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THE MARITIME CONTINENT OF

INDONESIA



Geography

The maritime continent of Indonesia has 17,508 islands. It lies between 92o East-Longitude to 141o East-Longitude and 7o20' North-Latitude to 14o South-Latitude. Located in south-east Asia between Malaysia and Australia. It occupies a total area about 5,000,000 km2 . 1.9 million km2 is on land (38%) and 3.1 million km2 (62%) is water area (according to United Nations Conventions of The Law of the Sea), where 2.7 million km2 of them are Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). The country has about 81,000 km of coastline and 2,602 km land boundary (1,782 km with Malaysia and 820 km with Papua New Guinea). It has a strategic location along major sea lanes from Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean.

Indonesia has a tropical climate - hot and humid, but more moderate in the highlands. The terrain is mostly coastal lowlands while larger islands have interior mountains. Natural resources include petroleum, tin, natural gas, nickel, timber, bauxite, copper, fertile soils, coal, gold and silver. Indonesia has occasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis and deforestation.

People

Indonesia has a population about 200 million in 1997. Nationals of Indonesia are known as Indonesian(s). The primary ethnic group is Javanese (45%) and Sundanese (14%). The predominant religion is Islam (87%). People speak Bahasa Indonesia and English.

Government

The country is known officially as Republic of Indonesia and in short, Indonesia. The capital city is Jakarta. The national freedom day is on August 17th (1945). The national antherm named Indonesia Raya, it means "The greatest Indonesia".

The Indonesian flag consists of two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white (bottom); similar to the flag of Monaco, which is shorter; also similar to the flag of Poland, which is white (top) and red (bottom).

Economy

Indonesia has a mixed economy with many socialist institutions and central planning but with a recent emphasis on deregulations and private enterprises. Indonesia has extensive natural wealth, yet, with a large and rapidly increasing population, it remains a poor country. Real GDP growth in 1985-92 averaged about 6%, quite impressive, but not sufficient to both slash underemployment and absorb the 2.3 million workers annually entering the labor force.

Agriculture, including forestry and fishing, is an important sector, accounting for almost 20% of GDP and over 50% of the labor force. The staple crop is rice. Once the world's largest rice importer, Indonesia is now nearly self-sufficient. Plantation crops - rubber and palm oil - and textiles and plywood are being encouraged for both export and job generation. Industrial output now accounts for almost 40% of GDP and is based on a supply of diverse natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas, timber, metals, and coal. Of these, the oil sector dominates the external economy, generating more than 20% of the government's revenues and 40% of export earnings in 1989. However, the economic growth is highly dependent on the continuing expansion of non-oil exports. Japan remains Indonesia's most important customer and supplier of aid.

Rapid growth in the money supply in 1989-90 prompted Jakarta to implement a tight monetary policy in 1991, forcing the private sector to go to foreign banks for investment financing. Real interest rates remained above 10% and off-shore commercial debt grew. The growth in off-shore debt prompted Jakarta to limit foreign borrowing beginning in late 1991. Despite the continued problems in moving toward a more open financial system and the persistence of a fairly tight credit situation, GDP growth in 1992 is estimated to have stayed at 6%.

Communications

Indonesia has 6,964 km of railroads, 119,500 km of highways and 21,579 km of inland waterways. The ports are in Cilacap, Cirebon, Jakarta, Kupang, Palembang, Ujungpandang, Semarang and Surabaya. There are 435 (mostly small) airports, 119 with permanent surface runways.

The telecommunications infrastructure includes an inter-island microwave system. Domestic service is fair; international service is good.


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last revised: 2002.09.14