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October 2010

Indonesia, 2002

Indonesia, 2002

Indonesia, formally the Republic of Indonesia, is about three times the size of the state of Texas. Indonesia is an archipelago comprised of more than 17,500 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited. These islands straddle both sides of the equator along major sea lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean; the largest are Java, Sumatra, Borneo (shared with Brunei and Malaysia), New Guinea (shared with Papua New Guinea), and Sulawesi. Indonesia shares land borders with Malaysia on Borneo, Papua New Guinea on the island of New Guinea, and East Timor on the island of Timor. Indonesia shares maritime borders across narrow straits with Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines to the north, and with Australia to the south. With an overall population of 240.3 million people (July 2009) it is the world's fourth-most populous nation. The capital city of Jakarta on Java has about 8.8 million people; other major cities include: Surabaya, Medan, and Bandung.

The Dutch began to colonize Indonesia in the early 17th century; Japan occupied the islands from 1942 to 1945. Indonesia declared its independence after Japan's surrender, but it required four years of intermittent negotiations, recurring hostilities, and UN mediation to transfer sovereignty in 1949. Indonesia's first free parliamentary election took place in 1999. Indonesia is now the world's third-largest democracy, the world's largest archipelagic state, and home to the world's largest Muslim population.

The climate of Indonesia ranges from tropical to hot, humid to more moderate in highlands. The terrain is mostly coastal lowlands; the larger islands have interior mountains. The natural resources of Indonesia are: petroleum, tin, natural gas, nickel, timber, bauxite, copper, fertile soils, coal, gold, and silver. Natural hazards include: occasional floods, severe droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and forest fires.

See the United States Geological Survey web page for information on recent earthquakes in Indonesia : Earthquake Hazards Program.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes; The Columbia Gazeteer, 10/2010; 08/2010; 8/2010

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