The Indonesian island world spans nearly 500
miles between mainland Southeast Asia and Australia.
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous state and
has the largest Muslim population in the world. Since
the fall of President Suharto in 1998, the country has
developed in a democratic direction. In Papua, an armed
struggle for independence is waged. The 2004 tsunami hit
Indonesia severely, with around 170,000 dead.
Brief profiles of Indonesia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Indonesia is a vast island world spreading
between Southeast Asian mainland and Australia. About
6,000 of the islands are inhabited. The Archipelago Act
extends nearly 500 kilometers in an east-west direction
and 200 kilometers from north to south. Straight through
the country, the equator cuts. The Indonesian island
world encompasses a surface slightly larger than
mainland Australia, but four-fifths are oceans. To the
west and south, the country is surrounded by the Indian
Ocean and to the northeast the Pacific Ocean is rising.
Sumatra (482,393 square kilometers) is the largest
entirely Indonesian island and is part of the
archipelago of the Greater Sunda Islands. This includes
Java and Madura (together 127,499 square kilometers) and
Sulawesi (191,800 square kilometers). The even larger
island of Borneo shares Indonesia with Malaysia and
Brunei. The Indonesian part of Borneo is called
Kalimantan (547,891 square kilometers). Farther east is
the island of New Guinea. Its western half, Papua
(421,981 square kilometers), belongs to Indonesia.
Two other significant island groups are Maluku (the
Moluccas) in the northeast and Nusa Tenggara (Small
Sunda Islands), which stretches as a pearl band of
smaller islands from Bali to Timor. The western part of
the island of Timor is Indonesian, while the eastern is
the independent nation of East Timor.
Most of Indonesia rests on volcanic soil. Only in
Java are there about 30 volcanoes, of which Merapi is
among the most active. In total, Indonesia has about 400
volcanoes, of which about 100 are active. An eruption in
Gunung Tambora claimed 92,000 lives in the early 19th
century, and in 1883 the Krakatau volcano blasted an
entire island between Java and Sumatra. A large number
of earthquakes are recorded annually. In December 2004,
the province of Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra was
hit by the most powerful earthquake recorded in the
world in over 40 years (9.3 on the Richter scale). At
least 170,000 Acehs were killed in the giant tsunami
wave that followed the quake.
Many of the Indonesian islands are characterized by
high mountain ranges, such as Java, Papua and Sumatra.
The most widespread lowlands, often marshes, are found
on the east coast of Sumatra and along the southern
coasts of Kalimantan and Papua. Despite extensive
deforestation, much rain forest remains. It contains,
among other things, orangutan (Sumatra, Kalimantan),
elephant, nose monkey, Malay bear and rhino. In Papua,
paradise birds and marsupials live, on Komodo and
another island is the Komodo Waran, the world's largest
lizard that can grow three meters long. From central
Java to Timor, savannahs dominate with eucalyptus trees,
Indonesia has a tropical sea climate with high
humidity. The warm sea water around the islands means
that the daytime temperature is 24-31 degrees; however,
it is cooler up in the mountains.
The rainfall varies considerably with the monsoon and
local winds. Broadly speaking, it is the rainy season
December – March and the dry season June – September.
Normally, western and northern Indonesia get the most
rain, around 2,000 mm per year. The city of Bogor in
Java is said to hold the gloomy world record of 322
major storms a year. The islands closest to Australia
tend to be drier than the other islands, with about
1,000 mm of rainfall per year.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
1 904 569 km2 (2018) 1
Swedish + 6-8 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor
Capital with number of inhabitants
Jakarta 10,500,000 (UN estimate 2018) 2
Other major cities
Surabaya 2 900 000, Bandung 2 500 000, Medan
2,300,000, Semarang 1,800,000, Palembang 1,700,000,
Ujung Pandang (Makassar) 1,500,000 (UN estimate 2018)
Puncak Jaya (Papua, 5,030 m asl)
Kapuas and Mahakam (Kalimantan), Batang Hari and Musi
(Sumatra), Mamberamo and Digul (Papua)
Danau Toba (Sumatra)
Average Precipitation / year
in the west and north about 2000 mm, eastern Java and
Nusa Tenggara about 1,000 mm
Average / day
Jakarta about 27 °C all year
- The task applies to land area
2. In August 2019, the government proposed
moving the capital to eastern Kalimantan on
Some 50 companies are punished for the smoke and fires
The government is punishing more than 50 Indonesian companies for their role
in forest fires and smoke development during the summer and autumn. This applies
mainly to companies that clear new land by burning woods and bush land and then
growing palm trees or fast-growing forests for the production of palm oil and
pulp, respectively. Companies get their licenses revoked. It is forbidden to
clear more than two hectares of land in this way in Indonesia.
The President in bribe
Parliament Speaker Setya Novanto is forced to resign after it was revealed
that he was trying to blackmail US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan on shares in
the company. On a sound recording, Nivanto is heard saying that the mining
company will continue to have the right to exploit the mines in Papua if
President Widodo and Vice President Kalla receive shares in the company. Both
Widodo and Kalla vigorously deny any involvement. Nivanto remains as a Member of
Large costs for fires and smoke
After the monsoon rains began to fall, the costs of the summer and autumn
forest fires and the extensive smoke development they brought are calculated.
According to the World Bank, environmental and health effects have cost
Indonesia $ 16 billion. This is more than twice the cost of rebuilding the Aceh
province after the 2004 tsunami (it cost $ 7 billion). The fires destroyed 2.6
million hectares of forest and agricultural land between June and October. The
cost corresponds to almost 2 percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP)
The execution of death sentences is temporarily halted
The government is putting a temporary stop to executions of the sentenced.
How long the so-called moratorium will last is not determined. The rationale is
that Indonesia must concentrate on boosting economic growth. However, recent
executions have received sharp criticism from Western countries and have
affected Indonesia's relations with them. The decision comes after trade
negotiations with Australia.
Separatist leaders in Papua are released
Separatist leader Filep Karma is released after sitting in prison since 2004,
when he was convicted of treason for raising the banned Papuan flag Morning
The monsoon rain is delayed
The monsoon rains that usually start in October and that usually extinguish
forest fires are delayed. The fires have been raging for months at this time.
A third stimulus package is presented
The third economic stimulus package is presented by the government. It is
aimed more at the Indonesian population than previous packages. Price reductions
on a number of fuels are included, as is government assistance to insure farmers
against losses. The package also includes a startup grant for entrepreneurs.
High-speed trains are planned in Java
China and Indonesia enter into a $ 5.5 billion agreement to build a
high-speed rail link between Jakarta and Bandung. The agreement is concluded
between Chinese and Indonesian state companies. State-owned China Development
Bank is responsible for 75 percent of the costs, while the Indonesian state does
not have to pay anything. The railway line is part of President Widodo's plans
to carry out a total overhaul of the country's infrastructure in order to
attract more investors.
Reporters Without Borders criticizes Widodo
The Press Freedom Organization Reporters Without Borders reports in a report
that Widodo's first year as president is disappointing as he did not live up to
the expectations of increased media and information freedom. Although the
special permit previously required for journalists to visit Papua has been
removed, media workers visiting the area are being monitored and they may also
be harassed by the military and security forces.
Widodo visits the United States
President Widodo visits his colleague Barack Obama at the White House in the
United States. He announces during the visit that Indonesia will sign the TPP
(Trans Pacific Partnership) Free Trade Agreement. Other topics discussed are
climate change, investment and security. Widodo is forced to shorten its US
visit due to the severe smoke development from forest fires in Indonesia.
Widodo asks for help in fighting the smoke
Defense representatives hold crisis meeting with Singaporean colleagues to
resolve the crisis with the huge smoke trend in the region. The US Space Agency
Nasa warns that smoke development this time seems to be the worst so far. Air
traffic is disrupted, schools are closed and tens of thousands of people in the
region seek medical attention for respiratory problems. In the middle of the
month, President Widodo is asking for international help to put out the fires.
Singapore, Russia, Malaysia and Japan assist in the extinguishing work.
Severe consequences of the smoke from forest fires
Extensive forest fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan are again causing huge smoke
development across several neighboring countries, creating environmental and
health problems in the region. About 20 people in Indonesia are killed because
of the smoke. An estimated 40 million people in six countries in Southeast Asia
are at risk of health problems from smoking, which also accounts for 60 percent
of Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions.
A new stimulus package is presented
The second financial stimulus package is presented by the government at the
end of the month. Among the measures can be mentioned that the time for a
company to get a clear sign for an investment must be reduced significantly and
that further tax cuts are made for investors.
Financial package of measures is presented
The Widodo government presents the first of three packages of economic
measures aimed at reversing the country's downward economic development. Growth
has slowed down and the value of the rupiah is the lowest relative to the US
dollar since the financial crisis of 1998. The package includes, among other
things, reduced regulations for industry, such as reduced import duties, reduced
bureaucracy and tax cuts for companies.
Application for re-entry into Opec
Indonesia formally applies for re-entry into the oil-producing countries'
organization Opec. The reason is that the country wants to buy oil cheaper as
oil imports increase and own production decreases.
Continued conflicts within the government
Despite the government transformation, new reports of personal contradictions
are coming within the government. Critics warn that Widodo's promised economic
recovery is at risk because of the political reasons.
The government is reformed after criticism
President Widodo reforms his government. Six ministers are replaced. The
background to the government reform is growing criticism of Widodo's way of
managing the country's stagnant economy, which has not been weaker since 2009.
The president also receives criticism for the government's work being
disorganized and filled with internal contradictions. The transformation comes
less than a year after Widodo's entry into the presidential post.
Trade in focus when Cameron visits Indonesia
UK Prime Minister David Cameron visits Indonesia with a large trade
delegation. He agrees with President Widodo to increase bilateral cooperation
against the militant extremist group Islamic State (IS). Among other things, 50
Indonesian police officers will receive specialized training in the United
Kingdom, and the British will help strengthen security at the international
airports in Bali and Jakarta.
A doomed Frenchman may not seek mercy again
The Frenchman sentenced to death for serious drug crimes within the Bali Nine
League and whose execution has been postponed for legal reasons (see
April 2015) cannot be re-examined by President Widodo.
Foreign fishing boats are blown up
Indonesian authorities seize and detonate more than 40 foreign boats fishing
illegally in Indonesian waters. The boats must have come from China, Thailand,
Vietnam and the Philippines. The blasts are part of Indonesia's escalated fight
against illegal fishing (see April 2015).
Regional meeting on the refugee crisis
Following international pressure from, among others, the UN, Indonesia,
Malaysia and Thailand's foreign ministers meet in Kuala Lumpur to try to do
something about the refugee crisis in the region. Indonesia and Malaysia promise
to provide 7,000 refugees with temporary protection, but demand that the
international community take responsibility for the refugees being returned to
their home countries within a year. Thailand refuses to sign the agreement.
Myanmar (formerly Burma) has previously reluctantly agreed to try to help
resolve the crisis.
The stream of boat refugees is increasing
The flow of boat refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Bangladesh via
Thailand to Malaysia and Indonesia is increasing significantly after Thai
authorities launched an offensive against human smugglers in the south. From a
single boat, nearly 600 Rohingyos (Muslim minority mainly Myanmar and
Bangladesh) are rescued on Aceh's beaches and a further at least 400 Rohingyes
arrive a day later in the Indonesian province. On one occasion, the Indonesian
Navy chases away a boat with hundreds of refugees after providing the distressed
with food and drink.
Requirements for entry permits to Papua are waived
President Widodo abolishes the entry permit requirement for journalists who
want to visit Papua in the service. At the same time, he is freeing five Papuan
political prisoners. Critics say the decisions are an attempt to alleviate
criticism of the Jakarta government for the recent executions of eight recently
convicted prisoners (see April 2015).
Eight death sentences are enforced
Eight of the ten convicted drug smugglers in the so-called Bali Nine League
are being arched in a security prison on the island of Nusakambangan. Seven of
the executed are foreigners, whose governments react sharply to the executions.
Australia calls home its ambassador to Indonesia for consultations. Brazil says
the executions will have consequences for bilateral relations. Nigeria, like UN
chief Ban Ki-Moon, expresses deep disappointment that Indonesia executed the
executions. A Filipino woman gets her execution postponed. A Frenchman gets his
execution postponed for legal reasons.
Prohibition on alcohol sales in small shops
A new law is passed that prohibits the sale of alcohol in some 70,000 small
shops around the country. The government justifies the decision that young
people's health must be protected. The tourism industry, especially in Bali,
protests against the ban. Alcohol can still be sold in larger stores, in hotels
and in restaurants. Two Islamic parties want to go even further and completely
ban alcohol sales in the country.
Suspected slavery in the fishing industry is investigated
The government sets up a committee to investigate allegations of slavery in
the fishing industry. Several fishermen have turned to the Ministry of Fisheries
with information that the domestic company Pusaka Benjina Resources is engaged
in human trafficking with more than 1,000 fishermen from other Southeast Asian
countries and that these fishermen have been tortured and forced to work under
slave-like conditions. The victims come from Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand,
Laos and Cambodia and will be assisted to return home. The International
Organization for Migration estimates that up to 4,000 fishermen have been
stranded in eastern Indonesia after illegal fishing companies dumped them there.
Pusaka Benjina Resources is suspected of acting as a shell company for Thai
Widodo visiting China
President Widodo travels to China's capital Beijing, where he seeks to
strengthen economic and trade contacts with China and tries to attract Chinese
investment to Indonesia.
Widodo visits Japan
President Widodo visits Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. The two
countries decide to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation, especially in the
Navy. Japan promises to increase its financial support for the expansion of
Indonesian ports and the country's coastguard. Widodo says Indonesia is
determined to continue its role as mediator in the conflict over the South China
Indonesia is firm in deciding executions
Despite protests from a number of countries, Indonesia refuses to change its
decision to execute ten convicted prisoners, two of whom are Australians, one
Filipino, one Frenchman, one Ghanaian, three Nigerians, one Brazilian and one
Direct mayoral elections are reintroduced
The new parliament votes to reinstate the direct elections of mayors and
provincial governors abolished a few months earlier (see October 2014).
The decision is seen as a success for PDI struggle and President Widodo.
Six prisoners are executed
Indonesia executes six convicted prisoners, including a Dutchman and a
Brazilian, who have been convicted of drug smuggling and membership in the
smuggler league Bali Nine. The Netherlands and Brazil call home their
ambassadors in protest. Despite the appeals and condemnations from the
prisoners' homelands and relatives, President Widodo says that several
executions of members of Bali Nine are waiting.