and Grants 307,892 100.0%
     Tax revenue 190,614 61.9%
     Social contributions 6,106 2.0%
     Grants 52 0.0%
     Other revenue 111,121 36.1%
Expenditures 359,038 100.0%
     General public services 272,493 75.9%
     Defense 10,673 3.0%
     Public order and safety 7,400 2.1%
     Economic affairs 12,747 3.6%
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities 4,726 1.3%
     Health 4,542 1.3%
     Recreational, culture, and religion 2,257 0.6%
     Education 13,433 3.7%
     Social protection 30,766 8.6%
() data not available or not significant.

hard. In 1998, the government deficit reached over 3% of GDP, partially because of subsidized rice imports and investment in the failing banking sector. As of 2002, the economy was just beginning to recover to pre-1997 levels, and the growth rate was not considered high enough to achieve full employment anytime soon. At the end of 2001, Indonesia's external debt was the equivalent of 20% of total GDP.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Indonesia's central government took in revenues of approximately $56.1 billion and had expenditures of $58.7 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$2.5 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 52.6% of GDP. Total external debt was $140.6 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were Rp307,892 billion and expenditures were Rp359,038 billion. The value of revenues in millions of US dollars was us$30 million and expenditures us$36 million, based on a market exchange rate for 2001 of us$1 = Rp10,260.9 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 75.9%; defense, 3.0%; public order and safety, 2.1%; economic affairs, 3.6%; housing and community amenities, 1.3%; health, 1.3%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.6%; education, 3.7%; and social protection, 8.6%.


Taxes on oil companies are the largest single source of central government income. Indonesia's corporate tax is progressive, with a top rate of 30% on income exceeding Rp100 million. A 30% withholding tax is payable on branch profits after corporate tax. However, concessional rates are available for tax treaty countries. Special corporation taxes, with generous depreciation and other deductions from taxable income, cover petroleum, mining, shipping, airline, and insurance companies. Individual incomes are taxed at the same rate as those of corporations. An eight-year carried-forward loss for investment in eastern Indonesia is allowed. Indirect taxes include a 10% value-added tax (VAT) that applies to most transactions. However, the building services are subject to a 4% VAT, while services provided by travel agents and couriers are taxed at 1%. Indonesia also imposes a 10% luxury tax on luxury homes, soft drinks, radios, and cosmetics. Higher rates are applied to certain vehicles, carpets and television sets. Dividend, interest and royalty payments to nonresidents are subject to a 20% withholding rate.

Indonesia has a progressive individual income tax that has a top rate of 35% on incomes over Rp200 million.


Indonesia has attempted to liberalize its foreign trade, but unanticipated problems have prevented substantial progress. Most tariffs are designed to stimulate exports and to protect infant domestic industries. However, the tariff system is burdensome and time consuming and evasion is widespread. Exempt from import duties are raw materials and manufactured items imported for use in government-backed or approved labor-intensive enterprises. Duties on imports from ASEAN member countries were lowered to 20% in 1978. Two years later, duties on 384 productsincluding cement, sarongs, engine pistons, cameras, and telecommunications equipmentwere reduced or abandoned, regardless of origin. Many items may only be imported by government-approved importers and there are quotas for certain nondurable goods. A three-tiered tariff structure, with rates of 0%, 5%, of 10 % applied to various commodities, has been implemented to satisfy Indonesia's IMF commitments. An import sales tax is imposed on imports at point of entry (except for those goods considered essential by the government) at rates of 530%. Distilled spirits have a duty rate of 170% and vehicle taxes range from 5% for trucks up to 75% for some sedans. Indonesia has also committed to the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and its Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT), and is further liberalizing its trade in order to meet the provisions of that compact. There is a free trade zone on Batam Island that is exempt from all import and export taxes; a free trade facility near Tanjung Priok, the country's main port; a bonded warehouse in Cakung, near Jakarta; and a number of other export processing zones.


Foreign investments have played a key role in the Indonesian economy since the turn of the 20th century. The Dutch were for decades the principal foreign investors in Indonesia, involving themselves heavily in the production of sugar, cinchona, coffee, tobacco, rubber, and oil. UK investments were in oil, rubber, and manufacturing. Rubber estates, particularly those in northern Sumatra, were operated by Belgian, UK, Danish, French, Norwegian, Swiss, and US individuals and companies. In the dispute with the Netherlands over Irian Jaya, the Indonesian government took over Dutch enterprises in the country and seized Dutch assets. Although Indonesians recognized that foreign capital was needed to develop their economy, government policies were ambiguous and hesitant throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. The foreign investment law of 1958 attempted to provide certain guarantees to foreign investors and to establish safeguards for Indonesian interests. At the same time, the government guaranteed some foreign-owned industrial enterprises that they would not be expropriated by the state or nationalized for a maximum period of 20 or, in the case of large agricultural enterprises, 30 years. In November 1964, the government began to reverse this policy by nationalizing all British-owned commercial enterprises and placing them under direct Indonesian management and control. A decree of 25 February 1965 nationalized all US-owned rubber plantations in northern Sumatra, and another decree of 19 March placed three oil companiestwo of them US companiesunder the supervision and control of the government. Finally, on 24 April 1965, President Sukarno ordered the seizure of all remaining foreign property in Indonesia. This policy was again reversed after the ouster of Sukarno.

During 196770, the confiscated estates were gradually returned to their former owners (except in cases where the owner opted to accept compensation). The Foreign Capital Investment Law of 1967 governed foreign direct investment. The overall flow of private investments from overseas sources increased during the early 1970s, in response both to liberal terms offered under the Suharto government and to favorable world markets for Indonesian oil and other primary products. The annual flow of foreign investment funds approved by the government increased from $333 million in 1972 to $1,050 million in 1974. Some 65 US firms invested more than $1 billion in petroleum enterprises during 196774, accounting for about 90% of the country's total production; in 1975 alone, an additional $1.2 billion was spent in the oil sector by US interests.

During 196785, Japanese investments led all others in non-oil sectors, totaling $3.9 billion; US investors were second, supplying $1.4 billion. In all, between 1967 and 1980, a total of $8 billion was invested by foreign companies, of which $6.6 billion was in the petroleum sector. Between 1982 and 1985, foreign direct investment averaged $242.3 million annually. Since 1973, all foreign investment has been channeled through the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), and Indonesian partners were mandated for all foreign concerns established after 1974. Among the incentives for investment approved in 1986 were regulations allowing foreign investment in more industries (arms production is still prohibited) and granting foreign partners in joint ventures the right to distribute the products themselves. The Negative Investment List of 1989 (amended in 2000) specifies the business areas that are closed to, or impose limitations on, foreign investors.

Between 1967 and 1992, more than 1,590 manufacturing projects involving $59 billion in foreign investment were approved by the BKPM. Japan was a major investor accounting for 21% of the total, along with Hong Kong (9%) and Taiwan (7%). In 1993 the 1967 Foreign Capital Investment Law was amended to set new regulations for share ownership, to streamline the investment approval process, and to reduce import tariffs on various goods. A new deregulation package approved in 1994 further increased incentives for foreign investment by allowing 551% foreign ownership in infrastructure (harbors, electricity, telecommunications, shipping airlines, railways, and water supply). New foreign investment approvals for 199298 were estimated at a total of $160 billion. From 1967 to 1998, Japan received approval for investments in Indonesia totaling approximately $35 billion; the United Kingdom, $24 billion; Singapore, $18 billion; and Hong Kong, $14 billion.

In 1998 and 1999, new regulations paved the way for increased foreign investment; including concessions to foreign interests in distribution and the financial sector, tax concessions, and simplification of the licensing process. Sectors that remain closed to foreign investment include freshwater fishing, forestry, public transport, broadcasting and film, and medical clinics. More than one-third of the investment since 1967 has been in the chemicals industry, followed by mining and natural gas.

By 2004, improved political and economic stability had encouraged investor confidence and improved growth in the economy. Despite economic success, however, overall investment remained about 20% of GDP, below the pre-1997 Asian financial crisis levels of 30%. Indonesia remains relatively open to foreign investment, although such challenges as corruption, security, judicial reform, taxation, and labor issues face investors. Indonesia tracks only investment approvals, which, if they occur at all, may take years to realize. In the first five months of 2004, the overall value of investment approvals fell 41%, to $2.5 billion from $4.2 billion over the same period in 2003. Declining sales of state-owned assets and extremely low levels of new investment in 2004 were responsible for the decline in investment approvals.


From the late 1960s through the mid-1980s, the Suharto government focused its efforts on financial stabilization, relying heavily on advice and assistance from multilateral aid donors. The results were mixed. The fiscal crisis threatened by the accumulated debts of the Sukarno years was averted through debt rescheduling and improved economic management; nevertheless, the depth of Indonesia's continuing reliance on foreign aid remained apparent through the mid-1980s. Public expenditures on the first five-year plan (195660) included 25% for mining and manufacturing, 25% for transport and communications, 15% for power projects, and 35% for all other categories. A subsequent plan (196974) placed emphasis on the development of agriculture. The 197579 plan placed considerable focus on the rural economy, stressing laborintensive industries along with improved provision of housing and education. Labor unions were encouraged to help improve the lot of plantation and industrial workers.

Efforts to restructure the economy in the 1980s resulted in an expansion of real GDP 6% annually on average. The 197984 development plan, called Repelita III, emphasized the "development trilogy" of economic growth, equity, and national stability. Top priorities were tourism and communication (15%), agriculture and irrigation (14%), mining and energy (13%), education (10%), and regional and local development (10%). The 198489 five-year plan, called Repelita IV, emphasized industry (9.5% growth rate), agriculture (3%), petroleum and mining (2.5%), transportation and communications (5.2%), and construction (5%). However, low oil prices caused the government to reduce its goals and to promote private and foreign investment. Repelita V, 198994 emphasized industry (8.5% growth rate), agriculture (3.6%), petroleum and mining (4.2%), trade (6%), transportation and communications (6.4%), and construction (6%). The development of mining and energy were prioritized, as well as certain areas of manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, transportation, communications, and tourism. The sixth five-year development plan (199499), Repelita VI, forecast an annual average GDP growth rate of 6.2% and focused on the privatization of industry and the gradual opening up of foreign investment. These goals were met by 1997, but the 1998 breakdown of the economy prompted international aid agencies to step in.

The 1988 Guidelines of State Policy introduced transmigration development, a policy aimed at overcoming uneven population distribution in Indonesia. The policy had multiple objectives: to ease the burden of densely populated regions, to upgrade regional development, to expand job opportunities, to support national unity, and to strengthen national defense. Transmigration in densely populated areas such as Java, Bali and West Tenggara aimed to increase population productivity and decrease environmental hazards. Transmigration in sparsely populated regions such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, Irian Jaya, and East Timor, aimed to increase productivity of natural resources, as well as increase employment and job opportunities. Agriculture was an important sector for development in the transmigration policy. Some 64,211 families (91.7%) were resettled, consisting of 25,720 families of public transmigration and 38,491 families of self-initiated transmigration.

Bilateral and multinational assistance has played a major role in Indonesia's development. Before 1965, Indonesia received substantial aid from the USSR and other communist states. After 1966, the foreign-aid pattern turned dramatically toward the West. A group of nations (including the United States, Netherlands, Japan, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, and New Zealand) and organizations (including the IBRD and Asian Development Bank) joined to form the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI) as a major funnel for aid.

In November 1991in reaction to the Indonesian army's shootings of demonstrators in Dili, East Timorthe Netherlands, Denmark, and Canada suspended aid to Indonesia. In a blanket refusal to link foreign assistance to human rights issues, the government announced it would decline all future aid from the Netherlands. The government also requested that the IGGI be disbanded and replaced by the Consultative Group of Indonesia (CGI) formed by the World Bank and comprised of 18 donor countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and 12 multilateral agencies.

When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono took office in October 2004, the government launched an aggressive program of economic reforms aimed at improving the business and investment climate. The government began a "100 Day" program of legal reform and energy initiatives. In January 2005, transportation, water and sanitation, power, and other projects were announced. The government launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, and Yudhoyono stressed the need for economic transparency and efficiency. Revisions of the tax, investment, and labor laws were in the works in 2005. Yudhoyono's initiatives were also geared toward helping poor Indonesians, first by directing government spending toward targeted development programs, especially in rural areas; and second by creating jobs, which would be accomplished through the reduction in corruption and increase in investment. The earthquake and tsunami disasters that struck Sumatra on 26 December 2004 resulted in the deaths of an estimated 131,000 Indonesians (exact figures by 2006 had not been calculated), with 37,000 missing and another 570,000 displaced. An estimated $4.5 billion in damages and losses was calculated. Nevertheless, the impact on the Indonesian economy by 2006 was decidedly less dire than expected: aid and assistance from international donors and the need for infrastructure rebuilding contributed to GDP growth rates of more than 5%.


The constitution enjoins the government to protect the family and to provide for the needs of the "poor and the waifs," but implementation of these principles has proceeded slowly because of the cost and the lack of professional personnel to put into effect a broad welfare program. Some social security provisions exist. Firms with 10 or more employees or a payroll of Rp1 million or more a month paid 3.7% of their payroll (and employees paid 2% of earnings) for retirement, disability, and survivor benefits, and coverage is gradually being extended to smaller companies and casual workers. Employers pay 6% of payroll for married employees (3% for single employees) to provide sickness and maternity benefits, and both employers and employees fund a workers' compensation program. In addition, many orphanages, homes for the aged, youth activities, and private volunteer organizations meet special needs, in some cases receiving government subsidies.

Women enjoy a more favorable position in Indonesia than is customary in Muslim societies. This situation is largely the result of the work of Princess Raden Ajeng Kartini at the turn of the century in promoting the development of Javanese women. The movement for the emancipation of women preceded the nationalist movement by at least 10 years. Improvement of the status of women was specifically included in the guidelines for the 197984 national economic plan. A Ministry of Women's Affairs was created to promote the economic and social welfare of women.

A Domestic Violence Act was passed in 2004 that criminalizes domestic violence. Nationwide figures on sexual assault are not available, but local papers reported an increase in violence against women. In spite of women's official equality, in practice they often find it hard to exercise their legal rights. Although they constitute roughly one-quarter of the civil service, they occupy very few of its top posts. Marriage laws define the husband as the head of the family, and divorce procedures are much more diffi cult for a woman. Citizenship for a child is derived solely from the father. Female workers generally receive lower pay than that for men. Although maternity leave is mandated by law, many women lose their jobs as a result of pregnancy. Traffi cking in women and children remain a problem.

Gross violations of human rights occurred in East Timor before the province became an independent state in 2002, especially following the referendum on autonomy held in 1999. With the liberalization of Indonesia's government, human rights abuses decreased overall, although serious problems remained as of 2006.


The Ministry of Health places emphasis on preventive medicine. Only 1% of the GDP goes to public health expenditures. National health programs, of which family planning is an important part, stress the building of small and healthy families. Eradication of contagious diseases focuses on malaria, rabies, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, cholera, and leprosy. Filariasis, a tropical disease that is endemic in remote rural areas, was still widespread as of 2006. The World Health Organization reported cholera active in Indonesia. Malaria is also endemic to the country. The incidence of the disease was more than 700 per 100,000 population in 2000. In that year there were an estimated 282 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people. Overcrowded cities, poor sanitation, impure water supplies, substandard urban housing, and dietary deficiencies are contributing factors to health problems. Approximately 76% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 56% had adequate sanitation.

Average life expectancy in 2005 was 69.57 years. The 2005 infant mortality rate was 35.6 per 1,000 live births. The overall death rate was estimated at 6.3 per 1,000 in 2002. The maternal mortality rate was 450 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998. Malnutrition was present in 42% of all children under five years of age as of 2000. As of September 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 130,988 deaths of children under five from diarrheal diseases. The estimated goiter rate was 27.7 per 100 school-age children in 1996.

Indonesia has received much help from the UN, particularly through WHO and UNICEF, in solving health problems. The Ministry of Health is seeking to build up a health service, starting at the village level with a hygiene officer, who is an official of the village, and working up through groups of villages, with more facilities and better trained personnel, to the regional doctor, who directs the curative and preventive work.

In 2004, there were an estimated 16 physicians, 44 nurses, and 5 midwives per 100,000 people. More than one-third of the country's doctors practice in Jakarta and other big cities. Approximately 80% of the population had access to health care services. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 1.6% of GDP.

Tobacco consumption increased from 1.4 kg (3.1 lbs) in 198486 to 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) a year per adult in 1995. A survey in 2004 indicated that 22.8% of school-age students used tobacco products regularly, with the rate significantly higher for boys (40.5%) than girls (8.1%).

Indonesia's birth rate was an estimated 21.9 per 1,000 people as of 2002. About 57% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception. A total of 40% of all Indonesian children under five were underweight. Immunization rates for children up to one year of age were as follows: tuberculosis, 100%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 91%; polio, 90%; and measles, 92%. In 1995 the government paid 100% of the entire vaccine bill.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 110,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 2,400 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Housing is an acute problem in both urban and rural areas. In the rural areas, housing generally falls below even the most modest standards. National statistics from 1998 indicate that only about 20% of all residences had access to piped water. In 2000, only about 66% of the population had access to improved sanitation systems. The total number of dwellings stood at 44,855,000 in the mid-1990s. It has been estimated that there are 735,000 new households per year in need of housing. Housing construction has not been able to keep pace with this number, so that a substantial backlog has accumulated, translating into overcrowding and substandard living conditions for many. Floods, earthquakes, drought, forest fires, and local communal conflicts continue to result in shelter problems for over one million displaced and homeless residents.

Since 1974, the government has sponsored a series of four major programs to build new housing and provide repair and maintenance for the large number of low-income housing units and slum areas. From 197493, the government adopted the Kampong Improvement Program, which was designed to upgrade slum settlements and thus provide more adequate housing for more than 36 million people. As of 2006, the program was part of the Urban Environment Upgrading Program, which relied on community initiatives rather than government intervention. In 1990, an estimated 210,000 new housing units were completed. In 2003, the government announced the One Million Houses Development Program (Satu Juta Rumah) as a plan to inspire local governments, private businesses, and community initiatives to finance and build new housing. The government has also made up several plans to improve substandard housing and slum areas. For the period of 200509, the government planned to build 1.367 million subsidized housing units.


Vigorous efforts have been made to advance education and reduce illiteracy. In 1971, overall literacy was estimated to be about 58%, ranging from 77% in the cities to only 52% in rural areas. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 87.9%, with 92.5% for men and 83.4% for women.

Under the constitution, education must be nondiscriminatory, and nine years of basic education are free and compulsory (ages 715). In practice, however, the supply of schools and teachers is inadequate to meet the needs of the fast-growing under-15 age group. Primary school covers six years of study, followed by three years of junior secondary school. Students may then choose to continue in three years of secondary studies in general studies (natural sciences, social sciences, and languages), Islamic studies, or vocational studies. Schools are coeducational, except for certain vocational and religious schools. Private (mostly Islamic religious) schools receive government subsidies if they maintain government standards. Bahasa Indonesia is the language of instruction, but local dialects may be used until the third level.

In 2001, about 20% of children between the ages of five and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 92% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 54% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 94% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 20:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 14:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 16% of primary school enrollment and 42.9% of secondary enrollment.

There are 51 universities, the largest of which are the University of Indonesia (in Jakarta) and the University of Gajah Mada (in Yogyakarta). Most of the universities are new, having been established since the mid-1950s. There are also several polytechnical and vocational schools offering diploma or certificate programs. In 2003, about 16% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.2% of GDP, or 9% of total government expenditures.


Indonesia's largest library, Perbustakaan National Library of Indonesia, was created in 1980 with the merger of four libraries. Located in Jakarta, it has a collection of over 1.15 million volumes. Th is library includes the large National Museum collection, which was established in 1778. Another well-established library is the Bibliotheca Bogoriensis, also called the Central Library for Biological Sciences and Agriculture; founded in 1814 as a library associated with the botanical gardens in Bogor, on Java, it holds more than 400,000 volumes. Another national library is the National Scientific and Technical Documentation Center, founded in 1965 in Jakarta, with a collection of more than 150,000 volumes. The Library of the Indonesian Parliament, also in Jakarta, has 150,000 volumes. There is little coordination of public libraries, but there are state libraries and local reading rooms in almost every province. University libraries tend to be autonomous faculty or departmental libraries lacking central coordination. The University of Indonesia in Jakarta has just over 200,000 volumes.

Two outstanding museums in Indonesia are the National Museum in Jakarta, which is a general museum of Indonesian history and culture, and the Zoological Museum in Bogor, on Java. There is also a Bali Museum at Denpassar, and there are several regional historical museums throughout the provinces. Jakarta also houses a museum of crime, a large military museum, a museum chronicling the country's fight for independence, and several decorative arts museums. The Agung Rai Museum of Art in Bali holds a notable private collection of works by Balinese, Javanese, and foreign artists.


The government owns and operates postal services and telecommunications facilities through Perumtel, a state enterprise. The Indonesian-owned telecommunications satellite Palapa B was launched in 1983. In 2003, there were an estimated 39 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 87 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

As of 1998, there were 678 AM and 43 FM radio stations and 41 television stations (18 government-owned and 23 commercial). Programs originating in Jakarta are in Bahasa Indonesia; programs from regional stations are usually in local languages or dialects. The overseas service (Voice of Indonesia) broadcasts 11 hours daily in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Malay, and Thai. Television service was inaugurated in 1962. Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) is the public television network. There are an additional 10 commercial TV networks. In 2003, there were an estimated 159 radios and 153 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 11.9 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 38 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 85 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

Most newspapers are published in Bahasa Indonesia, with a small number appearing in local dialects, English, and Chinese. The leading dailies published in Bahasa Indonesia (with their estimated 2002 circulations) include: Kompas (523,450), Pos Kota (500,000), Suara Pembaruan (250,000), Berita Buana (150,000), Merdeka (130,000), Pikiran Rakyat (in Bandungm 150,000), Suara Merdeka (in Semarang, 200,000), Jawa Pos (in Surabaya, 120,000), Surabaya Post (in Surabaya, 115,000), Harian Pagi Memorandum (in Surabaya, 190,000), and Analisa (in Medan, 75,000).The Jakarta Post is a leading English-language daily that had a circulation of 50,000 in 2002.

The constitution declares that everyone has the "right to freedom of opinion and expression." Journalistic activities of foreigners, however, are limited in accordance with the policy that "freedom of expression" does not permit interference in domestic affairs or dissemination of "foreign ideologies" detrimental to the Indonesian system of government. The government has also arrested individuals for insulting the president or the government. The government censors foreign films and publications, and Indonesian newspapers have been temporarily closed down for violating news guidelines.


Village unit cooperatives were established to meet the small farmer's need for credit and aid in marketing cash crops. The cooperatives have also been instrumental in distributing improved rice, fertilizers, pesticides, and superior cattle breeds, and also in instructing farmers in their handling. Village unit cooperatives also exist for such cottage industries as batik (a method of hand-painting textiles), textiles, and garment production, which are important forms of employment in rural areas.

Many trade and business promotional organizations are concerned with individual sectors of the business worldexporters' organizations, sugar traders' associations, and so on. An Indonesian chamber of commerce and industries has connections with leading business organizations in the country. United Kingdom, Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani business people have national associations. The Indonesian Consumers Association is active. ASEAN Council on Petroleum, ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network, and ASEAN Regional Forum all have offices in Jakarta. The International Labour Organization also has an office in Jakarta.

Among social welfare and women's organizations are the Indonesian Women's Congress, a federation founded in 1928; the National Council on Social Welfare; the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association; the Council of Muslim Women's Organizations; GOPTKI, a federation of organizations that run kindergartens; Association of Women of the Republic of Indonesia; and the Indonesian National Commission on the Status of Women. International organizations with chapters in Indonesia include Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, Caritas, and the Kiwanis and Lion's clubs.

National youth organizations include the Indonesian Hindu Youth Association, Indonesian Muslim Youth, Islamic Association of University Students, National Board of IMKA/YMCA Indonesia, Students Solidarity for Democracy in India, Junior Chamber, and Young Generation of Islam of Indonesia. There is also a national association for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (Indonesia Geraken Pramuka). There are many sports associations promoting both youth and adult participation in amateur competitions.

There are a number of organizations promoting education and research into various arts and sciences, including the Indonesian Institute of Sciences and the Indonesian Medical Association.


Among the most popular tourist destinations are Bali, the restored Borobudur Buddhist temple in Java, and historic Yogyakarta. Cultural attractions include traditional Balinese dancing, the percussive sounds of the Indonesian orchestra (gamelan ), the shadow puppet (wayang kulit ) theater, and the famous Indonesian rijsttafel, a banquet of rice and savories. Tourism, as a means of affording wider employment, is strongly promoted by the government, which has supported the development of resorts in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku Province, and Irian Jaya, as well as surfing, skindiving, and other marine sports in the reefs and tropical seas of the archipelago. Gambling has been prohibited since 1981. Popular sports are badminton, football (soccer), and Sepak Takraw, a game where players volley a woven ball over a net using any part of their body except their hands or arms. A devastating tsunami, triggered by an underwater earthquake, struck tourism facilities in the northwest Aceh province in December 2004. Terrorist bombings of nightclubs frequented by tourists on Bali in 2002 and 2005 also had a negative impact on tourism.

A passport, valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, and an entry visa are required of most foreigners entering Indonesia, along with an onward/return ticket. Precautions against malaria, hepatitis, typhoid, and rabies are recommended.

Approximately 4,467,021 tourists visited Indonesia in 2003, almost 78% of whom came from East Asia. There were 263,014 hotel rooms with 428,813 beds and an occupancy rate of 45%. Tourism expenditures totaled $4.4 billion.

The cost of traveling in Indonesia varies from city to city. According to 2004 US Department of State estimates, the cost of staying in Jakarta was approximately $216 per day. Daily expenses were an estimated $140 for Surabaya and $234 for Bali. Elsewhere the estimated daily cost was $113.


Gajah Mada, prime minister under King Hayam Wuruk (r.135089), brought many of the islands under one rule, the Majapahit Empire. Princess Raden Ajeng Kartini (18791904), founder of a school for girls, led the movement for the emancipation of women. Her posthumously published letters, Door duisternis tot licht, occasioned considerable interest in the Western world. Many creative and performing artists have attained local prominence, but Indonesia's only internationally known artist is the painter Affandi (191090). Contemporary novelists of considerable local importance include Mochtar Lubis (b.1922). H. B. Jassin (19172000) was an influential literary critic and translater known locally as "the Pope of Indonesian literature." Sukarno (190170), a founder and leader of the nationalist movement, is the best-known figure of modern Indonesia; Mohammad Hatta (190280), one of the architects of Indonesian independence, served as Sukarno's vice president and concurrently as prime minister. President Suharto (b.1921), leader of Indonesia after Sukarno's overthrow, dominated Indonesia's political and economic life for three decades (196898). Adam Malik (191784) established an international reputation as a negotiator in restoring and improving relations with Malaysia, the Philippines, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the UN; formerly a foreign minister (196677), he became vice president (197883). Umar Wirahadikusumah (19242003), a retired army general, became vice president in 1983. He was succeeded by Sudharmono (19272006) and Try Sutrisno (b.1935). B. J. Habibie (b.1936) became president in 1998, followed by Abdurrahman Wahid (b.1940), Megawati Sukarnoputri (b.1947, the country's first female president), and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (b.1949), who began his term in 2004.


Indonesia has no territories or colonies.


Altbach, Philip G. and Toru Umakoshi (eds.). Asian Universities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Chandra, Satish and Baladas Ghoshal (eds.) Indonesia: A New Beginning? New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 2002.

Cribb, Robert and Audrey Kahin. Historical Dictionary of Indonesia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2004.

Dumargay, Jacques. Cultural Sites of Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Gardner, Paul F. Shared Hopes, Separate Fears: Fifty Years of U.S. Indonesian Relations. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997.

Giannakos, S.A. (ed.). Ethnic Conflict: Religion, Identity, and Politics. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2002.

Gunn, Geoffrey C. New World Hegemony in the Malay World. Trenton, N.J.: Red Sea Press, 2000.

Hill, Hal. The Indonesian Economy since 1966: Southeast Asia's Emerging Giant. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Martyn, Elizabeth. Women's Movement in Postcolonial Indonesia: Gender and Nation in a New Democracy. New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.

Suryadinata, Leo. Indonesia's Foreign Policy Under Suharto: Aspiring to International Leadership. Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1996.

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Republic of Indonesia

Major Cities:
Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan

Other Cities:
Ambon, Bandung, Kupang, Palembang, Semarang, Surakarta, Ujung Pandang, Yogyakarta


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Indonesia. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Man has woven a rich brocade of cultures among the far-flung islands of the world's largest archipelago. Most of Indonesia's inhabitants trace their descent from Malay seafarers who left the Asian mainland long before the time of Christ. Chinese pearl fishermen and Indian holy men brought their influences-Hinduism survives on Bali, a storied setting of temples and rice paddies where an endless pageantry of festivals and dances placates attentive spirits. Arab mariners introduced Islam. The Dutch monopolized the rich spice trade of the Moluccas and with them brought Christianity.

Indonesia's 3,000 islands stretch almost 5,000 km (3,100 miles) into the Pacific Ocean. Richly endowed with natural resources and hosting a phenomenal array of distinct cultures, for centuries they have been a magnet to Chinese and Indian traders, European colonizers, wayward adventurers, and intrepid travelers.

It is generally believed that the earliest inhabitants of the Indonesian archipelago originated in India or Burma. In 1890, fossils of Java Man (homo erectus), some 500,000 years old, were found in east Java.

Later migrants ("Malays") came from southern China and Indochina, and they began populating the archipelago around 3000 BC.

By the 15th century, a strong Moslem empire had developed with its center at Melaka (Malacca) on the Malay Peninsula. Its influence was shortlived, and it fell to the Portuguese in 1511. The Dutch East India Company, based in Jakarta, took control of Java by the mid-18th century. The Dutch took control in the early 19th century, and by the early 20th century, the entire archipelago was under their control.

Burgeoning nationalism and the Japanese occupation in World War II weakened Dutch resolve. Indonesia declared independence in 1945, which the Dutch recognized in 1949.

Today, Indonesia is a vibrant, multi-ethnic nation comprised of more than 300 ethnic groups in the midst of an enormous democratic transformation after years of authoritarian government.



Jakartathe capital, chief port, and commercial center of Indonesiaand its suburbs cover some 350 square miles. Over 11 million people live within this area. As seat of the central government, Jakarta is the center of political life, with the Presidential Palace, national government offices, Parliament, and the Supreme Court all located in the city center.

The main ethnic groups in Jakarta are Sundanese, who predominate in the surrounding province of West Java, and Javanese. However, the city is a melange of all main groups from throughout the archipelago, including a substantial Chinese population and tens of thousands of expatriates.

In the 16th century, Jakarta, called Sunda Kelapa, was the chief port for the Sundanese (West Javanese) kingdom of Pajajaran. Later, the Sultan of Bantam changed the name to Jayakarta, "Glorious Fortress" in the Sundanese language. At the end of the 16th century, Dutch and Portuguese traders struggled for a foothold on Java. Since it was difficult for foreigners to pronounce Jayakarta, the name was changed to Jakarta. Eventually, the Dutch won possession of Java and established a fortified trading post at Jakarta, which they renamed Batavia. For three-and-a-half centuries after the Dutch arrival, Batavia was the focal point of a rich, sprawling commercial empire called the Netherlands East Indies. In older sections, Dutch-style gabled houses with diamond-paned windows and swinging shutters are still found. The canals, narrow downtown streets, and old drawbridges will remind you of the city's Dutch heritage and early settlers.

Eventually, more modern sections of the city were built some 8 miles inland. Indonesia became a sovereign State on December 27, 1949; the next day Batavia was renamed Jakarta. The city has grown rapidly in population from about 600,000 in 1940 to over 11 million. Physically, Jakarta has changed much in the last decade. A modern center with hotels, restaurants, and tall office buildings now has grown up amidst the crowded "kampungs" often with banana groves and rice paddies reminiscent of rural Java. Infrastructure, roads, electric power, and water supply are vastly improved, and new housing and apartments have gone up. With Jakarta's expanding boundaries, most Americans and other foreigners live in newer suburbs, such as Kebayoran, 5 miles from downtown. Air pollution and traffic congestion are increasing problems.

Like most Asian commercial cities, Jakarta has a large population of Chinese origin, many of whom have Indonesian citizenship. They constitute the country's largest non-Indonesian ethnic group. Many have lived in Indonesia for generations and no longer speak Chinese, but most maintain Chinese traditions and family ties. Most Chinese in Jakarta operate businesses. Their district, Kota (or Glodok), has a distinctly Chinese flavor.

Over 25,000 foreigners live in the Jakarta area. Over 60 nations now maintain diplomatic or consular missions. The U.S., Russia, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, and Australia operate the largest. Over 6,000 Americans reside in Jakartamembers of U.S. Government agencies, the U.N. and private, nongovernmental agencies, business representatives, and missionaries. Jakarta is the main stop for an increasing number of U.S. business visitors and many American, European, and Australian tourists visit Jakarta each year, usually on their way to tourist areas such as Bali or Yogyakarta.

Jakarta's average temperature ranges from 72°F to 87°F. It seldom varies more than a few degrees all year. The average humidity, 82 percent, rises to 83 percent or 84 percent during the wet season. It rains about 125 days a year for an average of 70 inches. Although heavy rains occur during the wet season (November through March), they do not compare to the heavy, monsoon downpours that characterize the rainy season in other tropical countries. Although monotonous and enervating, the heat will not oppress you as do the summers in Tokyo and Washington, D.C.

Western-style clothes predominate in Jakarta, but many still wear Indonesian attire. English is understood by many higher level Indonesian officials, business representatives, and professionals, particularly the younger generation. However, some knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, is needed by foreigners for everyday communication. The older, Dutch-educated Indonesians can speak Dutch, especially those who grew up under The Netherlands colonial rule.


Most food can be purchased in Jakarta. There is a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (locally-produced and imported), beef, pork, chicken and fish available in local markets and grocery stores. An increasing amount of western convenience foods and snack items are available in local stores, albeit at prices higher than in the U.S. Imported brands of toiletries are expensive but available here. Otherwise, with a little initiative, you will be able to find everything you need in Jakarta.


General: Men, women, and children wear cotton and other lightweight clothing year round. Due to frequent, hard washing, clothing does not last as long as in the U.S. Launderers generally do satisfactory ironing and pressing. Adequate drycleaning costs considerably less than in a major U.S. city. Shoes wear out sooner than in U.S. due to the dampness and rough terrain. Locally made men's and women's shoes are adequate to good, but large sizes are sometimes difficult to find. There is a very wide range of price and quality available locally. Imported shoes for both men and women are available at many shops and department stores, but larger sizes are rare even in imported shoes. Several places in Jakarta sell moderately priced made-to-order shoes. Athletic shoes are more readily available in larger sizes, especially at outlets for the many name brands that are manufactured locally. For children and young teens, sandals, cloth shoes, and tennis shoes are available.

Imported fabrics are available locally but are expensive. Indonesian batik, with its distinctive patterns, is popular for dresses and sportswear. Prices for batik vary widely depending on the quality and intricacy of design. Take advantage of inexpensive tailoring to have clothing made. Tailors and seamstresses do not work from patterns, but can copy based on a picture or a sample item. Bring some warm clothing for travel to Tokyo, Hong Kong, or the U.S. in winter months.

Men: Many men wear batik shirts (long and short sleeves) for social affairs. Indonesians consider long-sleeved batik shirts formal attire. Batik shirts can be purchased ready-made or tailor made. American sport shirts are usually worn only for casual affairs and at private parties. Bring an adequate supply of shoes. Only a few exclusive, expensive shops sell Western styles and sizes. Some have found sandal, desirable for informal wear. Bring your own golf shoes or buy them in Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Singapore for better quality and more reasonable prices. For evenings in the mountains, men will need a light jacket of sweater. Bring sports clothes, including tennis or golf shorts and swimming trunks.

Women: Office wear for women is similar to that in Washington, D.C., during summer. Since offices, cars, and most indoor places are completely air-conditioned, moss lightweight summer fabrics, including knits, are suitable. Some women wear nylon hose. Casual dresses or long pants are suitable for nearly all daytime occasions Evening wear is usually casual. Special occasions are dressy or formal. Both long and short casual dresses are appropriate for informal events.

A wide variety of fabrics, both local and imported, is available locally. Women who wear smaller sizes will not have trouble finding attractive and affordable clothing locally, but larger sizes are rare. Bring some shorts and sleeveless shirts. Shorts are worn primarily for golf and tennis. Also bring swimsuits, tennis and golf clothes, and sports clothing.

You can often use a wool sweater and slacks during the cool mountain evenings Ready-made maternity clothes are not available. Most women bring an ample supply of underwear. Women rarely wear hats and gloves; they are not required it churches or for calling. Bring plenty of shoes and sandals. Some prefer closed (canvas-type) shoes for shopping and sightseeing during the rainy season. Bring your regular size if you know your feel don't swell in hot weather.

Children: At JIS, all children in grades 7 thru 9 must wear uniforms (available for purchase at the school) and tennis shoes for physical education classes. Most children wear shorts at home and at the pool. Local shop sell children's shoes, but a proper fit ma. be difficult to obtain. Western-style clothe are popular with young people in Jakarta Jeans and denims are sold everywhere.

Supplies and Services

Most basic toiletries are available locally, but if you rely on a particular U.S brand, you should pack a supply. Bring special medicines or vitamins and reorder them by mail.

Drycleaning is generally deemed adequate. Shoe repair facilities are fair. Prices are less than in the U.S A few beauty shops are recommended some are small and simple, others are more luxurious. They offer the usual services a low, reasonable prices. Color rinses, perm; and dyes are available but expensive. You provide your own perm and dye supplies. Major hotels and shopping areas have barbershops. The usual services are reasonable.

Generally, radio, TV, and household appliance repairs do not meet U.S. standards. However, several shops perform adequate repair services; parts are usually imported and expensive. Good quality batik floor cushions and draperies can be custom made at reasonable prices. Picture framing is inexpensive and quality and selection varies.

Jakarta has many dressmakers, but prices and competence vary greatly. Some will visit your home for fittings. Establish a dressmaker's competence before providing an expensive piece of fabric. Tailors are available and, again, their competence and prices vary greatly. They make shirts, shorts, and suits.

Domestic Help

As in most of Asia, household help is not a luxury, but a necessity-not to provide a life of ease, but to help a family live a normal life and maintain a good level of security. You must take extra precautions when preparing food and must thoroughly scrub and peel vegetables before cooking, or soak them in disinfectant and rewash them in bottled water if you eat them raw. Marketing can be time consuming, although the preponderance of Western-style supermarkets makes shopping easier, albeit at a higher price. In many households, the cook shops for food in local markets at a considerable savings to the family. Domestic staff cannot shop in the commissary.

Aside from being practical, household help is customary in this part of the world. Even Indonesians of moderate circumstances have them.

The number of household help needed and their salaries differ according to individual households, with varying emphasis on their responsibility and ability. Below are examples of staff responsibilities. Salaries are paid in Rupiah and are considered quite affordable by western standards.

Cook: Plans the meals with you; informs you of what is on the market and does shopping; keeps a kitchen account book, which you should check; cleans the kitchen; and does the dishes.

Maid/Houseboy : Serves at table, mixes drinks, and cleans living and dining rooms; may also prepare meals on the cook's day off or if she or he is the only servant in a small household.

Nanny: Takes care of children, cleans their room, mends their clothing, and sees that it comes back from the launderer in good condition. May help with general housework if the family is small.

Driver: Acts as chauffeur, purchases gas and oil, and keeps your ar in good operating condition.

Gardener: Tends the lawn, shrubs, flowers, etc. Most common is a combination gardener/watchman who watches the house during the day while he tends the yard.

Night Watchman: Guards your house.

Many families employ one or more "all in one" helpers who combine the functions of cook, maid/houseboy, and nanny. Domestic staff in Indonesia depend on their employers. The employer customarily provides uniforms and/or clothing, a Lebaran or Christmas bonus (1 month's salary if the employee has worked at least a year, prorated for shorter periods), and some employers provide uniforms and/or clothing as well as some basic food stuffs and some medical expenses. Additionally, employers must provide a bed (including the mattress), sheets, pillows, and towels for each employee that lives in. A bed, mattress, and pillow (at minimum) purchased locally costs between $25 and $35. Sheets and towels are very expensive on the local market.

All household staff should have a preemployment physical examination and annual stool tests and chest x-rays. As of February 2000, the range in cost for full physicals was $8-$20; x-rays were $15. Domestic employees who are dismissed by you for any reason other than wrongdoing should be given severance pay at the rate of 1 month's salary for each full year worked and a prorated portion of a month's salary for employment periods of less than full years. If the employee resigns, you are not obliged to give severance pay but may want to give "service pay," something like a thank-you bonus. Prevailing practice in business is to give one-half a month's salary after 5 years of employment. But should you choose to give "service pay," the amount is at your discretion. Some staff require constant supervision, especially on cleanliness, market prices, storage and use of food supplies, and personal effects.

Religious Activities

In Jakarta, churches of several denominations hold regular services in English: Roman Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, interdenominational Protestant, Lutheran, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are also two active Christian youth groups: Friday Night Live for teens and preteens and International Christian Youth for high school students. There is an informal Jewish network that plans observations of high holidays and holds some social events.


American children from kindergarten (prep-1) through grade 12 living in Jakarta generally attend Jakarta International School (JIS). Enrollment for the 2000-2001 school year was 2,526. Currently more than half of the 227-member teaching staff is American. The high school is fully accredited by the Association of Western Schools and Colleges and the European Council of International Schools. All instruction is in English.

JIS has three campuses, two of which are elementary schools, in two locations. For elementary level students, campus assignment is based primarily on area of residence.

Pattimura is located in Kebayoran Baru and houses prep-1 through grade 5. Completely reconstructed in 1986, Pattimura now consists of 23 classrooms, a library with more than 20,000 volumes, a computer lab, a theater, a gymnasium and special rooms for art, music, ESOL and reading. All indoor facilities are air-conditioned.

Pondok Indah Elementary (PIE) is located in Cilandak, behind but not connected to the Middle and High School campus. PIE houses prep-1 through grade 5. Located on 9 acres, it includes 47 classrooms, a library with more than 30,000 volumes, two computer labs, a science lab, gymnasium, theater, cafeteria, covered play area, swimming pool and expansive fields for outdoor recreation. All buildings are air-conditioned.

Cilandak houses the Middle (grades 6-8) and High School (grades 9-12), in addition to the administrative offices. The 23-acre campus includes 115 classrooms, two libraries totaling more than 37,000 volumes, nine computer labs, two theaters, two gymnasiums, tennis courts, sports fields, a swimming pool and cafeteria.

The JIS elementary curriculum gives students a solid foundation in basic skills. The school offers up-to-date programs in math and science, using discovery and inquiry methods, and places a strong emphasis on language arts. Students have specialist teachers for music, art, computers, library and physical education. In grades 3, 4, and 5, students also have specialist teachers for Indonesian language and culture.

The Middle School curriculum includes a balanced emphasis on basic skill development and content. A variety of teaching methods is employed. The school's program of studies and daily schedule provide a gradual transition from the largely self-contained school structure of the elementary school to the departmental organization found in the high school. Students receive instruction in English/language arts, mathematics, history/social studies, science, and physical education. There is also a variety of exploratory and elective options in the areas of visual and performing arts, computer education, practical arts and modern languages. Each 7-8th grade student also must complete required courses in computer applications, Indonesian language and health.

The High School curriculum offers a modified American curriculum as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB), fulfilling admission requirements for American universities as well as those of other countries. Normally, six subjects are taken each year, including a sequential progression of courses in English, mathematics, science and social studies. The following foreign languages are offered: French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian. One semester of Indonesian language and geography is required for JIS High School graduation. Electives include music, drama, fine arts, practical arts, business, computer studies, physical education, year-book, and journalism. Advanced courses are offered in selected areas in order to prepare students for Advanced Placement (AP) exams and the IB diploma.

To supplement the academic program, JIS provides a variety of extracurricular activities designed to encourage physical well-being, intellectual interchange and participation in social activities. Boys and girls can participate in a varied after school sports program. There are also special interest clubs such as photography, chess, handicrafts, etc. Community leagues in soccer, basketball, baseball and competitive swimming are available.

At the high school level, JIS participates in the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools (IASAS), a regional organization that offers competition in sports, as well as cultural events. Club activities are available at all levels, as well as Boy and Girl Scout Programs.

The school year begins in mid-August and ends early in June. There is a three-week vacation between semesters and a one-week break during second semester. The school observes Indonesian holidays. School hours are:

Prekindergarten (Prep Junior): 7:30 a.m.-noon Kindergarten (Prep Senior): 7:30 a.m.-noon (1st semester) 7:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. (2nd semester) Grades 1-5: 7:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Grades 6-12: 7:30 a.m.-2:40 p.m.

A catering service sells sandwiches and hot lunches on campus. Ice cream, bottled drinks, and various snacks are also available at the student stores on campus.

School uniforms are worn only for physical education; however, clothing should be clean, neat and comfortable. Shoes must be worn at all times for health reasons.

JIS does not have the facilities to deal with children who have serious learning, emotional or physical disabilities. Parents of prospective students are advised that the school is able to serve only those mildly learning disabled students who are able to function in the regular program with minimal support. If a child is receiving special services, such as LD instruction, remedial teaching, speech/language therapy or seeing any educational specialist outside the regular classroom, parents are advised to contact the school and discuss the child's situation before making a decision to come to Jakarta.

There are several other schools in Jakarta, including schools following the British, French, and Australian educational curricula, as well as a Montessori school. The Australian International School (AIS) is a smaller, relatively new school in southern Jakarta that offers special needs programs. Children with special needs are mainstreamed, with full-time Indonesian classroom assistants assigned as necessary. A special needs coordinator works with the children individually several times per week. Speech therapy is sometimes available, though not guaranteed. School facilities are basic, but class sizes tend to be small. The school offers classes from preschool through grade 12, operating on the Australian school calendar which means that the school year goes from January-December. For more information, contact the school at [email protected], or phone 6221-780-5152.

Students wishing to enroll in prep I (kindergarten) at JIS must reach their 5th birthdays prior to October 31 of the current school year.

Preschools: There are several good English-language preschools at post. Many families of young children take advantage of part-or full-time preschools, including Bambino, Tutor Time, Discovery Center and Jakarta Montessori School. JIS has a preschool program for 3-and 4-year-olds; however, most Embassy families find the JIS program to be too expensive.

Special Educational Opportunities

Indonesian language training is available through a number of local resources, including the Lembaga Indonesia-Amerika (Yayasan LIA) and ICAC. The Indonesian Heritage Society offers various opportunities to study Indonesian culture in depth through its study groups, lecture series, and museum volunteer program. Although several Indonesian colleges and universities exist, all instruction is in Indonesian.


Jakarta hosts a variety of recreational and sports facilities, from fitness clubs to golf driving ranges to tennis courts to riding stables.

AERA provides a variety of activities to enhance the morale of American families. Facilities include dining areas, a Western-style bar with large-screen TV, a pool table, video games, NTSC video rental, a satellite dish, tennis courts, swimming pool, a fitness center, and multipurpose rooms used for fitness and children's classes and available for special-purpose rental.

The club conducts a summer camp for elementary school-aged children, organizes activities for adults and children, and hosts programs for American holidays and other special occasions. It also provides catering services for members. Membership fees include a reasonable initiation fee and monthly dues. Charges for food, video rentals, etc., are payable on a monthly basis.

There are several other clubs that expatriates join, including the Jakarta American Club (not affiliated with the Embassy or the AERA Club) and the Mercantile Athletic Club. Several large hotels make their facilities available on a daily or membership basis. In addition, the Mission housing pool includes some apartment complexes and housing complexes that have swimming pools, tennis courts, and other amenities.

Golf. Golf enthusiasts can choose from 18-and 9-hole golf courses and driving ranges. Some are open to casual players, but others require memberships. Membership and green fees are moderate. Courses are generally well maintained and are open from sunrise to sunset. Most have pro shops, snack or meal service, locker room facilities, and instruction. Golf equipment is available locally but is more expensive than in the U.S.

Tennis : Most clubs have tennis courts, including the AERA Club, the Hilton, the Senayan Sports Complex, and JIS. Several housing compounds also have tennis facilities. Although tennis equipment and balls are available locally, prices are generally higher than in the U.S.

Swimming: In Jakarta, most clubs, hotels, and apartment or townhouse complexes have swimming pools. Many hotels charge daily fees for use of the pool. Ancol and Pondok Indah offer public swimming and water park facilities. These tend to be crowded on weekends and public holidays. Saltwater bathing is available at beach resorts and nearby islands. Beach lovers should note, however, that the closest beach is some 3-1/2 hours by car from Jakarta. Pelabuhan Ratu (Samudra Beach) on the Indian Ocean, south of Jakarta, is about 41/2 hours by car, and Anyer, Carita, and Sombola, on the Sunda Straits west of Jakarta, are about 3-1/2 hours by car. Pulau Seribu or Thousand Islands is a system of small islands in the sea north of Jakarta. There are several basic but pleasant resorts that offer scuba, snorkeling, swimming, and various sports.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Snorkeling and scuba diving: Snorkeling and scuba diving are available both near and far from Jakarta. Several islands of the Thousand Islands area have popular sites for viewing coral, highly colored tropical fish, and other sea life. Some are reachable by boat in several hours. Pulau Putri and other islands have beaches and full tourist facilities, including cottages for rent. Scuba courses are available, and informal groups organize trips to the islands. For travel further afield, several other islands and resorts offer both activities, including Sulawesi, Sumatra, Lombok, Bali, Kalimantan, Maluku and Papua. Most dive shops / tour operators rent tanks and weights. Most also sell equipment, but it is expensive compared to U.S. prices. It is advisable to bring your own regulator and BCD.

Horseback Riding: Several high-quality English-style equestrian facilities offer regular lessons for all levels, including jumping and polo; costs of lessons are cheaper than the equivalent in the U.S. Horses can be leased long term, which is the best arrangement if you plan to ride more than a couple of times a week.

Photography: Picturesque villages, colorful native dress, street scenes, mountains, and beaches provide a variety of photo opportunities. Film and slides, mostly Japanese and U.S. brands, are available locally at reasonable prices. Local processing of color film is good and reasonably priced.

Sightseeing In and around Jakarta: there are several museums, including the National Museum, which houses a large collection of Indonesian antiques, cultural displays, and one of the world's finest Asian porcelain collections; the Museum of the Armed Forces; Museum Wayang, which houses a collection of puppets representing various regions and eras in Indonesia; Museum-Tekstil, containing a collection of Indonesian textiles; the Adam Malik Museum, containing some of the late states-man's collection; the Ceramic Museum; and the Jakarta Historical Museum.

Taman Mini, located about 13 miles southeast of Jakarta, has several theme museums, exhibits of traditional houses of the 27 regions in the country, amusement rides, an orchid garden, and various other attractions. Taman Impian Jaya Ancol is located in the north of Jakarta and has a water park, an amusement park, an art and handi-craft market, and Seaworld. Many consider visiting the various market areas as a sightseeing trip in itself. Jakarta also has a zoo and planetarium. Newcomers often enjoy city tours arranged by major hotels and travel agencies. The Indonesian Heritage Society has an Explorers Club that organizes regular tours to a wide variety of local landmarks and historic areas. It is an interesting way to see the city and meet new friends.

To learn about Indonesian culture, take trips outside the city. The Puncak Hills and the nearby town of Bogor offer a pleasant climate and scenery change. In Bogor, the famous Botanical Gardens feature a 275-acre park with a zoological museum, scientific library, and laboratory. The orchid collection is a special attraction. Puncak Pass, on the road to Bandung, is 5,000 feet high. Jakarta residents often rent cottages in the Puncak on weekends. A Safari Park, where you can drive through and view wild animals, is located here. There is also a children's zoo on the premises.

Bandung, a 4-hour drive from Jakarta or a pleasant train ride, offers good hotel accommodations and pleasant mountain views. Several modern artists live and work in Bandung; one of Indonesia's art schools is here. About 15 miles north of Bandung is the Tangkuban Prahu Volcano.

Yogyakarta and Solo are interesting cities on Java. Yogyakarta is of historical and cultural interest-here are some of Indonesia's best-pre-served Hindu and Buddhist monuments and temples, among them the famous Borobudur Temple. At the magnificent Prambanan Temple, between Yogyakarta and Solo, a Javanese dance-drama is performed twice a month at full moon during the dry season. Both Solo and Yogyarkarta are Javanese cultural centers and offer a variety of events and shopping opportunities. Good hotels are available.

The Island of Bali is one of the most popular vacation spots for tourists. It has beautiful beaches and striking volcanic scenery. Accommodations range from four-star hotels to simple guest houses and bungalows. Balinese culture is particularly interesting. As Islam swept through Indonesia, many Hindus fled to Bali, where Hindu and Indonesian culture and customs mix in an interesting fashion. The island abounds in cultural activities and performances and shopping opportunities. Bali is about 1 hour and 20 minutes by air from Jakarta.

Although rioting in January of 2000 caused some damage to the tourist industry, the Island of Lombok continues to be popular. Considered similar to Bali of 30 years ago, this still-unspoiled island has lovely beaches and is famous for its weaving and pottery. There are flights from Jakarta, via either Bali or Yogyakarta.

The Island of Sumatra offers Lake Toba, a beautiful volcanic lake in the north; Padang, central Sumatra's largest city and center of the Minangkabau people (a matriarchal society); Palembang, site of a refinery and large oil installations; and an elephant training center near Lampung in southern Sumatra. Visiting many of these places requires a car, but travelers must be wary of poor road conditions and hazardous local driving. Some travel agents and hotels offer packages that include tours onsite with a rented vehicle and driver.


Jakarta offers a large variety of restaurants ranging from international-standard restaurants, generally housed in major hotels, to moderately priced, family-style restaurants, to most popular American fast-food restaurants. A 10% government tax and 11% service charge is included in the bill at nicer restaurants.

The city offers a variety of nightlife, including clubs both in major hotels and as independent establishments. There are several discotheques that offer both live and recorded music.

Expatriates frequent several Jakarta cinemas; they are air-conditioned, clean, and wide screened. American films are shown in their original English language version with Indonesian subtitles. Admission is usually about $2.50. American movies shown here tend to be several months old and are subject to government censorship.

Americans occasionally attend Indonesian dances, music performances, and puppet shows. Local artists frequently hold exhibits throughout the city. Several amateur theater groups present English language plays and musicals. There are classical music evenings and an occasional ballet. Stage plays are rare, but the number of rock concerts is increasing.

Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), the Jakarta Cultural Center, has an enclosed theater, an open-air theater, a cinema, exhibition rooms for art shows, and a planetarium.

There are no real public libraries here, and although popular English-language books are available in several bookstores, prices can be double what they are in the U.S. The British Council, ICAC, and AWA operate small lending libraries, and parents of JIS students can use the high school library. The AERA Club operates small, informal used book exchanges. Many families order books from Internet bookstore sites.

Social Activities

Most social life centers around private homes and includes cocktail parties, buffets, dinners, and card parties. Heavy traffic patterns frequently determine the timing and frequency of such entertaining.

AWA organizes social and charitable activities for women and their families. Monthly meetings are held with guest speakers or other activities. Twice a year, AWA sponsors major craft bazaars, which are very popular. It publishes Introducing Indonesia, an excellent guide to expatriate living in Indonesia, as well as the Jakarta Shoppers Guide and other useful books. It also maintains a center that houses a thrift shop, a used book section, a lending library, and a servants registry. The organization also organizes group tours within and outside of Indonesia.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia, commonly known as AMCHAM, is an association of businesspeople abroad and is concerned with U.S. trade, investment, and community services. AMCHAM holds monthly luncheons with guest speakers and sponsors some social activities.

With a large international community, social activities include Indonesians, Americans, and other expatriates of many nationalities. A great deal of entertaining occurs among international representatives and Indonesians. The Women's International Club (WIC) has members from many nationalities. It was organized in 1950 to promote friendship and understanding among different nationalities. It sponsors social activities and classes and is active in social welfare programs. It sponsors an annual Christmas Bazaar that is very popular with both expatriates and Indonesians.

ICAC is a nonprofit organization that provides workshops, activities, professional counseling services, a lending library, a small craft shop, and a newcomers resource center. It conducts orientation programs quarterly and smaller luncheons and discussion groups to help newcomers meet each other and begin their adjustment to Jakarta.

The International Allied Medical Association (IAMA) is an informal group of English-speaking health professionals interested in keeping up with current developments in the medical field. Monthly meetings with guest speakers are held.

The Indonesian Heritage Society is an organization of volunteers interested in learning about the history, art, and culture of Indonesia. Volunteers assist in the museums of Jakarta and sponsor a public lecture series and smaller study groups.

A multinational community chorus, the PPIA choir, presents concerts twice a year and is open to all. In addition to these groups, there are many other organizations based on specific interests and needs, such as Rotary and Lions Clubs


Surabaya, with a population of about 2.7 million, is Indonesia's second largest city and provincial capital of East Java. Surabaya is on the northeastern coast of Java opposite the nearby Island of Madura. The city itself is thickly settled along the Brantas River Estuary. The area around the city to the west and south is marshy, coastal plain. In recent years, the abundant rice cultivation in the south has given way to steady development of industrial sites. The southern plain gradually rises to a range of volcanic mountains, the nearest of note is about 31 miles south of the city.

Surabaya's climate is very hot and humid with an average humidity of 75 percent, rainfall of 60 inches, and an average temperature of 81°F. The rainy season begins in November and ends around April. The rest of the year, particularly June through October is drier. The periods when the monsoons change direction (usually March-April and November-December) are characterized by harsh rains and often result in some flooding in East Java and in greater Surabaya. The months of July and August are the most comfortable of the year.

At the turn of the century, Surabaya was the leading port of the Dutch Indies. The city exported rubber, tobacco, teak, kapok, sugar, and fibers. Despite the impact of World Wars, the 1930s depression, the 1945-49 resolution, and subsequent periods of civil turbulence, Surabaya remains a major agricultural-industrial center and is Indonesia's second largest port. Since 1968 Surabaya has progressed rapidly. It is the commercial hub for the second largest market in the country, and the province of East Java has one of the best development records in Indonesia.

The city's present population is almost entirely indigenous Indonesian (primarily Javanese and Madurese), with a small but visible ethnic Chinese minority, an ethnic Indian community of perhaps a thousand, and a few hundred other foreigners, including Japanese, Koreans, Europeans, and Americans. About 180 Americans live in the greater Surabaya area, primarily engaged in business. The Indonesian-American friendship association (PPIA) sponsors English language courses, college counseling, and cultural programs. The number of American tourists visiting Surabaya is rising, but most tourists visit Bali and Yogyakarta.


An increasing number of Western-style supermarkets ease the grocery shopping experience in Surabaya. And though you can generally get everything on your list (from olive oil to Swiss Miss instant cocoa), you may have to visit two or more stores and/or wait a matter of weeks for that hard to find item to turn up again on the shelves. A wide variety of local seafood, chicken, beef (often tough and dry), pork (including bacon) and mutton are available. In addition, sausages, lamb and a better quality beef are imported from neighboring New Zealand and Australia but are more expensive. Most dairy products are also imported: cheddar, mozzarella, Edam, Gouda, Parmesan, Camembert, Brie, and feta cheeses are available.


Surabaya offers a wide variety of restaurants, including Western, Indonesian, and other Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) cuisine. Surabaya also has several nightclubs and discos. Film is available locally. Local printing and developing service is inexpensive and satisfactory. Surabaya has several air-conditioned theater complexes that show subtitled American films, including first-run movies. The video system in this country is PAL, and the format in Surabaya is primarily VCD, followed by DVD. VHS choices are extremely limited. Surabaya has a small museum and a large zoo with Komodo dragons, a nocturnal animal exhibit, outstanding bird and ape collections, and an excellent aquarium of tropical fish. The Taman Remaja Amusement Park, open daily, has several rides and games for small children.

Social Activities

Social life in Surabaya is centered around the home and generally informal. Dinner parties at home and at hotel restaurants are the most common forms of entertainment. Several local firms provide catering services for private parties. Two international organizations, the Expatriate Women's Association of Surabaya (EWAS) and the Women's International Club (WIC), meet regularly.


Medan was formerly the capital of the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia's second largest island. It is now capital of only North Sumatra Province, which borders the Straits of Malacca. In 1910, this relatively new city moved to its present location, a few miles inland from the city of Belawan-Deli. The Medan municipality still includes the port of Belawan, where rubber, palm oil, coffee, and tea are exported, and consumer and industrial goods are imported. It is Indonesia's largest port in value of exports.

The city is set on a lush green plain, surrounded by rice paddies and palm trees. The Bukit Barisan mountain range, which runs the length of Sumatra, can be seen to the south. Only 82 feet above sea level, just north of the equator, Medan has a climate which is generally hot and humid. The heaviest rains fall from September through December most years. The Medan community has grown from 77,000 in 1940 to some 1.8 million (2000 est.). These figures include about 250,000 Chinese, 15,000 Indians, 200 Europeans, and 60 Americans. The Western community recently has been decreasing in size due to Indonesianization of expatriate positions in the petroleum industry and a relocation of some of the remaining workers outside Medan. Medan today is the largest banking and commercial community in Indonesia, next to Jakarta.

Medan is a sprawling city of kampungs, (native Indonesian villages), with a crowded Chinese sector and an Indian (Tamil) district. Some areas with elegant old government office buildings, parks, and peaked tile-roofed houses reflect the early Dutch colonial heritage. A few tall buildings and new houses with modern curved roofs are springing up. Traffic is chaotic, with swarms of fume-spewing motorized becaks (pedicabs), motorcycles, bicycles, cars, buses, trucks, and jaywalking pedestrians. A one-way street system has helped traffic, but it makes the city a puzzle for the newcomer.


The Medan International School has classes from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Founded in 1969, this coeducational school has instruction in English, and the school uses American textbooks. Information about Medan International may be obtained by writing them at P.O. Box 191, Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Secondary-age students must be educated away from the city. Most American children attend the Medan International School through the eighth grade, then transfer to Jakarta International School or the Singapore American School, although both schools offer grades one through 12. Neither school offers boarding facilities, and arrangements must be made with a private family or a private hotel. The address of the Singapore American School is 60 King's Road, Singapore 1026, Republic of Singapore. Jakarta International School's address is J1. Terogong Raya 33, Jakarta 12430, Indonesia.


In the mountains, about 105 miles southwest of Medan, is lovely Lake Toba. It is 55 miles long and 18 miles wide, and is dominated by the Island of Samosir. The elevation at the water's edge is almost 3,000 feet, and mountain peaks rise along the shore. Sight-seeing tours to Samosir Island and the Batak villages can be made by boat. There are several hotels in the tiny town of Prapat that offer reasonable food and lodging.

About one-and-a-half hours southwest of Medan, through tropical forests and up a series of hairpin curves, is the highland area of Brastagi. At an altitude of 5,000 feet, the weather is even cooler than at Lake Toba. Live volcanos afford striking scenery. Golf, horseback riding, and hiking are possible.

Roads are slowly improving in northern Sumatra, but travel to more remote areas usually requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Tennis, swimming, softball, cricket, squash, golf, badminton, bowling, and horseback riding are possible in Medan, but some facilities are not up to U.S. standards.

Several health clubs and fitness centers of varying size and equipment are available. The Medan Club has three tennis courts and a squash court for use by members. The Deli Golf Club, about 40 minutes from downtown, has an 18-hole course.

The playing field areas in Medan have little playground equipment, and are used primarily for soccer by the Indonesians. On occasion, expatriate community members organize a Sunday softball game on one of these fields. There are no picnic areas or beaches in the city's vicinity. The nearest beach is at Pantai Cermin, some 31 miles away, but it is shallow, muddy, and made even less attractive by poisonous sea snakes. Sailing is not common; good skin diving areas are far from Medan.


Entertainment is limited in the Medan area. The city's movie theaters rarely offer English-language films but few Americans patronize them. Chinese, Kung Fu movies and Indian films are standard local fare.

Color broadcasts are shown on local television; most programming comes from Jakarta. Programs are generally limited to news, sports, Indonesian cultural shows, some children's cartoons, or dated English films. The broadcast system is PAL. There are no English-language radio programs, so it is necessary to have a shortwave radio in order to keep up with U.S. and world news.

The United States Information Service (USIS)-sponsored library has English-language books, primarily classics, references, or textbooks, and shows weekly U.S. news summaries on videotape. The British Council has a library with 6,000 books for leisure reading, as well. All local newspapers are in Indonesian, although the English-language Singapore Straits Times and the Jakarta Times or the Jakarta Post can be home-delivered. Asian editions of Time and Newsweek are available in local book shops.

Medan has a new cultural center complex, but presentations are infrequent.

Chinese restaurants are the most popular of the few dining establishments in Medan. One of the international class hotels, the Tiara, offers reasonably good European food, but Indonesian and Indian restaurants do not serve good-quality meats. Prices vary from moderate to expensive for non-Indonesian food.

Several nightclubs are open, but Americans and Europeans rarely patronize them.


AMBON , with a population of 313,000, is the capital of Maluku Province on the Banda Sea in eastern Indonesia. This important seaport was founded by the Portuguese in 1574. Early in the 17th century, the Dutch and English settled in the area, and fought over it for 200 years. The "massacre of Amboina" took place in 1623 and involved the killing of many English settlers by the Dutch. Japanese forces held the city during World War II from 1942 until 1945. A few examples of Dutch colonial architecture remain today. Fort Victoria, still an active military post, and the former Dutch governor's home, both stand in the heart of Ambon. The Museum Siwalima is in the eastern suburb of Karang Panjang. It houses a number of artifacts, including Chinese ceramics, objects of magic, and skulls.

BANDUNG , is a city of 2.4 million, and the fourth largest municipality in the country. Located at a rail junction 75 miles southeast of Jakarta, it is a bustling city, with many factories, hospitals, government departments, and schools. A well-known textile center, Bandung is the center of Indonesia's quinine industry, using the cinchona grown in the nearby plantations. Founded in 1810, it is the center of Sudanese cultural life. Bandung was the site of a World War II Japanese prison camp. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, Bandung is a tourist resort known for its cool and healthy climate. Bandung is also an educational and cultural center. A textile institute, a technological institute, a state university, two private universities, and a nuclear research center are located here. The city was the site of the Bandung Conference in 1955, a meeting between 29 Asian and African nations to promote cultural and economic cooperation. Bandung Alliance School, featuring a U.S. curriculum for grades one through six, and Bandung International School, featuring a combined curriculum for pre-kindergarten through grade eight, are located here.

KUPANG is the capital of East Nusa Tenggara Province. It is situated on Kupang Bay at the tip of Timor Island. It was settled by the Dutch early in the 17th century. Kupang has a population over 400,000.

PALEMBANG , situated about 300 miles northwest of Jakarta in South Sumatra, is Indonesia's richest city. Large oil refineries and a petro-chemical complex employ many of the provincial capital's 1.4 million residents (2000 est.). Other industries are shipbuilding and iron and rubber production. Long a trade center, Palembang lies on the Musi River, which links it to principal Asian ports. The area was the capital of a Hindu Kingdom in the seventh century; the Dutch and British came a thousand years later. Landmarks here include the Great Mosque, built in 1740; the provincial parliament building; and the Rumah Bari Museum. Statuary, sculptures, weapons, and crafts are on display in the museum. A university was founded in Palembang in 1960.

SEMARANG , the capital of Central Java Province, is a seaport city and one of the major commercial centers in Indonesia. It is located on the north coast, 225 miles east of Jakarta. The manufacture of textiles and machinery and shipbuilding and fishing are the economic mainstays here; exports include sugar, coffee, and rubber. It came under Dutch control as early as 1748, and was occupied by the Japanese during World War II from February 1942 until September 1945. Many steamship companies maintain offices in this city of approximately 787,000 residents (2000 est.). Deponegoro University, founded in 1957, is located here, along with Semarang International School, which features a U.S. curriculum for nursery school through sixth grade. The student body numbers forty-one. Semarang International is located at J1. Raung 16, Candi, Semarang, 50232, Jateng, Indonesia.

SURAKARTA (also known as Solo) is located in central Java Province 50 miles southeast of Semarang, and is connected to Jakarta and Surabaya by rail. This city of approximately 516,500 residents (1995 est.) is the trade center for the surrounding region that produces sugar, tobacco, and rice. Surakarta is particularly known for its handi-crafts, which include gold work and batik cloth; it also manufactures textiles, furniture, machinery, metal products, leather work, and cigarettes. In addition, Surakarta is a cultural center recognized for its gamelan music and for its shadow plays called wayang. Landmarks in the city include a Dutch fort, built in 1799 to resemble a Dutch town; and the walled palace of the sultan that is almost a city in itself. There is a private university in Surakarta, as well as an extension facility of the Islamic University of Indonesia that has a library and a museum.

UJUNG PANDANG (formerly called Makassar) is the business center of Sulawesi, situated 900 miles east of Jakarta on the Makassar Straits. Improvements in the city's harbor have expanded the export trade which includes gums, resins, coffee, and rattan. In the center of town is the grave of the national hero, Prince Diponegoro of Yogyakarta (1785-1855). He was a Javanese leader in the war against the Dutch in the late 1820s. The dungeon where the Dutch held him for 27 years is still standing; Indonesians make pilgrimages to both sites. Ujung Pandang was a principal port for the Goa Kingdom when the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, followed by the Dutch. The fall of the kingdom in 1667 came with the conquest of the old benteng, or fort, which was rebuilt as Amsterdam Castle. This now is considered an excellent example of 17th-century Dutch fortress construction. The Ujung Pandang Provincial Museum has several displays in the fort, including costumes, coins, and musical instruments. The city's population is an estimated 1.1 million (2000 est.).

YOGYAKARTA (also spelled Jog-jakarta) is located in central Java Province, 175 miles southwest of Surabaya. Situated at the foot of Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta was founded in 1749 and was once the capital of a sultanate. It was also the site of a revolt against the Dutch in the early 19th century, and played an important role in the Indonesian independence movement from 1946 to 1950. Today, Yogyakarta is Java's cultural center known for drama and dance festivals, as well as for its handicraft industry. The city is an important tourist center and has beautifully preserved Hindu temples and monuments. The Borobudor Temple (26 miles to the northwest) is one of the finest Buddhist monuments in central Java, dating from about the ninth century. The shrine was left to crumble in the jungle rot and periodic earthquakes of the area for over a thousand years until it was rediscovered in the 19th century and restored under a $23 million U.N.-sponsored beautification project. The walled palace of the sultan of Yogyakarta served as Indonesia's provisional capital in 1949-1950, and now houses Gadjah Mada University. Islamic University of Indonesia and several colleges are also located here. Yogyakarta's population is over 500,000.


Geography And Climate

The Republic of Indonesia encompasses the world's longest archipelago, From the tiny island of Sabang in the northwest to Papua (formerly Irian Jaya or West Irian) in the east, over 17,000 island, stretch some 3,400 miles along the Equator. The total land area covers about 736,000 square miles. The main islands. in terms of population and importance, are Java, Sumatra, Bali, Kalimantan (Borneo). Sulawesi (Celebes), Papua, and the Maluku. The landscape is highly varied with mountain peaks and volcanoes, some rising to over 15,000 feet. In central Papua, snow covers some peaks all year.

The tropical climate varies with location, season, and altitude. Jakarta lies in the lowlands. The climate is monotonous and enervating with heavy rainfalls, low winds, high temperatures, and high humidity. Spanning the Equator, Indonesia experiences no real seasons. However, a wet season begins in November and lasts until March, followed by a dry season from April to October. Days and nights each last 12 hours.

The tropical climate and rich soil support abundant flora and fauna. Mangrove swamps and marshes flourish along the coast; tropical rain forests cover most of the terrain up to 3,000 feet; and abundant subtropical vegetation, such as oak, pine, and hardwoods, thrives at higher altitudes. The abundant forest cover and favorable climate have stimulated a diverse animal life.

Many endangered and unique animals, such as single-horn rhinoceroses, orangutans, saltwater crocodiles, Komodo "dragons," Sumatran tigers, giant monitor lizards, and anoa, the pygmy buffalo of Celebes, still find a home in Indonesia. Many species of snakes, insects, and birds abound.


Indonesia's 219 million people (2000 estimate), make it the fifth most populous-as well as the most populous Moslem-country in the world. Some 63% live on overcrowded Java and the adjacent islands of Madura and Bali. Some 65% are under age 25; about 85% live in rural areas. Indonesia has over 300 ethnic groups. Roughly 45% of the population are Javanese. Other large ethnic groups include the Sundanese (West Java), Madurese, Balinese, Bataks (North Sumatra), Minangkabau (West Sumatra), coastal Malays, Dayaks (Kalimantan), Ambonese (Maluku), Makasarese-Buginese (Sulawesi), and Chinese.

Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), a form of Malay, is the official language. Many Indonesian leaders speak English. Some 87% of the population are Moslem. Islam originally came to Indonesia via Persia and India. It is less austere than the Middle Eastern variety and in some areas encompasses Hindu and pre-Islamic Indonesian customs and beliefs.

European and American Christian missionaries have been influential in certain parts of Indonesia, especially in northern Sulawesi, the Moluccas or "Spice Islands," North Sumatra, the lesser Sundas (Flores, Timor, Sumba), and Papua. Currently both Catholic and Protestant minorities exist. Many ethnic Chinese are Catholic. The island of Bali is predominantly Hindu. The annual population growth rate is 1.6%. To reduce the growth rate, the government sponsors family planning. About 50% of eligible couples on crowded Java and Bali have enrolled.

Public Institutions

Indonesia is a unitary republic, divided administratively into 32 provinces. (The former province of East Timor gained independence following a referendum in August 1999.) The provinces are further subdivided into regencies, subdistricts, and municipalities. Since the collapse of Soeharto's authoritarian "new order" regime in May 1998, the country has embarked on the road to democratization and decentralization. Under the transitional presidency of B.J. Habibie, freedom of expression was restored and political laws were rewritten paving the way for the June 1999 parliamentary elections, the first free and fair elections held in more than 40 years. Out of the 48 parties that contested the election, the largest 6 vote winners were the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI P) with 34%, GOLKAR with 22%, the National Awakening Party (PKB) with 13%, the Unity and Development Party (PPP) with 11%, the National Mandate Party (PAN) with 7%, and the Crescent and Star Party (PBB) with 2% of the vote. Several smaller parties won seats in the current Parliament (DPR), but, under law, will be required to merge in order to contest the next election in 2004.

In October 1999, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the constitutionally highest governmental body, elected Abdurrahman Wahid (a.k.a. "Gus Dur") to a 5-year term as the country's fourth president. "Professionalizing" the military, which played important political, economic, and social roles under past governments, is a current goal, and so are justice sector reform and a fight against corruption. Both the MPR and DPR have become very active, with the MPR addressing constitutional reform and the DPR exerting considerable influence on government policy and the budget.

The government is implementing new laws on regional autonomy aimed at devolving political and economic control to the regions. Success in this effort is seen as crucial in addressing grievances that have helped spawn separatist movements in some provinces including Aceh and Papua (formerly Irian Jaya). Most internationally known commercial, social, and philanthropic organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Red Cross, Rotary, Lions Club, and Scouts are represented.

Arts, Science, and Education

The arts in Indonesia reflect the perception and creativity of a people surrounded by great natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage. Art, like religion, is woven into patterns of daily life. It is an integral accompaniment to celebrations and religious rites, as well as a principal source of leisure time enjoyment. Various Indonesian art forms are based on folklore but others were developed in the courts of former kingdoms or, as in Bali, are part of religious tradition.

The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali derive from Hindu mythology and often feature fragments from the Ramayana and Mahabarata Hindu epics. These highly stylized dances with elaborate costumes are accompanied by full "gamelan" orchestras comprising instruments similar to the xylo-phone as well as drums, gongs, and occasionally, stringed instruments and flutes.

One of the most fascinating types of Indonesian performing arts is the "wayang," art puppet performance, accompanied by gamelan. Two main types of wayang exist: The "wayang kulit" features flat leather shadow puppets, and the "wayang golek" uses wooden hand puppets. In both forms, the puppets are used to narrate a story usually based on one of the Hindu epics, but they frequently offer veiled comments on contemporary political figures and events.



Personal cars for work, shopping, social occasions, and trips to the mountains or seashore add a great deal of convenience and independence to life here. Please consider the following before deciding to ship or purchase vehicle locally.

Only sedans and station wagon-type vehicles may be imported, but the government has allowed the import of some smaller SUV's, like the RAV 4, and occasionally small engine Jeeps or other SUV type vehicles and minivans on a case-by-case basis. Buses, vans, sports cars, and luxury vehicles (4,000cc engine capacity and those above the highest priced Indonesian vehicle) are generally not allowed for import.

The most commonly imported and locally available automobiles are Toyotas and other Japanese models, and to a lesser extent European and Australian models; few American models are imported due to high prices (the Indonesian Government considers most luxury vehicles), limited parts, and lack of repair facilities. Automobile resale values vary and are less favorable for large U.S. models. Smaller cars are easier to handle, as streets and highways are narrow and traffic is heavily congested.

As of February 2000, a locally assembled Toyota Corolla SE with automatic transmission and air-conditioning costs $18,918.

Importing a car into Indonesia requires two separate permits and approvals from the Government of Indonesia: (1) Preliminary approval (PPI) before your car is shipped/ordered/or purchased; (2) Customs approval (PP-8) when the car arrives.

Auto insurance is available locally. You might also consider U.S. insurance coverage available through various companies before deciding. By law, you must have third-party coverage in an amount equal to Rp 1,000,000. Full comprehensive coverage is recommended. Collision insurance is strongly recommended, as most Indonesians are financially unable to pay for damages.

Driving in Indonesia, traffic moves on the left. Right-hand drive is recommended but not required. A left-hand-drive car is less hazardous in Jakarta than on the busy, narrow two-lane (or one and one-half lane) roads leading from Jakarta to mountain and beach resorts. Driving in Indonesia requires care and vigilance to avoid accidents. Many long term visitors hire a full-time or part-time driver.

Travelers can drive in Indonesia using either an Indonesian drivers license, obtainable on presentation of a valid U.S., foreign, or international license, or an international drivers license validated by the Government of Indonesia. Keep in mind this license must be renewed annually. If you do not have a valid license, you must take written and driving tests for a fee.

The state-owned Pertamina Company sells gasoline and diesel fuel through its outlets throughout the country. Unleaded fuel (called Super TT) is Rps 1,400 a liter. Higher octane leaded is Rps 1,300; lower octane leaded is Rps 1,000; and diesel fuel costs Rps 600 a liter. A few stations sell unleaded gasoline. However, unleaded fuel is now available in some major cities and on the toll road to Bogor and Puncak.

Adequate asphalt roads connect major cities in central and east Java. A standard shift is preferable, and air-conditioning is necessary. Heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers, undercoating, and rust-proofing are recommended. If your car has tubeless tires, bring at least one spare with a tube for emergencies.


By Western standards, public transportation in Jakarta is over-burdened and inadequate. Buses in particular are not maintained properly and are considered so unsafe, Embassy personnel rarely use them. Several taxicab companies operate fleets from the major hotels in Jakarta, in the suburb of Kebayoran (which houses many Embassy employees), and have reliable reservation services. Use metered taxis to avoid haggling over fares and overcharging. "Bajajs" (motor-driven, three-wheeled vehicles) also operate and can be used for short distances. However, Bajaj and taxi drivers speak little English and often know only the names of major streets.

Surabaya. "Becaks" (pedicabs) are the most commonly used means of local public transportation for short trips. Various types of three-and four-wheeled vehicles supplement the city bus system, but Consulate General personnel rarely use any of these motorized public vehicles. Metered taxi service is available.


The rainy season often causes the generally poor roads to become impassable. Otherwise, trucks, buses, animal carts, becaks, and pedestrians congest the roads. Depending on the season and local road conditions, you can possibly drive from Jakarta to the eastern tip of Java (about 800 miles) in 2 or 3 days. From there your car can be ferried across to Bali. The Indonesian State railway system serves major cities in Java. Accommodations, standards, and service vary from air-conditioned comfort to steerage. Limited rail and road networks on Sumatra make traveling difficult.

Garuda Indonesian Airways, Bouraq, Merpati, and several other local airlines provide air service to major cities and outlying islands in Indonesia, including Denpasar on the island of Bali. Garuda also flies to major Asian, European, and Australian cities. Numerous daily flights to and from Singapore, 1 hour and 20 minutes from Jakarta, exist. The international airport is some 20 miles from downtown Jakarta. Several daily flights from Medan serve Jakarta and Singapore. One flight a day goes to Penang, Malaysia. Several weekly flights within Sumatra service Padang, Banda Aceh, and Pekanbaru. An almost hourly shuttle service connects Jakarta and Surabaya.


Telephone and Telegraph

A 24-hour satellite-telephone service connects Indonesia with the U.S. Reception on international calls is usually good, but local phone service is only fair. Cables and central exchange equipment are often saturated and sometimes inadequately maintained.In-country direct dialing is available throughout Indonesia.

If you have a telephone charge card from a U.S. company, use it during your stay for cheaper rates on calls to the U.S. Many long-distance companies provide reduced rates upon request for calls made with their calling cards.

Radio and TV

Commercial television was allowed by the government to begin operations in 1989, after many years of government television only. Indonesian broadcast television is in the PAL (European) format. Programming varies greatly, from locally produced dramas and game shows to U.S. sitcoms and dramatic series with Indonesian subtitles. There is daily English news on Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI), the government network. The local cable and satellite television services offer CNN, BBC, CNBC, Star News, and Australian news programs to subscribers, as well as HBO, Cinemax, ESPN, Discovery, National Geographic, C-Span, Worldnet, and Star TV, and other educational and entertainment channels. Subscribers can receive up to 50 channels, in various Asian and European languages as well as English. Rates are comparable to those in the U.S. Jakarta has abundant TV, radio, and stereo equipment sales and repair services, although prices on new equipment can be high.

Vendors sell or rent DVDs, VCDs, laser disks, and PAL videotapes. Locally sold or rented videotapes are censored. Local power is 220v, 50-cycle, AC but fluctuates widely. A voltage regulator, available locally, is recommended to protect audio and video equipment. U.S.-standard NTSC videotapes are rented by the AERA Club, so U.S.-standard televisions and VCRs are useful to view these videos.

Radio keeps most of the population informed and entertained. In addition to hundreds of small commercial stations throughout the country, Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI), the government radio network, broadcasts nationwide via relay stations. RRI Jakarta broadcasts news and commentary in English for about an hour in the early mornings and evenings. Dozens of AM and FM stations broadcast in Jakarta, including several with English programming and Western popular music. Most are stereo. Since all newscasts come from RRI and all stations relay it, the top of the hour begins with the same voices on all radio stations at once. Some personnel might also want to have a shortwave radio receiver for VOA, BBC, and Radio Australia. Shortwave reception is generally good.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

The British Council, the Women's International Club, and the Indonesia-America Friendship Society (PPIA) operate lending libraries with minimal membership requirements and collections of approximately 20,000 books. The library facilities of the Jakarta International School (JIS) are available to students and their parents. Anyone in the international community may use the library's facilities on the school premises, but only families with students attending JIS may borrow books. Each elementary school library contains more than 20,000 books, and the high school library has almost 40,000.

English-language sources of news in Jakarta are readily available. Three English-language dailies are published in Jakarta. The most widely read is the Jakarta Post, followed by the Indonesian Observer and the Indonesia Times. The International Herald Tribune, the Asian Wall Street Journal, and USA Today are sold in many major hotels. The Tribune is available for home delivery. A wide variety of international magazines in English are available commercially.

Many hotels and bookstores have a selection of English-language books at prices some 50% higher than those in the U.S. The American Women's Association (AWA), the International Community Activity Center (ICAC), AERA, and the commissary all operate small bookshelves recycling used books. Bring basic reference works, particularly for children, and leisure reading material.

Surabaya. The Jakarta English-language newspapers and many international newspapers and magazines are also available commercially. PPIA offers free memberships for a small English-language lending library.

Internet. A wide variety of home connections to the internet, including through high-speed digital lines, TV cable, and dialup services, are available at reasonable monthly prices. Cable modems are available for rent at less than $10/month. Additionally, there are large numbers of internet cafes throughout all major urban centers where customers can connect for nominal fees.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

If you take chronic medication, bring your own. This includes birth control pills, vitamins, blood pressure medication, and thyroid or estrogen hormones. Local pharmacies carry a range of products of variable quality, availability, and cost. Some chronic medications may be bought here, but make that decision after you arrive. Establish a supply source before coming.

Local medical facilities are used selectively for specialty consultation and emergency hospitalization. Elective surgery is not recommended in Jakarta. Patients with problems that cannot be handled in Jakarta are evacuated to Singapore. The hospital used (whether local or regional) depends on the condition and urgency of the problem.

Indonesian facilities to handle high-risk obstetrics and neonatal care are very limited.

Dental care, such as cleaning, repairs of dental cavities, and root canal and bridge work, can be performed in Jakarta. Complicated dental problems can be referred to specialists in Singapore. There are orthodontists who work in Jakarta, though the quality of their work is quite inconsistent.

Jakarta has optometrists and selected ophthalmologists of reasonable quality. Lens work is satisfactory, but bring an extra pair of glasses with you.

Local physicians are used selectively, with variable satisfaction. No American or European doctors currently practice in the city. Hospitals are generally of a significantly lower standard than in Jakarta. Surabaya is not equipped to support significant ongoing medical problems, and persons posted in Surabaya must be aware of this. Concerns and plans regarding dental and optometry care and chronic medications should be considered and resolved prior to arrival. Local pharmacies carry a range of products of variable quality, availability, and cost.

Community Health

Community sanitation and public health programs are inadequate throughout Indonesia and subject to frequent breakdowns. Water and air pollution and traffic congestion have rapidly increased

with the growth of major cities. Almost all maladies of the developing world are found here. Residents are subject to water-and food-borne illnesses such as typhoid, hepatitis, cholera, worms, amebiasis, and bacterial dysentery. Mosquito-borne dengue fever exists throughout Indonesia. Malaria is endemic in metropolitan Jakarta, Medan, the Puncak, Surabaya, and southern Bali and in a few other locations. Respiratory difficulties are common and are exacerbated by the high pollution levels. Asthma problems are generally worse during a tour here, as are any other respiratory or skin allergies.

Preventive Measures

Recommended immunizations for children include all of the standard pediatric immunizations of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and hemophilus B, plus hepatitis B, hepatitis A, typhoid, and preexposure rabies for toddlers. Adults should be current on all recommended immunizations. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for travel to endemic areas outside major cities. Additionally, use of screens, clothes that cover the body, and insect repellent for children and adults is important to decrease exposure not only to mosquitoes carrying malaria but also to those carrying dengue fever, a disease that is present in both urban and rural areas.

Because of evidence of hydrocarbon and other chemical contamination in Jakarta. All water used for consumption should be bottled. Bottled water is also supplied in Surabaya. Factory-bottled soft drinks and juices are generally safe. Milk sold in sealed containers is generally safe. Standard recommendations for preparing fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats apply here. Washing, soaking, and peeling and/or thoroughly cooking are mandatory to minimize insecticide residue and bacterial and parasitic contamination. A wide variety of foods are available in local markets and supermarkets, and it is possible to eat a well-balanced diet.

Car accidents are the primary causes of severe injury to foreigners living in Indonesia. Defensive driving and use of seatbelts are encouraged, and use of motorcycles is strongly discouraged. The U.S maintains a list of available blood donors, but Rh negative blood may be difficult to obtain in an area with very few Westerners. Therefore, it is important to know your blood type and recognize that this may be a problem.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. Chinese New Year*


Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

May/JuneAscension of Christ*

July 23 Children's Day

Aug. 17Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day


Id al-Fitr*


Id al-Adha*

Mawlid an Nabi*




**Galungan & Kuningan are Hindu Balinese Holidays. Balinese use Caka Year, which is 210 days per year, not 365. Therefore, these holidays are celebrated twice in one Gregorian year.


Passage, Customs & Duties

The usually traveled route to Indonesia from the U.S. is by air via the Pacific. This route in particular is advantageous to families traveling with children or pets since it eliminates the forced stop overnight in Singapore. Since the trip from the U.S. to Jakarta is so long and tiresome, you may wish to make a rest stop along the way.

A passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of departure from Indonesia is required. A visa is not required for tourist stays up to two months. As of November 2000 the Government of Indonesia has been discussing implementing visa requirements for foreign travelers. Travelers should reconfirm entry requirements before traveling. For additional information about entry requirements for Indonesia, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, 2020 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 775-5200, fax (202) 775-5365.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. When U.S. citizens are arrested or detained, formal notification of the arrest is normally provided to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta in writing, a process that can take several weeks. If detained, U.S. citizens are encouraged to attempt to telephone the nearest U.S. consular office.

Americans living in or visiting Indonesia are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they may obtain updated information on travel and security within the country.

The U.S. Embassy is located in Jakarta at Medan Merdeka Selatan 5; telephone:(62)(21)3435-9000; fax (62)(21)3435-9922. The Embassy's web site is located at The consular section can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

The U.S. Consulate General is in Surabaya at Jalan Raya Dr., Sutomo 33; telephone: (62)(31) 567-2287/8; fax (62)(31)567-4492;e-mail [email protected].

There is a Consular Agency in Bali at Jalan Hayam Wuruk 188, Denpasar, Bali; telephone: (62)(361)233-605; fax (62)(31) 222-426; e-mail [email protected].


Except for a prohibition against importing birds, pets are admissible into Indonesia. All animals must have a certificate of health issued by a veterinarian. Owners must produce evidence that within 6 months to 30 days before arrival the pets were inoculated against rabies. No quarantine is required. There are two ways to bring pets to Jakarta. The first method is as accompanied baggage (excess baggage) since the pet travels with you on the same flights. Your pet can be immediately cleared through Customs if all documentation is in hand and is valid. The airline determines the excess baggage costs and these are a personal, non-reimbursable expense.

The second and often most expensive method of shipping a pet is as airfreight.

In the freight system, the pet is transported unaccompanied by the owner. Animals are loaded into pressurized holds along with other cargo. Fees for this type of shipment vary according to your country of origin, the number of pets, and the airline handling the transport. You can find airfreight forwarders through your local yellow pages, the worldwide web or through your veterinarian. Some airlines limit pet transport to only certain portions of the year due to high temperatures. Upon arrival in Jakarta it will take about 3 hours to clear your pet through Indonesian Customs.

Do not route your pet (alone or accompanied) via Australia, where it will be confiscated and destroyed. Persons bringing pets through Hong Kong or Singapore must have prior authorization from those governments to do so. This authorization is required regardless of the carrying airline and must be obtained directly from the governments of those countries. Instructions for applying for this authorization can be obtained at any British (for Hong Kong) or Singaporean embassy. The desired transit time must be stated on the authorization. If pets arrive without the authorization (even if only in transit), they will be quarantined at your expense or destroyed.

Firearms and Ammunition

Personal weapons in Indonesia present a problem due to the difficulty of obtaining import licenses and certificates of registration.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

The monetary unit is the rupiah. The rate of exchange changes constantly (as of February 2001, Rp 9,440 = US$1). The international metric system of weights and measures is used in Indonesia. Gasoline and other liquids are sold by the liter (1.0567 liquid quarts); cloth, by the meter (39 inches); and food and other weighted items, by the kilogram (2.2 pounds). Distance is measured by the kilometer (0.625 miles); speed, in kilometers per hour (40 kph =25 mph).

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Restrictions

Direct consumer taxes and service charges, such as those imposed on hotel and restaurant bills, gasoline purchases, and airport departure, are paid.


U.S. citizens involved in commercial or property matters should be aware that the business environment is complex. In many cases, trade complaints are difficult to resolve.


Indonesia is located in an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip is remote, earthquakes can and will continue to happen. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at


These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country.

Prehistoric Indonesia

Bellwood, Peter. Man's Conquest of the Pacific, The Prehistory of Southeast Asia and Oceania. Oxford University Press: New York, 1971.

Van Oosterzee, Penny Van. Where Worlds Collide, the Wallace Line. Cornell University Press, 1997.

Indian, Islamic, and Dutch Influence

Jall, D.G.E. A History of Southeast Asia. 4th ed. Macmillan: London, 1981.

Ricklefs, M.C. A History of Modern Indonesia: C. 1300 to the Present. Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 1981.

Steinberg, David Joel, ed. In Search of Southeast Asia. Praeger: New York, 1971.

Sutherland, Heather. The Making of a Bureaucratic Elite. Heinemann Educational Books (Asia): Singapore, 1979.

The Revolution

Anderson, Benedict R.O'G. "Cartoons and Monuments; The Evolution of Political Communications Under the New Order." In Jackson and Pye, eds., Political Power and Communications. University of California Press: Berkeley.

Anderson, Benedict R.O'G., and Kahin, Audrey, eds. Interpreting Indonesian Politics: Thirteen Contributions to the Debate. Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University: Ithaca, 1982.

Baker, Richard et al. Indonesia: The Challenge of Change. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 1999. (

Castles, Lance. "Notes on the Islamic School at Gontor." Indonesia. No. 1 April 1966.

CIA. Indonesia 1965: The Coup That Backfired

Crouch, Harold. The Army and Politics in Indonesia. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1978.

Feith, Herbert. The Decline of Constitutional Democracy in Indonesia. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1962.

Feith, Herbert. " Dynamics of Guided Democracy." In McVey, Ruth T., ed., Indonesia. Yale University Press: New Haven, 1963.

Gardner, Paul. Shared Hope, Separate Fears: US-Indonesian Relations. Westview Press, 1997.

Hughes, John. Indonesian Upheaval. McKay: New York, 1967.

Jones, Howard. Indonesia: The Possible Dream. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: New York, 1971.

Kahin, George McT. Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1962.

McDonald, Hamish. Suharto's Indonesia. Fontana/Collins: Blackburn, Victoria, Australia, 1980.

Polomka, Peter. Indonesia Since Sukarno. Penguin: 1971.

Reid, Anthony J.S. Indonesian National Revolution, 1945-50. Longman: Australia, 1974.

Schwarz, Adam. A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia in the 1990s. Allen and Unwin (Australia), 1994 and revised edition 1999.

Sundhaussen, Ulf. The Road to Power: Indonesian Military Politics, 1945-1967. Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur, 1982.

Indonesian Art and Culture

Adyatman, Mara. Indonesian Ceramics. Himpunan Keramik: Jakarta, 1981.

Dumarcay, Jacques. Borobudur. Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur, 1978.

Gittinger, Mattiebelle. Splendid Symbols: Textiles and Tradition in Indonesia. The Textile Museum: Washington, D.C., 1982.

Heuken, Adolf. Historical Sites of Jakarta. Cipta Loka Caraka: Jakarta, 1982.

Holt, Claire. Art in Indonesia: Continuities and Change. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1967.

Lindsay, Jennifer. Javanese Gamelan. Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur, 1979.

VanNess, Edward and Sita Van-Neus. Wayang Kulit. Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur.


Bandem, I. Made and Fredrick Eugene deBoer. Kaja and Kelod: Balinese Dance in Transition. Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur, 1982 (revised edition: 1995).

Covarrubias, Miguel. Island of Bali. Oxford: 1937. (Reprinted by Oxford: Asia, 1972).

deZoete, Beryl and Walter Spies. Dance and Drama in Bali. London, 1938. (Reprinted by Oxford: Asia, 1978)

Geertz, Clifford. Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth Century Bali. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1980.

Ramseyer, Urs. The Art and Culture of Bali. Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur, 1977 (reprint: 1986).

Rhodius, Hans and John Darling. Walter Spies and Balinese Art. Terra Zutphen: Amsterdam, 1980.

Novel and Short Stories

Aveling, Harry, ed. and trans. From Surabaya to Armageddon: Indonesian Short Stories. Heinemann Educational Books (Asia): Singapore, 1976.

Baum, Vicki. A Tale From Bali. Oxford University Press: London, 1972.

Koch, C.J. The Year of Living Dangerously. Sphere Books, Ltd: London, 1981.

Lubis, Mochtar. Twilight in Jakarta. Multatuli, Max. Havelaar. University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst, 1982.

Toer, Pramoedya Ananta. Buru Quartet. Penguin Books, 1985 and after. (Fiction; English translation of major Indonesian author.) This is the full set of books.

Toer, Pramoedya Ananta. A Heap of Ashes. University of Queensland Press: St. Lucia, Queensland, 1975.

Toer, Pramoedya Ananta. This Earth of Mankind (Bumi Manusia). Ringwood, Penguin Books Australia, Ltd: Victoria, 1982.

Travel Guides

Bacon, Derek. Culture Shock! Jakarta at your Door. Graphic Arts Center Pub. Co, 1999 A thorough, relevant, and highly entertaining introduction to life in Jakarta, aimed at newcomers planning to stay long-term.

Dalton, Bill. Indonesia Handbook. Moon Publications, 1995. Arguably the best "all-in-one" travel guide to Indonesia. Especially good for travel to remote destinations and budget travel.

Turner, Peter. Lonely Planet Guide to Indonesia. Lonely Planet Publications, 1997.

Smith, Holly. Adventuring in Indonesia: Exploring the Natural Areas of the Pacific's Ring of Fire. Sierra Club Books, 1997. Great information on trekking, biking, and other outdoor pursuits with a special emphasis on environmentally friendly activities

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Republic of Indonesia

Republik Indonesia



Indonesia is an archipelago (a group of islands) stretching along the equator between the Southeast Asian mainland and Papua New Guinea, with which it shares an island. The country has a total land area of 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,096 square miles), or about 3 times the size of Texas. An additional 3.2 million square kilometers (1,235,520 square miles) of ocean is within Indonesia's borders.

With 17,000 islands (11,000 of them inhabited), Indonesia's coastline stretches 54,716 kilometers (34,000 miles). The country controls important shipping lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, in particular the Strait of Malacca lying between the western Indonesian island of Sumatra and Malaysia. Indonesia has territory on some of the world's largest islands, such as New Guinea, Borneo, Sumatra, and Sulawesi.


The 2000 official census found 203,456,005 Indonesians (though most outside sources estimate 210 million), making Indonesia the world's fourth most populous country. An estimated birth rate of 22.6 per 1,000 people and death rate of 6.31 per 1,000 people means that the population is growing at an annual rate of 1.63 percent. The United Nations Development Program predicts that the population will reach 250.4 million by 2015. Like many developing countries, Indonesia has a young population, with 30.6 percent of its people under the age of 15. In 1998 almost two-fifths of the population lived in urban areas, double the 1975 level.

Indonesia has hundreds of ethnic groups, with the 2 largestJavanese (45 percent) and Sundanese (14 percent)living on the island of Java. One of the most densely populated places in the world, Java is about the size of New York State and is home to more than 110 million people. Other ethnic groups include Madurese and coastal Malays, who each make up 7.5 percent of the population, and numerous other ethnic groups accounting for 26 percent. Indonesian Chinese, whose ancestors mostly came to the Dutch East Indies as workers, are a small but economically important minority with 2 percent of the population but a majority of the wealth.

Java and Bali are often referred to as the Inner Islands, with the other less densely populated ones known as the Outer Islands. Starting in 1969, the government pursued a policy of transmigration (a program to shift inhabitants from more crowded to less crowded areas). Millions of people have joined this official migration program based on the promise of land and support. After years of criticism for damage to the environment, failure to live up to promises to the transmigrants, and conflicts with local inhabitants, the government announced an end to the program in 2000. Many Indonesians also migrate on their own from one part of the country to another in search of farmland or jobs.

Indonesia has 5 officially recognized religions: Muslim (88 percent), Protestant (5 percent), Roman Catholic (3 percent), Hindu (2 percent), and Buddhist (1 percent), as well as numerous traditional religions. More Muslims live in Indonesia than in any other country. The official language is Bahasa Indonesia, a modified form of Malay adopted as a national language and taught in all schools. Most Indonesians, except some raised in Jakarta or by parents from different ethnic groups, speak Bahasa Indonesia as a second language after their native tongue, one of some 250 local languages and many more dialects.

Indonesia's family planning program was formally established in 1970 after years in which rapid population growth was not seen as a problem and even at times encouraged. The Indonesian family planning program has involved thousands of village-level volunteers, grassroots organizations, and religious leaders and a multifaceted approach that brings together agencies and organizations. The phrase "dua anak cukup" (2 children are enough) appears on T-shirts, statues, and television broadcasts, and family planning and reproductive health program services are made available in over 10,000 clinics, hospitals, and community health centers. The National Family Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) coordinates efforts but does not implement activities by itself.

Indonesia has a significant challenge in implementing a population policy, given the size of the population, the geographic distribution, and occasional cultural and religious objections. Despite this, Indonesia has achieved what the World Bank has called "one of the most impressive demographic transitions anywhere in the world." The growth rate has fallen from 2.5-2.7 percent in 1970 to 1.63 percent, and the total fertility rate fell from 5.5 births per women between 1967-70 to 2.6 births per woman in 1995-2000. Indonesia is often held up as a model for developing countries.

As a result of various conflicts, Indonesia has over 1 million internally displaced people (IDPs) who have fled their homes to avoid ethnic, religious, or political violence and military repression, most notably involving populations in Maluku, West Kalimantan, and East Timor.


Indonesia is made up of the islands of the former Dutch East Indies, a colony established by the Netherlands to control the important spice trade and take advantage of the fertile tropical soil. Indonesia's first 15 years after gaining independence in 1949 were marked by high inflation and very little development beyond the economy inherited from the colonial system, which was heavily dependent on agriculture. The economy grew quickly after that, however, fueled first by oil and gas exports and then by the export of manufactured goods, such as shoes, clothing, and textiles. Agriculture remains important, including both small farmers producing crops for internal consumption and export, and large plantations producing products such as palm oil and rubber.

Indonesia has gone through 6 5-Year Development Plans, known by the Indonesian acronym Repelita. The first 5-Year Development Plan (Repelita I) started in 1969 and emphasized rebuilding the economy by improving agriculture, irrigation, and transportation. Repelita II, starting in fiscal year 1973-74, tried to increase the standard of living through better food, clothing, and housing, infrastructure , social-welfare benefits, and employment opportunities. Repelita III, beginning in fiscal year 1978-79, introduced the "trilogy of development" of high economic growth, national stability, and equitable distribution. Self-sufficiency in food and the promotion of industries processing basic materials into finished goods were also objectives. Starting in fiscal year 1984-85 Repelita IV continued to emphasize self-sufficiency in rice and industrial machinery. Repelita V, from fiscal year 1989-90, stressed rapid development with emphasis on the industrial and agricultural sectors. The sixth 5-Year Development Plan (Repelita VI) began to encourage foreign investment and abandoned policies of high tariff barriers, heavy regulation, and import substitution (manufacturing consumer goods domestically to reduce imports). The greatest success in attracting investment has been in textiles, tourism, shoes, food processing, and timber products.

Indonesia was hit hard by the Asian financial crisis that swept the region in 1997. Following problems with the currency in Thailand, the rupiah fell, causing investors to panic, debts to soar, and the banking sector to collapse. After growing throughout the 1990s, real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 13 percent in 1998. The GDP was stagnant the next year, and increased slightly in 2000, but investment remained low, and many of the underlying problems still have not been dealt with: banks are weak, large companies are technically bankrupt, the government controls many assets acquired after bailouts, and reform of the corrupt judicial system has been delayed. While other countries in the region, such as Thailand and South Korea, began to rebound, Indonesia's failure to deal decisively with deep-seated problems and continued political uncertainty slowed recovery.

Before the crisis, Indonesia borrowed about US$5 billion annually from foreign countries and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance its budget. The government debt slowly increased from US$55.5 billion in 1992 to US$59.9 billion in 1997, but the economy seemed strong and there was little domestic debt. However, in the same period, debt resulting from borrowing by private companies increased from US$28.2 billion to US$78.1 billion, making the economy vulnerable to a fall in the exchange rate . After the crisis, government debt soared as the government bailed out bankrupt companies and banks, and borrowed heavily from the IMF. The total cost of the bailout quickly reached US$69.6 billion. Due to the crisis, Indonesia borrowed US$43 billion from an IMF program and other outside financing from 1997 to 2000. Government debt is estimated by the World Bank to be equal to 80 percent of the GDP, and debt repayments eat up 27 percent of government allocations, more than the entire development budget.

Surveys of business travelers in Asia regularly rank Indonesia as one of the most corrupt places to do business. Corruption has interfered with recovery as well, as the IMF and the World Bank stopped payments in 1999 after a private bank was discovered to have funneled payments from the government to the former ruling political party. In September 2000, the Supreme Court convicted the son of former president Suharto for corruption in a real estate deal, but he vanished before he could be jailed. It is believed that Indonesia is becoming increasingly involved in the shipment of heroin from the Golden Triangle in mainland Southeast Asia.


The Republic of Indonesia consists of 23 provinces, 2 special regions, and the capital-city district. In August of 1999, a referendum approved independence for East Timor, the area formerly known as Propinsi Timor Timur, but its status remains in transition. The president, who is both chief of state and head of government, is elected by the People's Consultative Assembly for a 5-year term, as is the vice president. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral House of Representatives of 500 seats, 462 of whom are elected by popular vote and 38 are appointed from the military. The People's Consultative Assembly, which meets every 5 years to elect the president and vice president and broadly approve national policy, is comprised of the House of Representatives plus 200 members chosen indirectly. Judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, whose judges are appointed by the president. Major political parties include the Crescent Moon and Star Party (PDB), the Development Union Party (PPP), the Indonesia Democratic Party (PDI), the Indonesia Democracy Party-Struggle (PDI-P), the National Awakening Party (PKB), and the National Mandate Party (PAN).

The former Dutch East Indies proclaimed independence on 17 August 1945, and fought a lengthy war with the Dutch, who were not ready to give up their colony. After 4 years of fighting and negotiations, the territory was formally recognized as the independent nation of Indonesia. Under Indonesia's first president Sukarno (who like many Indonesians used only one name), Indonesia experimented with socialism , and the government controlled most markets, foreign trade, and banking. A violent change in government in 1965 brought General Suharto to power. He presided over the extermination of what had been the world's third largest communist party, a process that killed at least half a million suspected communists and arrested a million more. Most of those arrested were deprived of their civil rights for decades. Suharto's "New Order" government also appointed a group of U.S.-trained economists (sometimes known as the Berkeley Mafia) to guide economic policy in a more technocratic and non-political way. The government directed state investment and protected favored industries from competition, but the system was decidedly capitalist. At the same time, state corporations and private conglomerates, mostly owned by Suharto's family and supporters (many of them ethnic Chinese), were built through government-granted monopolies and preferential access to credit, licenses, and products.

The New Order adopted as its slogan a "trilogy of development" consisting of stability, growth, and equitable distribution. Stability was enforced by the harsh repression of dissent from students, journalists, workers, or politicians. Elections were scheduled every 5 years, but no meaningful opposition was allowed. Suharto maintained power through the support of the military and control of the bureaucracy but also in part through the perceived legitimacy that came with significant economic growth.

That legitimacy fell with the onset of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, which also revealed the deep-seated corruption, cronyism (favoritism shown by public officials to their political supporters) and nepotism (favoritism shown by public officials to their relatives) that had left the economy so vulnerable. The economic crisis led to massive student protests that forced Suharto to step down. His vice-president assumed power and announced the first democratic elections in 44 years, which took place in June 1999. After years of restrictions on parties and campaigning, 45 new parties participated in the elections. Despite fears of instability and corruption, the vote was considered a fair representation of the electorate, 93 percent of whom participated. The party winning the most votes (37.4 percent) was the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). Led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's first president, this nationalist party was unable to form a coalition in the People's Consultative Assembly, where the president is selected. Abdurrahman Wahid, the moderate head of the National Awakening Party (PKB) party, was sworn in for a 5-year term in October 1999, with Megawati as vice-president. Wahid, usually known by the nickname "Gus Dur," is nearly blind and has suffered a stroke, but he is a shrewd politician who led the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia. Wahid's policies have generally supported foreign investment but have also been erratic, sparking fears of instability and economic uncertainty.

The Wahid administration reversed some of the Suharto-era restrictions on free expression: it released political prisoners, eliminated the feared security coordination body BAKORSTANAS, and increased freedom of the press. There is still very weak commitment to investigating and prosecuting human rights violations, which continue to be a problem, particularly in conflict areas such as Aceh, at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra and in East Timor. Moreover, Wahid failed to put a stop to the economic slide that began in 1998. By 2001 the legislature, responding to popular protests, proceeded with impeachment proceedings against Wahid. Ignoring Wahid's threats to dissolve the parliament, the legislature impeached Wahid and replaced him on 26 July 2001, with vice-president Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Although Indonesia has generally pursued a free-market approach to economic development, the government has kept state control over enterprises in sectors such as oil, plantations, and some areas of technology. The role of state-owned enterprises increased during the first decades of the New Order, contributing 30 percent of the GDP by 1990 and remaining dominant players in banking, plantations, transportation, and some areas of manufacturing. The bankruptcy of nearly all the major conglomerates and the subsequent bailout has left the government officially owning major segments of the economy at the dawn of the 21st century. There is pressure from the IMF to sell off assets and privatize the state-owned companies, but movement in this direction has been slow.

Wahid's policies aimed to encourage foreign investment and, in accord with IMF agreements, to take steps to strengthen the weak banking and corporate sectors. But President Wahid was distracted in pursuing these goals by such factors as the ongoing violence in certain regions, allegations of government corruption, the difficult problem of reforming the political role of the military, and battles with parliament. It is uncertain how Megawati, as the new president is known, will solve these problems, but it is clear that she will do so with the backing of the military, long the prop for political power in Indonesia. Indonesian voters will have a chance to voice their approval of Megawati's measures in elections in 2003.

Government revenues in fiscal year 1999-2000 were estimated at US$25.4 billion (including US$6 billion from international financial institutions such as the IMF). Tax revenues have historically been small, with revenues from the personal income tax falling from 6.5 percent of total revenues in 1968 to 2.9 percent in 1984. To boost revenue, the government changed the personal and corporate tax system in 1983 and introduced a value-added tax (VAT) in 1985. The 2000 budget called for the government to broaden the tax base, end most VAT exemptions, and review tax holidays , which guarantee some businesses a period of several years of tax-free operations.

New decentralization laws scheduled to take effect in 2001 will shift most functions from the capital to the provincial and district levels and redistribute a much higher share of profits from oil, gas, forestry, mining, and fishing to local governments. This process has significantly slowed down, however, due to concerns from Indonesian authorities and foreign investors that the local governments were not ready to assume control.

The legal system is based on Roman-Dutch law, modified by indigenous concepts and recent reforms. The court system is extremely corrupt and vulnerable to political influence. Weak courts make it even harder to reform the economic system, as influence and corruption block attempts to resolve the crisis.

Under the New Order, the military was given "dwifungsi," or "dual function," in which it played a social and political role as well as a military one. Active-duty officers occupied important positions in the executive branch, including serving as governors and ministers. The military was also given appointed seats in the national assembly. In their self-described roles as "guardians of development," the military participated in such activities as reforestation and family planning, which led to some charges of coercion or other human-rights abuses. The military also played a pervasive but unofficial role in the economy by placing officers on the boards of private and state-owned enterprises. In exchange for political protection for the businesses, the military was given access to funds for personal and official uses. Military-owned companies also operated in the open market. For example, a holding company tied to the important Army Strategic Reserve Command owned a film company, an airline, and an automobile assembly plant. While its political function has been much reduced since the end of the New Order, the military still has 38 out of 500 seats in the National Assembly, although this may be reduced in the future. Military expenditures in fiscal year 1998-99 were estimated at $1 billion, or 1.3 percent of the GDP. The police force was only recently separated from the armed forces and are not yet seen as an effective or accountable agent of law enforcement.


Indonesia has fairly effective telecommunications and infrastructure, especially roads. From 1969 to 1988, the first 3 Repelitas allocated 55 percent of expenditures on transportation infrastructure to road building and maintenance, with the rest for marine transportation, railroads, and air and river transportation. This trend has continued in the 1990s. As a result, Indonesia had 342,700 kilometers (212,954) miles of roads in 1997, although fewer than half of that number were paved. Railway lines totaled 6,458 kilometers (4,013 miles) in 1995. In 1998 there were more than 16 million vehicles on the road, but only 2.6 million were cars, with most of the rest (11.7 million) being motorcycles.

There are 446 airports throughout Indonesia, but only 127 of them have paved runways. As an archipelago, Indonesia relies on a huge fleet of ships for transporting both passengers and goods. Important ports include Cirebon, Jakarta, Kupang, Palembang, Semarang, Surabaya, and Ujungpandang. Once highly restricted and bureaucratic, inter-island shipping was deregulated as part of the economic reform packages of the 1980s. Traditional shipping still plays an important role, with an estimated 10,000 two-masted sailing ships shuttling around the islands, though many have been motorized.

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Indonesia 24 156 136 N/A 5 0.9 8.2 0.76 900
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
China N/A 333 272 40.0 19 1.6 8.9 0.50 8,900
Malaysia 158 420 166 5.2 99 6.9 58.6 23.53 1,500
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Electricity production in 1998 was estimated at 73.13 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), mostly from fossil fuels (88 percent), with most of the rest from hydroelectric plants (8 percent). An August 1998 restructuring policy for the power sector included plans to restore profitability, improve efficiency, and attract private investment.

There were 4.8 million telephone lines in use in 1997, and an estimated 1.2 million cell phones, as well as 31.5 million radios and 13.75 million television sets. By 1999, Indonesia had 24 Internet service providers for an estimated 1 million users, a figure expected to grow by 50 percent by 2000, despite a shortage of phone lines and limited access to computers.

There are 2 state-owned telephone companies. Indosat provides international telecommunications while Telkom provides service domestically. Both are economically healthy, and Indosat is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Indonesia is under pressure to privatize its telecommunications sector.


In 1998, agriculture accounted for 19.5 percent of Indonesia's total GDP, industry for 45.3 percent, and services for 35.2 percent, a quite different scenario than in decades past. For the first 20 years after independence in 1945, the agricultural sector contributed more than 50 percent of the nation's GDP from independence. There was little development of industry, and production per capita was no more than it had been when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. From 1965-74 there were few major industrial projects due to the still weak economy and a strategy of import substitution, which created more jobs.

In the early 1970s the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raised oil prices, greatly increasing Indonesia's export income. Indonesia used this windfall, as well as profits from high prices for tropical agricultural products in the 1970s, to build heavy industries, such as steel, and advanced technologies, such as aeronautics. By the 1980s this industrialization process allowed growing industries such as steel, aluminum, and cement production to reduce the dependence of the economy on agriculture.

These industries, especially the high-tech ones, met with only mixed success, and none of them generated the significant employment required by such a populous country. Agriculture and natural resources were still important to the economy, and Indonesia's economy was vulnerable to frequent changes in the prices of these commodities, as well as of oil and gas. Oil earnings dropped in 1982-83 from US$18.825 billion to US$14.744 billion and kept falling over the next 2 years. Non-oil exports grew but not enough to make up for the fall in earnings. As Indonesia's balance of payments became negative, the World Bank pushed Indonesia to open its markets, and beginning in the mid-1980s the government initiated reforms to boost manufactured exports in order to strengthen the economy. These measures included a currency de-valuation to help make exports competitive, export incentives, the relaxation of rules on foreign investment and trade, and an end to some monopolies, such as plastics.


In 1998 agriculture accounted for 19.5 percent of Indonesia's GDP. The agricultural sector is crucial to the economy not just for the portion of the GDP it produces, but also because it employs almost half the total work-force. Agriculture was hit hard by drought in 1997-98 but has recovered somewhat since then. Although the drop in the value of the rupiah resulted in much higher prices for fertilizer, pesticides, and other inputs, it did benefit some producers of export commodities, who could now get a higher price for their goods in the international markets. In January 2000, Indonesia told the IMF that the focus of its policy would be "to maintain food security and promote efficient production, processing, and marketing of agricultural products."


In much of the nation, the primary crop is rice, sometimes grown in extensive rice terraces with complex irrigation systems. Secondary crops, known as palawija, grown outside of the rice-growing season, include soybeans, corn, peanuts, and mung beans. In mountainous areas highland vegetables are grown, including potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and asparagus. Major fruit crops include bananas, mangos, papaya, oranges, and pineapples. In drier areas root crops such as cassava are an important product.

In the 1970s the set of agricultural innovations known as the Green Revolution introduced new seed varieties that responded well to fertilizers and pesticides, dramatically boosting rice production. Indonesia went from being the world's largest importer of rice in the 1970s to being self-sufficient in 1985. However, the increased dependence on these costly chemicals also carried negative environmental and economic impacts, and the benefits did not reach farmers in dry, mountainous, and other marginal areas.


Forests and woodlands cover 62 percent of the country, making Indonesia the most heavily forested region in the world after the Amazon. Tropical rainforests make up the vast majority of this acreage, particularly in Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Papua (Irian Jaya). The colonial authorities found the climate and rich volcanic soil perfect for commercial crops such as coffee, rubber, and palm oil. Large private European and American plantations were crucial to the colonial economy in the late 19th century. Many of these estates were nationalized and are now operated by state-owned enterprises. Large private plantations remained as well, such as the Goodyear rubber plantation in North Sumatra.

The 1967 Basic Forestry Law gives the government sweeping control over 143 million hectares (357.5 million acres) classified as public forest land. State interest takes precedence over customary ownership of forests, despite the frequent presence of communities who have used the forests for generations. The 1967 law sparked a boom in the timber industry, and in 1978 timber exports reached half the world's total. Exports dropped after the government issued new regulations on the export of un-processed timber, forcing logging firms to build plywood plants to capture more of the value of the lumber. In 1999 there were some 442 concessions (rights to forest lands given to logging companies) covering 51 million hectares (127.5 million acres), nearly a third of the country. These concessions generally last for 20 years and average 98,000 hectares (245,000 acres) in size. The government promotion of timber processing, the transmigration program, and population pressures on traditional shifting cultivation systems led to annual deforestation of 1 percent in the 1990s, much higher than the world average.

In the last few years, the combination of drought and human activity has led to massive forest fires, on the island of Borneo in particular, covering parts of Southeast Asia in haze. Although the fires were at first blamed on small farmers, a major cause was determined to be illegal clearing of land for large plantations. In 2000 the attorney general's office carried out investigations into the misuse of Rp1.6 trillion (US$216 million) in funds intended for reforestation. The 5 suspects were all linked to Suharto, including 1 daughter and a half-brother. The Ministry of Forestry and Estate Crops recently suspended 46 forest concessions due to documentation errors and improper logging operations.


Fish is a main source of animal protein in the typical Indonesian diet. The fishing industry continues to rely on traditional methods and equipment, although the government has been promoting the motorization of traditional fishing boats. Foreign fishing boats contribute to growing exports, mostly shrimp and tuna caught for sale in the Japanese market. However, the supply of fish is threatened by illegal fishing from foreign boats and severe environmental degradation.

Prawns are an important export and are increasingly raised on massive coastal farms capable of bringing in large amounts of export earnings. Indonesian prawn exports exceeded US$1 billion in 1998, a significant portion of total agriculture exports. These operations often destroy coastal mangrove forests and have been involved in the exploitation of workers in Sumatra who raise the shrimp on a contract basis and are unable to get out of debt to the shrimp farm companies.



Manufactured goods such as textiles, clothing, footwear, cement, and chemical fertilizers are an important part of Indonesia's international trade, with textiles being the largest export, as well as other labor-intensive products such as garments, furniture, and shoes. Indonesia has been unable to move to high-technology exports like computer equipment but has had growing success with basic machinery and electronics. In 2000, electronics increased to 10 percent of total exports (not including oil and gas), still much less than other developed Southeast Asian economies such as Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

Government policies of the 1970s helped move industry toward heavy industries such as petroleum processing, steel, and cement. The sector shifted again in the mid-1980s towards manufacturing of goods for exports, this time mostly through private rather than government investment. Manufactured exports grew in value from under US$1 billion in 1982 to more than US$9 billion in 1990. As a share of exports, manufactures grew from only 4 percent in 1965 to 35 percent in 1990. After a long period of growth, industrial production fell during the financial crisis that hit the region in 1997.

Following the government bailout of bankrupt companies, the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) officially owned most of the manufacturing sector in 2000, although the original owners may retain control of their businesses in the end. Small and medium businesses were less affected by the crisis because they borrowed less. However, they also suffered from the sudden disappearance of credit and were not eligible for bailout programs as the big companies were. The government, recognizing the historical failure to reach Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with government assistance, established a task force to develop an SME strategy with support from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The strategy, under preparation in 2000, aims to make businesses development services more responsive to SMEs, expand access to credit, and simplify regulations.


Important minerals and metals include tin, nickel, bauxite, copper, coal, gold, and silver. As in the oil and gas industry, foreign companies carry out mining operations, assume all risks, and share revenues with the government. The world's largest copper and gold mine is in Papua (formerly Irian Jaya); it has brought in tremendous revenues, but there have been charges of environmental damage and human rights abuses of local inhabitants.


The role of oil and gas in Indonesia's economy is extremely important, especially following the OPEC oil price hikes in 1974. As a result, the share of government revenues derived from this sector grew from 19.7 percent in 1969 to 48.4 percent in 1975. As a share of export earnings, oil and gas hovered around two-thirds of the total over the next decade and even reached 80 percent in 1981. During the 1970s, these revenues were a major source of the country's development budget. By 1999 the economy was more diverse and had a strong manufacturing sector, with oil and gas accounting for just 20 percent of total exports of US$48 billion.

Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, much of it from the strife-torn area of Aceh, where resentment of the government's failure to share the benefits of the windfall is one factor in the separatist movement. Most oil exploration and drilling is done by foreign contractors under agreements with Pertamina, the state-owned oil and gas company. Pertamina grew in the 1970s to be a colossal conglomerate active in many sectors, but it was later discovered to be deeply indebted and in need of restructuring. During this time it was an important source of unofficial funds for military and political factions.


The service sector, including stores, food vendors, and banks, is an important part of Indonesia's economy, accounting for 35 percent of the GDP in recent years. While more people work in agriculture, the service sector is an important source of wage labor, accounting for 12.4 million jobs in 1996. However, there is low productivity in the service sector, much of which lies within the informal economy (small businesses such as street vendors that are outside the formal system of registration and taxes).


The Indonesian financial sector was long burdened by heavy debt and by numerous bad loans made on the basis of corruption and cronyism. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of the 1990s, more than two-thirds of bank loans were thought to be impossible to recover, and the number of banks fell from 238 to 162. Many surviving banks are technically bankrupt or limited by very low amounts of capital. Following the collapse of the banking system, the government formed the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency to restructure banks, collect on bad loans taken over from banks, and, unlike similar agencies in other countries, even sell assets pledged to it in return for the bailouts. IBRA reported US$52 billion in assets in 2000. The agency has been slow to carry out its duties, and has also been accused of cronyism.

By 2000 banks had slowly begun lending again, but mostly to consumers rather than companies. Businesses were forced to try to raise money in other ways, such as through their business activities, by borrowing overseas, or by issuing bonds. Deregulation in 1998 opened the banking, securities, and insurance industries to more foreign investment. In 1999, the central bank, Bank Indonesia, was given full autonomy from government interference. Bank Indonesia still works to maintain the value of the rupiah and keep inflation under control.


Given Indonesia's beaches, temples, and rich spectrum of cultural events, tourism remains an important source of foreign exchange. Bali is one of the most visited spots in the world. Fears of political instability and conflict have hurt tourism, though, in recent years, but there is a good potential for recovery and growth, as facilities and infrastructure are intact, and the exchange rate is favorable to visitors.

In 1983 Indonesia discovered that tourism had fallen by a third in just 1 year and took measures to increase visits, including issuing visas on arrival, creating better airline connections, and appointing a minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunications. The strategy worked, and tourist arrivals peaked at more than 5 million just before the financial crisis. Tourism has slowed since then, but in 2000 the government recorded a small increase, to 4.15 million foreign tourists. The airport on the small island of Bali accounts for 1.47 million arrivals alone. Continued increases in tourist arrivals are likely, but some tourists may be scared off by violence, ethnic unrest, and labor stoppages.


The retail market was badly affected by the financial crisis, as increased unemployment and poverty reduced consumer demand for goods. Retailers selling imported goods were forced to charge much higher prices. There has been some recovery since 1998, partially due to wealthier Indonesians' bringing money back from overseas where they tried to shelter it from the effects of the financial crisis. The retail food sector is dominated by traditional outlets such as small restaurants and the omnipresent street stalls, known as warungs. Modern supermarkets and retail outlets make up only 20 percent of retail food outlets even in Jakarta, which has the most advanced economy in the country.


In 1999, Indonesia exported $48 billion worth of goods and services and imported $24 billion. Exports are mainly low-tech goods and natural resource-based products, including sport shoes, textiles, basic electronics, plywood, furniture, paper, palm oil, rubber, and spices. Imports are primarily machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs.

Japan is the main destination for Indonesian goods, with 18 percent of total 1999 exports, followed by the

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Indonesia
Exports Imports
1975 7.102 4.770
1980 21.909 10.834
1985 18.587 10.259
1990 25.675 21.837
1995 45.417 40.630
1998 48.847 27.337
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

European Union (15 percent), the United States (14 percent), Singapore (13 percent), South Korea (5 percent), Hong Kong (4 percent), China (4 percent), and Taiwan (3 percent). Japan also is the main source of imports (17 percent), followed by the United States (13 percent), Singapore (10 percent), Germany (9 percent), Australia (6 percent), South Korea (5 percent), Taiwan (3 percent), and China (3 percent).

The crisis of the late 1990s ended a period of rising levels of trade, with exports increasing an average of 11 percent annually from 1993 to 1996. After the onset of the crisis, fluctuating exchange rates and the sudden absence of credit made it difficult for Indonesian companies to trade. Inflation and unemployment also reduced consumer demand for the increasingly expensive imports. Initial reports estimated that imports of capital goods (goods used to produce other goods), such as manufacturing equipment, fell 70 percent from 1997 to 1999. High levels of debt continue to restrict the ability of firms to borrow to finance trade deals.

The beginning of 2000 saw export growth resume to pre-crisis levels, although some of that was due to the rise in oil prices. Imports also rose, but by early 2000 they were still at only 60 percent of what they had been before the crisis. Further growth in imports is likely, especially in educational and training services, computers, telecommunications equipment, life insurance, and food supplements, as well industrial and agricultural chemicals, pulp and, paperboard, and equipment for forestry, mining, oil and gas exploitation, and food processing. There is still a need for reforms to reduce corruption and cronyism and promote the rule of law. Fears of political instability have also compounded the economic problems, scaring off foreign investors and trading partners.


The first decades after independence were marked by rampant inflation, as Sukarno's government printed money as needed. After Suharto's New Order government took power in 1965, the so-called Berkeley Mafia of U.S.-trained economists was able to bring inflation under

Exchange rates: Indonesia
Indonesian rupiahs (Rp) per US$1
Jan 2001 10,000
2000 8,421.8
1999 7,855.2
1998 10,013.6
1997 2,909.4
1996 2,342.3
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

control through tight control of fiscal and monetary policy . An exception was the sudden surge of oil wealth that sent inflation soaring to 40 percent. Inflation was brought back under 10 percent by 1978, but in the meantime exports fell due to the combination of inflation and a fixed exchange rate .

To facilitate the exporting of goods at competitive prices, the government lowered the value of the rupiah 50 percent in 1978, and again in 1983 and 1986. After that devaluations of about 5 percent a year were allowed. Until the crisis of 1997, the government tried to limit exchange rate fluctuations to within this range (a policy called a "managed float"). Between 1990 and 1996 the rupiah depreciated by an average of 3.9 percent. This stability encouraged investment, as investors knew that their profits would not be eaten up by inflation. It also encouraged domestic businesses to borrow money in foreign currencies such as the dollar (reaching almost US$80 billion), which would prove disastrous for them once the rupiah crashed. In August 1997, after seeing neighboring countries try and fail to keep their currencies stable, the government announced it could no longer pursue the managed float policy. Exchange rates fell from Rp2,500=US$1 in July 1997 to Rp17,000=US$1 in June 1998, before improving to Rp8,000=US$1 later that year. Indonesia does not maintain capital controls, and foreign exchange may be freely converted and can flow in and out of the country unrestricted. As part of the recovery strategy, the International Monetary Fund required Indonesia to raise interest rates to bring back foreign investment.

The first stock exchange was set up in Jakarta (then known as Batavia) in 1912, though it was closed during World War II. After independence an exchange was established in 1952, only to be shut down by a program of nationalization in which the government took over private companies. In 1977 the modern Jakarta Stock Exchange was opened, first under government control and later privatized. Growth was slow at first, with only 24 traded companies by 1987. By 2000, only 278 companies have been listed, most of them owned by the company founders with small amounts of public ownership.


At independence, Indonesia was an extremely poor country, and it was not until after the change in governments in 1965 that any progress was made in lowering the rate of poverty. In the 2 decades prior to 1996, Indonesia saw consistent growth, with the official poverty rate falling from 60 percent to 15 percent. However, not all groups and regions have benefitted equally, and Indonesia has a highly uneven distribution of income. The poorest fifth account for just 8 percent of consumption, while the richest fifth account for 45 percent. Average income today is about US$650 a year.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Indonesia 385 504 603 778 972
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
China 138 168 261 349 727
Malaysia 1,750 2,348 2,644 3,164 4,251
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Poverty rates have always been higher in the outer islands. The rise of manufacturing disproportionately benefitted Java, Bali, and Sumatra due to the better infrastructure of the inner islands. Economic disparity and the flow of natural resource profits to Jakarta has led to dissatisfaction and even contributed to separatist movements in areas such as Aceh and Papua (Irian Jaya). While the new laws on decentralization (moving more economic and political decision-making to the outer islands) may partially address the problem of unequal growth and satisfaction, there are many obstacles to putting this new policy into practice.

The financial crisis of 1997 had social ramifications by reversing many of the income-distribution gains made over the previous decades. Though the enormous informal economy and family-support networks helped soften the impact of higher unemployment rates, social effects were nonetheless profound. In a few parts of the outer islands, the devaluation meant higher prices abroad for export crops such as cloves, nutmeg, cocoa, and vanilla, but overall, Indonesians suffered from rising poverty, surging unemployment, reduced schooling and public services, worsening health and nutrition, more crime and violence, and increased social stress and fragmentation. While some 15 percent of the population was below the poverty line before the crisis, an additional 40 million

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Indonesia
Lowest 10% 3.6
Lowest 20% 8.0
Second 20% 11.3
Third 20% 15.1
Fourth 20% 20.8
Highest 20% 44.9
Highest 10% 30.3
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Indonesia 47 3 6 5 14 3 22
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
China N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Malaysia N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

people (20 percent of the population) may have since fallen into poverty.

Inflation has been a particular burden to Indonesia's poorest citizens. During the late 1990s, the price of rice, the staple food for most people, leapt from Rp1,000 per kilogram to Rp5,000. In 1998 the Ministry for Food and Horticulture estimated that about 80 million individuals were facing food shortages. In Central and East Java alone over 30 million people were able to afford only 1 meal per day. Eastern Indonesia, hard hit by drought as well as economic problems, experienced widespread famine. Due to the rising costs of imports, medicine ran short and prices doubled or tripled. The International Labor Organization estimated that the number of Indonesians using public health services would double in 1998, to 68 percent of the population, even as the government was under pressure to spend less money on such health-related public services. It was reported in the press that the number of women dying in childbirth shot up from 22,000 per million to 35,000 per million in the space of 1 year, due to the lack of money to transport women to health facilities and to increased anemia levels in pregnant women.

In 1998 education accounted for 14 percent of household expenditures. Rising school costs and falling family incomes forced many poor students to drop out of school. Roughly 5 percent of students did so in 1999 alone, according to official estimates. Enrollments in junior high schools in Jakarta declined disproportionately in the case of girls (19 percent), as did enrollment in poorer rural areas. In July 1998 the government launched a scholarship program for the poorest students. However, to help pay for this program it had to cut funding for high schools and colleges.


The Indonesian labor force is estimated at about 95 million, two-thirds of which is between the ages of 15 and 34, and two-fifths of which is made up of women. Even during the period of significant GDP growth from 1985 to 1995, the rise in employment failed to keep up with the rise in population. More than 4 million people (nearly 5 percent of the labor force) were looking for jobs even before the crisis of 1997. The government's August 1999 Labor Force Survey found 6 million people over age 15 unemployed, and a much higher number under-employed (34 million workers, or 39 percent), working less than 35 hours a week in 1998. Some economists question the reliability of these figures, and suggest that more than half the population is underemployed.

In 1998, the labor force was distributed approximately as follows: agriculture (45 percent); trade, restaurant, and hotel (19 percent); manufacturing (11 percent); transport and communications (5 percent); and construction (4 percent). The manufacturing workforce is skilled in the basics but undereducated. While many light manufacturing companies, such as sneakers and clothing plants, opened factories in Indonesia to take advantage of a mostly young, female labor pool of migrants to the cities, high-tech manufacturers have been slow to move in. As competition increases from China, Vietnam, and India, these unskilled workers are starting to lose out. There have been well-documented charges of sweatshop conditions (forced overtime, unsafe workplaces, and inadequate pay) in many of these export-oriented factories.

The government sets minimum wages in each region; in Jakarta it was set at Rp286,000 (US$33) per month in April 2000. While workers were allowed to join a single union established by the government under the Suharto regime, new regulations put forth in 1998 have allowed the formation of more than 2 dozen new labor unions. Strikes have increased in recent years, with the return of economic activity. According to the International Labor Organization, "women are likely to be more adversely affected by the [economic] crisis than men. They are concentrated in the most precarious forms of wage employment and are thus more vulnerable to lay-offs."

Indonesia has also traditionally sent large numbers of workers overseas, both legally and illegally. As countries such as Malaysia and Thailand suffered the effects of the crisis, nearly all of these Indonesian workers were sent home, worsening the problems of unemployment and poverty.


1300s. Islam begins to take hold in Indonesia.

1500. Fall of Majapahit marks the last Hindu-Buddhist empire.

1511. Portuguese explorers arrive in the islands seeking trade in spices.

1596. The first Dutch ships arrive.

1602. The Dutch East India Company is formed as a private stock company to trade, make treaties, and maintain troops in the Indies.

1799. The Dutch East India Company declares bankruptcy and is replaced by Dutch government bureaucracy.

1830. The Dutch institute the Culture System, a forced cultivation system to produce coffee, sugar, indigo, pepper, tea and cotton, resulting in rice shortages and famines.

1927. Sukarno, a university student who later becomes president, founds the Indonesian National Party.

1942. The Japanese invade Indonesia during World War II, driving out the Dutch.

1945. The Dutch return, only to find Indonesians declaring independence on 17 August.

1949. Indonesia's independence is recognized, and Sukarno is elected as the first president.

1965. Suharto takes power in a military coup.

1974. Oil revenues rise due to price hikes by OPEC.

1975. Indonesia invades East Timor.

1978. First major devaluation (50 percent) of the rupiah occurs following inflation.

1980s. Oil prices fall, leading to shocks in the economy.

1988. Economic reform packages begin to open up trade, investment, and banking and reduce monopolies.

1997. The Asian financial crisis hits Indonesia, leading to the crash of the rupiah, bank and business failures, and unemployment.

1998. Suharto steps down in the face of massive protests.

1999. President Abdurrahman Wahid is sworn in.

2001. Wahid is impeached in July, and vice president Megawati Sukarnoputri is installed as president.


In 2001, Indonesia stood at a crossroads. Just 3 years after the removal of the autocratic Suharto, only the country's second leader since independence, the country had gone through 3 presidents, with the second, Abdurrahman Wahid, removed by impeachment. The biggest question on the political horizon is whether the newly-in-stalled President Megawati Sukarnoputri can secure the stability of the presidency and lead the way to peaceful elections in 2003. Her critics worry that she will lead the country back to the days of military control. Foreign investment and economic stability in the coming years may well depend on her success.

If all goes well politically, Indonesia should be able to build on its strengths to restore the confidence of foreign investors. It has a large domestic market and labor force, a well-functioning telecommunications and infrastructure, extensive natural resources, a strategic location, and experience with market economics. Many obstacles remain to economic recovery, however: Indonesia's huge public and private debt, private assets under government control that must be restructured or sold, its ineffectual legal system, and cronyism. Despite the need for social programs, the much higher debt that followed the crisis will pressure the government to keep expenditures down. While more investment is needed, a forecast by the National Development Planning Agency in May 2000 found that even with optimistic assumptions about successful reforms, foreign investment would not return until 2002.

Reform is progressing slowly. At the end of 2000, the IMF was threatening to delay new loans unless Indonesia fulfilled previous promises to take action to reduce risks in its decentralization plan, use higher oil revenues to pay down debt, and set a timetable for selling assets obtained through the bailout.

The economy will also be affected by whether the decentralization process is able to increase the fair development of the regions while still reassuring investors of stability. It is hoped that better sharing of revenues with the provinces will reduce some tensions, but unrest is likely to continue in some of the most conflict-torn areas, such as Maluku, Aceh, and Papua (Irian Jaya).


Indonesia has no territories or colonies.


"But What Will Megawati Do?" Economist. 26 July 2001.

"Chaos Rebuffed." Far Eastern Economic Review. 18 January 2001.

Djiwandono, J. Soedradjad. "A New Development Paradigm For Indonesia: Challenges After The Crisis." Pacific Link. <http:// paradigm.html>. Accessed August 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Indonesia. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Fox, James, J. "Managing the Ecology of Rice Production in Indonesia." In Hardjono, Joan, editor, Indonesia: Resources, Ecology, and Environment. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991.

"Indonesia Signs New Letter of Intent with IMF." Jakarta Post. 22 January 2000.

"Industry Profile: Prawn Agroindustry Still Promising; Part 1 of 2." Indonesian Commercial Newsletter. 11 May 1999.

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy. In the Name of Development. New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1995.

"A Restless People." Far Eastern Economic Review. 18 January 2001.

Robison, Richard. Power and Economy in Suharto's Indonesia. Manila: The Journal of Contemporary Asia Publishers, 1990.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://>. Accessed August 2001.

U.S. Department of Commerce, National Trade Data Bank. "Economic Highs and Lows, February 2000." Tradeport. <>. Accessed August 2001 (report prepared 3 November 2000).

U.S. Department of State. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Indonesia. <>. Accessed August 2001.

World Bank. Indonesia: Family Planning Perspectives for the 1990s. Washington: World Bank, 1990.

Yue, Chia Siow, and Shamira Bhanu. "The Asian Financial Crisis: Human Security Dimensions." Japan Center for International Exchange. <>. Accessed August 2001.

Matthew Easton




Indonesian rupiah (Rp). One rupiah equals 100 sen. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 rupiahs, and notes of 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 rupiahs.


Oil and gas, plywood, textiles, rubber.


Machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, foodstuffs.


US$610 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$48 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$24 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Indonesia
Region (Map name): Southeast Asia
Population: 228,437,870
Language(s): Bahasa Indonesia, English, Dutch
Literacy rate: 83.8%
Area: 1,919,440 sq km
GDP: 153,255 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 172
Total Circulation: 4,782,000
Circulation per 1,000: 36
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 425
Total Circulation: 7,758,000
Circulation per 1,000: 59
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 2,100,000 (Rupiah millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 25.00
Number of Television Stations: 41
Number of Television Sets: 13,750,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 60.2
Number of Cable Subscribers: 42,080
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 0.2
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 3,900,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 17.1
Number of Radio Stations: 803
Number of Radio Receivers: 31,500,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 137.9
Number of Individuals with Computers: 2,100,000
Computers per 1,000: 9.2
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 2,000,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 8.8

Background & General Characteristics

As of the early 2000s, the Republic of Indonesia (RI) was a fascinating site at which to study the current status of the press in a diverse, dynamic, rapidly urbanizing, and populous nation: the interplay of press and political forces, the changing economy, and, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a vast change in the role of, expectations for, and situation of the press.

Thirty years ago Indonesia had to import its news-print; heavily taxed, it was a drain on scarce foreign currency, driving up the price of newspapers. As of 2002 some of the world's leading pulp and paper companies exported paper from Indonesia. Until the beginning of what is known as the reformasi (reformation) era, beginning with the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, the strong arm of the government was seen to be the greatest restriction on the press. In 2002, however, the perceived threat was from a different source. In 2001 and 2002, violence toward and intimidation of the press were being carried out by thugs and mobs in reaction to what was being published.

Local newspapers, both urban and small city presses, had long been an accessible forum for young writers, including university students, who published their own short stories and feature articles which had been researched from the foreign press. Unlike most western newspapers, Indonesian newspapers regularly published short fiction. Moreover, although Indonesian culture was frequently characterized as a predominately oral culture, more attuned to the sounds of wayang (puppet theatre), a becak (pedicab) driver in Yogyakarta was as likely to be seen sitting in his vehicle reading the local newspaper as using it for an impromptu umbrella. He might have, in fact, gone with a half-dozen of his fellow drivers to regularly take a newspaper. Newspapers had been and remained an important part of daily life for many; the printed word was infused with mystique and authority.

In one of Indonesia's great novels, a journalist is featured as the leading character. This Earth of Mankind, by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, is based, along with three other novels in the series, on the life of a pioneer Indonesian journalist, Tirto Adi Suryo. Tirto Adi Suryo, a major figure of Indonesian national awakening, helped to determine the language framework of the new nation. Pramoedya first told the story to his fellow prisoners during his many years of detention, then he wrote it down in secret.

The Land and People

In the early 2000s, Indonesia was the fourth largest nation in the world with a population of more than 225 million. Strung along the equator, the country is a collection of islands and peoples. Abundant in natural resources and diverse in its people, Indonesia is vast. It is longer than the United States from Maine to California is wide (5,120 kilometers from east to west). Predominately Muslim as of the early 2000s, it had been influenced by Indian, Arabic, Malay, Chinese, Melanesian, and European cultures. Indonesia was divided into seven regions: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sula-west, Maluku, West Papua, and Nusa Tenggara.

The most heavily populated island is Java, although it is far from the largest. Javanese people make up 45 percent of the country's population. Other major groups are Sundanese (mostly inhabiting West Java), 14 percent; Madurese, 7.5 percent; and Malays, 7.5 percent. A comprehensive family planning program had been in place since the early 1970s, resulting in a reduction in population growth rate from 2.3 percent in 1972 to 1.56 percent in 2000.

More than 17,000 islands make up the nation; in 2002 some 6,000 were inhabited. The large islands have interiors with high, rugged mountains and about one hundred active volcanoes. The volcanic action has contributed to a rich agricultural soil on many islands. The climate is hot, except where tempered by high altitudes, and the main variable is rainfall: there is a dry season and a rainy season.

Both Asian and European traders were attracted to the spices available on these rich islands. In 1619 the Dutch conquered a city on the northwest Java coast, burned it, and built a new city they named Batavia. It was centuries, however, before the Dutch were able to claim most of the islands, which ultimately resulted in one of the world's richest colonial possessions of all time.

The average annual income is US$570, with enormous and growing disparity between the highs and the lows. Life expectancy at birth is 64 years for females, 60 years for males. Universal suffrage is granted to those over the age of 17, and married persons regardless of age are allowed to vote.

A significant trend in the past 30 years has been urbanization. Between 1970 and 1990 the percentage of the population living in urban areas rose from 17 percent to 31 percent. A high degree of social stratification existed, yet classes were hard to clearly divide. Some argued that the Indonesian middle class was defined in 2002 mainly by patterns of consumption.

Freedom of religion was guaranteed by the Constitution to five recognized religions. They are Islam (87 percent of the population), Protestantism (6 percent), Catholicism (3 percent), Buddhism (2 percent), and Hinduism (1 percent).

Literacy & Education

The official language is Bahasa Indonesia, and it is taught in all elementary schools. Most people speak at least one other regional language. In the early 2000s, adult literacy was figured at an average of 85 percent, with a higher rate for males (about 89 percent) than for females (about 78 percent). The rates for both had been increasing steadily over the previous generation. Nine years of school were compulsory, with enrollment estimated at 92 percent of eligible primary school-age children. Some 44 percent of secondary school-age children attend junior high school. About 6 percent of the population aged 19-24 was engaged in higher education.

An ever-rising rate in the consumption of print media had been fostered by the increased literacy rates, by the expansion of the middle class with the financial ability to buy newspapers and magazines, and by a growing felt importance of print media in everyday life. In the early 2000s the median age of Indonesia was quite young. The age structure of readership for print media showed that 65 percent were age 34 or younger; 35 percent were over the age of 35.

Before independence in 1945, Malay had long been used as a lingua franca, particularly along the coasts of Java and Sumatra. Dutch was the language of people with a formal, Western-style education, but during the colonial era there were very few of these. An important language step was taken on October 28, 1928, a day that is still celebrated as "Pledge of Youth Day." At the second Indonesian Youth congress meeting in Jakarta, despite their dependence on Dutch, the language of power, and Javanese, the language of the majority, the youth pledged themselves to the language to be known as Indonesian. The Sumpah Pemuda (Pledge of Youth), as it is known, called for them to commit themselves to one nation, one motherland, and one language.

When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1942 and forced out the Dutch, they prohibited the use of Dutch language, which caused the educated of the populace to have to resort to Malay, later to be named Bahasa Indonesia. For this reason, among other reasons, Bahasa Indonesia was well positioned to become the national language in 1945. In 1973 the spelling of Bahasa Indonesia, which is written with the Latin alphabet, was regularized or simplified and made more similar to the spelling of Malaysian.

Local languages remain important; there are 583 still spoken. Languages with one million or more speakers are (in order of their approximate numbers): Javanese, Sundanese, Malay, Madurese, Minangkabau, Balinese, Buginese, Achenese, Toba Batak, Makassarese, Banjarese, Sasak, Lampung, Dairi Batak, and Rejang. English is the most widely spoken foreign language, and it is taught in all elementary schools.

Pancasila, the National Founding Philosophy

Pancasila (five principles) is important to an understanding of social and political thinking in Indonesia. Sukarno, the founding president of the republic, articulated five principles on June 1, 1945, which were then written into the Constitution as the principles of the new country. His statement, although simple in form, reflected a sophisticated understanding of the complexity of the ideological needs of the new nation. Pancasila (five principles) reflected a culturally neutral identity, compatible with democratic, Marxist, or Muslim points of view, and it did not allow for the formation of an Islamic state.

The five principles are: belief in one supreme God, humanitarianism, nationalism expressed in unity, consultative democracy, and social justice. Sukarno presented these ideas in terms of an ideal village in which society is egalitarian, the economy is built on mutual assistance, and decision-making is by consensus.

Historical Background of the Press

The Dutch established the first newspapers in the late eighteenth century. Most publications were little concerned with local events, but published news they received from Europe. In 1816, the year the Dutch took over once again after a brief interregnum by the British, the first local general interest paper was founded, Bataviasche Courant. The name was changed to Javasche Courant not long afterwards, and this newspaper was published continually until the Japanese occupation in 1942.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, about 30 Dutch newspapers were being published in islands, mostly in Jakarta, but also De Locomotief in Semarang, Mataram in Jogjakarta, and De Preanger Bode in Bandung.

The first Indonesian periodicals appeared in the mid1800s. A magazine in Javanese, Bromartani, began publication in 1855. A newspaper in Malay called Soerat Kabar Bahasa Melajoe began publication in Surabaya in 1856. Both were financed by the Dutch.

The first completely Indonesian newspaper, Medan Prijaji (Officialdom), began publication in 1907. Other newspapers of the early part of the century were Darmo-Kondo (Surakarta, Java), Sinar Hindia (Semarang, Java),Oetoesan Hindia (Surabaya, Java), Oetoesan Borneo (Pontianak, Kalimantan), Benih Mardika (Medan, Sumatra), and Tjaja-Soematra (Padang, Sumatra). Circulations were small, as might be expected where as few as five percent of the population was literate in Indonesian, and there was little advertising. However, these early newspapers became instruments of communication among the early nationalist movement and fired the flames created by the Budi Utomo movement founded in 1908. Budi Utomo (High Endeavor) at first promoted Javanese cultural values and pushed for access to Western-style education. As time went on, it became more political, promoting a nationalist spirit.

Around the same time, a flourishing publishing business grew up in the Chinese-Indonesian community. Some of the best known of these newspapers were Sin Po (Jakarta, 1910), which had a circulation at one time of 10,000; Ik Po (Surakarta, 1904); and Tjhoen Tjhiou (Surabaya, 1914). Another Surabaya-based newspaper, Sin Tit Po, was considered a leader in the nationalist movement. Most of these papers were published in Batavian Malay, a Malay language influenced by the Hokkien dialect of Chinese. Ik Po, however, used Chinese characters.

When the Japanese invaded the islands in 1942, all Dutch and most Indonesian newspapers were banned. The military government established several newspapers, including Djawa Shinbun in Jakarta and Sinar Matahari in Jogjakarta. An underground press sprang up, Merah Putih (The Red and White) in Surakarta being one of the most notable publications.

The story of the rise in national consciousness is inseparable from the history of the press. Journalists and nationalists were in close association; often they were one and the same. In the early 2000s a mythology lingered that identified journalists with the struggle, as actors in the pers perjuangan (the press of the struggle). This myth was in direct confrontation with a new reality: young journalists who were first generation of the urban petty bourgeoisie who had prospered in the New Order identified with the burgeoning consumerist environment of urban Indonesia, not with the idea of resistance.

Major Figures in Journalism

Major figures in Indonesian journalism include Goenawan Mohamad, founder of Tempo magazine, prolific writer, and director of the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information. Also, Mochtar Lubis (b. 1922), known widely for his searingly realistic novels, founded the newspaper Indonesia Raya (1949-74), which was closed down by the government. He was a prominent part of the liberal opposition to both Sukarno's Guided Democracy and Suharto's New Order and was jailed by both governments.

Recent Developments in the Press

"A bolder spirit took hold in Indonesia in 1994," wrote A. Lin Neumann (11), a spirit influenced partly by an international resistance movement. This movement had been sweeping much of Asia, in the Philippines first, followed by South Korea and Taiwan, and Thailand when it rejected a military government in 1992 and experienced a flowering of the press. It was perhaps inevitable that Indonesia would take part.

An important aspect of the diverse contemporary periodical publishing scene is the variety of viewpoints. Islamic publishing alone represented a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Media Dakwah (Media of the Proclamation of Faith), for example, made clear its campaign for an Islamic state and Middle Eastern political ideals, while the Jakarta newspaper Republika was brashly cosmopolitan. The title, "Islamic Communication," an academic field taught in certain private Islamic universities, bore witness to the high importance placed in Islamic circles for communicating their ideas.

After reform, one Indonesian journalist categorized the press in three ways: "establishment" newspapers such Kompas and Republika, more "aggressive" newspapers such as Rakyat Merdeka and Jawa Pos, and "extreme" Islamic papers such as Sabili. It may be that the balance among these was shifting. The press in earlier years tended to exhibit many of the social norms of the polite Javanesecircumspection, self-restraint, and the practice of saying the truth gently. Readers were accustomed to reading between the lines. Aggressive journalism could, by these standards, seem insensitive and crude, but the press seemed to be going more and more in this direction.

Some analysts saw a major transition in the media that was less obvious than the freedom from governmental restrictions, but possibly more worrisome. Print journalism from its early days held to the image of a truth-seeking, idealistic force. This image was also carried in the public mind, so that even though Indonesia was rightly characterized as an oral culture, the printed word tended to be endowed with prestige and authority. The late 1990s were years of rapid industrialization of print media. Particularly in the case of electronic media, a large influx of foreign investment was changing the media picture rapidly.

News Media

During the Suharto years, it took political connection, patience, and significant amounts of money under the table to get permission to publish a newspaper or newsmagazine. The years between his resignation in 1998 and the early 2000s were characterized by Indonesian people variously as otonomi, demokrasi, or reformasi (autonomy, democracy, or reformation), an explosion in news media occurred.

Approximately 1,000 newspapers had registered and begun publishing around the turn of the millennium. Some of these publications withered within a matter of months, as resources dried up and the market did not support them. But without a doubt, a flourishing and varied publishing industry was putting the daily results of its work out on city streets.

Major newspapers included Kompas in Jakarta, established in 1965 and published by Kompas Media PT. Jakob Oetoma, who served on the Press Council of the country, was both publisher and editor of this paper. Kompas was part of a significant publishing conglomerate under Catholic leadership, with extensive book (the Gramedia division) and magazine publishing, as well as six newspapers. This fact might seem remarkable in a majority-Muslim nation. Not all Indonesians viewed this fact with pride, but many saw it as evidence of their country's famed religious tolerance.

Jawa Pos, founded in 1949 in Surabaya, is widely distributed in the eastern part of the nation. The Jawa Pos group (PT Jawa Pos), headed by Dahlan Iskan, a former reporter, was known for its dynamic business policy of either buying out small regional newspapers or starting new ones. The Jawa Pos and others in the group made a point of attentive reporting on regional affairs, unlike many of Jakarta standard papers. It was also known for its policy of supporting paid staff journalists in news bureaus around the world, whose reporting helped bring world events to Jawa Pos readers and those of other newspapers in the group. Many of the newspapers in the group were recognizable for the word Pos or the wordRadar in their names, such as Kupang Pos or Tangerang.

Pos Kota was a popular, low-priced, Jakarta newspaper with a circulation of more than half a million. Established in 1970, it was published by P. T. Metro Pos. It was widely read by blue-collar workers in the urban area and enjoyed for its simple language and direct human interest. This was the sort of paper that ojek drivers (who form a collective to carry passengers on their motorbikes) tended to go as a group to buy and read together.

Republika was founded in 1991 in Jakarta as a Muslim daily, to be the official organ of the Association of Indonesian Islamic Intellectuals. From its beginning, it claimed to make the effort to serve the interests of the entire Islamic community. This fact put it at odds with more conservative Islamic organizations. In the mid-1990s, Republika was the object of a number of demonstrations organized by Dewan Dakwah Islamiyah Indonesia (Indonesia Council for Islamic Proclamation) for showing what they called a "cosmopolitan" attitude, publishing stories on art and film that were considered "very unIslamic."

One of the oldest newspapers of the country was still published regularly in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Kedaulatan Rakyat (Sovereignty of the People) was established in 1945 by P. T. Badan Penerbit Kedaulatan Rakyat. In the early 2000s, it had a circulation of 72,000. Another of Indonesia's oldest newspapers was Pikiran Rakyat, which had its beginning in Bandung in the 1920s in a different form. Published in 2002 by P. T. Granesia, it had a circulation of more than 150,000. During his student days in Bandung, Sukarno was one of its contributors. Suara Pembaruan, published in Jakarta with a circulation of 250,000, was considered a serious newspaper. It was started in 1987 by Indonesian Protestants after the government put their Sinar Harapan out of business.Angkatan Bersenjata (Armed Forces) was the newspaper published since 1965 in Jakarta for the armed forces. In 2002 its circulation was 52,000.

Of the three English-language newspapers published in Jakarta, the Indonesian Observer was the oldest (1955) and continued to be widely respected. With a circulation of 25,000, it was smaller than the subsequent newspapers Indonesia Times (1974) and Jakarta Post (1983). Jakarta Post moved quickly into other major cities, aggressively soliciting subscriptions. Indonesia Times claimed a circulation of 35,000 and Jakarta Post of 50,000.was widely relied upon by the international community.

Much of the Indonesian news media, both in Indonesian and in English, could be accessed on the Web from a single site known as Jendela Indonesia (Window on Indonesia), created at the Illinois Institute of Technology (üindonesia/jendela/). In 2002, some 33 newspapers, 32 magazines, 18 journals and 4 TV station transcripts could be read in this way.

Press Coverage of East Timor

Coverage of the events surrounding the vote of East Timor for independence in 1999 proved to be a test of the press's own newfound independence. The tragic aftermath of the vote shattered international goodwill that had developed following the moves toward democracy building in Indonesia. The military chose to back the bands of armed pro-Indonesia militia groups in their reaction to the vote. In a short time, the entire infrastructure of the province, including the press infrastructure, was destroyed, and two journalists were killed, one Indonesian and one Dutch. Many Indonesian journalists suffered beatings and threats, along with foreign journalists.

The military ordered Indonesian journalists to evacuate the area "for their own protection." When the Australian-led peacekeeping force was sent to East Timor several weeks later, journalists began to return. World press was focused on the assault on East Timor, but the anger of the Indonesian press focused mainly on Australian "interference." Editorials called for a jihad against westerners and blamed the U. N. and Western press for the independence vote. A study by the Institute for the Free Flow of Information (ISAI) later concluded that the Indonesian press had relied heavily on the Indonesian government analysis of events. As tempers calmed and the U. N. presence began to return some normalcy to East Timor, the Indonesian press began to take a more balanced view, documenting and publishing the results of government investigations into military actions in the new nation.

Economic Framework

The economy of Indonesia was transformed from virtually no industry in 1965 to a producer of steel, aluminum, and cement by the late 1970s. During the last fifteen or so years of the century, consumer goods and paper products were produced in massive amounts to meet a growing demand from the middle class. By the mid-1990s, Indonesia ranked thirteenth among the world's economies, just behind Canada.

Before the construction of newsprint mills in the 1980s and 1990s, newspaper production was severely handicapped by the government's desire to limit the outgo of foreign exchange for the purchase of newsprint. A limited amount was imported free of import taxes and allotted to various newspapers, determined by Serikat Penerbit Suratkabar (Newspaper Publishers' Association, SPS). Newsprint in excess of the allotment had to be purchased on the open market with a 20 percent import tax. Furthermore, in 1978 a devaluation of the rupiah severely affected struggling publishers. It increased the cost of newsprint by 50 percent and drove newspaper prices up, causing declines in circulation. Advertising rates were also raised. As a result, many weaker publishers went under, while the larger papers became stronger.

With the barriers to publishing newspapers and magazines falling in the late 1990s, with the requirement of obtaining a license done away with, publishing began to be seen as a wide-open economic opportunity. At one point in 2001, some 1,100 publications were registered. However, the number in actual circulation afterward declined precipitously as market forces took their toll. Tabloids first began appearing in 1998, and constituted about one quarter of the number of newspapers published in 2002.

One of the most dynamic industries in the country through the 1990s was pulp and paper. The lifeblood of this industry was the country's enormous tracts of tropical rain forests, which at that time occupied about 70 percent of the landmass. By 1999, there were 81 paper mills in Indonesia producing 2.1 million tons of cultural and newsprint paper. In that year 530,000 tons of newsprint were produced, about two-fifths for domestic consumption and three-fifths for export. Almost all of the equipment for pulp and paper factories had to be imported. Domestic paper consumption (of all kinds) was 16.5 kilograms per capita in 2000.

The largest pulp and paper manufacturer in Indonesia was the Sinar Mas Group, known as Asia Pulp & Paper Company for all of its international operations. Most paper mills were located on the vast, rugged, and forested island of Sumatra. Indonesia was expected to continue to play a continually greater role in the paper supply of Asia, because most countries of Asia, except for Indonesia, had depleted their forests.

Vertical integration was becoming an economic force with media corporations such as Jawa Pos owning paper mills. Distribution costs of newspapers averaged about 40 percent of cover prices. Newsprint in 1999 cost an average of Rupiah 29,000 a ton (US$36.25). Cover prices of newspapers range from US$.19 to $.20 for top end serious newspapers to US$.11 for a newspaper such as Pos Kota. Many readers bought their newspapers on the street, and on weekday mornings newsboys lined major intersections where traffic lights stopped the commuter traffic.

Newspaper reading patterns are dependent upon disposable income. When times are difficult, such as when the rupiah was devalued in 1978, newspaper buying tends to go down. However, during the monetary crisis of 1998, circulation actually rose because of the overwhelming interest in the political crisis. A single newspaper purchased from a street vender cost as much as a simple meal of nasi campur (rice and side dishes) purchased from another vendor. An annual subscription to a mainline newspaper such as Kompas cost about US$60 a year. When a family could buy a modest television set for US$55, the choice would most likely be the television.

Press Laws

The duty of the press is "strengthening national unity and cohesion," as stated by Press Law 21 of 1982. Moreover, the Minister of Information at that time promised that a publishing license would be revoked only "when the press is not in line with the philosophy of the nation and the state." With unity as the paramount value, newspapers in general took a cautious, self-censoring stand. When some stepped out of line, they were closed down. Sinar Harapan, a Protestant daily with a large circulation in Jakarta, was closed in 1986 for economic reporting that was less than optimistic. (Its editorial columns had been discussing the issue of presidential term limitations as well.) Prioritas was closed down the following year.

With the political changes in the late 1990s, laws relating to the media also began changing in rapid succession. In September 1999, just as he was leaving office, Habibie signed Press Law 40, a law that reversed more than a generation of repressive legislation. It eliminated press licensing, removed the ability of the government to ban publications, and guaranteed freedom of the press. It called for penalties on those who would restrict press freedom and for self-regulation through an independent press council. Indonesians look back on this point as the time of kuda lepas kandang (the horses let loose from their pen).

A short time later, almost as soon as he took office, incoming president Abdurrahman Wahid got rid of the Kementrian Penerangan, the Ministry of Information, which had been used so long as a tool of propaganda and coercion under the Suharto government. It was later replaced by an agency known as Lembaga Informasi Nasional (LIN). However, the role of LIN was quite different. It was designed to improve the quality of public access to information and to coordinate public information in such areas as health, public services, and regulation. Although "public empowerment" was stated as one of its goals, its structure was generally a top-down system.

A decree in 2001 by President Megawati Sukarnoputri reestablished a Ministry of Information but subsumed it under the Ministry of State instead of making it a cabinet level post as it had been in for many years. There was concern by the industry that this step might be laying the foundation for a return to the policies of earlier years, but most observers remained optimistic about the situation.

As dramatic as the changes were, the Press Law of 1999 applied only to print media. There remained statutes in the Criminal Code that could be used against journalists for actions such as "leaking state secrets," "insulting the President and the Vice President," and "insulting a dead person." Nor is there any constitutional guarantee for a free press; the existing press laws could easily be changed in years to come.

The Indonesian Broadcasting Act of 1996 made official what was in fact occurring. According to existing law, Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) was the only recognized television broadcaster; however, several private corporations had already set up operations. The new law authorized these corporations to broadcast their own news programs, in effect breaking the state monopoly on news.

In July of 2002, a comprehensive broadcasting bill, two years in the making, was being hotly discussed. A proposal to limit media-cross ownership, proposed to prevent a monopoly on opinion by major media groups, was contested by media representatives. Press Society representatives argued that the measure would serve as a barrier for new television stations which might contest the current hold on broadcasting airways (at least four of nine existing private TV stations are partly owned by family members of former president Suharto).


Censorship was a part of the media scene in Sukarno's Guided Democracy era and Suharto's New Order. From 1974 to 1977, domestic newspapers were required to obtain, in addition to the publishing license from the Ministry of Information, a permit from Kopkamtib, the internal security organization. Kopkamtib, then was the primary agency that monitored the press. Rather than outright censorship, the agency was more likely to hold briefings telling editors what kind of news should be printed.

Censorship often took the form of pre-censorship or self-censorship. For example, in 1980 a group of prominent retired military officials and members of parliament put together what was called the Petition of 50, criticizing President Suharto for his failure to adhere to Pancasila, the state philosophy that is the guiding light of Indonesian thought. Editors were ordered not to allow reporting on the petition.

Periodicals were not the only publications censored during the New Order. Prominent literary figures such as dramatist W. S. Rendra and novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer had their works banned from print. Many important foreign scholarly books deemed critical of the administration were also banned. But with all book bannings, the ubiquitous photocopy machine continued to produce books for those who wanted them, and banned books could be found around university campuses.

The Ministry of Information in 2002 included a Film Censorship board, consisting of representatives of various fields, such as foreign relations, cinematography, and culture. The board considered the educational, informational, and entertainment value of films in deciding whether they would be shown.

State-Press Relations

The Press under Guided Democracy and the New Order

During the years following independence, the press blossomed in freedom. Some English-language papers were introduced, many more papers in Indonesian began, and the Chinese press prospered. In 1956, Sukarno introduced the concept of Guided Democracy, abandoning the parliamentary form of government in favor of reaching a consensus among the power groupsthe right-wing military groups, the powerful Partai Komunis Indonesia (Communist Party, PKI), and himself. Then, Sukarno instituted stringent policies regarding the press, requiring them to become active supporters of government policies. Within a few years, the number of papers and their circulation had dropped by about half.

By the early 1960s, the PKI was the largest Communist Party outside China and the USSR Tension between the army and the PKI grew and culminated on September 30, 1965, with the kidnap and murder of six generals in what appeared to be a takeover. The response was swift in the weeks and months that followed. Rightist gangs killed tens of thousands of alleged communists, especially in rural areas. Estimates of the number of deaths were placed at 500,000 and even upward. For more than a generation, an accusation of being "involved" could cost a person a job. Even in 2002, commentators on Indonesia both within and without would say that Indonesia had not yet come to terms with the events of 1965-66, historically, morally, or politically.

During the Suharto years (1966-98), it was a widely accepted, but also convenient, belief that a free, Western-style press was not compatible with Indonesian society and mores. Controls on the media employed many strategies: coercion, threats, or even straightforward briefings from military or governmental officials warning editors to stay away from certain happenings in the interest of national stability.

In 1980, the national government, in an attempt to bolster literacy and civic understanding, began a program called Koran Masuk Desa, (Newspapers for the Village). It provided a subsidy for four-page regional weekly papers, usually in Bahasa Indonesia, but sometimes in a local language. The program was augmented later with TV Masuk Desa, a program to supply free television sets to villages.

One New Order media closing of 1990 probably contributed indirectly to the push for greater press freedom. The upstart Jakarta tabloid Monitor, with a circulation of 700,000, took a poll of its readership concerning their most admired figure. The results were published, showing the Prophet Mohammad trailing Suharto, Sukarno, and Saddam Hussein. An enraged mob of Muslim youth stormed the newspaper offices, and in response the Information Minister put the tabloid out of business and charged the editor, Arswendo Atmowiloto, with blasphemy. Atmowiloto was given the maximum prison sentence, five years.

Many saw the newspaper closing and the prosecution as a response to religious pressure inappropriate in a pluralistic society. Abdurrahman Wahid, founding head of the Democracy Forum, was quoted as saying "without [the Monitor case], maybe it would have taken another couple of years," meaning the general push toward press freedom.

After the downfall of Suharto, despite the slowness of reform on many fronts, press freedom was a part of the agenda of both Habibie and Wahid. Just before leaving office in September 1999 Habibie signed a liberal press law that did away with earlier repressive legislation and provided protection for the print media.

Pressures on the Media

Some pressures on the media were long-standing. A custom known as "envelope journalism" persisted, where a payment was made for a favorable story or for withholding information. Other pressures resulted from the changed circumstances of the press. Organizations such as the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) reported almost an epidemic of violence and threats against publishers and journalists by mobs and thugs. The alliance questioned the resolve and the ability of the government to deal with it. Much of this violence took place in rural and outlying areas. As a result, publishers and reporters inevitably became cautious. Self-censorship by a news agency in a far-flung post meant that the newspaper-reading public in the centers of power would not be aware of critical information, and the interests of the nation would not be served. Furthermore, important local stories did not get covered for fear of the hostility of certain groups.

Press Organizations and Code of Ethics

As the number of newspapers and magazines burgeoned in the free atmosphere of the reformation period, so had the number of press organizations, with 36 on the record as of 2002. The longest-standing press organization was Persatuan Wartawan Indonesia (PWI).

In reaction to the banning of a number of weeklies in 1994, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) was formed with the backing of the editors of some of them, such as Eros Djarot of DeTik and Goenawan Mohamad of Tempo. The following year, Ahmad Taufik (the founding chairman) and Iko Maryadi, editor of Suara Independent were arrested on charges of insulting Suharto in print and were imprisoned for two years. Many AJI members were fired because their employers feared being shut down.

Representatives of 26 press organizations came together in Bandung in 1999 to draw up an agreed-upon code of ethics. The code of ethics stated:

  • Indonesian journalists respect the right of the people to receive true information.
  • Indonesian journalists follow ethical procedures for getting and releasing information, including identifying the source of the information.
  • Indonesian journalists respect the fundamental presumption of innocence and do not mix fact with opinion, but always weigh and investigate the truth of the information. They do not commit plagiarism.
  • Indonesian journalists do not spread information which is untrue, slanderous, sadistic, or pornographic and do not identify victims of sexual assault by name.
  • Indonesian journalists do not take bribes and do not take unfair advantage of their position.
  • Indonesian journalists have the Right of Refusal; they respect background information and information that is off the record according to mutual agreement.
  • Indonesian journalists immediately retract or correct any wrong in the news and honor the Right to Respond.

The Presidential Decree of 2000 created a nine-member Dewan Pers (Press Council), with representatives from news reporters, media executives, television, radio, and one person representing the public.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

During the 31 years of Suharto's government, foreign press was subject to some interference. Foreign magazines and newspapers entering the country were first given a once-over by censors. Offending articles or photographs were often blacked out. Journalists considered to be overly critical of the Indonesian government were simply denied visas. Security and immigration officials maintained a secret black list. Materials printed in Chinese characters were banned outright after the new government of 1966 was established, a ban that continued until Suharto stepped down.

In the early 2000s foreign journalists were still required to obtain a special visa to work in the country. Some reporters ignored the requirement, and some were detained and deported for that violation. In 2001 the Foreign Affairs Department banned foreign journalists from entering the trouble spots of Aceh, Maluku, and West Papua. Both Aceh and West Papua had strong separatist movements, and Maluku was the scene of repeated violence between groups with differing beliefs. Journalists found this out in January when they applied for work visas. Specifically hand-written into the permit were the words: "not valid for visits to Aceh, Maluku, and West Papua."

Indonesian nationalists working for foreign publications or agencies had to receive accreditation. They were also required to be members of the Indonesian Journalists' Association.

News Agencies

The major and long-standing news agency was Antara (among or between). Founded as a private agency in 1937, it became the official agency in 1945. President Sukarno had Antara merged with other news agencies in 1963 to form the Lembaga Kantor Berita Nasional (National News Agency Institute, LKBN), but it continued to be referred to as Antara. Antara was closed for a time during the "attempted coup" of 1965, weeded of its left-dominated factors, and reorganized. A more recent independent agency was Kantorberita Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National News Bureau, KNI).

Broadcast Media


Radio is arguably the most important medium in Indonesia. Its tones are heard in the market, the village, the rice paddy, and the mini-bus. The national radio station, Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) was founded in August 1945 almost as soon as independence was granted. During World War II, the Japanese occupational forces used radio as a major propaganda tool, and figures such as Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta who were to become prominent in nation-building received wide coverage, becoming household names among villagers.

One of RRI's first tasks was to encourage the Indonesian people in their struggle, as Dutch troops invaded the newly proclaimed republic. This struggle for freedom lasted for four years.

In the early 2000s, RRI was headquartered in Jakarta, with major relay stations in Medan (Sumatra), Yogykarta (Java), Banjarmasin (Kalimantan), Makassar (Sulawesi), and Jayapura (West Papua). In 2002, RRI had 53 stations staffed by approximately 8,500. RRI's overseas program, Voice of Indonesia, broadcast in ten languages: Indonesian, Arabic, Malaysian, Mandarin, Thai, Japanese, Spanish, German, English, and French. Private radio companies were in operation since 1966. They were advised to include informative, educational, and cultural programs in their broadcasts. However, they were no longer required to carry news programs produced by RRI.

Under Suharto, radio stations were required to carry the news broadcasts from the state. They were banned from doing independent reporting. The association of radio station owners was headed by Suharto's daughter, and licenses were given out to party faithfuls. Within two years after the collapse of the Suharto government in 1998, the number of independent radio stations grew by more than 30 percent, from about 750 to more than 1000 stations. Many broadcast journalists and station managers had to learn on the job. In-depth radio journalism programs or investigative reports on radio were still scarcely to be found in Indonesia. To bolster the overall quality of news and information programming, Internews (the international organization sponsored by the United States to assist fledgling broadcasters) produced three weekly radio programs and distributed them through a network of partner stations. As of June, 2000, RRI has been changed in status by presidential decree from a government-owned radio to a public broadcasting corporation (BUNM).


Indonesian television history illustrated a medium finding its own way, going from one state-produced official channel to a multiplicity of commercial channels. It included periods of time when advertising was banned as contrary to traditional values. Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) began operations in 1964 and remained a major player despite the growing importance of commercial television. Since it enjoyed a longstanding monopoly with a mission of promoting the official viewpoint, it long remained in a state of stagnation. The Indonesian government early on recognized the importance of television as a policy instrument and a tool to promote national unity in these far-flung islands. This insight drove the program to provide free television sets to villages. To be able to reach the entire country, in 1974 Indonesia launched its communications satellite, Palapa (Sanskrit for unity).

TVRI was always hampered by a small budget, and the budget situation became even tighter in 1981, when the administration banned advertising from television. This was in reaction to the effect that advertising western, urban, and consumer-orientedwas having on village life.

Indonesia's first commercial television station, Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI), began operation in March, 1988, broadcasting first in Jakarta but later throughout the country. Of course, advertising was the very backbone of its existence. Corporate investments in the country and a huge consumer market with increasing amounts of money to spend put the greater part of their advertising budgets into television. Since the only legal source of news was still TVRI, RCTI and other private broadcasters created what they called "information programs" until the Broadcast law of 1996 legitimated their news programs. RCTI carried several daily programs, Morning Nuances , News at NoonThroughout Indonesia, and Evening Bulletin. These news programs, which had to complete for advertisers, carried higher entertainment values than TVRI.

Surya Citra Television (SCTV) opened a few years later, also based in Jakarta. Its news programs focused on national news, with international news accounting for about 10 percent. In August 1990, a third private station was licensed with the proviso that it focus on education. This station was Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI). It cooperated with TVRI extensively, with some of its advertising revenues going to TVRI. A fourth commercial station was licensed in 1993, Andalas Televisi (Anteve, ANTV). It attempted to profile itself in the areas of news, sports and music, and it reached a smaller audience than the others. Indosiar was the newcomer in 1995 and had to struggle for a viewer share. Owing to the fierce competition among these stations, there was quite a bit of similarity among them.

All five of Indonesia's private, Jakarta-based television stationsSCTV, RCTI, Indosiar, Anteve and TPI had ties to the Suharto family. Despite the family ties, the new openness created bolder programming, even before Suharto stepped down. After that, stations offered investigative reporting and political talk shows that would have been unheard of in the New Order.

An all-news TV channel, Metro TV, began in Jakarta in November, 2000. Besides programming in Indonesian, it carried programs in Mandarin, reflecting the easing of restrictions on Chinese language and cultural media.

Electronic News Media

Before 1994, Internet access was limited to a very few universities, research institutions, and government offices. In late 1994, the first commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP), Indonet, was established, and by 1997 some 41 ISPs had been licensed, although all were not in service. The fast growth of ISPs was in fact largely due to government policies encouraging such growth.

The electronic news media were still in first flower when the opportunity came to test the genre in a specific way. In 1994, Tempo, a well-known newsmagazine, had its license to publish abruptly revoked by the government. Tempo had reported on a controversy concerning the purchase of used East German warships. No opportunity was given the magazine to defend itself. The news came as a shock, and although Tempo did win an appeal, the final ruling gave the magazine no hope of publishing again.

A little more than a year later, Tempo opened its electronic publication, TEMPO Interaktif. There was no official reaction from the government, except that the Minister of Information, when asked about it in an interview, replied that individuals and organizations in Indonesia were free to set up a Web site to promote their own activities. Since the law did not require licensing of Internet news sites, what he said was quite true.

TEMPO Interaktif quickly became a popular site, becoming Indonesia's most-accessed Web publication. Enterprising students downloaded the magazine, copied it, and sold it in book form. And since a license was not needed for book publishing, Tempo responded by issuing the publication in book form every three months, a move welcomed by readers without Internet access.

No comprehensive survey exists to give a profile of the users of electronic news media. However, a survey carried out by TEMPO Interaktif identified the readership as overwhelmingly male and middle class, with the average age of readers at 27 years. The greatest number of them reported that they accessed the site from the office computer of a business. Tempo as a weekly newsmagazine reopened in October 1998, after the licensing requirement was eliminated.

Popular Web sites for news, some of them offering many services such as e-mail and shopping, were and Established July 1, 1998, pioneered Indonesia's first "real time" electronic journalism, reporting news almost hourly. A year and a half later, thanks to foreign capital and savvy accumulation of advertising revenue, it began offering many services such as directories, chat rooms, and e-mail. At the same time, other foreign investors set up similar portals. When was launched, a large number of its considerable staff came from prestigious media companies, where they had made far less money. The impact of large amounts of foreign capital remained a force to be watched.

Education and Training

Despite the importance of the media to social and political life in Indonesia, educational opportunities did not keep pace. No university listed anything like a school of journalism. Journalism education usually was offered in fakultas (schools) of social science and political studies. Journalism courses tended to focus on communications theory rather than on professional, practical training. But many journalists came through the ranks of a humanities education, particularly language and literature, and an unusually large number came from schools of agriculture.

Universities with respected departments in mass communication included Gadja Mada University in Yogyakarta, Hasanuddin University in Makassar, Diponogoro University in Semarang, and Pandjadjaran University in Bandung. Subsequently, some universities established schools of communication or communication science and offered degrees in komunikasi massa (mass communication) or publisistik (public relations). Of the state universities, only Padjadjaran University had a school of communication science, headed by Dr. Soleh Soemirat. The flagship state university, University of Indonesia in Jakarta, offered a graduate program in communications.

Two private universities offered a specialized school. Ibn Khaldun University in Jakarta had a School of Communication, headed by Hamid Suchas, and Islam Nusantara University in Bandung, had a School of Communication Science, headed by H. S. Insar.

Perhaps more important than universities in the training of journalists were specialized institutes. The process for introducing new curriculum at the university level was slow and cumbersome, but institutes could more quickly respond to need and serve people who were not of the usual university age.

Such an institute is The Institute for Studies in the Institut Studi Arus Informasi (Free Flow of Information, ISAI), founded in 1994 as a combination think tank and journalism training center. With Goenawan Mohamad as the pivotal figure, ISAI's offices in Jakarta became a gathering place for students and writers of all kinds. Meanwhile, the organization actively campaigned abroad to raise awareness of the situation of the press in Indonesia.

Other important training opportunities for journalists were the Dewan Pers Indonesi a (Indonesian Press Council), established in 1999, and the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute (LPDS). The director of LPDS, Atmakusumah Astraatmadja, received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for journalism in 2000. Many of the leaders of the press organizations in the early 2000s were trained at LPDS. The institute also served as a think tank concerning issues of legal reform and professional ethics.

Internews, the U.S. government agency that worked throughout the world to provide assistance to journalists, provided training to more than 400 Indonesians working in broadcast media. Internews aimed to strengthen the role of the independent broadcast media by providing technical assistance; management, marketing, and advertising training; training in reporting on conflict; innovative programming and legal reform advocacy to its partner stations.


The strides made by the press after 1998 were tremendous, and there was a zeitgeist of energy and high expectations. The proliferation of the media at all levels from a young man rigging up the wiring from a rooftop to operate his own radio station without registration to a sophisticated urban news show such as Metro TVwere exciting developments.

Dangers to the press and thus to the citizenry included the age-old practice of envelope journalism, threats and intimidation by disgruntled groups, misuse of corporate power, and a return to the pressures on the media by the government in the absence of constitutional guarantees.

Greater media penetration would encourage greater governmental responsiveness. Better journalist training would produce a more professional and, it was hoped, a more conscientious press. Public support for a free press and for freedom-of-information laws would be necessary.

Institutions that complement a responsible media system include political parties that call for accountability on the part of public servants, effective judicial systems, and self-regulatory press councils. If the media see it as their responsibility to keep the poor and marginalized people informed, to supplement school education, and to serve the interests of all peoples, they will make a vast contribution to the future of the Republic of Indonesia.


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Astraatmadja, Atmakusumah. "The Media During and After 'Reformasi'." Indonesia, Now and Beyond: The Indonesian Yearbook 2001. Jakarta: Andrew Tanh Communication, 2001.

Cribb, Robert. Historical Dictionary of Indonesia. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1992.

Hefner, Robert. "Print Islam: Mass Media and Ideological Rivalries among Indonesian Muslims." Indonesia, 64 (October 1997): 77-104.

Herbert, Patricia, and Anthony Milner. South-East Asia: Languages and Literatures. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989.

Heryanto, Ariel, and others. "The Industrialization of the Media in Democratizing Indonesia." Contemporary Southeast Asia, 23, No. 2 (August 2002): 327-55.

Mamora, Charlo, "Realities and Impact of the Economic Crisis." Indonesia, Now and Beyond: The Indonesian Yearbook 2001. Jakarta: Andrew Tanh Communication, 2001.

Neumann, A. Lin. Press, Power and Politics: Indonesia 2000. Arlington, VA: The Freedom Forum, 2000.

Ridwan, Saiful B. "From TEMPO to TEMPO Interactif : An Indonesian Media Scene Case Study," 1997. Available from

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Linda Yoder

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Indonesia
Region: Southeast Asia
Population: 224,784,210
Language(s): Bahasa Indonesia,English, Dutch, Javanese
Literacy Rate: 83.8%
Number of Primary Schools: 173,893
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 1.4%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 1,147
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 29,236,283
  Secondary: 14,209,974
  Higher: 2,303,469
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 113%
  Secondary: 51%
Teachers: Primary: 1,327,178
  Secondary: 986,896
  Higher: 157,695
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 22:1
  Secondary: 14:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 110%
  Secondary: 48%

History & Background

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago, straddling the equinox and formed by 17,670 islands. Its national territory stretches from Australia to Southern Asia and is the fourth most populous country after the People's Republic of China, India, and the United States.

Indonesia's population of nearly 200 million experienced a diminishing growth rate of 1.82 percent in the period 1990-1995, when compared to its 2.32 percent growth rate the previous decade (1971-1980). Although the population growth will decrease, the total population of Indonesia is expected to increase from 195.7 million in 1995 to 242.6 million in 2020. The World Bank estimates a continuing decrease in population growth, to less than one percent in 2015-2020. The decrease is attributable to the nation's proactive family planning efforts. National literacy rates have progressed rapidly since Indonesia's independence on 17 August 1945, in spite of natural impediments such as the nation being made up of 400 distinct ethnic groups and the fact that more than two-thirds of the population live in rural areas. In 1930, less than six percent of the population was literate, while the 1990 census data reveals an 84 percent literacy rate of those over 10 years of age.

Corresponding to the advancements in literacy is the change in the Indonesian labor force as characterized by the continuous decrease of employment opportunities in the area of agriculture and an increasing demand for knowledge and skills in industry. The structural shift in the economy has generated new challenges and demands affecting the education system. According to the 1987 Survey of the National Labor Force, 70 percent of the labor force had not been educated beyond primary school level, inadequate for a society approaching the era of modernization. However, the 1990 population census shows a growing tendency toward higher education within the labor force. Likewise, over the past 25 years, the number of pupils more than doubled for primary school, rose four and a half times for the junior secondary school, eight times for the senior secondary schools, and about 10 times for higher education. Such growth has resulted in a more educated population and labor force.

In June 1993, UNESCO awarded President Suharto with the Avicenna Medal (Ibnu Sina Award), recognizing Indonesia for implementing its universal education program for 7 to 12 year olds in a much quicker way when compared to other developing countries. Jacques Hallak from the Institute for Educational Planning, UNESCO, wrote in 1990 that "higher level industrial countries with better social economic conditions like the United States and other developed West European countries like France, Germany and England needed 60 to 100 years to accomplish universalization of basic education."

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The national educational system draws heavily from the Indonesian culture. The system-based on Pancasila, the 1945 State Constitution, and the National Education Law No. 2/1989 aims to "generate abilities and to increase the standard of living and dignity of the Indonesian people in order to achieve the national development objectives."

Undergirding all government programs is Pancasila, Indonesia's state philosophy. Also known as the Five Principles, Pancasila was first articulated by President Sukarno on 1 June 1945 when declaring Indonesian independence. The Five Principles serve as the nation's blueprint for Indonesian society and way of life. These basic truths are presented visually in the nation's coat of arms and are actively taught in school. In fact, the entire first week of each new school term is called "Pancasila Week."

The following values constitute Pancasila:

  1. Belief in "One Supreme God"
  2. A call for a just and civilized humanitynot tolerating physical or spiritual oppression of any person
  3. Promoting nationalism and Indonesian unitya concept of one nation and one language binding together the country's diverse people
  4. Pancasila-style democracythis calls for discussion (musyawarah) and mutual assistance (gotong royong) establishing a national authority of consensus (mufakat) rather than domination
  5. A system of social justiceassuring equal distribution of welfare and the protection of the weak

Building upon the state's philosophy is the 1945 State Constitution, Article 31 which assures that "Every citizen has a right to obtain an education and that the government shall create and execute a system of national education provided by law." The National Education Law No. 2/1989 provides the foundation for one national education system to be universally implemented in a complete and totally integrated manner. Universal means open to all people and valid throughout the country; complete means to cover all channels, levels and types of education; and integrated means that there are mutual supporting links between all types and levels of national education and development efforts.

The National Education Law further issued two objectives of the national education system: first, to establish a high-quality and self-reliant human being whose values are based on Pancasila, the state philosophy; secondly, to keep and maintain Indonesia's cultural background while at the same time generating the knowledge, skills, and scientific progress that will keep the nation abreast in the twenty-first century. National education aspires to improve the life of the nation along with fully developing the intellectual, moral, spiritual, physical, and social capacity of its citizens. (This National Education Law gains support from the Presidential Decree No. 10, 1973 launching compulsory primary education for 7 to 12 year olds and the Government Regulation No. 28/1990 expanding compulsory education to every Indonesian 7-15 years of age. President Suharto reiterated this national policy of compulsory education in 1994.)

The National Guidelines of the State Policy of 1993 stress that the nation will pursue a three-pronged approach to development. Speaking directly to the education aspect, President Suharto's speech to the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) on 6 January 1993, emphasized, "We have to see that education is being developed more fairly and equally to meet the needs of development and to be able to produce output in the form of human resources of quality . . . . Education should be directed to and in accordance to the need of productive working power in all sectors, in all fields and in all development activities."

In 1994 Indonesia entered the nation's second 25 Year Development Plan (PJP II). The most significant aspect of PJP II is the strong emphasis on human resources development through a commitment to excellence in science and technology equal to that of other developed nations.

Educational SystemOverview

Compulsory Education: Presidential Instruction Decree No. 10 of 1973, initiated Indonesia's program of compulsory education and by 1984 the government of Indonesia had fully implemented the six year compulsory education for primary school age children (7-12 years). The result of this new policy was significant in that the participation rate in primary school reached 92 percent in 1993 compared to 79 percent just 10 years earlier.

Ten years after the compulsory primary education program came fully into effect, Indonesia launched the Nine Year Basic Education Program, as proclaimed by President Suharto on 2 May 1994, extending compulsory education to the 13- to 15-year-old population. The compulsory nine-year basic education affords opportunities for Indonesian citizens to get an education. The extension from six years to nine years of basic education was also intended to alleviate the problem of child labor.

Age Limits: According to the National Education Law No. 2/1989 and the Government Regulation No. 28/1990, basic education is a general education program with a duration of nine yearssix years of primary education and three years of junior secondary education. The nine-year Compulsory Basic Education Program attempts to provide an education for every Indonesian in the 7 to 15 age group.

Academic Year: At the primary and secondary levels the school year lasts 38 weeks on the average. The average length of teaching periods on the primary level is 30 minutes in grades one and two, 40 minutes in grades three to six, and 45 minutes in junior secondary school.

Language of Instruction: Classroom instruction is provided in the national Bahasa Indonesian language.

Curriculum Development:

Primary School Education: Basic education offered in primary schools aims to provide the ability to read, write, and do arithmetic, and to instill primary knowledge and skills that are useful for pupils in line with their development levels, as well as to prepare students to attend education in lower secondary school. Basic education is also carried out in lower secondary schools and is aimed at expanding the knowledge and improvement of skills obtained in primary schools that are useful for students to develop their lives as individuals, members of society, and citizens.

The education program for primary schools is prescribed by Article 39, Clause 3, Law No. 2/1989 and Article 14, Clause 2, Government Regulation No. 28 of 1990, and the February 25, 1993 decree of the Ministry of Education and Culture No. 060/U/1993. The curriculum content of compulsory primary education consists of subject matter covering Pancasila education, religious education, citizenship education, Indonesian language, reading and writing, mathematics, introduction to science and technology, geography, national and general history, handicrafts and art, physical education and health, drawing, and the English language. Such subject matter groups are not necessarily course titles as more than one material group can be combined with another subject; likewise, one subject can be divided into more than one subject.

Secondary School Education: The general secondary school curriculum is determined by the 25 February 1993 decree of the Minister of Education and Culture No. 061/U/1993. This program covers study materials and subjects required for Class l and II students: Pancasila education and citizenship, religious education, Indonesian language and literature, national and general history, English language, physical and health education, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and arts education. The language program consists of four subjects: Indonesian language and literature, English language, other international languages, and cultural history. The natural science program includes physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics. The social science program offers economics, sociology, public administration, and anthropology. These subjects are aimed at improving pupils' abilities and stimulating interactive relationships with the social, cultural, and natural environment.

Built on foundational courses in Class I and II, the special teaching program implemented in Class III can be selected by pupils according to their abilities and interests. This program prepares students to continue on to higher education in the academic or professional field.

Apart from general and special programs, there are also extracurricular activities that are offered outside the teaching hours. These activitiessuch as scouting, school health activities, sports, and first aidalong with the theoretical knowledge gained in the curricular program are intended to develop the whole person.

Vocational Secondary Education: This curriculum was set forth by the Minister of Education and Culture in Decree No. 080/U/1993. The objective of vocational education is to prepare students to enter employment and to develop professional skills and to prepare students to choose a career, to instill the ability to compete and develop independently, and to foster a national workforce to meet the manpower needs of business and industry.

Vocational secondary school implements education programs according to the perceived present and future demands for employment types. The vocational secondary school curriculum program is envisioned to be completed in three to four years. The curriculum is divided into six groups: the agricultural and forestry group, for occupations in such areas as agribusiness, agronomy, animal husbandry, fisheries, and agriculture production management; the industrial technology group, offering professions in building construction, mining, marine engineering, graphics, textiles, informatics, and industrial instrumentation; the business and management group, leading to careers in accounting, office management, finance and banking, trade, and secretarial work; the community welfare group, targeting employment with social services, community health, and community development; the tourism group, whose graduates move into the hotel, catering, fashion, and beauty occupations; and the arts and handicraft group, whose skills are focused on applied arts, visual arts, and the handicraft industry.

Special Education: Special education is intended for students with physical, mental, and/or behavioral disabilities. The programming is organized by multiple agencies including the government's Ministry of Education and Culture, other ministries, and private and nongovernmental organizations.

The aim of special education is to help disabled students acquire knowledge about their environment and to develop skills for competing in the job market or to continue their education beyond the customary special pre-school (one to three years duration), special primary school (at least six years duration), and special secondary schooling (at least three years duration).

In the 1995 school year, there were 703 schools teaching special education, with 32,921 students, 7,723 teachers and a student-teacher ratio of 4.26:1. There is a measure of difficulty in assessing the student-teacher ratio within the field of special education. In addition to numbers of students, other criteria must include the student's degree of disability, curriculum to be pursued, and physical and mental therapies offered.

Higher Education: In the early stages, higher education used the program structure inherited from the Dutch colonial period consisting of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. The curriculum was based on a prescribed course of study, the whole of which should be taken by the student. In 1979 the semester credit unit system was adopted offering more latitude in choice of courses.

The master's program consists of a class load of 36 to 50 semester credit units and a written thesis to be completed in no less than four semesters and no greater than ten semesters. Study for a doctorate requires 40 semester credit units and a dissertation which is to be completed in no less than four semesters yet not exceed 14 semesters.

Following secondary education, graduate studies for educators consist of diploma programs (Diploma I-IV) and specialist programs (Specialist I-II). The Diploma I study load ranges from 20 to 50 semester credit units and is taken over a period of 2 to 4 semesters after secondary education. The Diploma II program study load is from 80 to 90 semester credit units scheduled over a period of 4 to 6 semesters. The Diploma III study program consists of 110 to 120 semester credit units spanning 6 to 10 semesters. And the Diploma IV study program is 144 to 160 semester credit units scheduled over 8 to 14 semesters.

The standard load for Specialist I study is 36 to 50 semester credit units taken over 4 to 10 semesters after the graduate program. And Specialist II study is 40 to 50 semester credit units over 4 to 10 semesters after the Specialist I program or its equivalency.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Preschool education is aimed at stimulating the physical and mental growth of pupils outside the family environment before entering primary school or out-of-school educational programs. Among the types of pre-school education available are kindergartens, playgroups and child care centers. Kindergartens are part of the school-based education system and, as such, are under the Ministry of Education and Cultural Development (Government Regulation No. 27 of 1990). Play groups and childcare centers are part of the out-of-school system and the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs. Preprimary education is not considered to be neither a prerequisite nor a requirement for entry into primary school. Preschool is provided for children from four to six years of age, while play groups and child care centers are attended by children under three years of age. Apart from these schools, there are also special Islamic preschools which have the same status as kindergartens. These schools, known as Bustanual Atfal and Raudlatul Atfal, are organized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Subject matter taught at the kindergarten level includes: Pancasila (state ideology), moral education and religion, discipline, language skills, intellectual stimulation, creativity, emotional harmony, social skills, manual skills and physical ability, and health.

Kindergartens have increased in terms of total numbers of school buildings, students, and teachers, and have experienced a dramatic reduction in the student to teacher ratio as well. In 1969, for example, there were 6,072 schools, 343,466 students, 10,423 teachers, and a student-teacher ratio of approximately 32:1. By the 1995-1996 school year, the numbers had increased to 40,715 schools, 1.6 million students, 98,094 teachers, and a student-teacher ratio of less than 17:1. These figures demonstrate an increasing community support of this preparatory educational level for students.

Six years of compulsory education for primary school-age children (7-12 years) was instituted in 1984. Then, in 1990, by order of Government Regulation No. 28/1990, compulsory education was expanded to a total of nine years, adding three years of junior secondary education thereby covering children 7-15 years of age. The number of primary schools and children attending them increased from 63,056 schools and 12.8 million pupils in 1969 to 149,954 schools and 3.6 million pupils by 1995.

The goal of basic education, as expressed by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, is to develop the lives of children as individual members and good citizens of society. The core content of basic education curriculum consists of Pancasila (state ideology), religion, civic education, Indonesian language, reading and writing, mathematics, introduction to sciences and technology, geography, national and world history, handicraft and art, physical and health education, drawing, English language, and local content.

For the calendar year 1995, figures indicate nearly one hundred percent enrollment of 7 to 12 year old students in government-funded primary schools. For the same calendar year, 62 percent of 13 to 15 year old children (junior secondary level) were enrolled in government-funded schools. This represents a decline from primary level enrollment which parallels a decline in government subsidy for students over 12 years of age.

In addition to the regular school system, there are religious schools, known as madrasas, equivalent to primary and junior secondary schools. The distinction is that the school curriculum, administered by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, is founded upon the Koran and commentaries of the Koran, sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and the Arabic language. This is where Muslim children learn the precepts and traditions of the Islamic faith to carry back to their homes and villages. Such instruction sustains the living presence of Islam among the world's largest Muslim population, Indonesia having more Muslims than all the Arab nations combined. In the 1994-1995 school year, there were 24,232 Islamic primary schools, with 3.5 million students and 138,931 teachers.

Secondary Education

Senior secondary education is available to graduates of basic education, (six years of primary school education and three years of junior secondary education). The types of secondary education include general secondary education, vocational secondary education, religious secondary school, service secondary school, and special secondary school.

General secondary education gives priority to expanding knowledge and developing students' skills in an effort to prepare them to continue their studies at the higher levels of education. Vocational secondary education gives priority to expanding specific occupational skills and developing professional attitudes as students prepare to enter the world of work. The government introduced something similar to Germany's dual system, transforming the role and function of the more than 200 vocational schools spread over Indonesia. The concept of vocational education is to create a work/study program through the participation of industry and commerce. More than 2,000 commercial and industrial institutes have pledged their cooperation in making training space available for students.

Religious secondary education gives priority to the mastery of special religious knowledge. Service secondary education is education that emphasizes preparedness for employment in the nation's civil service or government work. Special secondary education is specifically intended and designed for the physically and/or mentally limited students.

In 1995, approximately 39 percent of 16 to 18 year old students were enrolled in government sponsored senior secondary schools. With 13 set as the minimum age level for employment, and with family incomes averaging a meager US$1,000 annually, many young people opt to extend the family's limited resources through employment rather than pursing an education beyond the junior secondary level. Tuition fees also place secondary education beyond the reach of many families.

Higher Education

Higher education follows the secondary school formatting with some institutions designated for academics and others for professional education. Academic education is mainly aimed at mastering science, technology, and research, whereas professional education is aimed more at developing practical skills. Centers for higher education include academies, polytechnic schools, colleges, institutes, and universities. Higher education is offered by both the government and the private sector with approximately 51 public universities and more than 1,000 private universities.

In 1979 a semester credit unit system was officially introduced and academic education modeled along the lines of the U.S. system. This system consisted of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. A non-graduate program leading to a diploma was simultaneously instituted as another type of terminal degree.

Enrollment of new students into a national university is based on a national entrance exam or a portfolio assessment, also called achievement monitoring (PMDK). Those who are accepted through the PMDK process are not required to take an entrance exam as they are judged to have content-eligible academic performance ever since they were enrolled at senior secondary level. (The PMDK selection process is not implemented at all universities.)

In 1995 there were 1,300 institutes of higher education, with 2.3 million students enrolled, less than 10 percent of the total 19 to 24 year old age group. The vast majority of senior secondary school graduates opt for the job market and employment rather than higher education.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of National Education and Culture (MOEC) is the organizational structure of the Indonesian educational system. It consists of seven principal units at the central level. These seven units are the Secretariat General, Office of Educational and Cultural Research and Development, Inspectorate General, Directorate General of Basic and Secondary Education, Directorate General of Higher Education, Directorate General of Out-of-School Education and Youth and Sports, and the Directorate General of Culture.

These positions assist the Minister of National Education in setting forth an administrative structure of education, developing curriculum, financing education, establishing the infrastructure and providing for equipment necessary for carrying out educational activities, and training faculty and staff to serve the education system.

At the local level, the Ministry of Education and Culture is represented by an Office of Education and Culture in each of the 27 provinces, and by a district office in each of Indonesia's 305 districts. The major task of the provincial and district offices is to interpret and implement ministerial policies on education and culture with recognition given to distinctive features of the local area.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for the Islamic preschools, primary schools, junior secondary schools, and senior secondary schools. Provision of higher education is managed by the Ministry of National Education and Culture through the directorate general of higher education, as well as by the Military Academy and the College for Civil Servants.

Finance: Technically, the government is responsible for financing education. However, costs for education carried out by the community is recognized as the responsibility of those institutions. In some cases the government funding is limited to specific elements of compulsory education. The education programs funded by the government are mainly financed through the administration's annual budget along with a separate development budget. Other funding sources are international aid (loans and grants) and assistance from regional governments and the private sector.

Primary school is free and theoretically requires no fees. Routine assistance for financing the middle and higher levels of education is the responsibility of the family in the form of a school fee paid to the state by each school to be reallocated back to the schools through an account known as the Education Funds Support. While the government offers subsidies to universities and among the various regions, it strongly encourages the participation of the local government, community and business in educational finance. Essentially each educational institution is expected to manage its own admission process and finances.

The Ministry of Education budget has expanded continuously over time. Within the first five-year development planning period or Repelita (1969-1973) the budget was 147 billion rupiah. There was a marked increase in monies appropriated in 1973 in support of the presidential decree launching the compulsory six years of primary school education. The budget increased to 12.9 trillion rupiah during the Fifth Repelita (1989-1993), and financial allocations for the first year of the Sixth Repelita (1994-1999) expanded to 4.6 trillion rupiah. The annual percentage of MOEC budget fluctuates in close proximity to the gross domestic product (GDP).

During the Fifth Repelita, 83.5 percent of the routine budget of the MOEC was designated for salaries and employee related expenditures. This concentration of the routine budget on employee-related expenditure resulted in limited availability of funds for procurement of teaching supplies, educational facility development, and administrative activities. Most consistently noted in allocations is the preeminence given by the Indonesian government in making of good citizens through the teaching of Pancasila. For example, in the school year 1997-1998, approximately 1.3 percent of the budget was allocated toward the development of "Followers to Believe in God" whereas the government allocated 2 percent of the total allocations toward producing more professional educators.

Also during the Fifth Repelita, international loan assistance amounted to 51 percent of the total development budget. Loans from the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) amounted to US$457 million, and loans from the Asian Development Bank totaled more than US$507 million. The World Bank provided assistance to Indonesia during 1970-1995 for developing education in the amount of US$1.54 billion. The total amount of Asian Development Bank loans during the period 1975-1995 was US$1.39 billion.

Educational Research: The key to quality postgraduate education is in focusing on research conducted by the university. Regular and continuous funding for research has only been available within this decade. With this funding availability has come greater opportunity to solve education development problems such as enhanced capacity for lecturers of various science and math subjects. Further, university research is rendering technology innovations having commercial and copyright potential in such fields as agriculture, tropical rain forests, biotechnology, and computer software programs. Increased research capacity might allow for academicians to travel outside their campus, helping to develop small and struggling industrial business enterprises, and in identifying and solving problems at regional and local levels.

Nonformal Education

Nonformal or out-of-school education is a substitute program designed to eradicate illiteracy in letters and numerals and the Indonesian language. Programming also provides individuals with an opportunity to develop knowledge and skills required to work and generate an income; to enable individuals to proceed to a higher level within the formal educational system; and to fulfill needs of persons, families, and communities that cannot be met by the formal education system.

Out-of-school education provides an educational equivalent to primary and junior secondary schools and is offered outside the formal education system. Features distinguishing nonformal from formal education include flexibility of the former in relation to the time and period spent, the age of the learners, the content of the lessons, the way the lessons are organized, and the assessment of the outcome.

Courses are organized at the basic, middle, and advanced level. Groups studying "Packet A" are organized to obtain an educational level equivalent to the primary school level. Groups studying "Packet B" are organized to obtain the equivalent of the junior high school level of education.

Out-of-school education is provided by governmental and nongovernmental agencies, the private sector, and the community. Communities may provide all types of education with the exception of formal education.

Teaching Profession

Previously, primary school teachers were graduates of schools for primary school teachers (SPG), a three-year program following junior secondary education (at the same level as the senior secondary school). However, in order to improve the quality of primary school, the government increased the educational requirements of primary school teachers to a two-year diploma course (D II program) following senior secondary education. At the same time, the government launched a national in-service training program for primary school teachers throughout Indonesia using the Open University. Its objective is to train existing teachers to the equivalent level of the Diploma II. The new requirement for junior secondary school teachers is to have at least D II education. The teachers of senior secondary schools are mostly recruited from D II and D III teacher training, and a master's degree, also referred to as Level I.

The quality of education at the various school levels is closely related to the capacity of the Teacher Training Institute to produce quality teachers. The institute graduates an average of 7,500 primary school teachers at the Diploma II level per year. This is a relatively small number when compared to the national demand for teachers (296,653 primary school teachers in 1994-1995). There are four contributing factors to the teacher shortage:

  1. the number of teachers retiring, dying, or leaving for non-teaching jobs each year, which reached 23,453 persons or 2 percent in 1994-1995;
  2. the imbalance in the geographic distribution of teachers;
  3. the current surplus and shortage of teachers depending on the subject matter (e.g., surplus teachers are in subjects like Pancasila education, Bahasa Indonesia, social science, handicraft and arts, sports and health, national history, sociology, geography, and foreign languages; a shortage of teachers is found to be in mathematics, science, English, and local content); and
  4. the final challenge to the Teacher Training Institute is in the high number of current teachers not meeting the published teacher standards.

For example, in the 1994-1995 school year, there were 1.1 million primary school teachers, 392,588 junior secondary school teachers, and 316,479 senior secondary school teachers. Of the total number of primary school teachers, 5.3 percent were deemed qualified, 87.5 percent semiqualified, and 7.2 percent underqualified. Of the total number of junior secondary school teachers 38.5 percent were judged to be qualified, 50.3 percent semi-qualified, and 11.2 percent underqualified. Of the total number of senior secondary school teachers 45.7 percent placed in the qualified category, 39.2 percent semiqualified, and 15.1 percent underqualified.


National Focus: Indonesia's second 25 Year Long Term Development Plan, covering the period 1994-1995 to 2018-2019, emphasizes the economy as the most decisive factor of national development. Yet, steady improvement of a society cannot be separated from investments made in human capital, specifically that of the nation's educational system. This requires a financial commitment on the part of the government to ensure universal application of compulsory education for all students without regard to their ability to pay, adequately trained and compensated teachers, newly constructed and rehabilitated classrooms, textbooks, and other quality teaching tools.

Administrative Coordination: Consolidation of education oversight, from several ministries to one, would allow for better coordinated efforts, as well as redirect duplicated administrative costs to the field. Of further benefit would be the creation of a master plan, a roadmap to the future, with clear concepts, involving all elements of the education systemstate and local governance, teachers, parents, and students.

Teacher Training Institute: Studies offered at the Teacher Training Institute should maintain flexibility so as to respond to the numerous trends and challenges within education. Flexibility, coupled with educational quality improvement programs (creating, monitoring, and evaluating systems of educational quality) will help the institute to become an inseparable part of the educational process.

Private Sector Participation: Industries require job-specific trained employees from the educational system; yet, as global markets shift and the Indonesian economy matures, higher critical thinking skills will be required of the work force. A system that might better serve the needs of students and businesses alike would be a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the private sector, in which the nation's education system equips students with the fundamentals required for work readiness while private industry teaches specific job skills. This partnership would allow the nation's education system to attain excellence in designing a well-balanced, broad spectrum approach of preparing future workers.

Higher Education: Universities are being challenged to become independent institutions, free from government subsidy and involvement. Yet it is a nation's commitment to public education that most contributes to the prosperity and well being of society. Should the nation continue to disavow itself from higher education, negative outcomes might result. For example, without state-sponsored schools, only elitists could afford to attend school; the nation might experience a "brain-drain" with students attending affordable schools in other lands and remaining there to work. Scrambling for resources, some schools of higher education are bound to disappear over time, thereby weakening Indonesia's overall educational offerings. The government (MOEC) must remain involved in higher education, in order to equip future generations, ensure institutional improvements through a national accreditation system for public and private universities, and encourage research for resolving issues of national import.


Basic Education Curriculum. Jakarta: Indonesia's Ministry of Education and Culture, 1993.

Campbell-Nelson, John. Indonesia in Shadow and Light. New York: Friendship Press, 1998.

Center for Informatics. Statistik Persekolahan. Jakarta: Balitbang Dikbud.

The Development of Education in Indonesia: A Country Report. Jakarta: Indonesia's Ministry of Education and Culture, 1994.

Flanz, Gisbert, "Indonesia." In Constitutions of the Countries of the World. New York: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1998.

"Human Resources and Education Policy." Paper presented at the 1993 Second Economics Conference Roundtable, Government of Indonesia, Jakarta, 1993.

"Issues and Challenges in Educational Development: Cooperation and Linkages." Paper presented at the Thematic Symposium of the Twenty-ninth Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Council's Conference, Yogykarta, February 1994.

Lippman, Thomas W., Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World. New York: Meridian Books, 1995.

Ministry of Education and Culture. Fifty Years Development of Indonesian Education. Jakarta: Office of Educational and Cultural Research and Development, MOEC, 1997.

. "Education Development in Indonesia: A Country Report." Paper presented at the International Conference on Education, 45th Session, Geneva, 1996.

Moegiadi and Jiyono. Indonesia. International Encyclopaedia of National Systems of Education 2nd ed. Edited by T. N. Postlethwaite, 435-38. UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

"Plans and Priorities for Educational Development," Paper presented at the Donor Coordination Meeting on Education, Jakarta, February 1994.

"Priorities in Human Resource Development: An Education Perspective." A presentation made at a meeting of the World Bank at the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), Jakarta, 1994.

Soedijarto, H. Policies, Strategies and Programmes on Education for All: The Case of Indonesia. Jakarta: Ministry of Education and Culture, 1994.

United Nations, Statistical Yearbook. Paris, 1996 and 1998.

. World Data on Education. Bangkok, Thailand: UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

'Welcome Address." Presented at the Opening Ceremony of the Twenty-ninth Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Council's Conference, Jakarta, February 1994.

Jane Sabes

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Indonesia (Ĭn´dənē´zhə), officially Republic of Indonesia, republic (2005 est. pop. 241,974,000), c.735,000 sq mi (1,903,650 sq km), SE Asia, in the Malay Archipelago. The fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia comprises more than 13,000 islands extending c.3,000 mi (4,830 km) along the equator from the Malaysia mainland toward Australia; the archipelago forms a natural barrier between the Indian and Pacific oceans. The capital and largest city is Jakarta, on Java.

Land and People

Consisting of the territory of the former Netherlands East Indies, Indonesia's main island groups are the Greater Sunda Islands, which include Java, Sumatra, central and S Borneo (Kalimantan), and Sulawesi; the Lesser Sunda Islands, consisting of Bali, Flores, Sumba, Lombok, and the western part of Timor; the Moluccas (Maluku), with Ambon, Seram, and Halmahera; and the Riau Archipelago. After years of dispute with the Dutch, W New Guinea (now Papua and West Papua) was formally annexed by Indonesia in Aug., 1969. The most important islands, culturally and economically, are Java, Bali, and Sumatra.

All the larger islands have a central volcanic mountainous area flanked by coastal plains; there are more than 100 active volcanoes. Earthquakes are frequent and, although not usually severe, can sometimes cause devastation. The islands of W Indonesia are subject to heavy rains during the rainy season (Dec.–Mar.), which often cause flooding and landslides. The animal life of Indonesia roughly forms a connecting link between the fauna of Asia and that of Australia. Elephants are found in Sumatra and Borneo, tigers as far south as Java and Bali, and marsupials in Timor and New Guinea. Crocodiles, snakes, and richly colored birds are everywhere. The tropical climate, abundant rainfall, and remarkably fertile volcanic soils permit a rich agricultural yield.

The population falls roughly into two groups, the Malayan and the Papuan, with many of the inhabitants east of Bali representing a transition between the two types. Within each group are numerous subdivisions, and cultural development ranges from the modern Javanese and Balinese to traditional tribes in Borneo, Sumatra, and New Guinea. The complex ethnic structure is the result of several great migrations many centuries ago, largely from Asia. The Chinese constitute by far the greatest majority of the nonindigenous population; they number about 2 to 3 million and play an important role in the country's economic life. There are smaller minorities of Arabs and South Asians.

More than 300 languages are spoken in Indonesia, but an official language, Bahasa Indonesia (a form of Malay), was adopted after independence and is now understood in all but the most remote villages. English is considered to be the country's second language, and Dutch is also spoken. Almost 90% of the population is Muslim, making Indonesia the largest Islamic nation in the world. Slightly less than 10% of the population is Christian, and about 2% is Hindu and 1% Buddhist. Hindus are concentrated principally on Bali, which is known for its unique culture. Animism, sometimes combined with Islam, is common among some groups.


Crude oil and natural gas are Indonesia's most valuable natural resources and were long its major source of export revenue, but production has declined and domestic use increased since the 1990s. Agriculture accounts for about 13% of the GDP and employs over 40% of the labor force. Indonesia is one of the world's major rubber producers; other plantation crops include cocoa, coffee, palm oil, coconuts, sugarcane, tea, tobacco, cinchona, cloves, sisal, and spices. Despite plantation cultivation, Indonesia has a wide landholding base; the majority of the people are largely self-sufficient in food. Rice is the major crop; cassava, corn, yams, soybeans, peanuts, and fruit are also grown. Horses and cattle are raised on some of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Fish are abundant, both in the ocean and in inland ponds.

In natural-resource potential, Indonesia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It has great timberlands; vast rain forests of giant trees (among the world's tallest) cover the mountain slopes, and teak, sandalwood, ironwood, camphor, and ebony are cut. Palm, rattan, and bamboo abound, and a great variety of forest products is produced. Indonesia is a major exporter of timber, accounting for nearly half of the world's tropical hardwood trade, but the rapid deforestation of Indonesia's hardwoods, mainly due to its expanding population's need for farmland, the clearing of land for palm oil plantations, and growing timber-related industries, has caused concern among international environmental groups and sparked ethnic conflict (particularly between immigrants and native Dyaks on Borneo). In addition, enormous out-of-control brush fires, started illegally during the dry season to clear land, have caused significant health, navigation, and economic hazards in some years.

Tin, nickel, bauxite, copper, coal, manganese, gold, and silver are mined, and salt is available in large quantities from shallow enclosed seashore lagoons. Iron and uranium are believed to exist in quantity but have not yet been exploited. Primarily a supplier of raw materials, the country began to industrialize and developed rapidly in the 1990s. The industrial sector includes the manufacture of textiles and clothing, building materials, chemical fertilizers, rubber tires, and electrical and electronic goods; there is also food, mineral, and wood processing. The government also promotes tourism, and Bali is a popular tourist destination.

Indonesia has attracted increased foreign investment in recent years, but corruption is widespread. Labor unrest has been a persistent problem due to the tensions between the predominantly ethnic Chinese business owners and a workforce made up almost entirely of ethnic Malays. The country's economy was severely impacted by the 1997–98 Asian financial crisis and it continues to experience high unemployment and inflation, although the nation began to rebound in 2000. The main exports are natural gas and petroleum, electrical appliances, textiles, wood and wood products, and rubber. Imports include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs. Indonesia's main trading partners are Japan, Singapore, the United States, China, and South Korea.


Indonesia is governed under the constitution of 1945 (which was restored in 1959) as amended. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The vice president is similarly elected. The unicameral legislature consists of the 550-seat House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat; DPR), whose members are popularly elected (by proportional representation) from multimember constituences. This body plus 195 indirectly selected members make up the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat; MPR), which meets every five years to determine national policy and annually to consider constitutional amendments and other changes. Prior to 2004 the president and vice president were chosen by the MPR. For over 30 years, until 1999, the government was essentially controlled by the quasi-official Golkar party. Administratively, the country is divided into 31 provinces, 1 autonomous province, 1 special region, and the special capital city district of Jakarta; these are subdivided into regencies (districts) and municipalities.


Early History and Colonial Rule

Early in the Christian era, Indonesia came under the influence of Indian civilization through the gradual influx of Indian traders and Buddhist and Hindu monks. By the 7th and 8th cent., kingdoms closely connected with India had developed in Sumatra and Java; the spectacular Buddhist temples of Borobudur date from this period. Sumatra was the seat (7th–13th cent.) of the important Buddhist kingdom of Sri Vijaya. In the late 13th cent. the center of power shifted to Java, where the fabulous Hindu kingdom of Majapahit had arisen; for two centuries it held sway over Indonesia and large areas of the Malay Peninsula. A gradual infiltration of Islam began in the 14th and 15th cent. with the arrival of Arab traders, and by the end of the 16th cent. Islam had replaced Buddhism and Hinduism as the dominant religion. The once-powerful kingdoms broke into smaller Islamic states whose internecine strife made them vulnerable to European imperialism.

Early in the 16th cent. the Portuguese, in pursuit of the rich spice trade, began establishing trading posts in Indonesia, after taking (1511) the strategic commercial center of Malacca (see Melaka) on the Malay Peninsula. The Dutch followed in 1596 and the English in 1600. By 1610 the Dutch had ousted the Portuguese, who were allowed to retain only the eastern part of Timor, but the English competition remained strong, and it was only after a series of Anglo-Dutch conflicts (1610–23) that the Dutch emerged as the dominant power in Indonesia.

Throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th cent. the Dutch East India Company steadily expanded its control over the entire area. When the company was liquidated in 1799, the Dutch government assumed its holdings, which were thereafter known in English as the Netherlands (or Dutch) East Indies. Dutch rule was briefly broken (1811–14) during the Napoleonic Wars when the islands were occupied by the British under T. Stamford Raffles. The Dutch exploited the riches of the islands throughout the 19th cent., but their rule did not go unchallenged by the Indonesians. In 1825, Prince Diponegoro of Java launched a long and bloody guerrilla war against the colonists, and in 1906 and again in 1908 the native rulers of Bali led their subjects in suicidal charges against Dutch fortifications.

Nationalism, Independence, and Sukarno

The Indonesian movement for independence began early in the 20th cent. The Indonesian Communist party (PKI) was founded in 1920; in 1927 the Indonesian Nationalist party (PNI) arose under the leadership of Sukarno. It received its impetus during World War II, when the Japanese drove out (1942) the Dutch and occupied the islands. In Aug., 1945, immediately after the Japanese surrender, Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta, another nationalist leader, proclaimed Indonesia an independent republic. The Dutch bitterly resisted the nationalists, and four years of intermittent and sometimes heavy fighting followed. Under UN pressure, an agreement was finally reached (Nov., 1949) for the creation of an independent republic of Indonesia. A new constitution provided for a parliamentary form of government. Sukarno was elected president, and Hatta became premier.

Although Sukarno had achieved a major accomplishment in uniting so many diverse peoples and regions under one government and one language, his administration was marked by inefficiency, injustice, corruption, and chaos. The rapid expropriation of Dutch property and the ousting of Dutch citizens (late 1950s) severely dislocated the economy; the country's great wealth was not exploited, and soaring inflation and great economic hardship ensued. A popular revolt, stemming from a desire for greater autonomy, began on Sumatra early in 1958 and spread to Sulawesi and other islands; the disorders led to increasingly authoritarian rule by Sukarno, who dissolved (1960) the parliament and reinstated the constitution of 1945, which had provided for a strong, independent executive (Hatta had resigned in 1956 following a conflict with Sukarno). The army, whose influence was strengthened by its role in quickly quelling the revolts, and the Communist party, whose ranks were growing very rapidly, constituted two important power blocs in Indonesian politics, with Sukarno holding the balance of power between the two.

In early 1962, Sukarno dispatched paratroopers to Netherlands New Guinea—territory claimed by Indonesia but firmly held by the Dutch—forcing the Dutch to agree to transfer that area to the United Nations with the understanding that it would pass under Indonesian administration in May, 1963, pending a referendum that was to be held by 1970. After the referendum, in Aug., 1969, Netherlands New Guinea was formally annexed by Indonesia, and its name was changed to West Irian (Irian Barat), then Irian Jaya, and later Papua. A guerrilla war was begun soon after by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM; Free Papua Movement), a group seeking Papua's independence.

Meanwhile, Sukarno made (1963) a major propaganda issue of Indonesian opposition to the newly created Federation of Malaysia and staged guerrilla raids into Malaysian territory on Borneo, beginning a conflict that was waged intermittently for three years. Sukarno began to lean increasingly toward the left, openly summoning Communist leaders for advice, exhibiting hostility toward the United States, and cultivating the friendship of Communist China. In 1965 he withdrew Indonesia from the United Nations. He may have known in advance of the abortive army coup that began in Sept., 1965, with the assassination of six high army officials.

The Suharto Regime

The coup was swiftly thwarted by army forces under General Suharto, who blamed the coup on the PKI (the degree of its involvement is unclear); Suharto may have known of the plot in advance. Suharto gradually assumed power (although retaining Sukarno as symbolic leader). Thousands of alleged Communists were executed; people everywhere took the law into their own hands and a widespread massacre ensued (Oct.–Dec., 1965). Estimates of the number of people killed range from 500,000 to 1 million; many ethnic Chinese died, and in E and central Java and in Bali entire villages were wiped out. In 2012 Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights called the events a gross violation of human rights.

The new government steadily increased its power, aided by massive student demonstrations against Sukarno. General Suharto brought an end (1966) to hostilities against Malaysia, banned the PKI, reestablished close ties with the United States, and reentered (1966) the United Nations. Indonesia became one of the founding countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. On Mar. 12, 1967, the national assembly voted Sukarno out of power altogether and named General Suharto acting president.

Suharto was elected president in 1968, and reelected in 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1998. His government reinstated an earlier Dutch colonial policy of "transmigration," in which farmers from the overpopulated islands of Java and Bali were moved to underpopulated areas such as Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Indonesian New Guinea. The policy has had mixed results; though more than six million had moved by the 1990s, Java and Bali continue to be heavily populated. The economy began to grow rapidly in the 1970s, due mainly to expanded oil, gas, and timber exports; in the 1980s and 90s manufacturing for export became important.

In 1975–76, Indonesia annexed East Timor (a former Portuguese colony), and incorporated it as a province of the country; the takeover was not recognized by the United Nations. Following the annexation, separatists in the largely Roman Catholic province resisted Indonesian control, suffering substantial loss of life. Indonesia came under increasing criticism from the United States and international organizations for human-rights abuses in the area.

During Suharto's regime, his family held sway over much of Indonesia's economic life, and government corruption increased. While the economic conditions of many Indonesians improved, opposition to his policies continued to be suppressed. In Oct., 1997, the country was plunged into economic upheaval when its currency plummeted. The stock market followed soon after, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to provide the country with a $40 billion aid package in exchange for economic reforms. Struggling under a huge foreign debt and Suharto's reluctance to implement the IMF reforms, Indonesia's economy continued to worsen in 1998. Student protests and riots over rising prices broke out across the country, with increasing demands for Suharto to resign. Suharto stepped down in May, 1998, and his vice president, B. J. Habibie, assumed the presidency, pledging reform, clean government, and economic responsibility. In June, the government reached an agreement with foreign bankers on the rescheduling of nearly $80 billion in debt.

Early in 1999, Indonesia and Portugal reached an agreement permitting the people of East Timor to choose between limited autonomy within Indonesia and independence in a referendum. Fighting in East Timor between government security forces and anti-independence militias on one side and separatist guerrillas on the other increased in mid-1999 as the vote approached. In August, voters chose independence, but the territory descended into chaos as pro-Indonesian militias and the army engaged in a campaign of terror and brutality, killing proindependence Timorese and causing thousands to flee their homes. In Sept., 1999, after intense international pressure, President Habibie asked the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to the area, and in October the United Nations agreed to take full control of East Timor until independence, which was achieved in 2002. Even as the situation in East Timor quieted down, however, calls for independence rose in other provinces, particularly Aceh, in N Sumatra, and Papua.

Meanwhile, in the June, 1999, parliamentary elections, the Indonesian Democratic party of Struggle of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno, came in first with 34% of the vote; President Habibie's Golkar party came in second, with 22%. In the Oct., 1999, presidential elections, Abdurrahman Wahid, of the National Awakening party, became the country's first democratically elected president after Megawati failed to build the coalition needed to win; she was chosen by parliament as vice president. A Muslim theologian and religious leader, as well as a defender of human rights and religious tolerance, Wahid moved to increase civilian control over the military, which lost influence and prestige following Suharto's fall and the East Timor debacle. He also was forced to deal with often vociferous opposition in parliament. The economy began to revive in 2000, although the currency (rupiah) suffered a sharp loss in value.

In Feb., 2001, the parliament censured the president, who was implicated in two corruption scandals. Wahid, who had alienated Megawati and suffered a drop in popularity, was censured again in April. Although he was subsequently cleared of wrongdoing in the scandals, the parliament voted in July to remove him from office. Megawati succeeded Wahid as president. Subsequently the parliament passed laws granting limited autonomy (including substantial control over natural resources) to Aceh and Papua, in the hope of undercutting local secessionist movements, but violence in both provinces has continued. An agreement was signed with the Aceh rebels in Dec., 2002, raising hopes for peace that were dashed six months later when Indonesia ended what it regarded as fruitless talks and resumed military action.

Relations were strained with Malaysia in 2002 when as many as 400,000 Indonesians were forcibly deported under a tough new anti-illegal-immigrant law. Constitutional amendments passed in the same year called for the direct election of the president and the elimination of the seats reserved for the military in the national legislature. Both amendments took effect in 2004. In Oct., 2002, a terrorist bombing at a night club in Bali that was frequented by foreigners killed more than 200 people. The bombing was apparently by Indonesian Islamic radicals linked to Al Qaeda. Terror bombings continued to be a sporadic problem in subsequent years, though none were as deadly as the Bali night club attack. A proposal in 2003 to split Papua into three provinces sparked new unrest there, and after legals appeals Papua was divided (2004) into Papua and West Irian Jaya (now West Papua).

Legislative elections in Apr., 2004, were a setback for Megawati's party, which came in second to Golkar; the latter won slightly more than a fourth of the seats. Seven parties secured significant blocks of seats. Megawati subsequently lost the presidency (Sept., 2004) to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general and security minister and the candidate of the Democrat party, after a runoff in Sept., 2004. The election was the first time that Indonesians were able to elect a president directly.

In Dec., 2004, a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake off NW Sumatra devastated Aceh, killing some 167,000 people, and a subsequent earthquake in March, caused much destruction on the islands of Simeulue and Nias, west of Sumatra. There was a polio outbreak in Java in May, 2005, that was linked to the persistence of the disease in W Africa and was believed to have been transmitted to Muslim pilgrims at Mecca. Indonesia began a massive immunization campaign that ultimately brought the outbreak under control. Acehnese rebels signed a peace agreement with the government in Aug., 2005, and subsequently disarmed in exchange for the establishment of local self-government. In May, 2006, an earthquake centered S of Yogyakarta in central Java killed some 5,800 people; a July quake off W Java caused a tsunami that killed some 400 people. Heavy rains caused massive flooding in the Jakarta area in Feb., 2007, forcing as many as 400,000 people from their homes. A series of severe earthquakes in Sept., 2007, caused caused much damage in W Sumatra.

In the parliamentary elections in Apr., 2009, the president's Democratic party won 148 seats; Golkar came in second (108 seats), followed by Megawati's party (93), and six other parties won seats. The July presidential elections were contested by Yudhoyono, Megawati, and, running as Golkar's candidate, Vice President Jusuf Kalla; the president secured a majority, avoiding a runoff election. An earthquake off the coast of W Sumatra in Sept., 2009, caused significant destruction and more than a thousand deaths in Padang and the surrounding area. In Nov., 2009, a scandal concerning attempts by high-ranking law-enforcement officials to damage the reputation of Indonesia's anticorruption agency by bringing false charges against two of its top officials hurt Yudhoyono when he failed to dismiss the law-enforcement officials. Subsequently, the president and his party were hurt by corruption investigations involving party members, including the party chairman in 2013.

In the Apr., 2014, parliamentary elections Megawati's party placed first with 109 seats, Golkar placed second with 91, and Gerinda, the party led by former general Prabowo Subianto, placed third with 73. Ten parties in all won seats. In the subsequent presidential election (July), Subianto was supported by a coalition of parties (including Golkar) that had won more than 60% of the seats in April, but his opponent, Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi and nominated by a coalition led by Megawati's party, was a popular anticorruption candidate and governor of Jakarta and won with 53% of the vote. Corruption and attacks by Islamic extremists have been significant problems in the early 21st cent.


See G. M. Kahin, Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia (1952, repr. 1970); C. A. Fisher, South-east Asia (1964); G. Coedès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia (1968); B. Dahm, History of Indonesia in the Twentieth Century (tr. 1971); H. R. Heekeren, The Stone Age of Indonesia (2d ed. 1972); W. T. Neill, Twentieth-Century Indonesia (1973); L. Palmier, ed., Understanding Indonesia (1985); D. Wilhelm, Emerging Indonesia (1986).

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Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) ............................................. 71
Kelapa Susu (Coconut Milk) ........................................ 71
Rujak (Spicy Fruit Salad, Indonesian National Salad) .... 71
Uli Petataws (Sweet Potato Fritters) ............................. 73
Sarikayo Telor (Coconut Milk Pudding) ....................... 74
Sambal Kecap (Chili and Soy Sauce)............................ 74
Es Pokat or Es Avocad, Bali (Avocado Drink) ................ 74
Tahu Goreng (Fried Tofu)............................................ 75
Pisang Goreng (Fried Banana Cakes) ........................... 77
Teh Halia (Hot Ginger Tea, Ambon) ............................ 77
Nasi Kuning (Yellow Rice)............................................ 78
Gado Gado (Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce)........ 78
Nasi Jagung (Corn Rice) .............................................. 79


The Republic of Indonesia consists of five large islands and thousands of smaller islands (about 6,000 of which are inhabited), with a total area of 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,100 square miles). The country's soil and climate support a number of agricultural crops, with sugar being the largest commercial crop. Indonesia is the world's third largest producer of coffee (after Brazil and Colombia), the the second-largest producer of palm oil (after Malaysia). Rice production increased during the 1980s and 1990s. Because of improved agricultural techniques, Indonesia now grows almost enough rice to meet the country's demands. However, the unrestricted use of fertilizers and pesticides has also resulted in significant damage to the environment.


Indonesia's 17,508 islands have attracted traders, pirates, and adventurers from all over the world throughout its history. Located among ancient trading routes and rich with botanical resources, these remote islands quickly became a global interest. Spices were valued not only for their flavor, but also for their ability to disguise spoiled foods, freshen breath, and remedy health problems. Though eastern Indonesia's "Spice Islands" received most of the attention, the country's cuisine, as a whole, developed largely as a result of spice-seeking immigrants.

Rice, the country's staple food, dates back as early as 2300 B.C. Ancient meals consisted of fish, fruits, and vegetables, including bananas, yams, coconut, and sugar cane. Trade with the Chinese, which first began around 2000 B.C., influenced Indonesian cuisine and is still evident through the use of tea, noodles, cabbage, mustard, soybeans, and the method of stir-frying. The Chinese dish, nasi goreng (fried rice), is one of Indonesia's national dishes.

By 100 A.D., curries (spicy sauces), cucumbers, onions, mangoes, and eggplant were brought over by traders and Hindu missionaries from India. Ginger, cumin, cardamom, coriander, and fennel were also introduced, adding to the wide variety of spices. Around the 1400s, Muslims from the Middle East began incorporating goat and lamb dishes into the Indonesian diet, as well as yogurt-based sauces (though coconut milk is now used in its place).

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to significantly affect Indonesian cuisine. They took control of trade routes to and from the islands, bringing with them cassava (a tropical root crop) and sweet potatoes. Cauliflower, cabbage, and turnips were brought to the islands about a century later by the powerful Dutch East Indies Company, which gained control of the trading routes. Though the Spanish contributed peanuts, tomatoes, corn, and the widely popular chili pepper, they were unable to defeat the Dutch, who ruled until the mid-1900s.

Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice)


  • 1½ cups cooked and cooled long grain rice
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • Pinch of dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. After preparing the rice, heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and add the onion, garlic, and chili powder.
  2. Add the rice, soy sauce, and sugar and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Combine and stir well, cooking for 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. If the mixture becomes too dry, add some water, or even a beaten egg.
  5. Remove from the heat and serve on a large plate.
  6. Garnish as desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Kelapa Susu (Coconut Milk)


  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 2 cups warm water


  1. Place the coconut in a pan and cover with the water.
  2. Allow to soak for 20 minutes and then squeeze the coconut very hard to produce a milky liquid.
  3. When the coconut milk has been added to a dish, it will need to be constantly stirred at first to avoid separation.

Rujak (Spicy Fruit Salad)

Rujak is considered Indonesia's national salad.


  • 1 medium-sized can pineapple chunks
  • 2 bananas, peeled and chopped
  • 3 green apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice


  1. Place all fruits and vegetables into a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine dressing ingredients.
  3. Pour the dressing over the fruits and vegetables. Chill before serving.

Serves 4 to 6.


The combination of geographic and cultural diversity in Indonesia has resulted in one of the most unique cuisines in the world. Although meals are generally simple, the plentiful use of various roots, spices, grasses, and leaves adds zest to most dishes. The common use of the chili pepper may mislead some to believe that all Indonesian dishes are spicy and hot. On the contrary, the most widely used spices are coriander (which has a faint orange flavor), cumin, and ginger, all relatively mild spices. In addition, most Indonesian food is prepared with contrasting flavors, such as a spicy sweet or hot sauce served over a bed of plain white rice, a popular meal throughout the country.

Rice is Indonesia's most important staple food. It normally accompany every meal and is often the main ingredient for desserts and beverages. The two most common types are nasi putih (long-grain white rice) and nasi ketan (glutinous rice), a rice that is most often used to make cakes, snacks, and other sweet treats. Those who cannot afford rice, or who live in a region with poor soil or low rainfall, must rely on an alternative staple, such as yams or soybeans. The reliable abundance of seafood across the country can also bring relief to hungry families. Most social classes, however, can afford drinks sold at warungs (street-lined food stalls) and kaki lima (food carts), including fruity refreshments and sugar- and cream-filled teas.

The most common method for preparing food is frying, though grilling, simmering, steaming, and even stewing (most often with coconut milk) are also popular. Some of the most commonly fried items are bumbu (basic spice paste), which frequently accompanies rice, and various meats such as chicken, goat, or beef. The final preparation for many meals consists of adding coconut milk, an essential cooking ingredient and a thickener for many sauces.

For as many similarities that exist across the islands, there are just as many regional differences. Bali, the most widely recognized Indonesian island, is home to cooked duck and babi guling (pig). Minahasa enjoys mice and dog, and the Sundanese of West Java prefer their meat or fish cooked in the blood of buffalo or pig. Most Indonesians also enjoy durian, an oval, football-sized fruit, although many Westerners consider its smell to be foul and unappetizing.

Uli Petataws (Sweet Potato Fritters)


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup coconut, grated
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar


  1. Scrub sweet potatoes, place them in a large saucepan. Cover with water and boil until soft (about 20 to 30 minutes). Drain and allow to cool.
  2. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add in coconut, vanilla, and salt and mix thoroughly.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  4. Shape about cup of the potato mixture into a round pancake, put 1 teaspoon of brown sugar in the center, and roll the pancake into a cylinder about 3 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.
  5. Repeat the procedure with the remaining sweet potato mixture and brown sugar.
  6. On a lightly oiled baking sheet, bake the fritters for 15 minutes.
  7. Serve at room temperature with coffee or tea.

Makes 6 fritters.

Sarikayo Telor (Steamed Egg and Coconut Milk Pudding)


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups coconut milk (canned is acceptable)


  1. Cook the granulated and brown sugar in water over low heat for 3 minutes, or until the sugars are completely dissolved and form a syrup; let the syrup cool.
  2. Whisk in the eggs, salt, vanilla, and coconut milk.
  3. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart heat-proof dish and steam over hot water for 15 minutes, or until the pudding is firm.
  4. Serve warm or chilled.

Serves 8.

Sambal Kecap (Chili and Soy Sauce)


  • 6 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 small fresh green chilies, sliced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tablespoons lime (or lemon) juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped


  1. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over a medium to low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. This sauce adds an excellent taste when poured over plain rice.

Serves 4.

Es Pokat or Es Avocad, Bali (Indonesian Avocado Drink)


  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons water
  • 2 avocados, peeled and pit removed
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate milk
  • Ice, crushed


  1. To make the simple syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium to high heat.
  2. Stir until clear. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Spoon out the avocado pulp and place in a blender.
  4. Add the syrup and blend to mix, then add cold milk and blend.
  5. Divide the mixture between two tall glasses. Top each serving with ½ cup chocolate milk (to form a separate layer) and crushed ice.

Makes 2 servings.

Tahu Goreng (Fried Tofu)


  • Vegetable oil, enough to deep-fry the tofu
  • ½ cup tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • Coriander (or parsley leaves or scallions) chopped, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a deep fry pan and deep-fry the tofu cubes until crispy and golden brown.
  2. Remove the cubes and drain on paper towels; place on a serving dish.
  3. Pour the soy sauce over the cubes, garnish, and serve.

Serves 4.


Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are the five religions officially recognized by the Indonesian government. The vast majority (approximately 87 percent) adheres to Islam, giving Indonesia one of the largest percentages of Muslims in the world.

Islam is the predominant religion throughout the country, maintaining five of the twelve national holidays. Puasa (Ramadan), a month-long observance of fasting and celebration, is the most important time of the year for Muslims. During Puasa, families rise as early as 3 a.m. to consume as much food as possible before dawn. The fast is broken every day after sunset, when groups come together for a large feast. Lebaran (also called Hari Raya or Eid al-Fitr ) marks the end of Puasa, as well as the return of regular eating habits. Among family and friends, Muslims often prepare ketupat, blocks of rice cooked in coconut or palm leaves. Cake and cookies are served with a seemingly bottomless pot of tea.

Selamatan is a uniquely Indonesian tradition. The custom of praying to a God before a significant event (such as marriage or building a new house) is still practiced by most. Following the prayer (and at the kickoff of most major events throughout the country), tumpeng, a cone-shaped mountain of steamed yellow rice, is sliced at the top and served.

Hari Raya Nyepi, the Hindu New Year (also known as the Hindu Day of Silence), is most elaborately celebrated on Bali, home to the greatest Indonesian Hindu population. On New Year's Eve, food is prepared for the following day (particularly homemade pastries and sweetmeats) when Hindus refrain from all activities, including food preparation. Streets are deserted and tourists are often not allowed to leave their hotel.

Secular (nonreligious) holidays offer more reasons to indulge in celebratory feasts. The most popular is Hari Proklamasi Kemerdekaan (Independence Day), celebrating Indonesia's independence from Holland on August 17, 1945. One of the most spirited observances takes place in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital. The city and its citizens prepare for the festivities several weeks ahead of time. Money is raised for contests such as the krupuk udang (shrimp crackers)eating children's contests and the women's baking contest, which is usually an attempt to make the largest tumpeng.

The memory of Raden Kartini, Indonesia's first woman emancipationist, is celebrated every April 21. In her honor, traditional family roles are reversed on this day, leaving the responsibility of cooking and housecleaning to fathers and children.

Pisang Goreng (Fried Banana Cakes)


  • 6 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • Oil, for deep-frying


  1. Finely mash the bananas and mix with sugar and flour.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok and drop in a large spoonful of batter.
  3. Cook several at one time, but do not overcrowd the wok or the temperature of the oil will be lowered.
  4. When cakes are crisp and golden brown, drain on paper towel and serve while still warm.

Makes 4 to 6 cakes.

A Typical Independence Day Menu

Gado-gado, steamed vegetables in peanut sauce

Sate, marinated meat or fish kebabs

Roti, Indonesian sweet bread

Nasi tumpeng, ceremonial cone-shaped steamed yellow rice (nasi kuning )

Krupuk udang, shrimp-flavored cracker snacks

Pisang goreng, fried banana cakes

The halia, hot ginger tea

Teh Halia (Hot Ginger Tea, Ambon)


  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, cracked


  1. Combine the water, sugar, and ginger in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain.

Serves 6.

Nasi Kuning (Yellow Rice)


  • 2 cups rice
  • 2¼ cups coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric (found in most supermarkets)
  • 1 blade lemon grass


  1. Wash and drain the rice.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until all the coconut milk is absorbed.
  4. Put the rice into a steamer (a vegetable steamer lined with cheesecloth set over boiling water will also work).
  5. Steam until the rice is tender.

Serves 4 to 6.

Gado Gado (Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce)


  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 10 string beans
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 8 to 12 ounces tofu (optional)
  • 5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in wedges
  • Peanut Sauce (available in small bottles in grocery stores)


  1. Boil all the vegetables (except tofu and cucumber), or steam until crisp and tender.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Cut the tofu into small pieces and fry until golden brown, then set aside.
  4. Place the cooked vegetables on a plate, top with the tofu, cucumber slices, and sliced hard-boiled eggs wedges, and pour the peanut sauce on last.

Makes 2 servings.


Mealtime is typically a casual and solitary affair for Indonesians, who often choose to snack on a variety of small dishes throughout the day, rather than three larger meals. Indonesian women gather needed provisions early in the day, including picking fresh fruits and vegetables from their own gardens or purchasing ingredients from the local market. Once the meals are prepared, they are usually left, at room temperature, on the kitchen table for family members to nibble on whenever they are hungry.

When separate larger meals are consumed, makan pagi (breakfast) is normally a bowl of fried rice, noodles, or soto (soup), accompanied by Java coffee (which has become world famous) or tea. Makan siang (lunch) is often the main meal of the day, followed by makan malam (dinner) after the workday has ended. The base of most meals is nasi (rice).

When a meal is enjoyed together, the prepared dishes are usually placed in the middle of a table or a floor mat so everyone may share. Rijstafel (meaning "rice table"), an idea brought to the islands by the Dutch, almost always includes nasi, accompanied by a variety of meats and vegetables for the purpose of contrasting flavors and textures. Hot and spicy dishes will often be served with a distinct texture, such as crunchy peanuts or krupuk (crispy crackers), or a contrasting flavor, such as a creamy gravy, palm sugar, or kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce.

Similar to a small convenience store in the United States, Indonesia's warung provide villages and towns with a place for social gathering and a quick bite or refreshing drink. Giant krupuks are commonly sold to children rushing off to school, while adults may prefer a refreshing banana and milk beverage or nasi campur (boiled rice topped with meat, vegetables, and egg). Students normally eat the foods offered to them by their school, which usually include sweet potatoes, rice, corn, fruits and vegetables, and chocolate milk made from powdered milk imported from the United States. (According to the United Kingdom's independent charity, Milk for Schools (MFS), chocolate milk is thought to have boosted school attendance among low-income households by 20 percent in the late 1990s.)

Nasi Jagung (Corn Rice)


  • 1½ cups uncooked rice, washed thoroughly
  • 1½ cups sweet corn kernels, cut from the cob or canned


  1. Place the rice and corn in a pot with 3½ cups of water and bring to a boil. (If using canned sweet corn, do not add water).
  2. Simmer the rice and corn until the water is absorbed.
  3. If using canned sweet corn, add the water now.
  4. Lower the heat to low and cook rice and corn for another 10 minutes, until the rice is dry and fluffy.


About 6 percent of the population of Indonesia is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 34 percent are underweight, and more than 42 percent are stunted (short for their age).

The economic crisis of the late 1990s took a toll on the welfare of the nation's children; infant mortality nearly doubled between 1995 and 1998. As of 1999, UNICEF estimated that eight million pre-school-age children suffered from malnutrition. In 1994-95, only 63 percent of the population had access to safe water, and 55 percent had adequate sanitation. In addition, severe drought caused Indonesia to be the world's number one importer of rice in 1998. However, Indonesia has received much help from the UN, particularly through the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, in solving health problems. The Ministry of Health is also seeking to build up a health service to provide more facilities and better-trained personnel.



Anderson, Susan. Indonesian Flavors. Berkeley, CA: Frog, Ltd., 1995.

Backshall, Stephen and David Leffman, Lesley Reader, and Henry Stedman. Indonesia: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd., 1999.

Food of Indonesia, The. Singapore: Periplus Editions Ltd., 1995.

Jeys, Kevin (ed.). Indonesia Handbook: Sixth Edition. Chico, California: Moon Publications, Inc., 1995.

Lonely Planet Publications. Lonely Planet: Indonesia (6th ed.). Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications, 2000.

Marks, Copeland. The Exotic Kitchens of Indonesia: Recipes from the Outer Islands. New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc., 1989.

Peterson, Joan and David. Eat Smart in Indonesia. Madison, WI: Gingko Press, Inc., 1997.

Web Sites [Online] Available (accessed March 21, 2001).

Living in Indonesia, Site for Expatriates. [Online] Available (accessed March 19, 2001).

Milk for Schools. [Online] Available (accessed March 20, 2001).

Selamatan Ceremony. [Online] Available (accessed March 20, 2001).

Tourism Indonesia. [Online] Available (accessed March 16, 2001).

WorldBank. [Online] Available (accessed March 20, 2001).

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Official name: Republic of Indonesia

Area: 1,919,440 square kilometers (741,096 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Puncak Jaya (5,030 meters/16,503 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern, Southern, and Eastern

Time zones: Western, 7 p.m. = noon GMT; Central, 8 p.m. = noon GMT; Eastern, 9 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 5,271 kilometers (3,275 miles) from east to west; 2,210 kilometers (1,373 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 2,774 kilometers (1,719 miles) total boundary length; East Timor 172 kilometers (106 miles); Malaysia 1,782 kilometers (1,104 miles); Papua New Guinea 820 kilometers (508 miles)

Coastline: 54,716 kilometers (33,999 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia, located between the Indian Ocean on the west and south and the Pacific Ocean on the east and north.


Indonesia shares parts of Borneo with Malaysia and Brunei and parts of the province of Papua (located on the island of New Guinea and formerly known as Irian Jaya) with Papua New Guinea. Indonesia disputes ownership of Sipadan and Ligitan Islands with Malaysia.


Indonesia has a tropical climate, with high humidity (an average of 82 percent) and high temperatures. There are two basic seasons: a rainy season from November to March; and a hot, drier season from April through October. Temperatures in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, generally range from 23°C (73°F) to 33°C (91°F). Average yearly rainfall for Indonesia as a whole is approximately 200 centimeters (78 inches). In lowland areas, the average annual rainfall ranges from 180 to 320 centimeters (70 to 125 inches); while in the mountains it can reach as much as 610 centimeters (238 inches). The fearsome typhoons of the South China Sea spend themselves before reaching Indonesian waters, and the gales that blow from time to time through the Torres Strait, between Australia and New Guinea, seldom move farther than the extreme southeastern islands of the archipelago, so the seas of Indonesia are generally calm.


Indonesia consists of more than thirteen thousand islands scattered over a distance of about 5,149 kilometers (3,200 miles) above and below the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, in the largest archipelago in the world. Five major islands make up 90 percent of Indonesia's land area. These are Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, plus parts of Borneo and New Guinea. Indonesia also contains about thirty smaller island groups, the largest of which is Nusa Tenggara, which includes the islands of Lombok, Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores, and Timor. In 1999, East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia.

Along the length of Indonesia's island chain the landscape is highly varied, and volcanic mountains stand out in sharp relief on most of the larger islands.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Citizens of Indonesia often refer to their country as "Tanah Air Kitah," "Our Land and Water," which illustrates the importance of the seas surrounding the archipelago. Indonesia forms a natural barrier between the Indian Ocean to the south and west, the open Pacific Ocean to the northeast, and the South China Sea to the north. South of the island of Java is the lowest point in the Indian Ocean, the Java Trench, some 7,300 meters (24,000 feet) deep. Between Timor and Australia is the Timor Trough, which is approximately 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) deep. In the waters directly off the islands of Indonesia are at least 10 percent of the world's coral reefs. Fishing practices and land erosion increasingly endangers these important marine ecosystems.

Sea Inlets and Straits

There are a vast number of straits and passages found around the islands of Indonesia. The Karimata Strait connects the South China Sea to the Java Sea. The Strait of Malacca, running between Sumatra and mainland Malaysia and connecting the South China Sea to the Bay of Bengal, is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Most ships heading to the east coast of Asia from the west pass through this strait, as does most traffic from East Asia heading west. The Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra is also heavily traveled. The Great Channel separates the northernmost tip of Sumatra from India's Nicobar Islands. Further east among the islands is the Makassar Strait between Borneo and Sulawesi. It connects the Sulawesi (Celebes) Sea in the north with the Java, Bali, and Flores Seas in the south.

Islands and Archipelagos

The islands of Indonesia are part of the Malay Archipelago, which also includes the Philippines. The Indonesian part of the archipelago includes more than thirteen thousand islands, many of them only a few acres in size. Not all of these islands have been officially named, and only about one thousand are inhabited.

Most of the islands rise from the submerged Sunda shelf, considered a continuation of the Asian continent. The western and central islands are known as the Sunda Islands. Sumatra, Java, Borneo (the Indonesian part of which is called Kalimantan), and Sulawesi, along with the surrounding islands, are known as the Greater Sunda Islands. Borneo is the largest of these; at 751,929 square kilometers (290,320 square miles), it is the third-largest island on Earth. Smaller islands in this region include Bangka, Belitung, and the Mentawi Islands.

Further east are the Lesser Sunda Islands. They begin with Bali and extend to Timor. Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, and Sumba are the other large islands in this chain, which is also known as Nusa Tenggara. Along with Savu and Roti Islands, they enclose the Savu Sea. Even further to the east are the Maluku Islands, formerly called the Moluccas. Most of the Maluku are found in groups of small and medium-sized islands, such as the Tanimbar Islands, Aru Islands, Kai Islands, and Sula Islands. Halmahera, Wetar, Buru, and Ceram are the largest individual islands.

New Guinea, the island of which Indo-nesia's Papua state is the western half, is the second-largest island in the world (884,824 square kilometers/341,631 square miles).

Coastal Features

Indonesia has one of the world's longest coastlines. The southwestern islands are similar in that their shores tend to be steep, with few sandy beaches, while their northern and eastern coasts are mostly flat in terrain. Sulawesi is formed from four peninsulas, with the long, northernmost, Minahasa Peninsula curved around the Tomini Gulf, while the two southern arms enfold the Bone Gulf. Between the two is the Gulf of Todo. Kalimantan has a jagged coastline with numerous river deltas that empty into the South China Sea, Java Sea, Makassar Strait, and Celebes Sea. At the far side of the archipelago, the northwest region of Papua is known as the Bird's Head Peninsula.


More than five hundred lakes are scattered across Indonesia. By far the largest Indonesian lake is Lake Toba in northern Sumatra, covering more than 1,300 square kilometers (502 square miles) between towering cliffs that once were the rim of a volcanic crater. Toba is one of the deepest lakes in the world, plunging over 450 meters (1,476 feet). It is also one of the highest, at 900 meters (2,953 feet) above sea level. In addition to Toba, notable Sumatran lakes include Manindjau and Singkarak.

The central region of Sulawesi has a pair of deep lakes: Lake Towuti, which is 48 kilometers (30 miles) wide, and Lake Matana. Lake Poso is in north-central Sulawesi. In northern Sulawesi, lakes include Limboto and Tandano. Kalimantan's lakes include the three Mahakam lakes. The Mahakam River basin, an important bird habitat, contains ninety-six lakes altogether. The island of Flores is famous for a trio of lakes at the top of volcanic Mount Keli Mulu, each of which has water of a different color (green, maroon, and black) due to variation in mineral content.


Rivers are found in every part of the islands. Although most rivers are short, they are often important for irrigation. Major rivers can be found on Kalimantan, Java, Papua, and Sumatra. Indonesia's longest river, the Kapuas, which is 1,143 kilometers (710 miles) long, is in Kalimantan, flowing from the north-central mountains to the South China Sea. Other major rivers in Kalimantan are the Barito, Mahakham, and Rajang. Southern Kalimantan is crisscrossed with a network of hundreds of smaller rivers.

Sumatra's rivers include the Batanghari and Musi in the south, and the Indragiri and Kampar in the center of the island. Java's rivers are used for irrigation; they include the Solo, which is Java's longest at 560 kilometers (348 miles), Tarum, and Brantas. Many rivers wind through Papua, including the Mamberamo, which runs into the Pacific Ocean.


There are no deserts in Indonesia.


Many of the Lesser Sunda Islands, including Sumba, Lombok, Sumbawa, and Timor, have extensive grassland areas, as do parts of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua. Most of these grasslands are areas where forests have been cut or burned. Bamboo, both wild and cultivated, grows in many parts of Indonesia, although wild bamboo is also being cleared.

Indonesia has a variety of forest types: rainforests in Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Papua; monsoon forests in the Lesser Sunda Islands; coastal mangrove forests; and alpine forests in the mountains of Papua. Indonesia has been estimated to be the habitat of 12 percent of the world's mammal species and 16 percent of the bird species, as well as 11 percent of plant species.

Many hill areas on Bali and Java are covered with rice terraces, which help to prevent soil erosion. On Java, tea plantations occupy numerous hillsides as well. The area of volcanic foothills of the Bandung district is the best-known hill region of Java. The islands of Nusa Tenggara, including Lombok and Timor, have grass-covered hills. Much of Sulawesi is highland, including the region called Torojaland in the south of the island. Kalimantan's north-central region is distinguished by hilly terrain.


The mountains of Indonesia are chains that run underneath the sea and show their peaks and ridges above it in the form of islands. Sulawesi is extremely mountainous, with peaks rising in places to well over 2,438 meters (8,000 feet).

The Barisan Mountains of Sumatra follow the island's west coast. The highest peaks reach more than 3,600 meters (12,000 feet), with Kerintji (3,805 meters/12,483 feet) being the tallest. On Java, the mountains also lie close to the shoreline of the Indian Ocean. The highest peaks are in the Tengger Mountains in the east. Many of the islands of Nusa Tenggara and the Maluku (the islands between Sulawesi and New Guinea) are mountainous. On Bali, Lombok, and Ceram, there are peaks of over 3,048 meters (10,000 feet).

Papua in New Guinea has towering non-volcanic mountains, the highest in Indonesia. The Maoke Mountains extend almost the entire length of the province. Some peaks are covered with snow throughout the year, including Puncak Jaya, (5,030 meters/16,503 feet) the country's loftiest peak. Puncak Jaya is counted (for the continent of Australia/Oceania) as one of the "Seven Summits" sought by mountaineers who attempt to climb the highest peak on every continent.

The Muller Mountains of Borneo run mainly along Indonesia's northern border with Malaysia. Mount Raya (2,278 meters/7,474 feet) is the highest peak.

Lying along the borders of the Eurasian, Australian, and Philippine Tectonic Plates, Indonesia is the most highly volcanic region in the world. More than one hundred peaks either are active or were active until recently. The greatest population density is to be found in the regions where volcanoes have erupted. Thus Java, with the most volcanoes, is by far the most densely populated of the islands.


Rivers have carved dramatic canyons in some regions of Sumatra and Java. In Sumatra, notable canyons include Sianok Canyon, a 150-meter (492-feet)-deep limestone gorge that is 15 kilometers (9 miles) long; the Harau Valley nature reserve, which is 492 to 1,312 feet (150 to 400 meters) wide, with walls 80 to 300 meters (262 to 984 feet) deep; and the Anai Valley gorge. The Green Canyon, a nature reserve, is situated in western Java close to the coast. Many caves also can be found in Java on the Thousand Hills (Gunung Sewu) Plateau.


The island of Sumatra has significant plateau areas, including Tanah Karo with approximately 5,000 square kilometers (1,930 square miles) of fertile volcanic soil; the Agam Plateau; and the Maninjau Plateau, which rises 700 meters (2,296 feet) above Maninjau Lake. The landscape of Java is elevated in the Thou-sand Hills Plateau and the Dieng Plateau, an area famous for its mineral lakes and ancient Hindu temple ruins.


Due to the abundance of lakes, dams are common in Indonesia and provide power for many households. These dams create many artificial lakes, most notably along the Asahan River.



Fisher, Frederick. Indonesia. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 2000.

Moose, Carol. Indonesia. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke, 2001.

Riehecky, Janet. Indonesia. Mankato, MN: Bridgestone Books, 2002.

Web Sites

Inside Indonesia. (accessed April 24, 2003).

World Wide Web Virtual Library: Indonesia. (accessed April 24, 2003).

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The Republic of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, has 203 million people living on nearly 1,000 permanently settled islands. Java and Madura hold about 60 percent of the nation's population. Some 200–300 ethnic groups with their own languages and cultures inhabit the nation, some numbering in the millions, some in the thousands. The national motto, Unity in Diversity, expresses a hope that the multicultural nation can build a common national culture overlaying ethnic and regional ones.

For more than 2,000 years trading ships have sailed between India and China via the equatorial spice islands. From about 100 c.e. to 1400 c.e., Indian culture was spread widely and deeply by traders and others, though there was never imperialism from India. Kingdoms developed, whose rulers adopted Hinduism and Buddhism. From about 1200 c.e. to 1600 c.e., Islam was brought by traders and teachers from India and the Middle East, and today Indonesia has the most Muslims of any nation. The Portuguese and Dutch came to trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the nineteenth century the Dutch colonial government controlled Java and had links to rulers on other islands. In the early twentieth century Netherlands Indies expanded from Sumatra to West New Guinea, the present borders of Indonesia. Nationalist movements arose, led by intellectuals and religious leaders representing various cultures of the archipelago. The Dutch remained in control until 1942 when the Japanese occupied the archipelago. They attempted to return in 1945 when Indonesians declared independence, but they met armed resistance and the Indonesians and Dutch for five years. The Dutch withdrew in 1950 and the Republic of Indonesia was born (Rickleffs 1993).

Kinship is a primal loyalty of great importance throughout Indonesia. Obligations to kin can be onerous, but they provide vital support in various aspects of life. Government provides little social security, unemployment insurance, or elder care: these are provided by family and kin networks. This also leads to familial and ethnic nepotism, patronage, and paternalism in public and private sectors. Many Indonesian ethnic groups have clans and lineages based upon descent. Patriliny is most common, though matriliny is found in a few societies, such as the Minangkabau of West Sumatra (Blackwood 2000). Some societies, such as the Javanese, have bilateral kinship systems of the type found in the United States.

Marriage and Parenthood

Marriage and parenthood give people full adult status. In Indonesian, one does not ask, "Is he/she married?" but "Is he/she married yet?" to which the correct response is, "Yes" or "Not yet." The same is true in questions about whether a person has children. Unmarried adults are uncommon, though urban people are marrying at later ages than in the past or in rural society. Even homosexuals are under family pressure to marry, whether or not their orientation is known.

Marriage in many Indonesian societies commonly involves protracted negotiation and gift exchanges, often involving middle persons. Certain societies in Sumatra and Eastern Indonesia practice affinal alliance, by which marriages are arranged between persons in patrilineages who are related (near or distantly) as cross-cousins. In these societies the relationship between wife-giving and wife-taking lineages is basic to the structure of society and involves lifelong obligations for exchange of goods and services between kin (Singarimbum 1975). For Batak, a prominent Sumatran example of such a people, clan membership and marriage alliances between lineages are important whether they live in their mountain homeland or have migrated to distant cities. Though marriages may be made to perpetuate relationships between lineages, love between young people also may be considered by their families and kinsmen, as may education, occupation, religion, and wealth among urbanites. Newly married couples are usually expected to live with the parents of one spouse, especially before a child is born, and many societies require the husband to serve the wife's parents during that time.

In societies without lineal descent groups, love is more prominent in leading people to marry, but again class, education, occupation, religion, or wealth (in cities), or the capacity to work hard, be a good provider, and have access to land or other resources (in villages), are also considered. Among stratified societies such as Javanese or Bugis, higher status families are more likely to arrange marriages (or veto potential relationships). Marriage can be an important means of maintaining, advancing, or losing family social status, and extravagant marriage ceremonies with Hindu-derived ritual are used to display status (Koentjaraningrat 1985).

Among Muslims divorce is governed by Muslim law and may be settled in Muslim courts or, as with non-Muslims, in government civil courts. Initiation of divorce and its settlements favor males in Muslim courts and also much customary law. Divorce also may be handled by local elders and officials according to customary law, and terms for settlements may vary considerably by ethnic group. Societies with strong descent groups, such as the Batak, eschew divorce and it is rare (Rodenburg 1997). Such societies may also practice the levirate (requiring widows to remarry a brother or cousin of their deceased spouse). In societies without descent groups, such as the Javanese, divorce is reportedly frequent and is initiated by either spouse. Divorce among upper-class and wealthy Javanese is rarer (Brenner 1998).

Polygamy is recognized among Muslims, some immigrant Chinese, and some traditional societies, but not by Christians. Such marriages are probably few. Marriages between members of different religions are rare, and those between members of different ethnic groups remain relatively uncommon, though they are increasing in urban areas and among the better educated.

Family and Gender

The nuclear family of husband, wife, and children is the most common domestic unit, though elders and unmarried siblings may be added to it in various societies and at various times. It is found among remote peoples and city dwellers, and is unrelated to the presence or absence of clans in a society. An exception is the rural matrilineal Minangkabau, for whom the domestic unit still comprises co-resident females around a grandmother (or mothers) with married and unmarried daughters and sons in a large traditional house. A husband comes only as a visitor to his wife's hearth and bedchamber. Some societies, such as the Dayak of Kalimantan, live in long houses with multiple hearths and bedchambers belonging to related or even unrelated nuclear families.


Inheritance patterns are diverse even within single societies. Muslim inheritance favors males over females as do the customs of many traditional societies (an exception being matrilineal ones where rights over land, for example, are passed down between females.) Inheritance disputes may be settled in Muslim or civil courts, or by customary village ways. Though custom generally favors males, actual practice often gives females inheritances. Many societies distinguish between inherited and acquired property: the former is passed on in clan or family lines, the latter goes to children or the spouse of the deceased. In many areas land is communal property of a kin or local group, whereas household goods, personal items, or productive equipment are familial or individual inheritable property. With changing economic conditions, newer ideas about property, and increasing demand for money, rules and practices regarding inheritance are changing, and this can produce conflicts that a poorly organized legal system and weakened customary leaders cannot easily manage.

Though Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, the status of women is considered to be relatively high, though their position and rights vary considerably in different ethnic groups, even Muslim ones. Nearly everywhere gender ideology, both by custom and national reinforcement, views men as community leaders and decision makers (even among matrilineal Minangkabau) whereas women are the backbones of the home and teachers of values to the children.

Women and men share many tasks in village agriculture across the archipelago, though plowing is more often done by men and harvest groups composed only of women are commonly seen. Gardens may be tended by either sex, though men more commonly tend orchards. Men hunt and fish, which may take them away for a long time. If men do long-term work outside the village, women may do all aspects of farming and gardening. Women are found in the urban work force in stores, small industries, and markets, as well as in upscale businesses, but usually in fewer numbers and lower positions than men. Many elementary school teachers are women, but men are more frequently teachers in secondary schools and universities. Men dominate all levels of government, though some women are found in various subordinate positions. The 2001–2004 president's cabinet has thirty-two ministers, only two of whom are women. President Megawati Sukarnoputri is a woman, though her following derives mainly from respect for her father, Sukarno, the leading nationalist and first president, rather than any of her achievements. She was opposed, unsuccessfully, by many Muslim leaders because of her gender.

Increasing urbanization and interregional migration in the 1980s and 1990s, the need felt by rural people to seek money in the city, weak urban infrastructure, and poor employment opportunities for many school graduates, put strains on families and marriages. After 1998, the fall of President Suharto, political instability, economic deterioration, decreasing law and order, and communal and religious violence in some areas added strain to family and kin networks in both urban and rural areas. However, they continue to be vital resources for supporting people in Indonesia.

See also:Ethnic Variation/Ethnicity; Islam; Kinship


blackwood, e. (2000). webs of power: women, kin, andcommunity in a sumatran village. lanham, md: rowman & littlefield.

brenner, s. a. (1998). the domestication of desire:women, wealth, and modernity in java. princeton, nj: princeton university press.

geertz, h. (1989). the javanese family: a study of kinship and socialization. prospect heights, il: waveland.

geertz, h., and geertz, c. (1975). kinship in bali.chicago: university of chicago press.

koentjaraningrat. (1985). javanese culture. singapore: oxford university press.

rickleffs, m. c. (1993). a history of modern indonesia since c. 1300, 2nd edition. stanford, ca: stanford university press.

rodenburg, j. (1997). in the shadow of migration: ruralwomen and their households in north tapanuli, indonesia. leiden, the netherlands: kitlv press.

singarimbun, m. (1975). kinship, descent and alliance among the karo batak. berkeley: university of california press.

williams, w. l. (1991). javanese lives: women and men inmodern indonesian society. new brunswick, nj: rutgers university press.

clark e. cunningham

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Indonesia is essentially an equatorial country that stretches from 11° S to 4° N,a location that gives its climate a certain unity. It is a very large country, spanning from west to east more than 4,800 kilometers between 95° E and 141° E. Of its myriad islands at least 6,000 are inhabited by people we call "Indonesians." They have also been called "Maylay Islanders," "Malaysians," or "East Indians." The term "Indonesian" was invented by James Richardson Logan in his study The Languages and Ethnology of the Indian Archipelago (1857).

Although this name is applied today to any of the 195,300,000 citizens of the Indonesian nation-state (1992 estimate) and not to any one culture, there is a certain unity to the Indonesian people, which can be recognized in physical features, language, economy, and religion. (What follows, on the other hand, hardly applies to the approximately 1,600,000 Papuans on the half-island of Irian Jaya, also called Irian Barat or western New Guinea. These people, being Melanesiane, were more appropriately covered under various headings in volume 2, Oceania. See also the article on Irianese.)

Indonesians are typically short in stature (males being in the range of 1.5-1.6 meters), with wavy black hair and medium-brown complexion. As their location at the southeastern tip of Asia suggests, the present population must represent an earlier mingling of southern Mongols, Proto-Malays, Polynesians, and, in some areas, Arabs, Indians, or Chinese. All speak languages related to Malay (i.e., the Austronesian Family), except in New Guinea and the northern half of Halmahera. The economy of most Indonesian cultures is based on intensive cultivation of irrigated rice, although for many communities plantation crops or trade are also very important pursuits. Some 87 percent of Indonesians are Sunni Muslims, a widespread religious adherence that presents another unifying factor. About 9 percent are Christians, and there are some Hindus (mainly Balinese) and Buddhists (mainly some 3 million Chinese).

Indonesia has had a long history of colonial contact. After some early intercourse with the Portuguese, Spanish, and English, the entire area of Indonesia fell under Dutch colonial rule from 1627 to 1942. Throughout this very long period the Dutch were interested primarily in developing commerce and plantation crops, and did relatively little to modernize society or propagate Christianity. The Japanese invasion in 1942 ultimately led to national independence in 1949. Up to that time the country had variously been known in the literature as the Netherlands Indies, Dutch East India, the Malay Archipelago, Malaysia, or the East Indies (also Hinterindien, Insulinde, Malaiischer Archipel, or Niederländisch-Ostindien in German; Nederlandsch-Indië or Tropischen Holland in Dutch); the name "Indonesia" was favored by anthropological writers because it paralleled the names given the neighboring culture areas of Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.

The small adjoining islands of Java, Madura, and Bali, which together make up barely 7 percent of Indonesia's land area, are disproportionately prominent in the country, both politically and economically, because together they are home to more than 63 percent of the total national population, contain the national capital and the most intensive area of rice production, and are the center of the modern tourist industry.

One might very loosely categorize the cultures of Indonesia under three headings: Hinduized societies practicing rice cultivation, Islamized mercantile cultures on some coasts, and remote tribal groups that engage in a variety of economic activities. (For further details, see the Introduction to this volume.)

Several dozen distinct Indonesian cultures are discussed in separate articles in this volume. A total enumeration of such cultures would probably exceed 300, depending on the ethnolinguistic criteria employed.

See also Balinese; Javanese; Madurese


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Indonesia .

Country statistics


1,904,570sq km (735,354sq mi)



capital (population):

Jakarta (8,389,443)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Javanese 39%, Sundanese 16%, Indonesian (Malay) 12%, Madurese 4%, more than 300 others


Bahasa Indonesian (official)


Muslim (mainly Sunni) 87%, Protestant 6%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 3%, Buddhist 1%


Indonesian rupiah = 100 sen

Republic in the Malay archipelago, se Asia. The southeast Asian republic of Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation and fourth most populous nation. It is also the world's largest archipelago, with 13,677 islands (less than 6000 of which are inhabited). Three-quarters of its area and population is included in five islands: the Greater Sunda Islands of Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan; and Irian Jaya (w New Guinea). More than 50% of the population live on Java, home of the capital, Jakarta. The Lesser Sunda Islands include Bali, Timor, and Lombok. Indonesia is mountainous and earthquake prone. It has more active volcanoes (over 100) than any other country.

Climate and Vegetation

Indonesia lies on the Equator, and it is hot and humid throughout the year. Rainfall is generally heavy; only the Sunda Islands have a dry season. Mangrove swamps line the coast. Tropical rainforests remain the major vegetation on less populated islands. Much of the larger islands have been cleared by logging and shifting cultivation.

History and Politics

The Indian Gupta dynasty dominated the region in the 7th and 8th centuries, introducing Buddhism and building Borobudur. In the 13th century, Hinduism replaced Buddhism. By the end of the 16th century, Islam had become the main religion. In 1511, the Portuguese seized Malacca. By 1610 the Dutch acquired all of Portugal's holdings, except East Timor. During the 18th century, the Dutch East India Company controlled the region. In 1883, Krakatoa erupted, claiming c.50,000 lives. In 1927, Sukarno formed the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI). During World War 2, the Japanese expelled the Dutch (1942) and occupied Indonesia. In August 1945, Sukarno proclaimed independence; the Dutch resisted. In November 1949, Indonesia became a republic, with Sukarno as its first president. During the 1950s, economic hardship and secessionist demands were met with authoritarian measures. In 1962, paratroopers seized Netherlands New Guinea and, in 1969, it became part of Indonesia as Irian Jaya. In 1966, General Suharto assumed control, and was elected president (1968). In 1975, Indonesian forces seized East Timor, declaring it a province of Indonesia. Resistance to Indonesia claimed the lives of more than 200,000 East Timorese before it voted for independence in 1999. Economic crisis provoked riots and Suharto resigned in May 1997. B. J. Habibie replaced him. In October 1999 Abdurrahman Wahid succeeded Habibie. Parliament dismissed Wahid after allegations of corruption and incompetence. Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of former leader Sukarno, was elected president in 2001. In 2002 East Timor gained independence and terrorist bomb attacks in Bali killed nearly 200 people, mainly tourists. In December 2004, some more than 200,000 Indonesians died in the Indian Ocean tsunami, with the worst death toll at the western end of Sumatra.


Indonesia is a developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$2900). In 1997 the economy collapsed and, despite the IMF's US$49.2 billion package, the value of the rupiah fell by 300%. Agriculture employs 56% of the workforce. Oil is the most valuable resource. Indonesia is the world's second-largest exporter of natural gas and rubber. In 2002, The bomb attacks on Bali seriously damaged the Indonesian economy.

Political map

Physical map


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Indonesia, with over 195 million inhabitants, is the fourth-most-populous country in the world (after China, India, and the United States.) Collectively, the people of Indonesia are called Indonesians. However, by one estimate, there are more than 250 distinct cultural groups (sukus) in Indonesia, speaking as many as 700 languages. Among the largest are the Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese, each of whom is profiled in this chapter. Also profiled in this chapter are the Asmat, an isolated group living on the island of New Guinea. To learn more about the Malays, another important group living in Indonesia, see the chapter on Malaysia in Volume 5.

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Culture Name



Identification. The Republic of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, has 203 million people living on nearly one thousand permanently settled islands. Some two-to-three hundred ethnic groups with their own languages and dialects range in population from the Javanese (about 70 million) and Sundanese (about 30 million) on Java, to peoples numbering in the thousands on remote islands. The nature of Indonesian national culture is somewhat analogous to that of Indiamulticultural, rooted in older societies and interethnic relations, and developed in twentieth century nationalist struggles against a European imperialism that nonetheless forged that nation and many of its institutions. The national culture is most easily observed in cities but aspects of it now reach into the countryside as well. Indonesia's borders are those of the Netherlands East Indies, which was fully formed at the beginning of the twentieth century, though Dutch imperialism began early in the seventeenth century. Indonesian culture has historical roots, institutions, customs, values, and beliefs that many of its people share, but it is also a work in progress that is undergoing particular stresses at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

The name Indonesia, meaning Indian Islands, was coined by an Englishman, J. R. Logan, in Malaya in 1850. Derived from the Greek, Indos (India) and nesos (island), it has parallels in Melanesia, "black islands"; Micronesia, "small islands"; and Polynesia, "many islands." A German geographer, Adolf Bastian, used it in the title of his book, Indonesien, in 1884, and in 1928 nationalists adopted it as the name of their hoped-for nation.

Most islands are multiethnic, with large and small groups forming geographical enclaves. Towns within such enclaves include the dominant ethnic group and some members of immigrant groups. Large cities may consist of many ethnic groups; some cities have a dominant majority. Regions, such as West Sumatra or South Sulawesi, have developed over centuries through the interaction of geography (such as rivers, ports, plains, and mountains), historical interaction of peoples, and political-administrative policies. Some, such as North Sumatra, South Sulawesi, and East Java are ethnically mixed to varying degrees; others such as West Sumatra, Bali, and Aceh are more homogeneous. Some regions, such as South Sumatra, South Kalimantan, and South Sulawesi, share a long-term Malayo-Muslim coastal influence that gives them similar cultural features, from arts and dress to political and class stratification to religion. Upland or upriver peoples in these regions have different social, cultural, and religious orientations, but may feel themselves or be perforce a part of that region. Many such regions have become government provinces, as are the latter three above. Others, such as Bali, have not.

Location and Geography. Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation, is located astride the equator in the humid tropics and extends some 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) east-west, about the same as the contiguous United States. It is surrounded by oceans, seas, and straits except where it shares an island border with East Malaysia and Brunei on Borneo (Kalimantan); with Papua New Guinea on New Guinea; and with Timor Loro Sae on Timor. West Malaysia lies across the Straits of Malaka, the Philippines lies to the northeast, and Australia lies to the south.

The archipelago's location has played a profound role in economic, political, cultural, and religious developments there. For more than two thousand years, trading ships sailed between the great civilizations of India and China via the waters and islands of the Indies. The islands also supplied spices and forest products to that trade. The alternating east and west monsoon winds made the Indies a layover point for traders and others from diverse nations who brought their languages, ideas about political order, and their arts and religions. Small and then large kingdoms grew as a result of, and as part of, that great trade. Steamships altered some trade patterns, but the region's strategic location between East and South Asia and the Middle East remains.

Indonesia consists of all or part of some of the world's largest islandsSumatra, Java, most of Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Halmahera, and the west half of New Guinea (Papua)and numerous smaller islands, of which Bali (just east of Java) is best known. These islands plus some others have mountain peaks of 9,000 feet (2,700 meters) or more, and there are some four hundred volcanos, of which one hundred are active. Between 1973 and 1990, for example, there were twenty-nine recorded eruptions, some with tragic consequences. Volcanic lava and ash contributed to the rich soils of upland Sumatra and all of Java and Bali, which have nurtured rice cultivation for several thousand years.

The inner islands of Java, Madura, and Bali make up the geographical and population center of the archipelago. Java, one of the world's most densely settled places (with 2,108 people per square mile [814 per square kilometer] in 1990), occupies 78 percent of the nation's land area but accounts for about 60 percent of Indonesia's population. (About the size of New York state, Java's population is equivalent to 40 percent of that of the United States.) The outer islands, which form an arc west, north, and east of the inner ones, have about 90 percent of the land area of the country but only about 42 percent of the population. The cultures of the inner islands are more homogeneous, with only four major cultural groups: the Sundanese (in West Java), the Javanese (in Central and East Java), the Madurese (on Madura and in East Java), and the Balinese (on Bali). The outer islands have hundreds of ethnolinguistic groups.

Forests of the inner islands, once plentiful, are now largely gone. Kalimantan, West Papua, and Sumatra still have rich jungles, though these are threatened by population expansion and exploitation by loggers for domestic timber use and export. Land beneath the jungles is not fertile. Some eastern islands, such as Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas (the island chain east of Bali), also have lost forests.

Two types of agriculture are predominant in Indonesia: permanent irrigated rice farming (sawah ) and rotating swidden or slash-and-burn (ladang ) farming of rice, corn, and other crops. The former dominates Java, Bali, and the highlands all along the western coast of Sumatra; the latter is found in other parts of Sumatra and other outer islands, but not exclusively so. Fixed rain-fed fields of rice are prominent in Sulawesi and some other places. Many areas are rich in vegetables, tropical fruit, sago, and other cultivated or forest crops, and commercial plantations of coffee, tea, tobacco, coconuts, and sugar are found in both inner and outer islands. Plantation-grown products such as rubber, palm oil, and sisal are prominent in Sumatra, while coffee, sugar, and tea are prominent in Java. Spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and pepper are grown mainly in the outer islands, especially to the east. Maluku (formerly the Moluccas) gained its appellation the "Spice Islands" from the importance of trade in these items. Gold, tin, and nickel are mined in Sumatra, Bangka, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua for domestic and international markets, and oil and liquified natural gas (especially from Sumatra) are important exports. Numerous rivers flowing from mountainous or jungle interiors to coastal plains and ports have carried farm and forest products for centuries and have been channels for cultural communication.

Demography. Indonesia's population increased from 119,208,000 in 1971 to 147,500,000 in 1980, to 179,300,000 in 1990, and to 203,456,000 in 2000. In the meantime the fertility rate declined from 4.6 per thousand women to 3.3; the crude death rate fell at a rate of 2.3 percent per year; and infant mortality declined from 90.3 per thousand live births to 58. The fertility rate was projected to fall to 2.1 percent within another decade, but the total population was predicted to reach 253,700,000 by 2020. As of the middle of the twentieth century, Indonesia's population was largely rural, but at the beginning of the twenty-first century, about 20 percent live in towns and cities and three of five people farm.

Cities in both inner and outer islands have grown rapidly, and there are now twenty-six cities with populations over 200,000. As in many developing countries, Indonesia's population is still a young one. The above patterns are national, but there are ethnic and regional variations. Population has grown at different rates in different areas owing to such factors as economic conditions and standard of living, nutrition, availability and effectiveness of public health and family planning programs, and cultural values and practices.

Migration also plays a part in population fluctuations. Increased permanent or seasonal migration to cities accompanied economic development during the 1980s and 1990s, but there is also significant migration between rural areas as people leave places such as South Sulawesi for more productive work or farm opportunities in Central Sumatra or East Kalimantan.

Linguistic Affiliation. Nearly all of Indonesia's three hundred to four hundred languages are subgroups of the Austronesian family that extends from Malaysia through the Philippines, north to several hill peoples of Vietnam and Taiwan, and to Polynesia, including Hawaiian and Maori (of New Zealand) peoples. Indonesia's languages are not mutually intelligible, though some subgroups are more similar than others (as Europe's Romance languages are closer to each other than to Germanic ones, though both are of the Indo-European family). Some language subgroups have sub-subgroups, also not mutually intelligible, and many have local dialects. Two languagesone in north Halmahera, one in West Timorare non-Austronesian and, like Basque in Europe, are not related to other known languages. Also, the very numerous languages of Papua are non-Austronesian.

Most people's first language is a local one. In 1923, however, the Malay language (now known as Bahasa Malaysia in Malaysia where it is the official language) was adopted as the national language at a congress of Indonesian nationalists, though only a small minority living in Sumatra along the Straits of Malaka spoke it as their native language. Nevertheless, it made sense for two reasons.

First, Malay had long been a commercial and governmental lingua franca that bound diverse peoples. Ethnically diverse traders and local peoples used Malay in ports and hinterlands in its grammatically simplified form known as "market Malay." Colonial governments in British Malaya and the Netherlands Indies used high Malay in official documents and negotiations and Christian missionaries first translated the Bible into that language.

Second, nationalists from various parts of the archipelago saw the value of a national language not associated with the largest group, the Javanese. Bahasa Indonesia is now the language of government, schools, courts, print and electronic media, literary arts and movies, and interethnic communication. It is increasingly important for young people, and has a youth slang. In homes, a native language of the family is often spoken, with Indonesian used outside the home in multiethnic areas. (In more monolingual areas of Java, Javanese also serves outside the home.) Native languages are not used for instruction beyond the third grade in some rural areas. Native language literatures are no longer found as they were in colonial times. Many people lament the weakening of native languages, which are rich links to indigenous cultures, and fear their loss to modernization, but little is done to maintain them. The old and small generation of well-educated Indonesians who spoke Dutch is passing away. Dutch is not known by most young and middle-aged people, including students and teachers of history who cannot read much of the documentary history of the archipelago. English is the official second language taught in schools and universities with varying degrees of success.

Symbolism. The national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, is an old Javanese expression usually translated as "unity in diversity." The nation's official ideology, first formulated by President Sukarno in 1945, is the Pancasila, or Five Principles: belief in one supreme God; just and civilized humanitarianism; Indonesian unity; popular sovereignty governed by wise policies arrived at through deliberation and representation; and social justice for all Indonesian people. Indonesia was defined from the beginning as the inheritor of the Netherlands East Indies. Though West Papua remained under the Dutch until 1962, Indonesia conducted a successful international campaign to secure it. Indonesia's occupation of the former Portuguese East Timor in 1975, never recognized by the United Nations, conflicted with this founding notion of the nation. After two decades of bitter struggle there, Indonesia withdrew.

Since 1950 the national anthem and other songs have been sung by children throughout the country to begin the school day; by civil servants at flag-raising ceremonies; over the radio to begin and close broadcasting; in cinemas and on television; and at national day celebrations. Radio and television, government owned and controlled for much of the second half of the twentieth century, produced nationalizing programs as diverse as Indonesian language lessons, regional and ethnic dances and songs, and plays on national themes. Officially recognized "national heroes" from diverse regions are honored in school texts, and biographies and with statues for their struggles against the Dutch; some regions monumentalize local heros of their own.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Though the Republic of Indonesia is only fifty years old, Indonesian societies have a long history during which local and wider cultures were formed.

About 200 c.e., small states that were deeply influenced by Indian civilization began to develop in Southeast Asia, primarily at estuaries of major rivers. The next five hundred to one thousand years saw great states arise with magnificent architecture. Hinduism and Buddhism, writing systems, notions of divine kingship, and legal systems from India were adapted to local scenes. Sanskrit terms entered many of the languages of Indonesia. Hinduism influenced cultures throughout Southeast Asia, but only one people are Hindu, the Balinese.

Indianized states declined about 1400 c.e. with the arrival of Muslim traders and teachers from India, Yemen, and Persia, and then Europeans from Portugal, Spain, Holland, and Britain. All came to join the great trade with India and China. Over the next two centuries local princedoms traded, allied, and fought with Europeans, and the Dutch East India Company became a small state engaging in local battles and alliances to secure trade. The Dutch East India Company was powerful until 1799 when the company went bankrupt. In the nineteenth century the Dutch formed the Netherlands Indies government, which developed alliances with rulers in the archipelago. Only at the beginning of the twentieth century did the Netherlands Indies government extend its authority by military means to all of present Indonesia.

Sporadic nineteenth century revolts against Dutch practices occurred mainly in Java, but it was in the early twentieth century that Indonesian intellectual and religious leaders began to seek national independence. In 1942 the Japanese occupied the Indies, defeating the colonial army and imprisoning the Dutch under harsh conditions.

On 17 August 1945, following Japan's defeat in World War II, Indonesian nationalists led by Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta declared Indonesian independence. The Dutch did not accept and for five years fought the new republic, mainly in Java. Indonesian independence was established in 1950.

National Identity. Indonesia's size and ethnic diversity has made national identity problematic and debated. Identity is defined at many levels: by Indonesian citizenship; by recognition of the flag, national anthem, and certain other songs; by recognition of national holidays; and by education about Indonesia's history and the Five Principles on which the nation is based. Much of this is instilled through the schools and the media, both of which have been closely regulated by the government during most of the years of independence. The nation's history has been focused upon resistance to colonialism and communism by national heroes and leaders who are enshrined in street names. Glories of past civilizations are recognized, though archaeological remains are mainly of Javanese principalities.

Ethnic Relations. Ethnic relations in the archipelago have long been a concern. Indonesian leaders recognized the possibility of ethnic and regional separatism from the beginning of the republic. War was waged by the central government against separatism in Aceh, other parts of Sumatra, and Sulawesi in the 1950s and early 1960s, and the nation was held together by military force.

The relationships between native Indonesians and overseas Chinese have been greatly influenced by Dutch and Indonesian government policies. The Chinese number about four to six million, or 3 percent of the population, but are said to control as much as 60 percent of the nation's wealth. The Chinese traded and resided in the islands for centuries, but in the nineteenth century the Dutch brought in many more of them to work on plantations or in mines. The Dutch also established a social, economic, and legal stratification system that separated Europeans, foreign Asiatics and Indo-Europeans, and Native Indonesians, partly to protect native Indonesians so that their land could not be lost to outsiders. The Chinese had little incentive to assimilate to local societies, which in turn had no interest in accepting them.

Even naturalized Chinese citizens faced restrictive regulations, despite cozy business relationships between Chinese leaders and Indonesian officers and bureaucrats. Periodic violence directed toward Chinese persons and property also occurred. In the colonial social system, mixed marriages between Chinese men and indigenous women produced half-castes (peranakan ), who had their own organizations, dress, and art forms, and even newspapers. The same was true for people of mixed Indonesian-European descent (called Indos, for short).

Ethnolinguistic groups reside mainly in defined areas where most people share much of the same culture and language, especially in rural areas. Exceptions are found along borders between groups, in places where other groups have moved in voluntarily or as part of transmigration programs, and in cities. Such areas are few in Java, for example, but more common in parts of Sumatra.

Religious and ethnic differences may be related. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, and many ethnic groups are exclusively Muslim. Dutch policy allowed proselytization by Protestants and Catholics among separate groups who followed traditional religions; thus today many ethnic groups are exclusively Protestant or Roman Catholic. They are heavily represented among upriver or upland peoples in North Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and the eastern Lesser Sundas, though many Christians are also found in Java and among the Chinese. Tensions arise when groups of one religion migrate to a place with a different established religion. Political and economic power becomes linked to both ethnicity and religion as groups favor their own kinsmen and ethnic mates for jobs and other benefits.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Javanese princes long used monuments and architecture to magnify their glory, provide a physical focus for their earthly kingdoms, and link themselves to the supernatural. In the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries the Dutch reinforced the position of indigenous princes through whom they ruled by building them stately palaces. Palace architecture over time combined Hindu, Muslim, indigenous, and European elements and symbols in varying degrees depending upon the local situation, which can still be seen in palaces at Yogyakarta and Surakarta in Java or in Medan, North Sumatra.

Dutch colonial architecture combined Roman imperial elements with adaptations to tropical weather and indigenous architecture. The Dutch fort and early buildings of Jakarta have been restored. Under President Sukarno a series of statues were built around Jakarta, mainly glorifying the people; later, the National Monument, the Liberation of West Irian (Papua) Monument, and the great Istiqlal Mosque were erected to express the link to a Hindu past, the culmination of Indonesia's independence, and the place of Islam in the nation. Statues to national heroes are found in regional cities.

Residential architecture for different urban socioeconomic groups was built on models developed by the colonial government and used throughout the Indies. It combined Dutch elements (highpitched tile roofs) with porches, open kitchens, and servants quarters suited to the climate and social system. Wood predominated in early urban architecture, but stone became dominant by the twentieth century. Older residential areas in Jakarta, such as Menteng near Hotel Indonesia, reflect urban architecture that developed in the 1920s and 1930s. After 1950, new residential areas continued to develop to the south of the city, many with elaborate homes and shopping centers.

The majority of people in many cities live in small stone and wood or bamboo homes in crowded urban villages or compounds with poor access to clean water and adequate waste disposal. Houses are often tightly squeezed together, particularly in Java's large cities. Cities that have less pressure from rural migrants, such as Padang in West Sumatra and Manado in North Sulawesi, have been able to better manage their growth.

Traditional houses, which are built in a single style according to customary canons of particular ethnic groups, have been markers of ethnicity. Such houses exist in varying degrees of purity in rural areas, and some aspects of them are used in such urban architecture as government buildings, banks, markets and homes.

Traditional houses in many rural villages are declining in numbers. The Dutch and Indonesian governments encouraged people to build "modern" houses, rectangular structures with windows. In some rural areas, however, such as West Sumatra, restored or new traditional houses are built by successful urban migrants to display their success. In other rural areas people display status by building modern houses of stone and tile, with precious glass windows. In the cities, old colonial homes are renovated by prosperous owners who put newer contemporary-style fronts on the houses. The roman columns favored in Dutch public buildings are now popular for private homes.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Indonesian cuisine reflects regional, ethnic, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Western influences, and daily food quality, quantity, and diversity vary greatly by socioeconomic class, season, and ecological conditions. Rice is a staple element in most regional cooking and the center of general Indonesian cuisine. (Government employees receive monthly rice rations in addition to salaries.) Side dishes of meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables and a variety of condiments and sauces using chili peppers and other spices accompany rice. The cuisine of Java and Bali has the greatest variety, while that of the Batak has much less, even in affluent homes, and is marked by more rice and fewer side dishes. And rice is not the staple everywhere: in Maluku and parts of Sulawesi it is sago, and in West Timor it is maize (corn), with rice consumed only for ceremonial occasions. Among the Rotinese, palm sugar is fundamental to the diet.

Indonesia is an island nation, but fish plays a relatively small part in the diets of the many people who live in the mountainous interiors, though improved transportation makes more salted fish available to them. Refrigeration is still rare, daily markets predominate, and the availability of food may depend primarily upon local produce. Indonesia is rich in tropical fruit, but many areas have few fruit trees and little capacity for timely transportation of fruit. Cities provide the greatest variety of food and types of markets, including modern supermarkets; rural areas much less so. In cities, prosperous people have access to great variety while the poor have very limited diets, with rice predominant and meat uncommon. Some poor rural regions experience what people call "ordinary hunger" each year before the corn and rice harvest.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. The most striking ceremonial occasion is the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan. Even less-observant Muslims fast seriously from sunup to sundown despite the tropical heat. Each night during Ramadan, fine celebratory meals are held. The month ends with Idul Fitri, a national holiday when family, friends, neighbors, and work associates visit each other's homes to share food treats (including visits by non-Muslims to Muslim homes).

In traditional ritual, special food is served to the spirits or the deceased and eaten by the participants. The ubiquitous Javanese ritual, selamatan, is marked by a meal between the celebrants and is held at all sorts of events, from life-cycle rituals to the blessing of new things entering a village. Life-cycle events, particularly marriages and funerals, are the main occasions for ceremonies in both rural and urban areas, and each has religious and secular aspects. Elaborate food service and symbolism are features of such events, but the content varies greatly in different ethnic groups. Among the Meto of Timor, for example, such events must have meat and rice (sisi-maka' ), with men cooking the former and women the latter. Elaborate funerals involve drinking a mixture of pork fat and blood that is not part of the daily diet and that may be unappetizing to many participants who nonetheless follow tradition. At such events, Muslim guests are fed at separate kitchens and tables.

In most parts of Indonesia the ability to serve an elaborate meal to many guests is a mark of hospitality, capability, resources, and status of family or clan whether for a highland Toraja buffalo sacrifice at a funeral or for a Javanese marriage reception in a five-star hotel in Jakarta. Among some peoples, such as the Batak and Toraja, portions of animals slaughtered for such events are important gifts for those who attend, and the part of the animal that is selected symbolically marks the status of the recipient.

Basic Economy. About 60 percent of the population are farmers who produce subsistence and market-oriented crops such as rice, vegetables, fruit, tea, coffee, sugar, and spices. Large plantations are devoted to oil palm, rubber, sugar, and sisel for domestic use and export, though in some areas rubber trees are owned and tapped by farmers. Common farm animals are cattle, water buffalo, horses, chickens, and, in non-Muslim areas, pigs. Both freshwater and ocean fishing are important to village and national economies. Timber and processed wood, especially in Kalimantan and Sumatra, are important for both domestic consumption and export, while oil, natural gas, tin, copper, aluminum, and gold are exploited mainly for export. In colonial times, Indonesia was characterized as having a "dual economy." One part was oriented to agriculture and small crafts for domestic consumption and was largely conducted by native Indonesians; the other part was export-oriented plantation agriculture and mining (and the service industries supporting them), and was dominated by the Dutch and other Europeans and by the Chinese. Though Indonesians are now important in both aspects of the economy and the Dutch/European role is no longer so direct, many features of that dual economy remain, and along with it are continuing ethnic and social dissatisfactions that arise from it.

One important aspect of change during Suharto's "New Order" regime (19681998) was the rapid urbanization and industrial production on Java, where the production of goods for domestic use and export expanded greatly. The previous imbalance in production between Java and the Outer Islands is changing, and the island now plays an economic role in the nation more in proportion to its population. Though economic development between 1968 and 1997 aided most people, the disparity between rich and poor and between urban and rural areas widened, again particularly on Java. The severe economic downturn in the nation and the region after 1997, and the political instability with the fall of Suharto, drastically reduced foreign investment in Indonesia, and the lower and middle classes, particularly in the cities, suffered most from this recession.

Land Tenure and Property. The colonial government recognized traditional rights of indigenous peoples to land and property and established semicodified "customary law" to this end. In many areas of Indonesia longstanding rights to land are held by groups such as clans, communities, or kin groups. Individuals and families use but do not own land. Boundaries of communally held land may be fluid, and conflicts over usage are usually settled by village authorities, though some disputes may reach government officials or courts. In cities and some rural areas of Java, European law of ownership was established. Since Indonesian independence various sorts of "land reform" have been called for and have met political resistance. During Suharto's regime, powerful economic and political groups and individuals obtained land by quasi-legal means and through some force in the name of "development," but serving their monied interest in land for timber, agro-business, and animal husbandry; business locations, hotels, and resorts; and residential and factory expansion. Such land was often obtained with minimal compensation to previous owners or occupants who had little legal recourse. The same was done by government and public corporations for large-scale projects such as dams and reservoirs, industrial parks, and highways. Particularly vulnerable were remote peoples (and animals) in forested areas where timber export concessions were granted to powerful individuals.

Commercial Activities. For centuries, commerce has been conducted between the many islands and beyond the present national borders by traders for various local and foreign ethnic groups. Some indigenous peoples such as the Minangkabau, Bugis, and Makassarese are well-known traders, as are the Chinese. Bugis sailing ships, which are built entirely by hand and range in size from 30 to 150 tons (27 to 136 metric tons), still carry goods to many parts of the nation. Trade between lowlands and highlands and coasts and inland areas is handled by these and other small traders in complex market systems involving hundreds of thousands of men and women traders and various forms of transport, from human shoulders, horses, carts, and bicycles, to minivans, trucks, buses, and boats. Islam spread along such market networks, and Muslim traders are prominent in small-scale trade everywhere.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Dutch used the Chinese to link rural farms and plantations of native Indonesians to small-town markets and these to larger towns and cities where the Chinese and Dutch controlled large commercial establishments, banks, and transportation. Thus Chinese Indonesians became a major force in the economy, controlling today an estimated 60 percent of the nation's wealth though constituting only about 4 percent of its population. Since independence, this has led to suppression of Chinese ethnicity, language, education, and ceremonies by the government and to second-class citizenship for those who choose to become Indonesian nationals. Periodic outbreaks of violence against the Chinese have occurred, particularly in Java. Muslim small traders, who felt alienated in colonial times and welcomed a change with independence, have been frustrated as New Order Indonesian business, governmental, and military elites forged alliances with the Chinese in the name of "development" and to their financial benefit.

Major Industries. Indonesia's major industries involve agro-business, resource extraction and export, construction, and tourism, but a small to medium-sized industrial sector has developed since the 1970s, especially in Java. It serves domestic demand for goods (from household glassware and toothbrushes to automobiles), and produces a wide range of licensed items for multinational companies. Agro-business and resource extraction, which still supply Indonesia with much of its foreign exchange and domestic operating funds, are primarily in the outer islands, especially Sumatra (plantations, oil, gas, and mines), Kalimantan (timber), and West Papua (mining). The industrial sector has grown in Java, particularly around Jakarta and Surabaya and some smaller cities on the north coast.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Aristocratic states and hierarchically-ordered chiefdoms were features of many Indonesian societies for the past millennium. Societies without such political systems existed, though most had the principle of hierarchy. Hindu states that later turned to Islam had aristocracies at the top and peasants and slaves at the bottom of society. Princes in their capitals concentrated secular and spiritual power and conducted rites for their principalities, and they warred for subjects, booty and land, and control of the sea trade. The Dutch East India Company became a warring state with its own forts, military, and navy, and it allied with and fought indigenous states. The Netherlands Indies government succeeded the company, and the Dutch ruled some areas directly and other areas indirectly via native princes. In some areas they augmented the power of indigenous princes and widened the gap between aristocrats and peasants. In Java, the Dutch augmented the pomp of princes while limiting their authority responsibility; and in other areas, such as East Sumatra, the Dutch created principalities and princely lines for their own economic and political benefit.

In general, princes ruled over areas of their own ethnic group, though some areas were multiethnic in character, particularly larger ones in Java or the port principalities in Sumatra and Kalimantan. In the latter, Malay princes ruled over areas consisting of a variety of ethnic groups. Stratified kingdoms and chiefdoms were entrenched in much of Java, the Western Lesser Sundas and parts of the Eastern Lesser Sundas, South Sulawesi, parts of Maluku, parts of Kalimantan, and the east and southeast coast of Sumatra.

Members of ruling classes gained wealth and the children of native rulers were educated in schools that brought them in contact with their peers from other parts of the archipelago.

Not all Indonesian societies were as socially stratified as that of Java. Minangkabau society was influenced by royal political patterns, but evolved into a more egalitarian political system in its West Sumatran homeland. The Batak of North Sumatra developed an egalitarian political order and ethos combining fierce clan loyalty with individuality. Upland or upriver peoples in Sulawesi and Kalimantan also developed more egalitarian social orders, though they could be linked to the outside world through tribute to coastal princes.

Symbols of Social Stratification. The aristocratic cultures of Java and the Malay-influenced coastal principalities were marked by ceremonial isolation of the princes and aristocrats, tribute by peasants and lesser lords, deference to authority by peasants, sumptuary rules marking off classes, the maintenance by aristocrats of supernaturally powerful regalia, and high court artistic and literary cultures. The Dutch in turn surrounded themselves with some of the same aura and social rules in their interaction with native peoples, especially during the late colonial period when European women came to the Indies and Dutch families were founded. In Java in particular, classes were separated by the use of different language levels, titles, and marriage rules. Aristocratic court culture became a paragon of refined social behavior in contrast to the rough or crude behavior of the peasants or non-Javanese. Indirection in communication and self-control in public behavior became hallmarks of the refined person, notions that spread widely in society. The courts were also exemplary centers for the arts music, dance, theater, puppetry, poetry, and crafts such as batik cloth and silverworking. The major courts became Muslim by the seventeenth century, but some older Hindu philosophical and artistic practices continued to exist there or were blended with Muslim teachings.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a more complex society developed in Java and some other parts of the Indies, which created a greater demand for trained people in government and commerce than the aristocratic classes could provide, and education was somewhat more widely provided. A class of urbanized government officials and professionals developed that often imitated styles of the earlier aristocracy. Within two decades after independence, all principalities except the sultanates of Yogyakarta and Surakarta were eliminated throughout the republic. Nevertheless, behaviors and thought patterns instilled through generations of indigenous princely ruledeference to authority, paternalism, unaccountability of leaders, supernaturalistic power, ostentatious displays of wealth, rule by individuals and by force rather than by lawcontinue to exert their influence in Indonesian society.

Political Life

Government. During 2000, Indonesia was in deep governmental crisis and various institutions were being redesigned. The 1945 constitution of the republic, however, mandates six organs of the state: the People's Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, or MPR), the presidency, the People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, or DPR), the Supreme Advisory Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung ), the State Audit Board (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan ), and the Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung ).

The president is elected by the MPR, which consists of one thousand members from various walks of lifefarmers to businesspeople, students to soldierswho meet once every five years to elect the president and endorse his or her coming five-year plan. The vice president is selected by the president.

The DPR meets at least once a year and has five hundred members: four hundred are elected from the provinces, one hundred are selected by the military. The DPR legislates, but its statutes must be approved by the president. The Supreme Court can hear cases from some three hundred subordinate courts in the provinces but cannot impeach or rule on the constitutionality of acts by other branches of government.

In 1997, the nation had twenty-seven provinces plus three special territories (Aceh, Yogyakarta, and Jakarta) with different forms of autonomy and their own governors. East Timor ceased to be a province in 1998, and several others are seeking provincial status. Governors of provinces are appointed by the Interior Ministry and responsible to it. Below the twenty-seven provinces are 243 districts (kabupaten ) subdivided into 3,841 subdistricts (kecamatan ), whose leaders are appointed by the government. There are also fifty-five municipalities, sixteen administrative municipalities, and thirty-five administrative cities with administrations separate from the provinces of which they are a part. At the base of government are some sixty-five thousand urban and rural villages called either kelurahan or desa. (Leaders of the former are appointed by the subdistrict head; the latter are elected by the people.) Many officials appointed at all levels during the New Order were military (or former military) men. Provincial, district, and subdistrict governments oversee a variety of services; the functional offices of the government bureaucracy (such as agriculture, forestry, or public works), however, extend to the district level as well and answer directly to their ministries in Jakarta, which complicates local policy making.

Leadership and Political Officials. During the New Order, the Golkar political party exerted full control over ministerial appointments and was powerfully influential in the civil service whose members were its loyalists. Funds were channeled locally to aid Golkar candidates, and they dominated the national and regional representative bodies in most parts of the country. The Muslim United Development Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party lacked such funds and influence and their leaders were weak and often divided. Ordinary people owed little to, and received little from, these parties. After the fall of President Suharto and the opening of the political system to many parties, many people became involved in politics; politics, however, mainly involves the leaders of the major parties jockeying for alliances and influence within the representative bodies at the national and provincial levels, as well as within the president's cabinet.

The civil and military services, dominant institutions since the republic's founding, are built upon colonial institutions and practices. The New Order regime increased central government authority by appointing heads of subdistricts and even villages. Government service brings a salary, security, and a pension (however modest it may be) and is highly prized. The employees at a certain level in major institutions as diverse as government ministries, public corporations, schools and universities, museums, hospitals, and cooperatives are civil servants, and such positions in the civil service are prized. Membership carried great prestige in the past, but that prestige diminished somewhat during the New Order. Economic expansion made private sector positionsespecially for trained professionals more available, more interesting, and much more lucrative. Neither the number of civil service positions nor salaries have grown comparably.

The interaction of ordinary people with government officials involves deference (and often payments) upward and paternalism downward. Officials, most of whom are poorly paid, control access to things as lucrative as a large construction contract or as modest as a permit to reside in a neighborhood, all of which can cost the suppliant special fees. International surveys have rated Indonesia among the most corrupt nations in the world. Much of it involves sharing the wealth between private persons and officials, and Indonesians note that bribes have become institutionalized. Both the police and the judiciary are weak and subject to the same pressures. The unbridled manipulation of contracts and monopolies by Suharto family members was a major precipitant of unrest among students and others that brought about the president's fall.

Social Problems and Control. At the end of the colonial period, the secular legal system was divided between native (mainly for areas governed indirectly through princes) and government (for areas governed directly through administrators). The several constitutions of the republic between 1945 and 1950 validated colonial law that did not conflict with the constitution, and established three levels of courts: state courts, high courts (for appeal), and the supreme court. Customary law is still recognized, but native princes who were once responsible for its management no longer exist and its position in state courts is uncertain.

Indonesians inherited from the Dutch the notion of "a state based upon law" (rechtsstaat in Dutch, negara hukum in Indonesian), but implementation has been problematic and ideology triumphed over law in the first decade of independence. Pressure for economic development and personal gain during the New Order led to a court system blatantly subverted by money and influence. Many people became disenchanted with the legal system, though some lawyers led the fight against corruption and for human rights, including the rights of those affected by various development projects. A national human rights commission was formed to investigate violations in East Timor and elsewhere, but has so far had relatively little impact.

One sees the same disaffection from the police, which were a branch of the military until the end of the New Order. Great emphasis was placed upon public order during the New Order, and military and police organs were used to maintain a climate of caution and fear among not just lawbreakers but also among ordinary citizens, journalists, dissidents, labor advocates, and others who were viewed as subversive. Extrajudicial killings of alleged criminals and others were sponsored by the military in some urban and rural areas, and killings of rights activists, particularly in Atjeh, continue. The media, now free after severe New Order controls, is able to report daily on such events. In 1999 2000, vigilante attacks against even suspected lawbreakers were becoming common in cities and some rural areas, as was an increase in violent crime. Compounding the climate of national disorder were violence among refugees in West Timor, sectarian killing between Muslims and Christians in Sulawesi and Maluku, and separatist violence in Atjeh and Papua; in all of which, elements of the police and military are seen to be participating, even fomenting, rather than controlling.

In villages many problems are never reported to the police but are still settled by local custom and mutual agreement mediated by recognized leaders. Customary settlement is frequently the only means used, but it also may be used as a first resort before appeal to courts or as a last resort by dissatisfied litigants from state courts. In multiethnic areas, disputes between members of different ethnic groups may be settled by leaders of either or both groups, by a court, or by feud. In many regions with settled populations, a customary settlement is honored over a court one, and many rural areas are peaceful havens. Local custom is often based upon restorative justice, and jailing miscreants may be considered unjust since it removes them from oversight and control of their kinsmen and neighbors and from working to compensate aggrieved or victimized persons. Where there is great population mobility, especially in cities, this form of social control is far less viable and, since the legal system is ineffective, vigilantism becomes more common.

Military Activity. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia (Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia, or ABRI) consist of the army (about 214,000 personnel), navy (about 40,000), air force (nearly 20,000), and, until recently, state police (almost 171,000). In addition, almost three million civilians were trained in civil defense groups, student units, and other security units. The premier force, the army, was founded and commanded by members of the Royal Netherlands Indies Army and/or the Japanese-sponsored Motherland Defenders. Many soldiers at first came from the latter, but many volunteers were added after the Japanese left. Some local militias were led by people with little military experience, but their success in the war of independence made them at least local heroes. The army underwent vicissitudes after independence as former colonial officers led in transforming guerilla-bands and provincial forces into a centralized modern army, with national command structure, education, and training.

From its beginning the armed forces recognized a dual function as a defense and security force and as a social and political one, with a territorial structure (distinct from combat commands) that paralleled the civilian government from province level to district, subdistrict, and even village. General Suharto came to power as the leader of an anticommunist and nationalist army, and he made the military the major force behind the New Order. Its security and social and political functions have included monitoring social and political developments at national and local levels; providing personnel for important government departments and state enterprises; censoring the media and monitoring dissidents; placing personnel in villages to learn about local concerns and to help in development; and filling assigned blocs in representative bodies. The military owns or controls hundreds of businesses and state enterprises that provide about three-quarters of its budget, hence the difficulty for a civilian president who wishes to exert control over it. Also, powerful military and civilian officials provide protection and patronage for Chinese business-people in exchange for shares in profits and political funding.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The responsibility for most formal public health and social welfare programs rests primarily with government and only secondarily with private and religious organizations. From 1970 to 1990, considerable investment was made in roads and in health stations in rural and urban areas, but basic infrastructure is still lacking in many areas. Sewage and waste disposal are still poor in many urban areas, and pollution affects canals and rivers, especially in newly industrializing areas such as West Java. Welfare programs to benefit the poor are minimal compared to the need, and rural economic development activities are modest compared to those in cities. The largest and most successful effort, the national family planning program, used both government and private institutions to considerably reduce the rate of population increase in Java and other areas. Transmigration, the organized movement of people from rural Java to less populated outer island areas in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and West Papua, was begun by the Dutch early in the twentieth century and is continued vigorously by the Indonesian government. It has led to the agricultural development of many outer island areas but has little eased population pressure in Java, and it has led to ecological problems and to ethnic and social conflicts between transmigrants and local people.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Organizations

Despite government dominance in many areas of social action, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have a rich history, though they often have had limited funds, have operated under government restraint, and have been limited in much of their activity to urban areas. They have served in fields such as religion, family planning, education, rural health and mutual aid, legal aid, workers' rights, philanthropy, regional or ethnic interests, literature and the arts, and ecology and conservation Muslim and Christian organizations have been active in community education and health care since the early twentieth century. Foreign religious, philanthropic, and national and international organizations have supported welfare efforts by government and NGOs, though most NGOs are homegrown. The authoritarian nature of the New Order led to tensions between the government and NGOs in areas such as legal aid, workers' rights, and conservation, and the government sought to co-opt some such organizations. Also, foreign support for NGOs led to tensions between the various governments, even cancellations of aid, when that support was viewed as politically motivated. With the collapse of the New Order regime and pressures for reform since 1998, NGOs are more active in serving various constituencies, though economic upset during the same period has strained their resources.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Women and men share in many aspects of village agriculture, though plowing is more often done by men and harvest groups composed only of women are commonly seen. Getting the job done is primary. Gardens and orchards may be tended by either sex, though men are more common in orchards. Men predominate in hunting and fishing, which may take them away for long durations. If men seek long-term work outside the village, women may tend to all aspects of farming and gardening. Women are found in the urban workforce in stores, small industries, and markets, as well as in upscale businesses, but nearly always in fewer numbers than men. Many elementary schoolteachers are women, but teachers in secondary schools and colleges and universities are more frequently men, even though the numbers of male and female students may be similar. Men predominate at all levels of government, central and regional, though women are found in a variety of positions and there has been a woman cabinet minister. The vice president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, a woman, was a candidate for president, though her reputation derives mainly from her father, Sukarno, the first president. She was opposed by many Muslim leaders because of her gender, but she had the largest popular following in the national legislative election of 1999.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Though Indonesia is a Muslim nation, the status of women is generally considered to be high by outside observers, though their position and rights vary considerably in different ethnic groups, even Muslim ones. Nearly everywhere, Indonesian gender ideology emphasizes men as community leaders, decision makers, and mediators with the outside world, while women are the backbone of the home and family values.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. People in Indonesia gain the status of full adults through marriage and parenthood. In Indonesia, one does not ask, "Is he (or she) married?," but "Is he (or she) married yet?," to which the correct response is, "Yes" or "Not yet." Even homosexuals are under great family pressure to marry. Certain societies in Sumatra and eastern Indonesia practice affinal alliance, in which marriages are arranged between persons in particular patrilineal clans or lineages who are related as near or distant cross-cousins. In these societies the relationship between wife-giving and wife-taking clans or lineages is vitally important to the structure of society and involves lifelong obligations for the exchange of goods and services between kin. The Batak are a prominent Sumatran example of such a people. Clan membership and marriage alliances between clans are important for the Batak whether they live in their mountain homeland or have migrated to distant cities. Their marriages perpetuate relationships between lineages or clans, though individual wishes and love between young people may be considered by their families and kinsmen, as may education, occupation, and wealth among urbanites.

In societies without lineal descent groups, love is more prominent in leading people to marry, but again education, occupation, or wealth in the city, or the capacity to work hard, be a good provider, and have access to resources in the village, are also considered. Among the Javanese or Bugis, for example, the higher the social status of a family, the more likely parents and other relatives will arrange a marriage (or veto potential relationships). In most Indonesian societies, marriage is viewed as one important means of advancing individual or family social status (or losing it).

Divorce and remarriage practices are diverse. Among Muslims they are governed by Muslim law and may be settled in Muslim courts, or as with non-Muslims, they may be settled in the government's civil court. The initiation of divorce and its settlements favors males among Muslims and also in many traditional societies. Divorce and remarriage may be handled by local elders or officials according to customary law, and terms for such settlements may vary considerably by ethnic group. In general, societies with strong descent groups, such as the Batak, eschew divorce and it is very rare. Such societies may also practice the levirate (widows marrying brothers or cousins of their deceased spouse). In societies without descent groups, such as the Javanese, divorce is much more common and can be initiated by either spouse. Remarriage is also easy. Javanese who are not members of the upper class are reported to have a high divorce rate, while divorce among upper-class and wealthy Javanese is rarer.

Polygamy is recognized among Muslims, some immigrant Chinese, and some traditional societies, but not by Christians. Such marriages are probably few in number. Marriages between members of different ethnic groups are also uncommon, though they may be increasing in urban areas and among the better educated.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family of husband, wife, and children is the most widespread domestic unit, though elders and unmarried siblings may be added to it in various societies and at various times. This domestic unit is as common among remote peoples as among urbanites, and is also unrelated to the presence or absence of clans in a society. An exception is the traditional, rural matrilineal Minangkabau, for whom the domestic unit still comprises coresident females around a grandmother (or mothers) with married and unmarried daughters and sons in a large traditional house. Husbands come only as visitors to their wife's hearth and bedchamber in the house. Some societies, such as the Karo of Sumatra or some Dayak of Kalimantan, live in large (or long) houses with multiple hearths and bedchambers that belong to related or even unrelated nuclear family units.

Inheritance. Inheritance patterns are diverse even within single societies. Muslim inheritance favors males over females as do the customs of many traditional societies (an exception being matrilineal ones where rights over land, for example, are passed down between females). Inheritance disputes, similar to divorces, may be handled in Muslim courts, civil courts, or customary village ways. Custom generally favors males, but actual practice often gives females inheritances. In many societies, there is a distinction between property that is inherited or acquired; the former is passed on in clan or family lines, the latter goes to the children or the spouse of the deceased. Such a division may also be recognized at divorce. In many areas land is communal property of a kin or local group, while household goods, personal items, or productive equipment are familial or individual inheritable property. In some places economic trees, such as rubber, may be personally owned, while rice land is communally held. With changing economic conditions, newer ideas about property, and increasing demand for money, the rules and practices regarding inheritance are changing, which can produce conflicts that a poorly organized legal system and weakened customary leaders cannot easily manage.

Kin Groups. Many of Indonesia's ethnic groups have strong kinship groupings based upon patrilineal, matrilineal, or bilateral descent. Such peoples are primarily in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Maluku, Sulawesi, and the Eastern Lesser Sundas. Patrilineal descent is most common, though matriliny is found in a few societies, such as the Minangkabau of West Sumatra and southern Tetun of West Timor. Some societies in Kalimantan and Sulawesi, as well as the Javanese, have bilateral kinship systems.

Kinship is a primordial loyalty throughout Indonesia. Fulfilling obligations to kin can be onerous, but provides vital support in various aspects of life. Government or other organizations do not provide social security, unemployment insurance, old age care, or legal aid. Family, extended kinship, and clan do provide such help, as do patron-client relationships and alliances between peers. Correlated with these important roles of family and kin are practices of familial and ethnic patrimonialism, nepotism, patronage, and paternalism in private sectors and government service.


Child Rearing and Education. In the government education system, generally, quantity has prevailed over quality. Facilities remain poorly equipped and salaries remain so low that many teachers must take additional jobs to support their families.

Higher Education. The colonial government greatly limited education in Dutch and the vernaculars, and people were primarily trained for civil service and industrial and health professions. At the time of independence in 1950, the republic had few schools or university faculties. Mass education became a major government priority for the next five decades. Today many Indonesians have earned advanced degrees abroad and most have returned to serve their country. In this effort the government has received considerable support from the World Bank, United Nation agencies, foreign governments, and private foundations. Increasingly, better-educated people serve at all levels in national and regional governments, and the private sector has benefitted greatly from these educational efforts. Private Muslim and Christian elementary and secondary schools, universities and institutes, which are found in major cities and the countryside, combine secular subjects and religious education.

Higher education has suffered from a lecture-based system, poor laboratories, a shortage of adequate textbooks in Indonesian, and a poor level of English-language proficiency, which keeps many students from using such foreign textbooks as are available. Research in universities is limited and mainly serves government projects or private enterprise and allows researchers to supplement their salaries.

From the late 1970s through the l990s, private schools and universities increased in number and quality and served diverse students (including Chinese Indonesians who were not accepted at government universities). Many of these institutions' courses are taught in afternoons and evenings by faculty members from government universities who are well paid for their efforts.

The colonial government limited education to an amount needed to fill positions in the civil service and society of the time. Indonesian mass education, with a different philosophy, has had the effect of producing more graduates than there are jobs available, even in strong economic times. Unrest has occurred among masses of job applicants who seek to remain in cities but do not find positions commensurate with their view of themselves as graduates.

Students have been political activists from the 1920s to the present. The New Order regime made great efforts to expand educational opportunities while also influencing the curriculum, controlling student activities, and appointing pliant faculty members to administrative positions. New campuses of the University of Indonesia near Jakarta, and Hasanuddin University near Makassar, for example, were built far from their previous locations at the center of these cities, to curb mobilization and marching.


When riding a Jakarta bus, struggling in post-office crowds, or getting into a football match, one may think that Indonesians have only a push-and-shove etiquette. And in a pedicab or the market, bargaining always delays action. Children may repeatedly shout "Belanda, Belanda" (white Westerner) at a European, or youths shout, "Hey, Mister." In some places a young woman walking or biking alone is subject to harassment by young males. But public behavior contrasts sharply with private etiquette. In an Indonesian home, one joins in quiet speech and enjoys humorous banter and frequent laughs. People sit properly with feet on the floor and uncrossed legs while guests, men, and elders are given the best seating and deference. Strong emotions and rapid or abrupt movements of face, arms, or body are avoided before guests. Drinks and snacks must be served, but not immediately, and when served, guests must wait to be invited to drink. Patience is rewarded, displays of greed are avoided, and one may be offered a sumptuous meal by a host who asks pardon for its inadequacy.

Whether serving tea to guests, passing money after bargaining in the marketplace, or paying a clerk for stamps at the post office, only the right hand is used to give or receive, following Muslim custom. (The left hand is reserved for toilet functions.) Guests are served with a slight bow, and elders are passed by juniors with a bow. Handshakes are appropriate between men, but with a soft touch (and between Muslims with the hand then lightly touching the heart). Until one has a truly intimate relationship with another, negative feelings such as jealousy, envy, sadness, and anger should be hidden from that person. Confrontations should be met with smiles and quiet demeanor, and direct eye contact should be avoided, especially with social superiors. Punctuality is not prized Indonesians speak of "rubber time"and can be considered impolite. Good guidebooks warn, however, that Indonesians may expect Westerners to be on time! In public, opposite sexes are rarely seen holding hands (except perhaps in a Jakarta mall), while male or female friends of the same sex do hold hands.

Neatness in grooming is prized, whether on a crowded hot bus or at a festival. Civil servants wear neat uniforms to work, as do schoolchildren and teachers.

The Javanese emphasize the distinction between refined (halus ) and crude (kasar ) behavior, and young children who have not yet learned refined behavior in speech, demeanor, attitude, and general behavior are considered "not yet Javanese." This distinction may be extended to other peoples whose culturally correct behavior is not deemed appropriate by the Javanese. The Batak, for example, may be considered crude because they generally value directness in speech and demeanor and can be argumentative in interpersonal relationships. And a Batak man's wife is deemed to be a wife to his male siblings (though not in a sexual way), which a Javanese wife might not accept. Bugis do not respect persons who smile and withdraw in the face of challenges, as the Javanese tend to do; they respect those who defend their honor even violently, especially the honor of their women. Thus conflict between the Javanese and others over issues of etiquette and behavior is possible. A Javanese wife of a Batak man may not react kindly to his visiting brother expecting to be served and to have his laundry done without thanks; a young Javanese may smile and greet politely a young Bugis girl, which can draw the ire (and perhaps knife) of her brother or cousin; a Batak civil servant may dress down his Javanese subordinate publicly (in which case both the Batak and the Javanese lose face in the eyes of the Javanese). Batak who migrate to cities in Java organize evening lessons to instruct newcomers in proper behavior with the majority Javanese and Sundanese with whom they will live and work. Potential for interethnic conflict has increased over the past decades as more people from Java are transmigrated to outer islands, and more people from the outer islands move to Java.


Religious Beliefs. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any nation, and in 1990 the population was reported to be 87 percent Muslim. There is a well-educated and influential Christian minority (about 9.6 percent of the population in 1990), with about twice as many Protestants as Catholics. The Balinese still follow a form of Hinduism. Mystical cults are well established among the Javanese elite and middle class, and members of many ethnic groups still follow traditional belief systems. Officially the government recognizes religion (agama ) to include Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while other belief systems are called just that, beliefs (kepercayaan ). Those who hold beliefs are subject to conversion; followers of religion are not. Belief in ancestral spirits, spirits of diverse sorts of places, and powerful relics are found among both peasants and educated people and among many followers of the world religions; witchcraft and sorcery also have their believers and practitioners. The colonial regime had an uneasy relationship with Islam, as has the Indonesian government. The first of the Five Principles extols God (Tuhan ), but not Allah by name. Dissidents have wanted to make Indonesia a Muslim state, but they have not prevailed.

The Javanese are predominantly Muslim, though many are Catholic or Protestant, and many Chinese in Java and elsewhere are Christian, mainly Protestant. The Javanese are noted for a less strict adherence to Islam and a greater orientation to Javanese religion, a mixture of Islam and previous Hindu and animist beliefs. The Sundanese of West Java, by contrast, are ardently Muslim. Other noted Muslim peoples are the Acehnese of North Sumatra, the first Indonesians to become Muslim; the Minangkabau, despite their matriliny; the Banjarese of South Kalimantan; the Bugis and Makassarese of South Sulawesi; the Sumbawans of the Lesser Sunda Islands; and the people of Ternate and Tidor in Maluku.

The Dutch sought to avoid European-style conflict between Protestants and Catholics by assigning particular regions for conversion by each of them. Thus today the Batak of Sumatra, the Dayak of Kalimantan, the Toraja and Menadonese of Sulawesi, and the Ambonese of Maluku are Protestant; the peoples of Flores and the Tetun of West Timor are Catholic.

Religious Practitioners. Islam in Indonesia is of the Sunni variety, with little hierarchical leadership. Two major Muslim organizations, Nahdatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, both founded in Java, have played an important role in education, the nationalist struggle, and politics after independence. The New Order regime allowed only one major Muslim political group, which had little power; but after the fall of President Suharto, many parties (Muslim and others) emerged, and these two organizations continued to play an important role in the elections. The leader of NU, Abdurrahman Wahid (whose grandfather founded it), campaigned successfully and became the country's president; an opponent, Amien Rais, head of Muhammadiyah, became speaker of the DPR. During this time of transition, forces of tolerance are being challenged by those who have wanted Indonesia to be a Muslim state. The outcome of that conflict is uncertain.

Muslim-Christian relations have been tense since colonial times. The Dutch government did not proselytize, but it allowed Christian missions to convert freely among non-Muslims. When Christians and Muslims were segregated on different islands or in different regions, relations were amicable. Since the 1970s, however, great movements of peopleespecially Muslims from Java, Sulawesi, and parts of Maluku into previously Christian areas in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and West Papuahas led to changes in religious demography and imbalances in economic, ethnic, and political power. The end of the New Order regime has led to an uncapping of tensions and great violence in places such as Ambon (capital of the Maluku province), other Maluku islands, and Sulawesi. A loss of authority by commanders over Muslim and Christian troops in the outer islands is playing a part. Christians generally have kept to themselves and avoided national politics. They lack mass organizations or leaders comparable to Muslim ones, but disproportionate numbers of Christians have held important civil, military, intellectual, and business positions (a result of the Christian emphasis upon modern education); Christian secondary schools and universities are prominent and have educated children of the elite (including non-Christians); and two major national newspapers, Kompas and Suara Pembaruan, were of Catholic and Protestant origin, respectively. Some Muslims are displeased by these facts, and Christians were historically tainted in their eyes through association with the Dutch and foreign missionaries and the fact that Chinese Indonesians are prominent Christians.

During the New Order, those not having a religion were suspected of being Communist, so there was a rush to conversion in many areas, including Java, which gained many new Christians. Followers of traditional ethnic beliefs were under pressure as well. In places such as interior Kalimantan and Sulawesi, some people and groups converted to one of the world religions, but others sought government recognition for a reorganized traditional religion through both regional and national politicking. Among the Ngaju Dayak, for instance, the traditional belief system, Kaharingan, gained official acceptance in the Hindu-Buddhist category, though it is neither. People who follow traditional beliefs and practices are often looked down upon as primitive, irrational, and backward by urban civil and military leaders who are Muslim or Christian but these groups formed new sorts of organizations, modeled on urban secular ones, to bolster support. Such moves represent both religious and ethnic resistance to pressure from the outside, from neighboring Muslim or Christian groups, and from exploitative government and military officers or outside developers of timber and mining industries. On Java, mystical groups, such as Subud, also lobbied for official recognition and protections. Their position was stronger than that of remote peoples because they had followers in high places, including the president.

Rituals and Holy Places. Muslims and Christians follow the major holidays of their faiths, and in Makassar, for example, the same decorative lights are left up for celebrating both Idul Fitri and Christmas. National calendars list Muslim and Christian holidays as well as Hindu-Buddhist ones. In many places, people of one religion may acknowledge the holidays of another religion with visits or gifts. Mosques and churches have the same features found elsewhere in the world, but the temples of Bali are very special. While centers for spiritual communication with Hindu deities, they also control the flow of water to Bali's complex irrigation system through their ritual calendar.

Major Muslim annual rituals are Ramadan (the month of fasting), Idul Fitri (the end of fasting), and the hajj (pilgrimage). Indonesia annually provides the greatest number of pilgrims to Mecca. Smaller pilgrimages in Indonesia may also be made to graves of saints, those believed to have brought Islam to Indonesia, Sunan Kalijaga being the most famous.

Rituals of traditional belief systems mark life-cycle events or involve propitiation for particular occasions and are led by shamans, spirit mediums, or prayer masters (male or female). Even in Muslim and Christian areas, some people may conduct rituals at birth or death that are of a traditional nature, honor and feed spirits of places or graves of ancestors, or use practitioners for sorcery or countermagic. The debate over what is or is not allowable custom by followers of religion is frequent in Indonesia. Among the Sa'dan Toraja of Sulawesi, elaborate sacrifice of buffalos at funerals has become part of the international tourist circuit, and the conversion of local custom to tourist attractions can be seen in other parts of Indonesia, such as on Bali or Samosir Island in North Sumatra.

Death and the Afterlife. It is widely believed that the deceased may influence the living in various ways, and funerals serve to ensure the proper passage of the spirit to the afterworld, though cemeteries are still considered potentially dangerous dwellings for ghosts. In Java the dead may be honored by modest family ceremonies held on Thursday evening. Among Muslims, burial must occur within twenty-four hours and be attended by Muslim officiants; Christian burial is also led by a local church leader. The two have separate cemeteries. In Java and other areas there may be secondary rites to assure the well-being of the soul and to protect the living. Funerals, like marriages, call for a rallying of kin, neighbors, and friends, and among many ethnic groups social status may be expressed through the elaborateness or simplicity of funerals. In clan-based societies, funerals are occasions for the exchange of gifts between wife-giving and wife-taking groups. In such societies representatives of the wife-giving group are usually responsible for conducting the funeral and for leading the coffin to the grave.

Funeral customs vary. Burial is most common, except for Hindu Bali where cremation is the norm. The Sa'dan Toraja are noted for making large wooden effigies of the deceased, which are placed in niches in sheer stone cliffs to guard the tombs. In the past, the Batak made stone sarcophagi for the prominent dead. This practice stopped with Christianization, but in recent decades, prosperous urban Batak have built large stone sarcophagi in their home villages to honor the dead and reestablish a connection otherwise severed by migration.

Medicine and Health Care

Modern public health care was begun by the Dutch to safeguard plantation workers. It expanded to hospitals and midwifery centers in towns and some rural health facilities. During the New Order public health and family planning became a priority for rural areas and about seven thousand community health centers and 20,500 sub-health centers were built by 1995. In Jakarta medical faculties exist in a number of provincial universities. Training is often hampered by poor facilities, and medical research is limited as teaching physicians also maintain private practices to serve urban needs and supplement meager salaries. Physicians and government health facilities are heavily concentrated in large cities, and private hospitals are also located there, some founded by Christian missions or Muslim foundations. Many village areas in Java, and especially those in the outer islands, have little primary care beyond inoculations, maternal and baby visits, and family planning, though these have had important impacts on health conditions.

Traditional medicine is alive throughout the archipelago. Javanese curers called dukun deal with a variety of illnesses of physical, emotional, and spiritual origin through combinations of herbal and magical means. In north Sumatra, some ethnic curers specialize; for example, Karo bonesetters have many clinics. Herbal medicines and tonics called jamu are both home blended and mass produced. Commercial brands of tonics and other medicines are sold throughout the archipelago, and tonic sellers' vehicles can be seen in remote places.

Various forms of spiritual healing are done by shamans, mediums, and other curers in urban and rural areas. Many people believe that ritual or social missteps may lead to misfortune, which includes illness. Traditional healers diagnose the source and deal with the problems, some using black arts. Bugis transvestite healers serve aristocratic and commoner households in dealing with misfortune, often becoming possessed in order to communicate with the source of misfortune. In Bali, doctors trained in modern medicine may also practice spirit-oriented healing. Accusations of sorcery and attacks on alleged sorcerers are not uncommon in many areas and are most liable to arise in times of social, economic, and political unrest.

Secular Celebrations

The most important national celebration is Independence Day, 17 August, which is marked by parades and displays in Jakarta and provincial and district capitals. Provincial celebrations may have local cultural or historical flavor. Youth are often prominent. Kartini Day, 21 April, honors Indonesia's first female emancipationist; schools and women's organizations hold activities that day. The military also has its celebrations. New Year's is celebrated 1 January when businesses close and local fairs with fireworks are held in some places. Western-style dances are held in hotels in cities. Public celebration by the Chinese of their New Year was not allowed for decades, but this rule was lifted in 1999 and dragons again danced in the streets. Previously it was celebrated only in homes, though businesses did close and for two days the bustle of Jakarta traffic was stilled. Local celebrations recognize foundings of cities, historical events and personages, or heroes (some national, others regional), while others mark special events, such as bull racing on Madura and palace processions in Yogyakarta or Surakarta. On Bali a lunar calendar New Year's day is celebrated with fasting, prayer, silence, and inactivity. All people (including tourists) must remain indoors and without lights on so that harmful spirits will think Bali is empty and will leave.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. In the past in Java and Bali, royal courts or rich persons were major patrons of the arts. They continue their support, but other institutions joined them. The Dutch founded the Batavia Society for the Arts and Sciences in 1778, which established the National Museum that continues to display artifacts of the national culture. The Dutch-founded National Archive seeks to preserve the literary heritage, despite poor funding and the hazards of tropical weather and insects. Over the past several decades, regional cultural museums were built using national and provincial government funding and some foreign aid. Preservation of art and craft traditions and objects, such as house architecture, batik and tie-dye weaving, wood carving, silver and gold working, statuary, puppets, and basketry, are under threat from the international arts and crafts market, local demands for cash, and changing indigenous values.

A college for art teachers, founded in 1947, was incorporated in 1951 into the Technological Institute of Bandung; an Academy of Fine Arts was established in Yogyakarta in 1950; and the Jakarta Institute of Art Education was begun in 1968. Academies have since been founded elsewhere; the arts are part of various universities and teacher training institutes; and private schools for music and dance have been founded. Private galleries for painters and batik designers are legion in Yogyakarta and Jakarta. Academies and institutes maintain traditional arts as well as develop newer forms of theater, music, and dance.

Literature. Indonesia's literary legacy includes centuries-old palm, bamboo, and other fiber manuscripts from several literate peoples, such as the Malay, Javanese, Balinese, Buginese, Rejang, and Batak. The fourteenth century Nagarakrtagama is a lengthy poem praising King Hayam Wuruk and describing the life and social structure of his kingdom, Majapahit. The I La Galigo of the Bugis, which traces the adventures of their culture hero, Sawerigading, is one of the world's longest epic poems.

In colonial times some literature was published in regional languages, the most being in Javanese, but this was stopped after Indonesian independence. The earliest official publishing house for Indonesian literature is Balai Pustaka, founded in Batavia in 1917. National culture was expressed and, in some ways formed, through spoken Malay-Indonesian (understood by many people) and newspapers, pamphlets, poetry, novels, and short stories for those who could read. By the time of independence, literary production was not great, but it has grown considerably since the 1950s. The literary tradition is now rich, but one should note that reading for pleasure or enlightenment is not yet part of the culture of average urban Indonesians and plays little if any part in the life of village people. Indonesia has made literacy and widespread elementary education a major effort of the nation, but in many rural parts of the country functional literacy is limited. For students to own many books is not common; universities are still oriented toward lecture notes rather than student reading; and libraries are poorly stocked.

In the conflict between left-and right-wing politics of the 1950s and early 1960s, organizations of authors were drawn into the fray. In the anticommunist purges of the late 1960s, some writers who had participated in left-wing organizations were imprisoned. The most famous is Pramoedya Ananta Toer, a nationalist who had also been imprisoned by the Dutch from 1947 to 1949. He composed books as stories told to fellow prisoners in exile on the island of Buru from 1965 to 1979. He was released from Buru and settled in Jakarta, but remained under city arrest. Four of his novels, the Buru Quartet, published between 1980 and 1988 in Indonesian, are rich documentaries of life in turn-of-the-century colonial Java. They were banned in Indonesia during the New Order. Pram (as he is commonly known, rhyming with Tom) received a PEN Freedom-to-Write Award in 1988 and a Magsaysay Award in 1995. In English translation, the Buru Quartet received critical acclaim, and after the end of the New Order in 1999, Pram made a tour of the United States. He is the only Indonesian novelist to have received such acclaim overseas.

Graphic Arts. Stone sculptures of the elaborate Hindu variety in Java or the ornate sarcophagi of Sumatra are archaeological remains of value, but only in Bali is elaborate stone carving still done (apart from that which may decorate some upscale Jakarta homes or public buildings). Wood carving is more common. The cottage carving industry of Bali finds a wide domestic and international market for its statues of people, deities, and animals, many of which are finely artistic, some hackneyed. Perhaps the most common carving is in the urban furniture industry, mainly in Java, where ornately carved sofas and chairs are very popular. Traditional puppet or animal carvings of the mountain Batak of Sumatra or the upriver Dayak of Kalimantan are now mainly for tourists, though they once showed rich artistry (now largely seen in museums). The Toraja homes are still elaborately carved, and small examples of these carvings are sold to tourists. Toraja carve decorations on large bamboo tubes used for carrying palm wine or rice, and people in eastern Indonesia decorate small bamboo tubes that carry lime used in betel chewing. Among contemporary urban artists, painting on canvas or making batik is much more common than making sculpture.

Indonesian textiles are becoming more widely known overseas. Batik is the Javanese word for "dot" or "stipple"; ikat, a Malay-Indonesian word for "to tie," is a type of cloth that is tie-dyed before weaving. Batik textiles were made in royal courts and cottages, but also became a major commercial industry in Java and Bali, an industry that has experienced economic vicissitudes over the decades. Batik cloth varies enormously in artistry, elaboration, quality, and cost. Formal occasions require that Javanese, Sundanese and Balinese women wear whole cloths wrapped ornately to form a skirt. Men nowadays do so only at their marriage (or if they are in royal courts or are performers in gamelan, dance, or theater). Long-sleeved batik shirts are now accepted formal social wear for men of all ethnic backgrounds, though formal wear for men also includes civil service uniforms, shirts and ties, or Western suits.

Performance Arts. Performance arts are diverse and include: Javanese and Balinese gong-chime orchestras (gamelan) and shadow plays (wayang ), Sundanese bamboo orchestras (angklung ), Muslim orchestral music at family events or Muslim holiday celebrations, trance dances (reog ) from east Java, the dramatic barong dance or the monkey dances for tourists on Bali, Batak puppet dances, horse puppet dances of south Sumatra, Rotinese singers with lontar leaf mandolins, and the dances for ritual and life-cycle events performed by Indonesia's many outer island ethnic groups. All such arts use indigenously produced costumes and musical instruments, of which the Balinese barong costumes and the metalworking of the gamelan orchestra are the most complex. Best known in Indonesia is the Javanese and Balinese shadow puppet theater based on the Ramayana epic, with its brilliant puppeteers (dalang ) who may manipulate over a hundred puppets in all-night oral performances accompanied by a gamelan orchestra. Bali is best known for the diversity of its performance arts. Despite the fact that Bali draws visitors from around the world, and its troupes perform overseas, most Balinese performers are villagers for whom art complements farming.

Contemporary (and partly Western-influenced) theater, dance, and music are most lively in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, but less common elsewhere. Jakarta's Taman Ismail Marzuki, a national center for the arts, has four theaters, a dance studio, an exhibition hall, small studios, and residences for administrators. Contemporary theater (and sometimes traditional theater as well) has a history of political activism, carrying messages about political figures and events that might not circulate in public. During the New Order, poets and playwrights had works banned, among them W. S. Rendra whose plays were not allowed in Jakarta. There is a long Javanese tradition of the poet as a "voice on the wind," a critic of authority.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The development of science and technology has formed part of Indonesia's five-year plans and is directed toward both basic science and applied technology, with emphasis on the latter. Health, agriculture and animal husbandry, defense, physical sciences, and applied technology have had priority. The Indonesian Institute of Sciences has its headquarters and main library in Jakarta. Its task is to oversee and encourage research in diverse fields, to coordinate between institutions, and to advise on national science and technology policy. It also approves research by foreign scholars. Indonesia's major scientific research training centers are the Technological Institute, in Bandung, and the Agricultural Institute, in Bogor, founded in the colonial period, which draw top secondary school graduates.

Among social sciences, economics has received the greatest attention since the 1950s when the Ford Foundation launched a major program to train economists abroad. These so-called technocrats rose to great importance during the early decades of the New Order and molded economic policy throughout the country's growth period, from the 1970s through the 1990s. Social sciences are included in the national mandate largely as they contribute to supporting development activities. Fields such as political science and sociology received far less attention during the New Order, owing to their potential for, and actual involvement in, social and political criticism.


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In·do·ne·sian / ˌindəˈnēzhən/ • adj. of or relating to Indonesia, Indonesians, or their languages. • n. 1. a native or national of Indonesia, or a person of Indonesian descent. 2. the group of Austronesian languages, closely related to Malay, that are spoken in Indonesia and neighboring islands. ∎ another term for Bahasa Indonesia.

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.


Indonesia •astrantia • Bastia •Dei gratia, hamartia •poinsettia •in absentia, Parmentier •Izvestia •meteor, wheatear •Whittier • cottier • Ostia •consortia, courtier •protea • Yakutia • frontier • Althea •Anthea • Parthia •Pythia, stichomythia •Carinthia, Cynthia •forsythia • Scythia • clothier • salvia •Latvia • Yugoslavia • envier •Flavia, Moldavia, Moravia, Octavia, paviour (US pavior), Scandinavia, Xavier •Bolivia, Livia, Olivia, trivia •Sylvia • Guinevere • Elzevir •Monrovia, Segovia •Retrovir • effluvia • colloquia •Goodyear • yesteryear • brassiere •Abkhazia •Anastasia, aphasia, brazier, dysphasia, dysplasia, euthanasia, fantasia, Frazier, glazier, grazier, gymnasia, Malaysiaamnesia, anaesthesia (US anesthesia), analgesia, freesia, Indonesia, Silesia, synaesthesia •artemisia, Kirghizia, Tunisiaambrosia, crozier, hosier, osier, symposia

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Indonesia." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 22 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Indonesia." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (July 22, 2018).

"Indonesia." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 22, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.


Indonesianantipodean, Crimean, Judaean, Korean •Albion •Gambian, Zambian •lesbian •Arabian, Bessarabian, Fabian, gabion, Sabian, Swabian •amphibian, Libyan, Namibian •Sorbian •Danubian, Nubian •Colombian • Serbian • Nietzschean •Chadian, Trinidadian •Andean, Kandyan •guardian •Acadian, Akkadian, Arcadian, Barbadian, Canadian, circadian, Grenadian, Hadean, Orcadian, Palladian, radian, steradian •Archimedean, comedian, epicedian, median, tragedian •ascidian, Derridean, Dravidian, enchiridion, Euclidean, Floridian, Gideon, Lydian, meridian, Numidian, obsidian, Pisidian, quotidian, viridian •Amerindian, Indian •accordion, Edwardian •Cambodian, collodion, custodian, melodeon, nickelodeon, Odeon •Freudian • Bermudian • Burundian •Burgundian •Falstaffian, Halafian •Christadelphian, Delphian, Philadelphian •nymphean • ruffian • Brobdingnagian •Carolingian • Swedenborgian •logion, Muskogean •Jungian •magian, Pelagian •collegian •callipygian, Cantabrigian, Phrygian, Stygian •Merovingian • philologian • Fujian •Czechoslovakian • Pickwickian •Algonquian • Chomskian •Kentuckian •battalion, galleon, medallion, rapscallion, scallion •Anglian, ganglion •Heraklion •Dalian, Malian, Somalian •Chellean, Machiavellian, Orwellian, Sabellian, Trevelyan, triskelion •Wesleyan •alien, Australian, bacchanalian, Castalian, Deucalion, episcopalian, Hegelian, madrigalian, mammalian, Pygmalion, Salian, saturnalian, sesquipedalian, tatterdemalion, Thessalian, Westphalian •anthelion, Aristotelian, Aurelian, carnelian, chameleon, Karelian, Mendelian, Mephistophelian, Pelion, Sahelian •Abbevillian, Azilian, Brazilian, caecilian, Castilian, Chilean, Churchillian, civilian, cotillion, crocodilian, epyllion, Gillian, Lilian, Maximilian, Pamphylian, pavilion, postilion, Quintilian, reptilian, Sicilian, Tamilian, vaudevillian, vermilion, Virgilian •Aeolian, Anatolian, Eolian, Jolyon, Mongolian, napoleon, simoleon •Acheulian, Boolean, cerulean, Friulian, Julian, Julien •bullion •mullion, scullion, Tertullian •Liverpudlian •Bahamian, Bamian, Damian, Mesopotamian, Samian •anthemion, Bohemian •Endymion, prosimian, Simeon, simian •isthmian • antinomian •Permian, vermian •Oceanian •Albanian, Azanian, Iranian, Jordanian, Lithuanian, Mauritanian, Mediterranean, Panamanian, Pennsylvanian, Pomeranian, Romanian, Ruritanian, Sassanian, subterranean, Tasmanian, Transylvanian, Tripolitanian, Turanian, Ukrainian, Vulcanian •Armenian, Athenian, Fenian, Magdalenian, Mycenaean (US Mycenean), Slovenian, Tyrrhenian •Argentinian, Arminian, Augustinian, Carthaginian, Darwinian, dominion, Guinean, Justinian, Ninian, Palestinian, Sardinian, Virginian •epilimnion, hypolimnion •Bosnian •Bornean, Californian, Capricornian •Aberdonian, Amazonian, Apollonian, Babylonian, Baconian, Bostonian, Caledonian, Catalonian, Chalcedonian, Ciceronian, Devonian, draconian, Estonian, Etonian, gorgonian, Ionian, Johnsonian, Laconian, Macedonian, Miltonian, Newtonian, Oregonian, Oxonian, Patagonian, Plutonian, Tennysonian, Tobagonian, Washingtonian •Cameroonian, communion, Mancunian, Neptunian, Réunion, union •Hibernian, Saturnian •Campion, champion, Grampian, rampion, tampion •thespian • Mississippian • Olympian •Crispian •Scorpian, scorpion •cornucopian, dystopian, Ethiopian, Salopian, subtopian, Utopian •Guadeloupian •Carian, carrion, clarion, Marian •Calabrian, Cantabrian •Cambrian • Bactrian •Lancastrian, Zoroastrian •Alexandrian • Maharashtrian •equestrian, pedestrian •agrarian, antiquarian, apiarian, Aquarian, Arian, Aryan, authoritarian, barbarian, Bavarian, Bulgarian, Caesarean (US Cesarean), centenarian, communitarian, contrarian, Darien, disciplinarian, egalitarian, equalitarian, establishmentarian, fruitarian, Gibraltarian, grammarian, Hanoverian, humanitarian, Hungarian, latitudinarian, libertarian, librarian, majoritarian, millenarian, necessarian, necessitarian, nonagenarian, octogenarian, ovarian, Parian, parliamentarian, planarian, predestinarian, prelapsarian, proletarian, quadragenarian, quinquagenarian, quodlibetarian, Rastafarian, riparian, rosarian, Rotarian, sabbatarian, Sagittarian, sanitarian, Sauveterrian, sectarian, seminarian, septuagenarian, sexagenarian, topiarian, totalitarian, Trinitarian, ubiquitarian, Unitarian, utilitarian, valetudinarian, vegetarian, veterinarian, vulgarian •Adrian, Hadrian •Assyrian, Illyrian, Syrian, Tyrian •morion • Austrian •Dorian, Ecuadorean, historian, Hyperborean, Nestorian, oratorian, praetorian (US pretorian), salutatorian, Salvadorean, Singaporean, stentorian, Taurean, valedictorian, Victorian •Ugrian • Zarathustrian •Cumbrian, Northumbrian, Umbrian •Algerian, Cancerian, Chaucerian, Cimmerian, criterion, Hesperian, Hitlerian, Hyperion, Iberian, Liberian, Nigerian, Presbyterian, Shakespearean, Siberian, Spenserian, Sumerian, valerian, Wagnerian, Zairean •Arthurian, Ben-Gurion, centurion, durian, holothurian, Khachaturian, Ligurian, Missourian, Silurian, tellurian •Circassian, Parnassian •halcyon • Capsian • Hessian •Albigensian, Waldensian •Dacian • Keatsian •Cilician, Galician, Lycian, Mysian, Odyssean •Leibnizian • Piscean • Ossian •Gaussian • Joycean • Andalusian •Mercian • Appalachian • Decian •Ordovician, Priscian •Lucian •himation, Montserratian •Atlantean, Dantean, Kantian •bastion, Erastian, Sebastian •Mozartian • Brechtian • Thyestean •Fortean • Faustian • protean •Djiboutian •fustian, Procrustean •Gilbertian, Goethean, nemertean •pantheon •Hogarthian, Parthian •Lethean, Promethean •Pythian • Corinthian • Scythian •Lothian, Midlothian •Latvian • Yugoslavian •avian, Batavian, Flavian, Moldavian, Moravian, Octavian, Scandinavian, Shavian •Bolivian, Maldivian, oblivion, Vivian •Chekhovian, Harrovian, Jovian, Pavlovian •alluvion, antediluvian, diluvian, Peruvian •Servian • Malawian • Zimbabwean •Abkhazian • Dickensian •Caucasian, Malaysian, Rabelaisian •Keynesian •Belizean, Cartesian, Indonesian, Milesian, Salesian, Silesian •Elysian, Frisian, Parisian, Tunisian •Holmesian •Carthusian, Malthusian, Venusian

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Indonesian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 22 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Indonesian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (July 22, 2018).

"Indonesian." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 22, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.