Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia and Oceania, It is an archipelago comprising approximately 17,508 small islands. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, cast Timor and Malaysia. Other neighbouring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, Palau, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The Indonesians archipelago has been an important trade region since at least 7th century when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries, and thereby Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought the dominant Islam, while European powers brought Christianity, and fought one another to monopolise trade in the Spice Islands. After three and a half centuries of Dutch colonisation, Indonesia secured its independence at the end of World War II. (1939-1945) Specifically, it declared its independence on 17 August 1945 and it was acknowledged on 27 December 1949. Indonesia’s history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, and democratisation process.
Government and politics
Now Indonesia is a Republic with a Presidential system. As a Unitary State, power is concentrated in the Central Government. Following the resignation of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian political and government structures have undergone major reforms. The 2004 presidential election was the first in which the people directly elected the President and Vice President. As per its Constitution, the President may serve a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms. The highest representative body at the national level is the People’s Consultative Assembly (MRR). Its main functions are maintaining and necessary amending of the Constitution, inaugurating the President and forming broad outlines of state policy. It has the power to impeach the President.
Economy and Bio-environment
The MRR comprises two houses—the People’s Representative Council (DPR) with 560 members, and the Regional Representative Council (DPD) with 132 members. The DPD is a new chamber for matters of regional management. Administratively, Indonesia consists of 34 provinces, five of which have special status. Each province has its own legislature and governor. The capital city of Indonesia is Jakarta. Indonesia has a mixed economy in which both the private sector and government play significant roles. The country is a member of the G-20 major economic bodies.
Indonesia’s geographical size, tropical climate, and archipelagic features support the world’s second-highest level of biodiversity (after Brazil), and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasian species. The islands of the Sunda Shelf (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Bali) were once linked to the Asian mainland, and have a wealth of Asian fauna.
Population, Language and Religion
According to the 2010 national census, the population of Indonesia is 237.6 million, of which 58% are in Java, the world’s most populous island. While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian Constitution, the government officially recognises only six religions—Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation. The official national language is Indonesian, a form of Malay language, which for centuries had been the lingua franca of the archipelago, It is the language of business, politics, national media and academia. Out of several hundred local languages and dialects, Javanese is the most widely spoken as the language of the largest ethnic group. However, English has been spreading its importance in the urbanised areas in recent times.
Culture and Sports
Cultural identities have been developed in Indonesia over centuries by Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European sources. Sports in Indonesia are generally male-oriented. Illegal gambling is also associated with some sports.
Media freedom in Indonesia increased considerably after the end of President Suharto’s rule, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media and restricted foreign media.