Location: In south-eastern Asia; Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of more than 3,000 islands, the largest being Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi (Celebs), the Lesser Sunda Islands, the Moluccas, Timor and Flores. The Indonesian part of Borneo is known as Kalimantan; the western part of New Guinea is called West Irian (Irian Jaya)
Area: 1,919,279 sq km
National composition: A great variety of peoples, including many of Malay origin and many Melanesian and Australasian groups
Religions: Islam, Christian minority
Official languages: Bahasa Indonesia, based on Malay with borrowings from other Indonesian languages, as well as Dutch, Arabic, English and Sanskrit
Currency: Rupiah = 100 sen
Administrative divisions: 34 provinces
Other major cities: Surabaya, Bandung, Semerang, Medan
Highest elevation: Puncak Java in West Irian
Chief rivers: Kapuas and Barito (on Kalimantan), Mamberamo and Digul (in West Irian), Kampar (Sumatra)
Climate: Equatorial, with high precipitation and frequent typhoons
Most of the Indonesian islands are mountainous, containing many extinct and active volcanoes. In this unstable region, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common place. The rivers are mostly short, with sizeable volumes throughout the year. They form a dense system of water ways. In their lower courses, many rivers flow across swampy coastlands. Indonesia’s largest lake, Toba, is in Sumatra. Lush evergreen rain forests containing many valuable hardwoods cover great areas, with mangroves in coastal marshes and savanna in the uplands. The animal life is rich, with species as leopard, orangutan, Javan and Sumatra and rhinoceros, tapir and tiger still being found in the forests. There are also many species of snakes, lizards and fish.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing employed 58 percent of the work-force in 1980, as compared with 12 percent in industry. Indonesian farmers produce coconuts, coffee, jute, manioc, rice, natural rubber and tea. The country has reserves of bauxite, coal, copper, nickel, oil and tin. Mining is now the most important sector of the economy and oil is the leading export. Wood and rubber are other major exports. Shipping is the leading means of transport. The largest airport is at Jakarta.